Manana Tepotzlan - El Búho
  • Manana Tepotzlan
  • Huaira
  • 17 Anos
  • Dancing With the Moon
  • Caviar
  • Conxuro

Carnival

The jungle was so huge. He remembered seeing it from the plane when flying to Cancun. From up there, the vegetation’s color was dark green, and he thought it was the ocean. Then, once the plane started to descend, he was able to see even the waves. But suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the waves, but treetops. Amazed, he looked at the horizon. There was a huge flat piece of land covered with forest. It stretched to as far as the eyes could see, and couldn’t see.

And now he was here, just a fraction in the green ocean of trees. And he wasn’t alone. Nobody was alone. Such was the life in the community. There was always somebody and there was always something to do. But never he would really go to work or to school. Yet, every day, he was getting richer and gaining more knowledge, without money, without professors. After his daily tasks were done, there was nowhere to hurry, no errands, no shopping, no scheduled appointments, no stress. On some days, he would read or write something. On other days, he hung out with people throughout the whole afternoon and evening. It was a simple life by the cenote.

But there were also things he didn’t like. The dry toilets for example. It was basically a plastic toilet seat fixed to a wooden box which overhung a shaft. Once you walked in the room, the buzz of hundreds of big and nasty flies began. He sat down. And in a minute one of those things that desperately needed to get out from the hole landed on his ass, perhaps not to get killed by what could fall on them. He shook his body and swore. It never occurred to him to look what was inside down under him, until one day. He was suddenly being so curious. He switched on the light and pointed it into the hole. That was really an awful scene. A pile of shit swarming with thousands of maggots. It was impossible to watch it for longer than two seconds.

The community was also quite far from the town, and the beach was even farther. It was a few times not easy to get out and return. But most of the time, he was lucky to get a lift from somebody. By the way, getting out meant going back to the world, which would always bring a relieve from some strange sense of isolation, but in the end of the day, the big world was never good enough. Nicte was his sanctuary.

You might be under the impression that there was nothing else but the community with its people having the jungle all for themselves. But it wasn’t quite like that. There were several houses and other dwellings scattered all around that place. In some lived the locals, the Mexicans. Their homes were often very humble, but poor is a better word. Children, chickens and a few pigs would run around in the muddy littered yards. It smelled there either of BBQ or burnt plastic. There were also a few places for tourists, like small huts and bungalows. But mainly, there were the cenotes, thousands of them, they dotted the jungle like clouds in the sky.

It was around a month now since Checo arrived. He had already finished his first big and important project – a door for Keshet’s house. It turned out very nice, and he was praised and pleased, he officially became Checo the carpenter, everyone knew. And so there was nothing by now that should prevent him from fully enjoying the jungle experience. He was actually in euphoria. It was on this night when he reached the peak of his time in Nicte.

He was in the kitchen, again, of course. He was there almost every evening. And as always, people were coming in and out. This kitchen wasn’t ordinary. The people didn’t come here only to eat, in fact, they came here to celebrate, to live. This kitchen was the very heart of the community. Oftentimes certain people at a certain time got stuck there until late night. Big things happened there, no wonder, because it is only in the heart where such big things can happen.

From somewhere far in the dark played music. It came from the jungle, and it started in the afternoon already. Checo was still in the carpentry, so he wouldn’t pay so much attention. But now, the happenings of the day were gone, and the dusk brought the silence of the night in which the music sounded loud enough to not wonder where it was coming from.

The door opened and Mauricio walked in. He was completely naked. It didn’t really matter that he had no clothes on. What mattered was that whenever Mauricio came to the kitchen, there was the big thing going to happen. Mauricio had the capacity to create events. He attracted people, he woke them up and made them move, though it was probably hardly ever his intention.

Checo stopped writing and watched him walk in. The man reached for a sack of oranges which usually lay on the floor under the big island. He was grabbing the fruit away fast like a thief, pilling it up on the table. There were at least thirty oranges that he then cut in half, quickly. And in a minute, he seized the orange press and one by one he started throwing the fruit in and squeezing it in great ardor.

