Today my dance group waltzed out to Leon to perform, I thought, at the Senior Center there. Instead it was a day of constant surprises.
We loaded onto the bus and I got the rear seat far left. I was fine with that as I sometimes get car sick and I’d be near the window which I opened. Carsickness is an odd thing. I never once experienced it prior to moving here but between the parasites in the food and bumpy roads it strikes without warning. And so it did.
Hence, napkins are always good to have on hand if you also get a bit overwhelmed taking a Mexican road trip.
Once in Leon I recalled much about the city from having once dated a local gal. If, speaking of airports, you fly into Leon and then head straight into San Miguel de Allende you are missing some uniquely Leon things, but not a lot.
First off Leon is huge. Even with light traffic it takes an hour to cross town in any direction.
Secondly, Leon is a retail purgatory for US-based businesses that have died in the North. On any given intersection you’ll find a Sears or Woolworths. If peckish, there will be a TGIF or Ruby Tuesday. I don’t know if Mexicans are too polite to tell the business they are already dead or if Leon is where a zombie store repents for past sins.
Being largely a factory town there isn’t much to draw tourists beyond those shopping for leather or shoes (spoiler alert – shoes don’t come in clown shoe sizes needed for many Northerners including me). A big exception are the catacombs under the main church.
Unlike our catacombs, these are sprawling marble hallways filled with lovely sculptures and paintings. I’ve learned from giving cemetery tours here there is a huge tourist market for funerary art.
Suddenly we on the bus are surrounded by amusement park rides on all sides of the road reminding me very much of Hershey Park. Unlike its park cousins, including Disney, with planning departments, Hershey had none so the park spreads hither and yon across downtown hopping over roads and chocolate factories. Why were we in Six Flags Over Leon?
Suddenly we exit the bus in front of a mammoth conference center and told to grab a partner and line up in twos like I’m back on some school field trip. School came to mind again upon seeing where we would perform looking much like my high school auditorium blown up as if it had it been on wicked good steroids.
Also, like my high school gym, the smell of pot was around every corner. Being an expo for elderly buyers stands featured everything for sale from hearing aids to foam pillows and a surprising amount of pot brownies and CBD incense.
We were to perform at 11:20 which I found odd. No one in Mexico is that precise with time. Normally you go on at 11 or 11:30 but like arranging to meet at 10:17, it simply isn’t done. And it wasn’t.
We got on the boards three hours later but I didn’t mind as the real show was backstage!
One group featured gals that had once been servers at the Last Supper pantomiming taking fruit off trees, placing it in their baskets to then toss the fruit into the crowd. Their teacher, a young man, worked them like dogs (well, not my dog) until they got on stage. He terrified me and my fellow dancers. We all agreed we were really glad he wasn’t our teacher.
Another group of gals that could easily recall their flapper youth featured a lit candle in their hair. Having seen all the Aqua Net they sprayed on opening an ozone hole over Leon as big as the city itself I was, once again, terrified. One rouge flicker and their hair would be aflame faster than the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory they once worked at.
I became enamored with a neon colored group that was both limber and talented. Each dancer wore fruit on their head for reasons that elude me but I convinced my group for the next show we wear fruit. Quickly I assigned pineapple, mango and such be sure to keep watermelon for myself.
Once on stage all went well as the crowd ‘ooohhh’d’ and ‘aaaahh’d’ frequently which is normal. What wasn’t normal was the senior volleyball going on beside the stage which prompted the noise. I became briefly baffled how they played by catching the ball and, if possible, tossing it back over the net.
It threw me off my game and for a split second I lost my count in the song which was hard to recover from. Well, a split second in real time but in on-a-stage time felt like minutes.
When we got back on the bus I convinced the bus monitor she’d prefer my rear seat among her pals and facing forward leaving me the co-pilot backwards facing seat in the front. This seat is commonly known as the witch’s seat for any of those, like me, that had to spend a semester studying a James Joyce Halloween classic.
In the short story the main character rides the train in a backwards position looking at what was just passed versus what is ahead. A subtle way to let her know she’s dead.
Given I felt perky the whole way back to San Miguel de Allende I’ll gladly be a dead witch. The only downfall I can see is giving my dog, Pepe, notice as his services are no longer needed. I now need to find myself a black cat familiar.