Last year I stayed with my Gramma aka O.G. Chilangabacha for six months and was amazed on a daily basis by her ingenuity. One late night I went into the garage to get a coke and almost screamed my lungs out when I saw what I thought was a human foot sticking out from underneath the dryer. It turns out the filter had worn out and instead of going out to buy a new one, she replaced it with a stocking leg that, when filled with hot air, jutted out into the hallway like the shoes from the dead Wicked Witch of the East in The Wizard of OZ.
My 11-year-old cousin told me that one November she was staying over and noticed that the white sheets on her bed had three strange holes in the middle of them. My innocent little cousin went to ask Gramma what was up and she replied “Can you believe someone would throw them out?” O.G. Chilangabacha had rescued some kid’s discarded Halloween ghost costume, washed it and put it on the bed in the guest room.
Now I know where Gramma gets it. People in Mexico are creative as hell when it comes to everyday dilemmas. I’ve ridden in vochos where the driver has attached a dog leash to the door so they don’t have to reach across to close it, and I’ve seen old men using plastic Superama bags to protect their sombreros from the rain.
The best examples of ingenuity here in Mexico City are the legions of blind music vendors in the metro. Each one of them has rigged up his or her own portable speaker system that usually fits into a backpack or a small bag. Sometimes I get annoyed because they play the opening bars of “Another One Bites the Dust” and right when I’m getting into the jam the switch it up to “Hey Jude.” I’ve seen some pretty crazy wire/speaker/ stereo desmadres but the gentleman in the above photo, whom I encountered on the blue line on my way to Tasqueña was my favorite so far. Not only had he fashioned a sweet red speaker vest, but he also added a pinche microfono so he didn’t have to yell over the crowd. If I was a fan of Broadway’s greatest hits, I totally would have spent 10 pesos on one of his products.