25.07.2005 - 11.08.2005
Hungry, we waited the appropriate few minutes of greetings before asking Ernesto where we could find a good torta, a style of sandwich I can only find here. Once a chilango himself, this Mexico City-raised friend paused momentarily to get oriented from our Zocalo flag pole position. Soon we were off, trying to follow him through the crowded narrow stone sidewalks, oblivious of the streets we were taking. A few laughs and dodging of cars later, we sat down at the narrow counter in the bustling, stuffed small restaurant - La Casa del Pavo. Ernesto had brought us to the place he always comes while visiting Mexico (as the city is called outside of it): House of the Turkey. To the cooks (in constant motion) just over the counter, Ernesto ordered turkey tacos and a torta... First bite and I know I wanted to return tomorrow, if I could find the place! Moist turkey breast with a slosh of guacamole wrapping within a bolillo (french roll, of sorts). Full, with others waiting for a place to sit, we left the hot griddles to enter the cool afternoon and continue what had become Ernesto's tour. First stop: the bullet hole that Pancho Villa shot in the ceiling of La Cantina La Opera when he met with Zapata in Mexico (we were told it was the only time they met). Next, the circular piece of volcanic rock, a carving, in the wall of an old building - it was one of the stones from the pyramids that stood right here and later used to reconstruct a Catholic Mexico. Ironically, this reminder was next to a sign marking a street remembering a Spanish Mexico. Both were on a building where a McDonald's now resided. Later, we took a break at a cafe to drink tea, looking at a wide pedestrian stone-paved street, shaded with trees. We rested here, giving Thollem and Ernesto the chance to talk about a future tour and me the opportunity to people watch. Vendors approached at varying intervals to sell us large coloring pencils, a shoe shine, chiclets, turtles (not real - but big!). A musician passed, playing the flute and small drum while shaking seed pods around his ankles. Other musicians stood with their peg-legged harmonipans, cranking classic tunes while their cohort, young and old, collected donations. Originating in Russia, harmonipans aren't made anymore. Mexicans have taken to playing even the ones that don't play well. The money they collect pays for the repairs of these antique instruments. They are like walking museums. After light rain had come and gone twice, we continued our tour at the corner of the City Museum, where another pyramid stone sat, bulging its quetzacoatl head out into the sidewalk. The light faded as people packed up their wares along the street. Traffic dodged not only the sellers but also the pedestrians, who took to the streets since the sidewalks were full of hand trucks, tarps, goods and vendors. The sun sat behind puffy gray clouds. The lights in the Plaza shone up against the government buildings, the flag no longer billowed, having been taken down for the night. Ernesto saw us to our hostel, just a couple blocks from where we had met earlier today, and ended the tour with a "Buenas noches".
Ernesto Martinez is an excellent musician Thollem and I met while in Queretero, with whom Thollem performed the first day we were there, and whose beautiful family hosted us the two days we enjoyed that city just north of this City. See 'Hocketing' blog.