Here in Mexico (we’re in Ajijic, Jalisco now), they are getting ready to celebrate the Day of the Dead, November 2, or All Souls’ Day on the Roman calendar. But yesterday, as my wife Jen and I strolled around town, we experienced a foretaste of that public mourning and celebration.
We walked 2-3 miles down the carratera, or highway, to see if Jesus and Teresa, a couple we became friendly with, were still running their little restaurant, called La Cocineta (the little kitchen), which offered fresh, handmade ingredients and local fare. We found, in fact, that someone else had taken over and changed the name to El Verde (the green place). After two fresh fruit drinks (30 pesos, or about two dollars), we went across the street to a gated community called El Parque (the park), where we stayed one August a few years back and befriended several of the guards.
We asked after one of them, an amigo named Felix, who was quite a colorful and comical character. He was always ready with a bawdy quip and a friendly hand. He invited me one day to come down the highway to a pasturage he had there, where he kept a cow, a horse, and other animals, and experience the delights of the pajarete. What the devil is a pajarete? I asked.
Upon arrival I soon found out. Felix was milking a cow, squeezing its teats while the beast was shitting. Not to worry, he suggested. The cow was still cleaner than the putas (whores) in the town. I took video of this entire transaction (can’t find the file now, but will look), laughing all the time, it was so hilarious. (See this article for a discussion of the custom of the pajarete.)
A pajarete, it turns out, was a magical morning drink that included, in Felix’s recipe, fresh cow’s milk, chocolate, coffee, and tequila. Down the hatch! Felix and his compañeros and I drank readily. What a way to start the day!
When we asked yesterday about the man, the guard on duty told us that Felix died about a year ago, just north of town on the highway, in a motorcycle accident. Our hands went to our mouths in shock. We stood stock- or shock-still for a moment, unable to believe or comprehend.
But it made sense after all. Felix was not the kind of guy to go out quietly. He was married a couple of times, I believe, and had kids with several women. (His son Antonio, who worked as a guard at El Parque, too, has a family of six kids.) He swaggered about, telling jokes, laughing and making a merry demonstration of the gold in his teeth. Life was a comedy, no, señor? A divine comedy, if you will. Or a tragic one, if that makes sense.
So as Ajijic gears up for Halloween (celebrated by the gringos, and extended now to Mexican kids) and then the Day of the Dead, we remember our friend Felix, the happy one, as the name suggests, and his short and blazing time on this earth. Salud, Felix! As a happy cat, you may have another life or two coming.