“Are you doing this for the whole community?” Checo called at him from over the table. “Thirsty, very thirsty!” Mauricio said seriously and made an exhausted face. “You want orange juice?” He asked Checo while pulverizing the oranges with both of his arms, heavily bending down the lever of the press. The rind oinked and squealed in pain and the juice poured straight into the bowl underneath like water from a gutter during heavy rain.

“I’ve never been served an orange juice by a naked man,” Checo said and sent a huge swig down his throat after Mauricio handed him a full glass. It was delicious. “I’m happy I had been your first,” Mauricio said and flipped his glass in the mouth. Then, he poured himself another one and asked, “You want more orange juice?”

“Yeah.”

“Yes, never say no to orange juice, right?” Mauricio said and chuckled. In a few minutes there were 6 more people all together drinking the sweet beverage, standing at the bar top, chatting and having fun. And in no time they were all stoned.

Mauricio never had his own pipe. He either smoked from someone’s else pipe or from a lime rind. He would cut the lime in half and gouged out the flesh which he usually ate right away. Then he rolled the rind like a pancake and cut off the ends on both sides. Finally, he loaded whichever end with weed and voila! Clouds of smoke. When Checo and some other people had seen it for the first time, they couldn’t stop laughing. And certainly, they had to try it. It really worked. Plus the smoke was flavored by the fresh fruit. One only had to be careful not to ablaze his nose as the lime pipe was never too long.

It was funny. The pipe being passed from hand to hand smoked like a chimney, sometimes even the rind burnt. Then, it all got even funnier, if you know what I mean. “Where is the music coming from?” Checo suddenly asked Mauricio like it really but really interested him. “I don’t know, you want to find out?” Mauricio asked all serious. “Yeah!” Checo exclaimed so quickly that there was absolutely zero time to think about the answer. The immediate possibility of adventure exploded in him like a bomb full of happiness. Those who were present in his proximity were hit by it immediately, too, and they were almost jumping in excitement. We can say that this day, this very second, this present moment, was Checo’s decision to fully enjoy his life. “Hey! You’re going with us?” Checo called over like a hero at those who were standing afar and whom the explosion was yet going to reach. “Where?” They asked.

“Follow the music!” Mauricio and Checo said at the same time.

“I need some clothes!” Mauricio realized when they were passing around his house. He disappeared in the black garden. Cosme went with him. Checo and Francesca were waiting. Others would join them later. Cosme always dressed up at Mauricio who probably shared a lot of his clothes with other people, and supposedly, Mauricio was a designer, too. Oftentimes, there were remarkable pieces of clothing hanging in the dining room or somewhere else. But, honestly, Checo didn’t know whether those pieces were really just unique or terrible. “I designed this. I’m a designer,” Mauricio said one day when Checo inquired about it.

Mauricios’s choice couldn’t be better. He wore a short violet-pink skirt that flickered like the lights in a whorehouse. It was so tight on him that the zip wouldn’t close. And so the upper part of his ass remained exposed. He also had a small purse hanging around his neck. The Mexicans always carried some small purses or handbags.

They followed the music. Again, they walked on the gravel road. Again, they didn’t see anything. But more than the eyes, they now needed the ears with which they followed the music like the voice of their heart, and that voice was now getting louder and louder with every other step they made. Then a light dazzled on them from far away. It was a motorbike. Kesha and Larisa, a Russian couple, were coming back from town. “Join us,” Checo said when they stopped to say hi.

The group was now approaching a house. This was where the music was coming from. It wasn’t very far, maybe only fifteen minutes from Nicte. Checo had known about the building because it was on the way to their place, a little aside from the road. Light seeped from behind the trunks and branches and bush, flashing in colors and disappearing again and for a thousand times more to fight their infinite battle with the blackness of the night. And the music was now so loud you couldn’t hear your own steps.

The trees withdrew, and they were in a garden which looked like the Garden of Eden. Bewildered they stopped and watched the scene. Hundreds of bulbs, air-balls and ribbons hung above them, lanterns hovered in the trees around. There were lit candles on the ground and a stage with huge speakers. But mainly the place was teeming with extraordinary creatures. Suddenly, a bee flew by, it started dancing with a butterfly and a flight attendant. And there was a cat, a homeless, and here went a princess, and there stood a fairy. There were elves there, too, and even the UFO. There was everybody in the garden. It was like in Alice in Wonderland. Yeah, it was a carnival.

