Tag Archives: Mexico

Disparitions Mystérieuses des Civilisations Méso-Américaines

(Listen to the poem here)

 

 

Après le repas à Oaxtepec

le patron du restaurant

nous dit d’un air de satisfaction agaçant

que toute sa viande

vient du Texas.

Je trouve que ce n’est pas normal

de manger tellement hormonal.

Au Mexique on trouve

partout des traces

olmèques, toltèques,

aztèques, mixtèques,

mais qu’en est-il

des Bixtèques?

 

Phillip Hill 2008

 

 

(After the meal in Oaxtepec/the owner of the restaurant/tells us with an/ irritating manner/that all his meat/is from Texas./I find that all this hormonality/is somewhat an abnormality./In Mexico everywhere/one finds traces of/Olmecs, Toltecs,/Aztecs, Mixtecs,/but whatever happened to/your Beefxstecs?)

 

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(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

Yaute-no-pec

(Listen to the poem here)



tope.gifThe sticker on the window tells us YAUTEPEC

although the rope-haired lad

who is jutting from

the bus’s door into the foaming crowd,

much like a figurehead in stormy seas,

is shouting, “Yaute, Yaute,

Yaute, Yaute.” Read more…

Around and up and also down

Some time ago I posted an article on my liking for random walks, in which I outlined an insanely complicated method to get to places you weren’t planning to see. Recently I found another way to go to randomly explore the world, without getting up from my chair.

A few days ago, as I was preparing to leave for Prague, I tried to find some information on the city’s railway station. I can’t remember why, I have been to so many places (at least virtually) since then. I happened on a page with a 360 degree spherical picture of Fantova kavárna or Fanta’s Café, originally the main hall of the station as it was built in 1871 by the architect Josef Fanta. The picture was on a website called 360cities.net which, I have discovered, is a wonderful tool for random travelling.

I soon ended up in other places in Prague, my favourites I think being the Bethlehem Chapel, a medieval crane and the wonderful Strahov library, where the picture is so detailed that I am quite confident that I will one day spot a bookworm about to take a bite out of one of the ancient volumes.  Read more…

The Pharmacy on Reforma (Puebla, Mexico)

(Listen to the poem here)

“This,” says the pharmacist reading
the label, “is good for eyesight,
indigestion, back ache,
the liver, children and old age.
Or,” she adds, reading my face, “else
we have
three tubes of toothpaste
for the price of one.”

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(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from

Three Dogs in Cholula

(Listen to the poem here)

There’s dozing in the market in Cholula

in the afternoon.

Apart from that, some dogs.

Dog one is trying hard

to be a crocodile:

in pancake pose

under the portico

it floats its snout

upon the tiles. Read more…

Santa Cochinilla: I think

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Santo Domingo – Oaxaca – Mexico

 

(Listen to the poem here)




Santo Domingo does what a church should do.
It makes you crane your neck to take it in.
It stares the neighbouring houses down
into a huddled single-storied squat.
It says, “The sky is mine and mine alone,
lift up your heads, then bow them down again.”
I think they ought to call it Santa Cochinilla
for it was built upon the riches
of the trade in Spanish Red,
a dye squeezed from
the body of the cochenille. Read more…

Mexican Bus Ride

Bunuelbus_ride

Mexican bus ride was the US title given to a Buñuel film called Subida al cielo (Ascent to Heaven). What follows is about a Mexican bus ride of my own and has nothing to do with the film, I just liked the poster and it is always worthwhile mentioning Buñuel, but you can see an
excerpt here.

My ride started in Cuautla, in the state of Morelos. Its main claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Zapata, and it still has his train, which it takes out for a walkabout every now and then.

A Mexican friend of mine once told me that when she was a kid her mother had taken her on a week’s vacation to Cuautla and they had gone to the cinema every night and every night had seen the same film. That is the kind of thing you do in Cuautla.

I had the following interesting experiences in Cuautla, – buying a voltage convertor, being offered live chumiles to eat (I declined), hearing a train whistle and thinking I was going to see Zapata’s train and finding out it was a toy train full of kids,

converter

Voltage Converter

chumil

Chumil

                                                               

zapata train

Zapata’s train

toy train kid

Not Zapata’s train











encountering a butterfly (more -though not much more- about this here), going to a shoe-shop and watching a friend buy sandals, looking for a beer and getting directed to a saloon-style cantina for real men only, managing to get out of the cantina two hours later, being asked to hold a baby, but most of all catching a bus.  (I must admit that I couldn’t find a picture of a chumil and the insect shown is actually a tumil – but I can’t tell the difference, it might just be an alternative spelling.)

I can’t remember whether the bus (to Puebla) was the Estrella Roja or the Oro line. We climbed up through the mountains on a bumpy, narrow road. Somewhere which looked like nowhere a boy got on and started selling lollipops. “Paletas, paletas,”
he went up and down the aisle. He must have sold one, because I heard him say “Gracias”. Then he sat down next to the driver and looked with a gentle gaze at the road. The driver caught my attention because he talked to the kid, who couldn’t have been more than twelve, respectfully as one would talk to an adult. After about twenty minutes the boy got off. Another place which looked like nowhere. He crossed the road and stood and waited for a bus going the other way, shuttling I supposed all day from one nowhere to another.

“Not much profit for that much time”, I said to the driver.

“He’s doing OK”, the driver said. And he asked me where I was from. When I told him I lived in Rome, he said “Estàs muy lejos de tu rancho.”- (“You’re very far from home”- although I liked the suggestion that I might actually have a ranch). And then he started talking about things. He had been all over Mexico, all over Central America, and through the United States, driving buses. He collected a stone from every place he went to. “Which is the place you would most wish to have a stone from ?” I asked him. “Palos”, he said, “where Columbus set sail.”

He told me “My brother is an engineer, my sister is a lawyer, but when I see a bus go by, I want to drive it.”  He was reading a poet I hadn’t heard of. Later I discovered that he was very famous in Mexico, though much less outside Mexico: his name was Jaime Sabines, and he quoted some things to me. Here is a poem about the moon by Sabines.

When we drew close to Puebla, he pointed out three volcanoes, la Malinche, Iztaccíhuatl, and the very lively Popocatépetl. I thought that, considering it was boiling away, Popocatépetl had a useful rhyme with kettle. And then as we drove into the elegant city and down to the bus terminal, he said, “Gringos don’t know how to whistle” and this is more or less what he said by way of explanation.

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Shoppers

(Listen to the poem here)

I’d never seen a butterfly

in town before.

On Calle Dos de Mayo

in Cuautla

there was one,

red, black and big

and beautiful

and making stops
at all the same

shop windows

I went staring at.

                                                                                            Phillip Hill 2007


 

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(This poem is included in my book The Observation Car which is available from