Strolling the streets like a Gachupín

IT WAS LATE afternoon on Sunday. We were walking the block and a half from the Hacienda to the barrio plaza.

I was wearing saggy, gray sweatpants, a newer, gray sweatshirt, a gray, wool beebop cap and, incongruously, tan loafers by Dockers.

You look like a Gachupín, said my child bride in español, using the derogatory Mexican term for a Spaniard. Maybe I did.

She is not fond of Spaniards, a sentiment shared by many Mexicans.

It’s similar to how Social Justice Warriors feel about Chris Columbus and the crews of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria, hauling their Spanish privilege.

My child bride studied six months in Spain in the middle ’90s. She loved the food but concluded that Spaniards, for the most part, are sangrones. Grumps and arrogant. Her favorite dishes were paella and fabada Asturiana.

She also went to a bullfight in Madrid, more to watch the people than the bulls. It wasn’t until a decade later than I attended my first bullfight. I went with her in Mexico City at the enormous Plaza México.

In Gachupín mode, I continued with her to the plaza where we sat on a steel bench facing the ancient church. I had my Canon, so I shot the video. Were it not for the minivan the scene might have been filmed a century ago.

The church — 16th Century, I’m guessing — is undergoing renovation.

You can’t see it here because they started on the roof. Contributions were solicited from neighborhood residents months back, and we ponied up 1,000 pesos even though we never use the church, and I’m no Catholic.

The music was coming from behind us on the far side of the plaza. Mexicans usually get dressed up on Sundays and walk around their plazas, but the people in our hardscrabble barrio don’t uphold that tradition.

After sitting half an hour, we moseyed home and watched a movie on Netflix. I traded my Gachupín gear for pajamas that were not gray.


14 thoughts on “Strolling the streets like a Gachupín

  1. Bebop cap? You must have spent some time on Gravier Street in New Orleans. Lots of bebops. Jazz musicians too. BTW me too.


    1. Carlos: It’s a name I think I made up because I don’t know what the cap is really called. It’s the sort that the front folds down and snaps to the short bill. As for Gravier Street, since I lived in New Orleans 18 years and was a cabbie for a while, I spent time on pretty much every street there.


    1. Ricardo: I don’t wear the bebop cap with the pajamas. When the frigid evenings here require headgear I sport the watch cap. The bebop is for outdoors, downtown, etc. As for the pajamas, I only have one matched set: navy flannel, but that’s just for January and February when you’ll freeze your keister off here. In relatively sweltering spring, I wear T-shirts on top and a light cotton green floral design on my pants. On intermediate nights, I have thin-flannel pants with the cartoon character Garfield all over it. Garfield is combined with either a short-sleeved or long-sleeved T-shirt.


  2. Lucky guy, my wife doesn’t let me go down to the store in sweatpants that I lounge around all day in. Gotta put on trousers, she says I must look presentable. You never know who you might encounter while off the property, she says. Gotta listen to the little lady, for my health.


    1. Tancho: Clearly, your lovely spouse spent far too much time above the Rio Bravo, picking up bad ways of thinking from the pinche Gringas. I feel for you. Perhaps it’s time to trade up to a Mexican wife but one who’s never lived up there where women have learned foul habits and sour mindsets.


  3. Gachupines from the Iberian Peninsula. My hubs had a lesson in appearance in public the other day at the grocery store. In slouchy clothing he looked homeless as he shopped for a few items. He laid his billfold, which is always overfilled with receipts looking like it could be stuffed with cash, down on the checkout counter. A pinche dude distracted him for a minute, just long enough to snatch the billfold. A targeted theft and when he went back to the store to try to retrieve, the video of the check stand showed the guy grabbing the billfold and heading directly to the loteria ticket vending machine. Probably threw all but the money in the trash somewhere. I’ve told him not to appear vulnerable and befuddled in public. Beside being down a few bucks he had to go through the drill of freezing credit cards and checking account plus getting replacements for his ID stuff.


    1. Carole: Sounds less like an issue of his appearance than an issue of one should not put one’s wallet on the store counter and look away. I never carry credit cards in my wallet, and I tote a debit card only when I’m heading to the store.

      Maybe it’s time to put a physical leash on your ole boy!


  4. La Plaza de Toros in Madrid is quite a spectacle. You have to pay extra to sit in the shade.

    La Senora was probably thinking of the arrogance of the Spaniards much like we think of the blimey limey denizens of the former British Empire with their arrogance and their stiff upper lip.


    1. Andrés: I’ve never been to Madrid, so I’ve never seen that ring. However, the Plaza México is larger. It’s the largest bullring in the world. It used to fill up in its heyday, but these days relatively few people go. Some consider that a good thing. I am not one of those people.


  5. One of my favorite books is Mexico, a novel by James A. Michener published in 1992. The story focuses on bullfighting, but also provides considerable insight into Mexican culture and history.


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