It was one of those days. Nothing was going according to plan. I waited more than three hours at the car wash. The bistro had no Coke Light. Another shop did not have my brand of cigarettes. I could not buy electricity from two vendors.
And the excuses … it was Windhoek at its best. “It’s not our fault, your car was too dirty”. “Who drinks Coke with breakfast?” “You should not be smoking”. “Ask them, it’s not me”.
Oh, and the neighbor’s arthritic, old dog climbed on the kitchen chair to steal the kapana (grilled meat) I bought for lunch. Unlike the rest, she offered no excuse, just a growl and a show of her bad end.
It was Marie Antoinette who called for cake to feed the poor. Maybe because she understood the sweet, healing powers of sugar and dough. And if it is deep-fried, its even better … for the soul that is.
It was time for churros. Long strips of sticky dough deep-fried and covered in sugar and cinnamon and dipped in chocolate.
Mariachi bands loitered around waiting to be picked up. The lucky ones were quickly loaded onto Ranchero bakkies (pick-up trucks) and driven off into the night to ply their rambunctious trade at some girl’s quinceañera (on her 15th birthday a Mexican girl celebrates her coming of age) or some politician’s campaign party.
Mariachis are the original Mexican buskers. Originally from the Jalisco region on the west coast of Mexico, they have become synonymous with Mexican culture the world over.
Dressed in their silver studded Charro suits and ridiculously large sombrero’s they are keen to play at your table. But it is going to cost you, as most Mariachi musicians are professionals these days. But, I had to give it a go.
They surrounded my table like a gang of bandito’s armed with guitars, trumpets, violins, vihuela and guitarrón. They shuffled and pushed till everyone had room to smile. And then … all hell broke loose.
The singers hollered at me from five feet away. Neck veins popped and eyes bulged.
Guitarists scraped the strings faster than the eye could see or care to follow.
Leaning forward, the trumpeters aimed straight for the nearest eardrum … and stayed there.
Then, out of nowhere, came the Grito Mexicano … Aaaaayyyyaaayyyeee! That was it!
Bewildered, unsteady and deaf I stumbled to get away from it all. With the slow day coming to an end with the advent of “Las Coronelas”, I desperately needed tequila and the sleaze of the cantinas in Zona Rosa.
Come to think of it … did I ever pay the bill?