#3 Cuernavaca, Feb. 20, 2012

After making and eating Souffle Elote (corn soufflé) for breakfast with Donna whipping the egg whites by hand with a whisk (no beater), we rested, read, and looked at Mexican recipes most of the day. At 3:00 we took a taxi to the southern end of Cuernavaca to the Hacienda de Cortes, which was commissioned by Cortes in 1558 and built for his son, Martin. It was wonderful, huge, and fun to stroll around. The city has grown around it but while you’re in there, you’re really transported back in time. It was abandoned and burned previously and only restored in 1980 so I never knew about it when we were coming here in the ‘60s and ‘70s.

It, too, was a sugar-producing hacienda and there were seven big chimneys from that era. Now it is a hotel and has a wonderful restaurant in which we ate mole de pollo and pollo pipian. Both dishes were terrific—I can’t get enough of good mole. We’re finding that the Mexican traditional Margaritas are hard to come by—they want to make them ‘frappe’ style, probably copying the Americans, ironically. We’re finding our best Margaritas are the ones we make at home. In this case, we were served a huge glass full of crushed iced Margarita, which I ‘fixed’ by ordering some tequila, and pouring that into our drinks so we could at least taste the tequila. The tequila was also served with the Sangrita as Julio had received, so we were glad to taste that. Clearly what we had made had too much ancho in it, which we suspected.

We also each had a Caesar salad made the old traditional way, tableside, using raw eggs. This whole operation took at least ten minutes, and the salad was scrumptious. Yes, I know, raw eggs—-well, all’s well that ends well.

Taking a taxi home was quite an experience. When Donna gave the driver our address, she added as we always do since our street is pretty small, that our street is near Emiliano Zapata Avenue. Apparently he didn’t get this and drove very far into the hinterlands. At first we didn’t think too much about it as it was rush hour and we’ve had that before— taxis taking a circuitous route to escape the traffic. He asked directions from bystanders a couple of times but pretty soon we were hell and gone and were seeing signs pointing the other way to ‘Cuernavaca.’ We gather that he was taking us to a TOWN called Emiliano Zapata (!) until we finally made him understand that we needed ‘Centro, Cuernavaca.’ Remembering Ulises’ sister’s experience, I was thinking that he was pretty small so maybe Donna and I could ‘take’ him if it came to that! Anyway, he finally got on a freeway and drove for 10 miles back to centro and then we were quickly home. As we were driving back, he could tell that we were pretty nervous and said that he wasn’t meaning to do us any harm. He apologized for not being able to speak English. Of course Donna was speaking Spanish!

A laid-back day when we took a bus to Cuautla, then a taxi to travel La Ruta del Conventos (The Route of Convents) brought us near Popo, the volcanic mountain. It was fun to get out and about among small villages where the tourists don’t go. Hueyapan was at the end of the line on our map, but we discovered we could drive another 15 km and see Santa Cruz with a lovely view of Popo, looming almost right above us. Hueyapan had a bustling market at which we bought a pineapple, some chile powder, some flowers for making some kind of water “that you can drink all day long,” and a clay pot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the village of Tetela del Volcan we stopped to see a church/convent. Preparations were being made for a wedding (?) with flowers adorning the church, petals on the processional cloth and musicians gathering outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we made a trip downtown by bus to the big Cuernavaca market. It was fun to just look around but we did buy some things including red potatoes, which the lady said we should eat raw with lime and salt.

 

 

 

They had all parts of the pig but the oink, with the head, feet and braided (!) intestines for sale. As we were leaving, we came across some kind of bugs for sale named Jumiles—a snack, anyone? It was an interesting market!

 

 

 

 

Our last big excursion of the week was taking a bus to Puebla (three hours), then a small bus to two villages that have the most outstanding churches in Mexico, and that’s saying something! As we arrived in Tonantzintla, there was a little religious procession, which we joined, thinking it might lead us to the church of Santa Maria. There was a five-piece band, women carrying flowers, a man carrying a glass case containing a statue, and a man with a firecracker rocket launcher, who launched a rocket every 20 seconds whoshing into the air, ending in a huge BOOM!

 

 

 

 

Upon asking, we learned that this procession was not going to Santa Maria, so they   pointed us in the right direction. The church of Santa Maria Tonantzintla with it’s colorful tiled exterior has almost every square inch in its interior covered with figures—cherubs, saints, conquistadores, angels, fruit, devils and more. This church was built from 1607 to 1897—one can see why it took so long!

 

 

 

 

Moving on to the village of Acatepec on another small bus, we found the church of San Francisco de Acatepec. Again, the beautiful green, blue and yellow tiles covered the exterior, with the interior again a feast for the eyes, albeit a little more laid-back than Tonantzintla. This church was decorated for a wedding, which began shortly after we arrived. We observed from the back of the church, hearing two guitars and a tambourine playing the Mendelssohn from the balcony which I thought sounded really good!

 

 

Back to Puebla on a little bus and back to Cuernavaca on a big bus got us home by 7:30.
We had planned a simple dinner of soup, salad and a special shrimp cocktail with avocado sauce (contained onion, garlic, Serrano pepper, and crema—yum!) so we were well satisfied with the day and with our cocktails (Margaritas) and dinner.

We are also enjoying another treat, which is Agua de Jamaica, made like a tea (then chilled) from dried hibiscus flowers. It has only a tiny amount of sugar and is very refreshing.

Our weather has turned warm and sunshiny and Donna reads by the pool quite often. We like the house, the food, and the excursions. Stay tuned—

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