Sunday, February 28, 2010

Taxco, Mexico

February 23.  Ixtapan de la Sal.  Trip to Taxco.

This was an emotional journey, almost a pilgrimage back to Taxco which was one of the last places Ed and I visited together in 2007.  On that trip I drove on those treacherous winding roads up and down mountains and along the edges of steep canyons, and through one tiny village that seemed perched on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere.  Today I rode on the bus, which seemed almost scarier as we seemed to teeter on the edge of those cliffs.  All along the way I saw archetypal images of Mexico.  A burro in a field, a horse standing beside a large puddle of water, chickens in a cluttered farmyard, and snow-covered mountain peaks floating in the distance.  Dusty little towns had huge, weathered churches in their centers, some decorated with banners for Lent.

I wondered what it would be like to live in these small settlements.  So many people were outside, selling fruit, working in fields, carrying things.  I did see kids eating junk food, candy, and things in plastic wrappers.  It must cost so little to live as these people do, and they have little, but beautiful views, lots of exercise, and close families I would hope.  On the way home several very neatly dressed young men who looked like students, got off in some of the small villages.

From the Taxco bus station, I was able to find my way up to the first church (Veracruz), where I ducked inside to pray briefly.  Then I continued up to Santa Prisca, the Cathedral.  I didn’t go in, but sat on a bench in the Zocalo and read the pages I had copied from the “Let’s Go” guide.  It was much too bumpy to read anything on the bus.

I headed up to Plaza San Juan and then kept going, past the ruined Rancho de Taxco and up to Hotel Victoria.  I wandered into the grounds and took a couple of pictures from the overlook.  I then continued up higher and higher into residential neighborhoods before walking down to the Church of Ojedo.  The door was closed, and I thought perhaps mass was going on since it was noon.  I sat outside on the terrace eating the lunch packed by the hotel – a bottle of juice, a delicious ham/cheese/tomato sandwich, and a cookie.  I stayed nearly an hour, thinking the doors might open.  School children came – one little boy climbed up on a pillar and I was almost positive I heard him shout, “Yo soy parjarito!”

Two men kept climbing up the steep walkway beside and above the church carrying crates of soft drinks and huge sacks of something from a large delivery truck parked at the end of the street below the church.  I snapped some pictures of them, of laundry drying on rooftops below with Santa Prisca in the background, and some pictures of me.  The front of the church was decorated with streams of triangular plastic papel picado.  It got warm enough that I took off my jacket.  The church doors never opened, and I didn’t try then, but I made my way back down along various paths, encountering a whole lot of school children, many of them met by their mothers with warm hugs.

At the Zocalo again I went into the church.  Some of the gold altar pieces were being repainted and restored.  In a side chapel I said lots of prayers, mainly for all the Philips relatives and a prayer of thanks for Ed’s life.  I cried.  And took a picture outside of the church door without Ed there.  A young couple stood in the sanctuary with a newborn baby, and had someone take their picture.  Then they sat quietly in a pew for awhile, talking softly.

After that I visited Casa Borda, which we’d somehow missed before, but now it was under construction, so mostly closed.  The biblioteca was on the lower level, and some very friendly people showed me the collection.  Then up and down again to the silver museum.  I paid 10 pesos to get in, but there was not very much of interest there – some murals depicting the history of Taxco silver enterprises.  I was able to use the restroom there, though, perhaps worth the 10 pesos.   Then on to the Ex-Convento, and then the church of Chavarrieta where I just missed a performance in the courtyard.  Young men in costume were departing.  I did not want to stay until 5 p.m. to see the next one.  Some men were working on scaffolding on top of which perched an enormous papier mache chicken.  There were wheels for fireworks on the scaffolding.  People were setting out bunches of flowers.  Booths selling food lined the steps and an upper courtyard, and a woman selling cascones sat on the steps to the upper courtyard.  

I retraced my steps, and after asking directions twice from very helpful people, I made my way back to the bus station, where I met a lovely Canadian couple spending five weeks in Cuernavaca, and a French woman traveling alone.  Unfortunately I couldn’t talk with them longer as I had to catch my bus.  An old woman crossed herself and blessed the bus before getting on, so I put my faith in having a safe trip.  The bus driver was very handsome, and there was a crucifix and palm branches attached to the wall to the left of the driver’s seat.  I should have gotten a picture of that, but I didn’t. The bus dropped me off at the Parque Aquatico entrance, with the helpful intervention of a lovely woman in the front seat who was traveling with the elderly woman. 

I think I’ve now seen all I want to see of Taxco.  The Volkswagens crowded the narrow streets, and I worried about getting run over.  There were fumes and noise. When I came through the back gate into Spa Hotel Ixtapan de la Sal, it was like entering a peaceful, cool oasis.   I had looked only briefly at silver, and saw nothing more interesting than some of the pieces in the shop here in the hotel.  I did not ask about prices, so do not know if there were bargains to be had.