Dateline: An EnCRYPTed Part of the City
I am a vampire. I’m sure this is something you never suspected, and of course, I’ve never given you any reason to be suspicious either. Because I’m really good at passing. But I can’t take living a lie any more, and Mexico City has proven surprisingly supportive of my true nature. I’ve decided that it’s time to come out of the casket and live my life openly as the blood-sucking immortal that I really am.
Well, ok, I exaggerate. I’m really only half-vampire. You see, my father is a vampire, while my mother is mortal. So as I’m fond of telling my Mexican friends, I can take the sunlight, but not very much. When I’m out and about in Mexico City, I wear sunblock and a wide-brimmed hat, and I cling to the shadows. In fact, I always cross the street to get to the shadowy side, even if that means I have to cross back again to get to where I’m going. I seldom go out at high noon, and I try to avoid the sun as much as possible. When I go out to exercise, I jog wearing a wide-brimmed hat and dark sunglasses. It’s a bit of an odd sight, but it beats being reduced to a pile of ash on the sidewalk.
There are other challenges, too. This is a very catholic country, and there’s a church seemingly on every other block, festooned with crosses. I’m usually ok if I don’t touch them, but I have to confess they give me heartburn whenever I walk by. People think I’m crossing myself, but I’m really just gagging. It’s better if I’m wearing sunglasses, but being only half-vampire, I can look at them from a distance, though my vampire friends warn me about getting too close.
The real problem here is all the crucifixes people wear. And I’m not just referring to the availability of fresh blood. It’s ok when you can see the crucifix and steer clear. But lots of times people wear them under their clothes. And that’s where the trouble starts. Last Thursday I decided to go to the Centro Histórico at rush hour. Bad idea. The metro was mobbed. And wouldn’t you know it? I ended up in a car, pressed up against someone whom I can only assume was wearing a crucifix under his shirt. The burning sensation was excruciating. I kept trying to pull away, but I could only get little breathers before the person pressed up against me again. I nearly fainted. Fortunately I got off the train before things got really ugly, but I’ve still got a nasty burn mark on my left arm. Remind me to just turn into a bat and fly next time.
Crosses and crucifixes aren’t the only problem, at least for a half-vampire. Since I’m not a full vampire, I don’t strictly need to drink the blood of mortals, though it’s refreshing when I do. But I try to keep it to a minimum. Peer pressure from hanging out mostly with humans? Who knows? Mainly I survive on regular human food. When in restaurants ordering meat, that’s when my true nature starts to really show, especially here. In the USA, you can order a rare steak, and no one blinks an eye. Here in Mexico, nearly everyone cooks meat really well done. So I spend a lot of time explaining to waiters that I want my meat rare, just seared, nearly raw. I usually explain this in great detail, in a slightly fanatic tone of voice, saying I’d like the center to be a bit bloody. Then I repeat my order and instructions, with my best vampire smile, revealing just enough fang to show that I really mean it.
Usually I’m met with incredulous stares. Most waiters simply refuse to believe me. Rare meat! Say it isn’t so! Not possible! Just bring him the usual! But when I send overdone meat back to the kitchen, they start to suspect that maybe there is something more than a little odd about this deathly pale foreigner with his sharp teeth and a taste for something just a little bloody.
As for my Mexican friends, they’re totally cool, and make the drawbacks worth it. They’ve seen my fangs, noticed my habits of avoiding the sun, and politely overlook my bloody steaks. Due to my ambiguous accent, many guess that I’m from Eastern Europe anyway. And of course when I talk fondly of Transylvania, you can see the light bulbs going off in their heads. Fortunately, they have all been very accepting. Indeed it’s become something of a running joke with Luis, my new flame. He’s very vampire-positive, and I love that about him.
Where I live is the perfect place for a vampire. Well, except for the lack of a moat and towers, which might draw unwanted attention. The house is pretty old. But more importantly, the maintenance is a little, uh, “Transylvanian.” So the doors creak VERY mysteriously when opened. And when visitors come (never to leave), I have to go downstairs, cross the patio, and open an enormous, old, creaky front door to the street. The last time Luis came to visit, I didn’t hold back. I descended, unlatched the lock, stood invisibly behind the door and let it swing slowly open with a long, drawn-out creak. As he entered, I leapt out of the shadows, grabbed him, and kissed his neck.
He greeted me with laughter and a big smile. He knows I won’t eat him (though I occasionally do nibble) and he’s one of the biggest supporters of my “vampire-ness.” He’s also a big part of the reason I feel I can come out in the open now. Heck, everyone here has been very supportive. Most of my friends know, and they’re all incredibly cool. I could never do this at home; Boston has much less tolerance for the undead or semi-undead. Here? There’s much more of a “live-and-let-live-forever” attitude. As a foreigner in Mexico, you really get an amazing amount of freedom and leeway, no matter how eccentric you are. It’s a perfect place for a half-breed vampire who can survive the light of day.
I might just stay here for eternity.