Checo thought he had hallucinations again, because this certainly looked and felt like a hallucinogenic experience, even without DMT. It was like shifting to a completely different dimension. Fifteen minutes ago, he was talking in Nicte’s kitchen having no idea that very soon he would be in the middle of a black forest dancing with gnomes. It happened so fast that he actually couldn’t make sense of it. The reality just suddenly bubbled up to him from the utmost darkness, and it was bubbling very funny and colorful. He shared his feelings with Francesca who felt just the same. Even Cosme seemed taken aback.

The fastest to tune in was Mauricio. He walked into the crowd, and instantly he was the king of the jungle, dancing cumbia with the first person he saw – a charming woman wearing a white T-shirt and jeans. She didn’t wear a costume, she was simply a cumbia dancer. And with Mauricio, the couple looked and danced as if they had known each other for their whole life. A circle formed around them and people watched.

Checo danced, too. Everybody danced. And those, who couldn’t dance cumbia, tried to dance cumbia in their own way, or they would just dance. But nobody could dance cumbia as good as Mauricio. He was like a tornado. He could turn around his axis with the elegance of a humming top. And he swung low on the knees and likewise he bobbed his torso as he bent it forward and back at the same time with his shoulders. And he made this incredible steps that made it look like he was going to fall, like if he was drunk, or a little clumsy, but neither he was drunk, nor was he clumsy, nay, he was all OK, it was just his style. The expression in his face! He smiled, laughed and chuckled, like if he really was a little clumsy in the end, like a baby, and drunk, too, but from cumbia. And his dark coal eyes gleamed like yours when you are happy and excited. Yeah.

Until now the two had danced without holding hands. It was just the beginning, like a courtship. But now they said their yes, and they fell in each other’s arms. Both barefoot, dust stirred up from the dry earth like under the thunder of hooves of wild horses. He guided her safely, and she followed him on every step he took. She trusted him because he was strong, confident and amusing. He turned her around, bent her down, or he threw her away and she flew like a boomerang to again land in his hands. They smiled and laughed from the sheer joy they shared, the passion for dance.

Such a simple thing, watching two people dance. It made Checo so happy. Life was so beautiful again. Suddenly, he thought for himself, that he could stay, stay for life, in Mexico. He could learn cumbia, too, and speak perfect Spanish. He could do so many things…

They were playing Balkan Beat Box now – Dancing With the Moon. Checo loved the band. He had been listening BBB for years already. “I love them, too!” Francesca yelled. So they were all dancing with the moon. And because it is always a little easier to dance to the song that you know, Checo added the extra swing to his movement. He enjoyed it. And he watched Francesca and wondered whether she was the woman with whom he had danced when he was blind. He actually began to feel it was her. If he had smelled her again, the wild smell, he would have made sure. But he wouldn’t even think of approaching her the same way as before. She wasn’t his type. Yet when he didn’t see her, it was all different.

Francesca left and when she was back, she had a drink in her hand. She brought it from a big table that stood farther in the garden. Checo had been thirsty and had he been invited to the party, he would have already taken something to drink, too. But he wasn’t invited, none of them was, so he thought such manners were not polite. Hence, he was surprised by Francesca’s boldness. It didn’t really matter who was invited. This was Mexico, a different culture, warm people. Everyone was welcome. But Checo still hadn’t been able to shift his mind from the customs of the place where he came from.

More people were coming, all in costumes. And all of them were very creative. But no-one could beat Mauricio, even though he didn’t really wear a costume. It was confusing for others. Strangers stared at him as if they were really questioning whether it was just fun or not. Well, it was Mauricio. He would simply stand out wherever he was. “We need more women here. I’m going to bring them,” he said and went back to Nicte. A few minutes later he was back with Carla and Rachel. Then, Kakanka came, too, and even Kesha.

