Guitar case full of weapons, guns swinging from each hand, whole bars full of villains wiped out by one man and his sharp shooting. It is surely the hallmark of only one man, an actor who can keep both a male and female audience simultaneously breathless (if for very different reasons). Antonio Banderas as “El Mariachi” cuts a lonesome, brooding and very dangerous figure wandering through small town Mexico; dangerous that is if you are on the wrong side of the law in the violent world of the Mexico Trilogy.
The three movies (“El Mariachi,” “Desperado” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”) tell a fairly flimsy story of drug barons, gun runners and small towns terrorised by bands of marauding criminals. But few fans of the movies really care about the quality of the plots. With Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek providing the eye candy and the body count rising higher than the heat in the Mexican desert, there’s barely a moment to pause for breath in these action-packed movies.
Yet perhaps one of the unsung stars of the trilogy of movies is the Mexican landscape that serves as a backdrop. While much of the production took place on the US border the small cities and towns in Mexico that feature heavily in the action could have been chosen in almost any region. The dilapidated buildings, the deserted midday streets and the clouds of dust are typical of small towns from one end of Mexico to the other.
Small town Mexico
For those on vacation in the popular resorts of the Yucatan peninsula perhaps the best place to experience a little of this ‘old world’ Mexico is the town of Valladolid. It’s a handy stop on the way to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza although it still attracts relatively few tourists. Drive into the centre of the city and you’ll soon feel as though you’re entering El Mariachi country. Stroll a few blocks through the streets and your initial impressions may grow stronger.
One thing you won’t find here is the danger of El Mariachi’s world. Valladolid is a pleasant, almost sleepy town where very little happens. People pass the day in the central plaza and most of the main events take place in the church that dominates the center. Step into one of the bars scattered around the town and you’re more than likely to come across a traveling musician. Unlike Antonio Banderas’s character, though, his case is likely to hold nothing more than a real guitar.
Photo | dweekly