“I was going to get some cake” exclaimed a drunken, redfaced Mexican as authorities, from Beariz’ Guardia Civil, pulled him out of this low mileage BMW coupe during the San Roque celebrations. The scars of this accident are long gone; hidden under layers of new asphalt and paint; of resurfaced sidewalks and replaced bricks; of settled court cases, and lost evidence.
Not that he would injure anyone in his crusade for pastries; Avion is not a town for pedestrians, at least not in the summer. There is a reason why the newspaper El Pais wrote a story about this place. “The Ferraris wake up in the summer” they wrote. Somewhat impressed by the wealth of this otherwise irrelevant slab of Ourense.
Whether the everlasting Ferraris will wake up this year or not is to be seen. As the conservatives lay the final nail in the coffin of their governance, they closed the loophole that let us, the foreigners, register those Italian purebreeds without paying road tax or VAT. While the red plates are out of the law, they certainly remain drilled to the back of many 458s.
Ferraris, the bright red contrast to this otherwise drab proletarian landscape. The mechanic shop adjacent to empty lots full of tractors, farms are next door to city hall. How much of a city Avion is, is debatable. The population is as variable as it is diverse; it can swell up threefold in the summer time. Inviting tourists from across the continent, and the world.
Most infamously, Mexicans.
We know if Olegario has arrived, we can see his Global Express business jet, and the unmistakably Mexican registration, from inside the cramped Iberia A319 we’re in. As it inches towards the jetty, we only wish to get our bags and greet our elders at the terminal.
Some say the grass is always greener on the other side, but in this case, the asphalt is always smoother, in the place we only get to stay in for a month in the year.
Our journey, as arduous as we might think it is, is not as insane as the one Olegario’s father had to take decades ago. Boarding a ship headed for Veracruz in the late 1920s, the then young man had but a handful of money in his pocket, and a vision.
But we love this. We love this notion that our grandparents are like him, and emigrated in conditions of war, in conditions of dire poverty, and great bravery. It is the little piece of barrio we still have after generations of domestication in the fanciest homes of Las Lomas and Polanco. Us, the new generations, in charge of keeping the empires.
Olegario isn’t the man behind the industries anymore, that role goes to his brilliant son, who also likes parking business jets around Peinador Airport. But his name carries weight around these parts, the kind of pedigree everyone else is envious of. Why else do they find themselves building irregular mansions next to cottages? Or ordering brand new sports cars? The weirder the better, the worse parked the best, as it is then how you’re seen by others.
But no one gets to invite Carlos Slim, once the richest man on earth, for a sleepover and actually get a positive reply. Only Olegario does.
The Ferraris wake up in summer, but summer is a three month period. Not a very accurate measurement. In reality we will see most, parked irregularly across Avion’s streets, in early August, during the party. The San Roque.
During the first weekend of the month these people, bless their little hearts, organize massive luncheons across the 32 localities of this municipality. The most impressive ones in Avion, where the main square is transformed into a stage for one of the largest orchestras in the world, Panorama, and plastic cups of whiskey diluted in soda are sold for five euros a pop. inside the emptied parking lots of the McMansions littering the main road, suited up-men drink Chivas on plastic tables set up by caterers, charging hundreds of euros a plate.
Kids are running across the grass, or in some cases swimming across the pools, and we didn’t speak Galician, we never voted for mayor, or attended the local school. We are simply props for our parents. Who pictured those moments during their breaks at some drab office in Mexico City or Guadalajara, maybe Monterrey. Hotels, gas stations, furniture shops. They have a niche. Some are inching towards realestate. Diversifying so to say.
But there are winds of change, days between flights are getting shorter, fewer, and fewer Ferraris wake up every year. It seems like our parents are recognizing that there isn’t much virtue to this piece of land other than the intense exposition of wealth.
To quote Jeremy Clarkson, it (Avion) was built for a world, by a world, that doesn’t exist anymore. So why bother with the Ferraris, if no children are going to be there to dream about driving them years later. Why build mansions that will be empty in ten or twenty years.
It’s hard to tell so early, but it seems like the El Pais article from fifteen years ago was predicating correctly an inescapable truth, a story of decay many rural areas are experiencing, just perfumed by the sort of wealth that made an international newspaper care about it.
I’m not going to save Avion. At times I’m almost ashamed of being from here, because it assumes a lot about me that isn’t true. I was always holding everyone at arms length and now only the mechanic actually knows my name. I felt better than them, whatever that meant, for not showing off, for not being the annoying foreigner, for not being the reckless drunkard, for not being the McMansion erecting asshat.
I guess it was a stupid thing to do, as now I spend most of my time here alone, experiencing some of the deepest loneliness I have ever been subjected to. Not that the alternative is significantly better.
It’s just me, this MacBook Air, and my little red convertible. It makes me wonder if I will spend time here later on, and enjoy my grandparent’s house in one of the localities. Once they die, I won’t have much reason to come. It’s a long, expensive journey, and my career path might not afford me the time to come here. What an excuse.
I guess the death of Avion won’t come with the sale of the comatose Ferraris, it will come, however, once the population stops being so variable. Once the Mexicans stay at home for good.