Now, the Nicte people were dancing together, like a tribe around fire, like a family, joyful for one another. Francesca couldn’t stop laughing because of Kesha’s dance. He was kind of squatting with his legs widespread. He was tall so when he straddled he looked like bouncing Eiffel Tower. And he was lifting legs in turns, like a drunk drake. Kesha was usually more of a serious man, but today was a carnival.

The house had a balcony which Checo didn’t notice until Mauricio whistled in that direction and waved his hand. “Come here!” he called. Checo looked up. A beautiful woman was standing there like the empress of the Ancient Rome watching the Roman Games. She didn’t show any sign of reaction to Mauricio’s gesture. But a few minutes later she was down and walked directly towards him. He noticed her and told her something in the ear. She only looked at him hastily and kept walking through the crowd of dancers.

The woman wore a jaguar dress which started to coil right from the back of her neck. Down to her breasts two strips of the fabric crossed each other like an X. In the upper part of the X, the breasts rested like two eggs in a nest. Next, the strips advanced winding down and back to her spine and waist. All was tight here. She was very lean. She was an incredibly beautiful woman. Finally, the strips were gone and from over her buttocks the fabric hung down loosely, covering her legs all the way to her ankles. This part of the textile was so soft and fine that when she walked, it waved like a tall waterfall onto which blows the wind and the water turns into vapor, never really reaching the ground. Covered were her legs, yet so much was seen.

Oh, that woman was the woman of the night. No. She was the woman of millions of nights. The millions because they were multiplied by the number of dreams the men dreamed about her after seeing her for the first time. She had golden curly hair clipped at the nape and from there the hair swished in the air like a horse tail. And a few shiny stripes that didn’t make it to the clip, gently twisted down around her eyes and the cheeks and ears like the fragile chains of her earrings at the end of which sparkled white stones.

“Hey, Jaguar!” Checo called at Mauricio. “There’s a female jaguar here,” he told him. And Mauricio opened his mouth wide and jerked his jaws as if biting into a massive chunk of raw flesh. Checo wanted to know what would be Mauricio’s reaction because he wanted to know whether he already liked the woman as much as Checo. Knowing that Mauricio adored women so much, Checo started watching not only the female jaguar but the Jaguar, too. This made him feel alarmed. Suddenly, Mauricio appeared to be a rival in Checo’s eyes, because Mauricio could seduce any girl if he wanted. But very quickly, Checo realized such thinking was a waste of time. It was not about the man, but about the woman.

Checo couldn’t let his eyes go off her. For a long time she didn’t go to dance. She was standing behind the big table with food and drinks. There was a little bar there, too, and that was exactly where she was. A tall guy approached her. Checo assumed they were friends judging the way they talked. But then something unexpected happened. Carla, Mauricio, Francesca, and Cosme, too, came to the table altogether and started to eat whatever they saw. Checo had already taken some water to drink but taking even the food for free would not cross his mind until the moment he saw all his friends stuffing themselves up. But if they could do it, then Checo could do so as well. So he went to the table, and quickly he scanned all the plates and bowls, and then he looked at Francesca and pointed to what she was holding in her hand. “What is that?” he asked her. And she said something, but Checo didn’t understand because her mouth was full, and the music was loud. A little shyly he took a cracker and on top of it he spread some kind of dip with vegetable. And how good it was.

It must have been a while when Checo realized he almost forgot about the jaguar woman. So good was the food. Moreover, he was then not turning only at her, but perhaps even more at the table. And with great braveness and newly acquired boldness that he had picked up by watching Francesca and the others, he went back to the table two more times. Yeah. But then something really unexpected happened again. Two people were bringing a four-tier chocolate cake. Since that moment, the jaguar woman was temporarily going to be put second on Checo’s list.

The chocolate cake was brought for a woman who had a birthday. Hence, the carnival. This woman and her husband lived in the house. They were, in fact, Keshet’s neighbors, and they knew each other. Kakanka new them, too. Kakanka knew everyone and everyone knew Kakanka. And because Kakanka was present at this birthday party, it was kind of confirmed and verified that Checo was truly welcome and he could take, eat and drink whatever he liked, and as much as he wanted.

