"Ay Dios tia, nadie me gana a mi" he'd informed V before their chess rematch yesterday. Perhaps he'd have contained his bravado had he known how long she had been preparing her cold dish of revenge.
In fact ever since he'd won their first contest back in June she has been frequenting numerous online chess arenas in order to develop a more advanced grasp of the game. On December 30 after wearing down what I had considered to be a most promising attack, she declared herself ready.
LF made the mistake of thinking the endgame would be a formaility once he'd captured her queen. Instead several of his most valuable pieces got themselves snarled behind a column of his own peones while one of V's broke through to earn her a replacement.
Her sobrinos are used to her quick mastery of almost any game, and are thus unsurprised when she 'makes them torta' in almost all video-juegos (except first person shooters, which she's never really taken to.) But LF felt safe in the sacred grotto of his chess accomplishments.
At midday today, there was the culminating peal of explosive claps, this one distinguished by the commingling of the acrid odour of faja quemada with the more pleasing aromas of incense. Soon afterwards toc toc toc tottoc was heard for the last time this festive season, as a small procession of children collected change on behalf of 'el Niño Dios'.
This is the only time of year that we tend to buy stuff in the market without really knowing what we're going to do with it. Which is probably why our kitchen is full of green habas right now. At V's request I went online earlier to seek out some recipes.
Prices have tumbled since festivities started a week ago. A mano of mandarins cost just Q1.50 yesterday: a 50% markdown from la noche buena.
We'd gone into town on New Year's Eve to collect the pollos rellenos we'd reserved at Epicure, and then unsure exactly what we'd intended to do with them, treated ourselves to an impromptu picnic in the Plazuela, making good use of the supersized pirujos that are traditionally sold here on the eve of public holidays.
J showed up unexpectedly after dusk with the exciting news that next year she was going to have to get used to flying around in a helicopter A LOT — her way of informing us that her new bloke is more pistudo than our wildest imaginings. She suggested that we meet up later on in the Parque, an arrangment which resulted in the usual frustrations.
Last night's big draw in town was the tenth annual Festival of the Calle del Arco, which began back in 1999 with the Millennium bash of fond memory. The numbers of out-of-towners this attracts has grown each year, such that these days the celebration has in effect bifurcated into two events topped off by separate firework extravaganzas — one funded by the Alcalde and the other by the shops and residents of la quinta.
Fluid movement up and down this latter artery is no longer possible any time after around 7:30pm, so the traditional toritos no longer fire rockets sideways into the throng...presumably because running away isn't an option any more.
In spite of the crush and our delayed arrival, we manged to meet up with my friends S and B a little before 11 and shortly after the familiar uncoordinated sequence of unilateral midnights, Chiqui and 'la beba' appeared beside us — just in time to get drenched in evil-smelling cidra by a coldhearted tourist who had shaken the bottle enthusiastically with just this kind of collateral damage in mind. I took a direct hit in the back, but had luckily just put my waterproof jacket back on. Chiqui was estrendando an expensive and modish new coat and didn't stop giving the culprit dagger looks for some time.
It had taken us a while to pick a parking spot earlier in the evening. It was far from central, but V was pleased that there seemed to be no evidence of little strips of tattered red tissue paper around the tyres when we eventually got back to the car.
Having reached home and said our final feliz años around the block, we had a stroll with the dogs at 3am. Judging from the number of burned out cohetes inside our patio and on the steps up to the studio, they'd had a torrid time of it. Jin barked at a tiresome local hoody who picked up some stones and waved his arms around threateningly, but, decided to hold onto them so that he could punish us for Jin's behaviour by chucking them at our front gate instead. Moron.
Today I went out with the kids to buy some more bombas and cohetes. We passed an American man and his two boys and he smiled in greeting. As soon as he had disappeared into his house on Comendador, LF whsispered to me that he'd noticed that this man had been carrying a small can of MACE in his right hand. The neighbourly smile is clearly a decoy. He's really just another paranoid nut from central casting.