Forgive me for obsessing, dearest diary, but it’s my first date in over a century. Come to think of it, the humans were just wrapping up a pandemic the last time I dipped a toe in the dating pool. Flu, that one, unfairly blamed on the Spanish. I do wish I could shift the responsibility for my current predicament their way, but I’ve no one but myself to blame for being stuck here until sunset.

Don’t get me wrong, sheltering in place inside a thousand-year-old pyramid is much nicer than being burnt to ash by the sun, and I spent far too long rearranging cobwebs to make the most of the flame-shadows from my handcrafted torches. 

Still, I’m going to get zero sleep today. The floor here is nowhere near as comfy as the satin-lined coffin gracing my bed chamber at home, and it’s covered with broken obsidian knives, pottery shards, and chips of bone. I’d sweep them up, but the artifacts and restless souls buried here over the centuries combine to give this beautifully rustic space a wonderful ambiance. Even the ugly little church the Spanish plonked on top of the pyramid after they finished massacring the locals, sacking the town, and changing its name to Cholula adds a lovely frisson of Catholic guilt. 

As if that weren’t enough, I’ve literally thousands of spiders for company thanks to the Mexican government canceling the tunnel tours because of that pesky coronavirus. I’m not sure what they’re eating—the spiders I mean. The humans around here can’t get enough roast pork and chili peppers. So many chili peppers. Roasted, dried, fresh, fried, the list goes on. They put chili on everything: corn, peanuts, grasshoppers, fruit. All those fiery capsaicin oils floating around make my eyes water, but it’s worth it: the chili lends a lovely piquant flavor to their blood that pairs beautifully with the mineral notes from the volcanic soil. 

Thinking about what I’m serving for dinner isn’t going to make waiting any less tedious, but I can’t help it. I’ve got an absolutely fabulous idea. I can’t believe I’m saying this, even to you, my dearest diary, but I’m planning a buffet

I know a buffet on a first date isn’t the done thing. But this is my new start, so why not try something new? Supply is no problem. Unlike the last few years, when nearly all the humans were locked inside their houses and I was reduced to sustaining myself on livestock like a lowly chupacabra, these days people are running every which way they’re so excited to get their economy moving again. They won’t notice four of their number missing. Even if they do, they’ll just assume they died trying to cross into the United States or got disappeared by the cartels or the government. 

All I had to do was loiter at the cafe by the train station and make my choices. As you know, diary, I can be quite charming when I want to be, and after a few drinks, the prospect of an after-hours pyramid tour with yours truly is too much for most humans to resist. We started off climbing the stairs to the top. The church is locked, of course, and I can’t go in anyway, but the view of Puebla at night is breathtaking—the lights, the towers of Angelópolis, the volcanic silhouette of La Malinche looming on the horizon in the moonlight. None of them even hesitated when I suggested sneaking into the tunnel under the pyramid, and since it is officially closed, I didn’t even have to tell them to be quiet. 

Once I got them inside, of course, it was too late.

I’m so excited I’m finally getting to use the rolling cage I acquired when the Inquisition was in town. Torquemada & Co. were kind enough to install wrought iron chains and anchors, so the presentation is just marvelous. On top of that, the few days of fasting will lower the captives’ blood sugar, highlighting the regional differences in their flavor profiles. I’ve already decided on the pairings.

First up will be the jarocho, a fine young man from Veracruz. The Caribbean sea breezes have gifted his blood a lovely algal umami along with a trace of salt. It will go very nicely with a chianti. Next, the Northerner. He’s bursting with bold tastes of cactus, cattle, and sage; clearly shiraz territory. The robust mineral spiciness of the locals calls for a Pinot Noir, and it so happens I have plenty of that in my cellar. We’ll finish with the Southerner and his subtly frothy terroir: traces of vine fruits balanced by bitter cacao, which gives me the perfect excuse to open that bottle of Port I’ve been holding onto forever.

No need for dessert. I’ve got a wonderful Oaxacan mezcal for a digestif, and if everything goes well, after a few hours my new honey and I will be hungry, and we’ll go out and hunt up a snack together. What fun that will be!

  Oh, look at the time. It’s almost noon. I know I said I wasn’t going to lie down, but I must admit to feeling more than a little peaked. I’m going to say farewell now, dear diary, and try to catch some beauty sleep. I’d hate to show up to my first date in a hundred years looking a fright.

Prompted by João Henrique

Photo by Pedro Lastra on Unsplash. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the hill on which the church is built is actually a pyramid. That’s the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the largest in the world measured by the area of the base, and it’s the one referred to in this story. It’s about a ten-minute walk from my apartment. The volcano in the background is Popocatepetl, which was in the news this May for spewing ash.

Jim’s Taco Fund

How bout a few bucks for some tacos?