My Pop Life #31 : No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) – Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand

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No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)   –   Donna Summer & Barbara Streisand

…it’s raining it’s pouring my love life is boring me to tears…after all these years…

After six months of painting and decorating (that’s another tale) from a base in West End Lane NW6, selling and taking speed in increasingly large amounts,  I escaped to Latin America in the spring of 1980, with the assistance of my brother Paul.  The plan was simple.  Hitch-hike the gringo trail, from Mexico City all the way down to Tierra Del Fuego in Chile.  We had a year.   We had $10 per day.   We had a small red book where we’d write down how much we spent each day and whether it was over (bad) or under (good) $10.   That way we could build up a surplus for expensive items like bus or train journeys…

This plan had taken us, via Acapulco (another story) to Taxco, south of Mexico City in the state of Guerrero.  A silver-mining town sitting on a mountainside, the white-washed walls and red-tiled rooves which reminded us of Southern Europe.

Mexican Woman Brutally Murdered, Dismembered and Cooked on ...

Taxco, Guerrero

{ I was going to say it reminded me of Positano (see mypoplife #28) but I hadn’t been there yet, or seen a picture of it.}   Tourists came through in buses,  spent money in the silver shops and the stalls around the zocalo where the church stood and moved on.  We liked it and decided to find cheaper lodgings than our hotel.    A mysterious local with a huge sombrero whom we designated Don Juan took us under his battered wing and promised to find us a place to live.    We walked around that town all day – with our backpacks.   It was hot.   But eventually, somewhere to the south-west of town, a family said that we could rent a room in their house for $2 per week.   Lots of bonus points.   The deal was though – we’d have to stay for four weeks minimum.   We said yes.   One of the men then carried our packs upstairs, took out the hammocks we’d bought on the beach at Pie De La Cuesta and hammered them into the walls of our room with 8-inch spikes.   Extreme hospitalidad!

The family looked after us, as did the neighbours.   What a wonderful community.    Mama was the matriarch, cooked us a feast one day with the whole family and we tasted mole – the amazing Mexican chocolate spiced sauce that they eat with turkey, and which contains 100 spices…but everyday they went out for fresh corn tortillas – and let me tell you, there is nothing in the USA or anywhere else I’d wager that tastes likes tortillas in Mexico.   Damn the food was amazing.   Re-fried beans !!

We were very happy in Taxco, Paul and I.   We discovered little bottles of mescal for 17p.    We discovered that the word “mañana” doesn’t actually mean “tomorrow”.   We discovered a brilliant little pool hall, the surrounding Indian villages, the Caves of Cacahuamilpa, the volcanoes of Cuernavaca, and Easter Week.   We stayed there for six weeks in the end, because everyone told us that Holy Week – Semana Santa – in Taxco was not to be missed – and they were right.

Semana Santa en Taxco

In the days leading up to Good Friday, the town’s activity noticeably increased.  There was a fiesta set up in the park, and then the processions started : all through the streets, the townspeople were taking part in these processions, not just watching them.   Women with candles, women dragging chains, people in hoods carrying crosses, or bundles of thorns strapped to their bodies, Los Flagellantes who would stop every few hundred yards and thrash themselves with leather whips and other implements of pain.   Drawing blood.   We couldn’t believe our eyes.   These extraordinary processions wound their way around the whole town, for mile after mile, hour after hour into the night.   Late on the Holy Thursday Paul and I were drinking above the zocalo looking down onto the church all lit up and a man was being helped painfully up the steep hill by his wife.  He was clearly one of Los Flagellantes.    Later we asked our family why people did it.   They said it was a great honour and that there was a huge waiting list in the town to be a Flagellante, or a Cross Carrier, or a Woman In Chains.

KULTURITAS: Encruzados... Semana Santa en Taxco...

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Self-inflicted wounds and crowns of thorns

It may have been later that night when we went to the fiesta.   We’d been to a few of these already, taking a rickety bus (or more likely a pick-up truck and hang on for dear life) round the mountain roads, to a small community always with a church but with a very local version of catholicism because most of the mountain villages were populated by Indians.   They drank pulque which is a slimy green/yellow beer made from the cactus.   We drank it out of politeness – we were always the centre of attention in these places because of our foreign-ness, and then more so when we explained that we were English (ie not gringos).   I always expected the English to be unpopular abroad thanks to 100s of years of colonialism, slavery, murder and exploitation, but it seems not, until recent incarnations of the islamic fundamentalist.   These fiestas are great – like a village fete or the funfair setting up on the town square, with associated candy-floss, rides, refrescos, mariachis, the odd firework and a big wheel.  Paul and I, clearly having spent more than 17p on mescal, decided to get on board.   The fun fair music was a marvellous mix of disco, salsa and Los Tigres Del Norte, Mariachi bands and pop music and it was pumping loud as we rose our circular ascent into the night sky in our creaky little carousel.   As we reached the apex of the giant circular piece of wood (gulp) the song changed and the Big Wheel stopped.

Best 100+ Donna Summer - "Bad Girls" (1979) images on ...

No More Tears (Enough Is Enough) pumped out of the speakers and Donna Summer filled the night air, competing with fireworks,  catherine wheels, rockets and bangers.   Odd wooden structures like scaffolding made from wood held yet more fireworks, lit with abandon, the air was full of gunpowder, bangs and smoke, and the pumping beat of DISCO courtesy of our Donna in perfect duet harmony with our Babs, Barbra Streisand.   What a tune.   Luckily we enjoyed this moment because the Big Wheel didn’t move for at least 15 minutes, by which time the Long Version of this song had played out.    One of my enduring memories.   There’s loads of hidden sub-text to this story, but I’ll have to come back to Mexico, and Paul, on another occasion.   On this night we were young, we were free, we were drunk, and we were happy.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. stevekalinich
    Apr 05, 2015 @ 11:05:51

    I love the traveling the story .The song is beyond my endurance.I am really enjoying your descriptions and get a goodness of your journey and a visual feeling of it beyond the photos
    love Keep them coming

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Trackback: My Pop Life #147 : Lost Highway – Hank Williams | Magicmenagerie's Blog
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