Mexico No.1: The first night

February 10th, 2016

On my first night in Colima I went for a walk. Even though I was in the northern hemisphere in early February, and it was technically winter, the city had an estival air. 

What is Colima City like? Well, there are old rusty Beetles, and shiny new geckos. Most of the houses are box-shaped, painted by numbers in appealing shades of yellow and red, or in a faded tangerine that is peeling from the walls. The rest of the buildings are white, and quietly support their more flamboyant neighbours. As with every town in Latin America, the streets of Colima are populated by scruffy, shouting black-and-tan mongrels. Everyone smiles in the street. There are hibiscus and palms, tall yellow-flowering trees and some kind of nut (perhaps almond?) on our street. On Avenida de Insurgentes, the main street near our house, there is a park with a magical tree that is crying out to be climbed, secretly, early on a Sunday morning or late one night. The tree’s branches network and twist into one another, and the roots lie like folds of sumptuous fabric above the broken pavement. The extravagant lengths to which these trees are allowed to grow is astounding: as I start to make my way back, I spy another tree just off Camino Real which has taken over literally half a street.

I’m just about to arrive home, walking back down my street, when I encounter another kind of nut. Out of the semi-shadows jumps a short man who introduces himself as Israel Angulo Reyes: descended from British royalty, he offers to help with the groceries I am carrying. When I ask my flatmates about him later, it appears I have met the local village kook – on my first night of all nights! However, when I run into him, I am thirsty and tired; my refusal to let him help with my shopping is disgruntled and, if his claims of royal descent are to be believed, possibly treasonous. But I have my doubts; when an imp with stars on his face and lipstick on his chin, a lick of paint on his head and a glint in his eye, tells you he’s a king and that you should kiss him … you should take it with a pinch of salt. When he left me at my door, he shook my hand, and gave me his CV. I have it now on the wall of my bedroom; his claims are quite incredible!

In the subsequent weeks, I see many things that suggest ‘anything goes’ is the way to go in Mexico. I see dogs living on rooftops; a garage that has been transformed into a fruit shop overnight; a street vendor’s churros made to the length of a firehose; and an entire family (3+ generations) in the back of an open pickup, roaring along at 150km/hr on the highway. Still, Israel Angulo Reyes remains the first example of this n’importe quoi, anything goes attitude to life.

The skies above Colima are possibly the best sight of all.
The corner of my street, Rinconada Jacaranda, and its colourful trees.
Pure colour.

Pausing for a laugh with a distant friend.
Greeted by perros gritandos every morning on the way to work.

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