The music ceased and everybody sang, “Happy birthday to you.” Then the birthday person cut into the cake, she took a little piece and the night got wild again. But hey. The cake! What about the cake?! It was unbelievable! The cake just stood on the table basically untouched like a lonely cactus in the middle of the desert. Purposely, Checo was waiting whether somebody would come and take a piece, but nobody came around. And Checo couldn’t ignore this anymore. Determined to get what he wanted, he rushed to the table, sized a paper plate and loaded it with a heavy block of the soon-to-be sweet delight.

Guaranteed! What tastes better than the food eaten by a well stoned man being overwhelmed by serious munchies? There were these cream cocoa layers in between the dough. And the dark chocolate crust on top as hard as ice! And the snowy melting whipped cream! Yes, please. One more. And Checo went back for another chunk.

But here was the problem. He knew he was eating with guilt, “I shouldn’t eat so much sugar,” he reminded himself, “I’ll be sick.” But he couldn’t help himself. He tried to fight the craving for another minute. He failed. “OK, one more and that’s it,” he promised himself. Nevertheless, in the end, he appeared at the table two more times, that is, four times in total. The only thing that stopped him was that he was simply full.

Dancing time again. The night had reached its peak. The people were screaming, laughing, jumping, shaking their bodies beyond their limits. Especially girls were crazy. They squealed from excitement like the Cherokees. Everybody danced till they sweat. And then a DJ came and started rapping something and everybody went absolutely loco. This took some time and when the performance finished, everybody wanted to rap and sing, too.

The first one who got to the mike after the DJ was Mauricio. The beat started to play. “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr,” Mauricio gave out at length. Checo thought he was going to die laughing. Mauricio continued, “hacha, hacha, chacha, macha… ubi, dubi, subi, jubi… ege, mede, sebe, debe… meme, deme, eme, jeme… grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

“What did you tell the rapper?” Checo asked Mauricio when he came back from the stage. “Oh, I told him he killed it. He was the best. He inspired me to sing,” Mauricio said seriously.

 

It was very late. It was actually very early in the morning but still dark. All of a sudden, the garden wasn’t as full as during cumbia dance. Yes, a couple of times the last and brave heroes of the night jumped back taking a second breath, trying to move their tired bodies, but the end was inevitable for everyone, everyone except Mauricio. He was still in full power. Wild music was playing now and he, in a trance, was frantically throwing all his limbs in the air like a gazelle, a monkey, an Apache. The little purse span around his neck so much that you were worried it would choke him.

Strangely enough, the female Jaguar finally started to dance. Checo watched her all the time. But he wouldn’t imagine that it could be possible to approach her. He thought, she was too beautiful and out of his league. Despite Checo’s confidence, however, she certainly must have noticed him because at one point she was very close and said something that sounded like “Hi!” But he wasn’t sure and simply didn’t reply.

At last, Kakanka, Cosme, Checo and Mauricio sat down exhausted. The carnival was over. “That was so crazy,” Checo told Mauricio, “I don’t remember the last time I was so happy. It’s so good to be here, man.”

“Yes, and now we are all your friends,” Mauricio said and smiled. And Checo wondered whether Mauricio was serious about the “friends.” He wasn’t sure whether he had any friends. Is it even possible to make friends in such a short time? But just the fact that Mauricio had said it made him feel special.

They walked back to Nicte. Suddenly, Mauricio pulled out a bottle of wine from under his skirt. Then Cosme drew one from his backpack and said he had to go back to take one more. “Don’t tell this to anybody,” Mauricio told Checo. The alcohol was forbidden at Nicte. “It’s actually not for me, but I know that somebody might like it when they come to visit me at night,” Mauricio said.

“Sure,” Checo nodded. They passed another twenty meters. “Hey! The cake! We must take something for the kids!” Mauricio exclaimed and run back.

The next morning in the kitchen. “You know how much of the cake I ate yesterday?” Checo told Mauricio, trying to confess about his sin, feeling guilty, expecting some kind of punishment. “So?” Mauricio asked not understanding what was Checo trying to tell him. And when Checo started to explain, Mauricio interrupted him, “You ate it because you deserve it,” Mauricio said seriously, “You have to take all that you like, because that is all yours, man. You deserve it. Enjoy your life. Now is the time to enjoy.”

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