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twelvemen,struckupamarchandtooktheleadintheprocession.Thetoneoftheinstruments
wasnotexactly uptothe mark ofthe Mexico City Police band's,butthe intentions andenthu-
siasm were certainly not inferior.
Without meaning to be sarcastic, I cannot refrain from describing our march into this little
town, for even at the time I could not suppress a smile, and when a gentleman who was riding
besidemeaskedmewhatIwasamusedabout,Itoldhimoutright,makinghimandotherswho
heard me roar with appreciation. The band did not walk in step, every man choosing his own
pace and length of stride. In front walked a blind kettle-drummer, and when he went in the
wrong direction somebody headed him straight again. Next came the brass instruments, every
man blowing until he was red and blue in the face, and behind them, immediately in front of
me, hobbled a piccolo player with a wooden leg, and whenever the distance between him and
the rest of the band became too big, or my horse threatened to step on him, he hopped along
full speed to catch up with the others, never interrupting the playing of his high, shrill notes.
When we were already near the plaza a horse-cab came tearing along, the skeleton of an
old nag, which by some miracle had escaped being used in a bullfight for years, fairly boun-
cing into the air. A bearded man, the player of the big drum, was coming along late. Behind
the cab ran what must have been his boy, carrying the drumstick the father had probably for-
gotten in his hurry. As soon as the man was out of the dilapidated vehicle, and had strapped
on his important instrument, he began to hit it with all his might, although he was still some
distance from the procession. I always appreciated these village bands, for their unpretentious
efforts were well meant and many of the musicians showed talent, although their instruments
wereoldandbatteredandthequalityoftheirtonedistinctlypoor.Wehaltedinthemainplaza,
where the speech of welcome was read from a balcony, whereafter the band entertained the
crowd by giving a special concert.
I enjoyed myself thoroughly at the different fiestas that followed, and among other things
witnessed another bullfight, where one animal was 'dedicated' to me, which means to say,
killed in my honour. When this is done, the matador comes in front of the person to whom he
intends to dedicate the bull. Having saluted, he turns round to face the beast, and in doing so,
cleverly throws his two-cornered hat towards the honoured person, a gesture that is elegant,
somewhat arrogant and not easy to perform with grace.
Now, every time the hat is thrown to anybody, that person is expected to put a gift, in the
shape of a banknote or a cheque, into it; and bullfighters are accustomed to good presents. As
fatewouldhaveit,Ihadnottakenmorethanafewpesos(Mexicancurrency)withme,neither
had I a cheque-book handy, so there I sat, holding this blessed hat on my lap, as an old maid
mightholdthedeadbodyofherfavouritecat.However,Mexicansaresharpandquick-witted,
so only a few painful seconds passed until a friend rightly guessed my plight and came to the
rescue by lending me the necessary. Quite unintentionally, this bullfighter had made me feel
such an ass that I felt more like putting a charge of high explosive into his scented hat, but
as the show went on, and my sudden fright wore off, I began to have more kindly feelings
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