En la Carta de Vida
Night has eased down on the warm but wintering ones here in Old Mazatlan. Smells down this way come unexpectedly: at times it is a scent thrusted forth from some open brick oven and wafted through a dirty courtyard with its skulking, canine residents, creeping through the iron grilles in the plaster wall to find my olefactories waiting patiently. Other times, they hiss at you as some ancient indigent as you pass some errant and open shutter. Either way, for a sensualist such as myself, it is indeed a treat .
I dine tonight just off the Plaza Machado across from the Teatro Angela Peralta. Walk too fast and you will, I command you, miss it. And unless you adopt the local habit of simply ambling, as it were, you probably deserve to. It is known as El Tunel. Because my writing program does not permit it, you will also miss the accent over the “u” and, in your queries, with pronunciation insufficient, may again chance to miss it. On the way down the tunnel you pass by a plethora of old (and I do not use term lightly) photos of the winners of an old pageant known as “Reyes Del Carnival”. These date back to 1919. Down at the end of El Tunel you arrive at “Cenaduria”. Take my word for it, mole’ afficionados, it is the place to stop for a bit and savor some of the good stuff. I seek out mole’ wherever I may find it, like vintage wines. I adore the complexity of flavors fine mole’ has to offer. Should I wax rhapsodic? Hmmm… no. Just take me on faith, reader, however undeserved. Onward: You can dine in the open inside (an oxymoron or…?) or in the courtyard. A exquisitely light zephyr brushes my clean pate saying “Now, is this not better than Twain’s “..coldest winter ever I ever spent…”? Don’t expect a large menu. No, it’s a tribute to the God of Brevity. And don’t be put off by the fact that all they have to drink is sparkling water or two kinds of soda. I ask for a Bohemia and the duena, fresh from some ‘50’s black and white film noire episode (ambles, of course) off, back down the “tunel” and down the street to fetch me a nice cold Bohemia. Moments later I, as it is still capped and with no offer of an opener, prise away the cap with a handy butter knife. It is the end of a long day and I, am in Heaven.
Afterwards, making my way again through the tunel and past the photographic history of old Mazatlan, I head out across the plaza to Pedro y Lola’s.
She is almost whispering. A sweet crooning whisper, if there is such a thing. Sitting on the stepped curb at the edge of the plaza, she waxes so, so… Norajonesesque. It is not so much like she slipped by accident off that cliff and into a deep blue sea of, well, blue something. Rather, she seemed to have taken a running start, shed her guile and cynicism, and whatever else she had clothing her soul, and soared, naked, clutching all of us to her breast at the edge of the Plaza Machado and descended into those pensive, blue waters. Do I really need to say that we go willingly?
She sings “The Rose” sweet and slow. Kind of like she wants to stay on that river for a really, really long time. When she gets to “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”, she knows she’s got us hooked on her eke-every-last-drop-of–soul-out-of-that-baby style. I thought she had dropped her tempo a fair bit for “The Rose”, but suffice it to say, I was mistaken… a bit. If Jim Morrison had raced her with a rendition of his classic “The End”, he would have beat her to the finish with time to spare, perhaps even enough to “Light My Fire”. Oh, this gal is good. Not enough to ditch “mi novia” back home, but good.
Her man on keyboards is pretty good too, Worth mentioning though, has got to be this sixty-something ex-pat dude in sack cloth trousers with his flute leaning up against the plaster wall and the sax hanging off his neck. He wavers at times like he’s been doin’ the dirty with Jose (and I do mean the Cuervo variety) for a few hours and maybe for breakfast too. I felt like going over to hold the sax up for him. But, to his credit, he’s like Yoda when he finally drops his cane and starts flying around kicking butt with true Jedi flair only to return, afterward, to his hobbling about with that old cane again. This guy, too, channels some serious, sweet soul stuff. Made me want to stay all night they did. What a team. Just another sweet winter night on the Plaza Machado in good (old) Mazatlan…