Friday, June 5, 2015


There is a rumour amongst my friends here that PRI, one of the national political parties, are offering televisions to those families who agree to vote for them on June 7. After a week of election madness in the squares, each party giving its all to show the village a good time, complete with banda music, manic dancing, free food (or sometimes just a water container full of jugo de jamaica) I'm tempted to believe the talk. When each person in a family only has three t-shirts, the offer of a fourth, emblazoned with the party's slogans and candidate, can be deeply appealing. Wouldn't I wear a new t-shirt, if I only had three others? Of course I would. Meanwhile, the PRD, the party to the left, gets very little attention in the town - only 30 people or so showed up to its turn at madness. Is it because they don't have anything to give? Is the legacy of PAN and PRI too strong? My friend in the north of Mexico writes that people in his village are being offered food and promises of continued help for a poverty stricken area, in exchange for agreeing to vote a certain way. Meanwhile, the shootout which resulted in over 40 dead - the Mexican government claiming they are narco traficantes - is now being questioned as a possible massacre of civilians. The paradoxes of the country continue.

I am in Axixic (the traditional spelling of Ajijic, as it's now known) for the summer, trying valiantly to become fully fluent in Spanish and creating the list and then reading the list for my PhD comprehensive exams in geography and poetics. Outside, right now, the banda horns are gritando. The small park in front of the malecon has become a centre of festivities for the beginning of the weekend. They try to outdo one another in noise levels. I play boleros on the stereo of the house I'm sitting and try my hand at salsa-making, and wait for the light to lower so that it's cool enough to walk by the lake and write for an hour before the darkness sets in. My friend Antonio is probably wearing down the batteries of his giant speakers, a few minutes walk from the park, trying to educate the masses in the glories of Gil Biberto y Miles Davis, his car doors open, his saxophone in his hands. 

This choice, to spend extended time here, is one of the best I have ever made. I read and write by day; I walk to different taco stands at night. I know by name the entire street full of people that I used to live on, back in December, and to which I will return in July. I wait for the rains to begin in earnest. The temperature climbs to 30, the clouds move in, the lake rises and folds with wind, then smooths to glass in the morning. Adios, say the people I pass on the street, in a greeting, rather than a goodbye.