#4 (final) Cuernavaca, Feb. 29, 2012

Home again, and ready to take up our ‘Minnesota’ lives. Our trip was great, the food was terrific and fun to prepare and EAT, the weather was wonderful, and we liked Cuernavaca.

One of the things we liked about our house was the birdsong and the beautiful birds. I haven’t looked these up in a bird book yet, but I do know the woodpecker. The landlady said that several kinds of parrots can be seen sometimes, but we weren’t that lucky.

We took a major excursion to the archeological site of Xochicalco, a ceremonial city built about 600 to 800 AD, related to the site at Teotihuacan, the big Pyramids of Sun and Moon near Mexico City. It was built about the time Teotihuacan went into decline. We took a bus to the market, then a bus right to the site, which was quite a distance and took 1½ hours. There was a wonderful museum across the way from the site—quite a ways, in fact, which later left us with red faces while we huffed and puffed our way to the lofty Xochicalco. Beautiful objects from the site were nicely displayed in this new museum.

 

 

 

 

The site was very large with many temples and three ball courts. The game that was played was a little like soccer with the players attempting to drive a rubber ball through the round hoops on the sides of the court, using only their chests, thighs and hips. Also, the ball was not allowed to touch the ground. These ball courts are all over Meso America, in nearly every archeological site.

 

The Pyramid of the Plumed Serpents (Pyramide de Quetzalcoatl) was one of the highlights with interesting carvings of plumed serpents on the exterior. There are traces of hieroglyphs representing dates and eclipse signs.

While we waited for the bus to take us back to Cuernavaca, a woman was piling up branches, getting them ready for sale. What a hard life!

As we arrived back at the market, we stopped to buy avocados, limes and tomatoes, which we later used in our tostadas of beans, chicken, and cheese, preceded, of course, by Margaritas on the terrace.

Our brunch on Thursday was Huevos Motulenous—there’s a town in Yucatan called Motul, and these are eggs as they are made in that town. It starts with a crisp fried tortilla, with ham, then two fried eggs, then another crisp tortilla, topped with a tomato sauce with chiles, onions, and garlic, finished off with peas, fried bananas and crumbled cheese (queso fresco). What a pile, and do I love it! That had to last us until 7:00 when we met our new friends, Lourdes and Julio, for dinner. The restaurant that they chose was the Casa Hidalgo where we sat on the terrace in PERFECT weather, overlooking the 1529 Palacio de Cortes, which was wonderfully lit and hauntingly beautiful. This time we all four tried Julio’s favorite—tequila and sangrita, plus other good Mexican food.

We spent a day going to Taxco, a charming small city that hangs on the side of cliffs, was the center of silver mining in times past, and still sells a dazzling array of silver jewelry and other things silver. In 1751 Senor Borda (same Borda as the gardens in Cuernavaca) who owned the silver mines had the Church of Santa Prisca designed and built as the town centerpiece. It almost bankrupted him—one can see why with its 10 huge gold altars, and its beautiful pink stone, fancifully carved both inside and out. It dominates the town from every direction.

 

 

Our bus from Cuernavaca had a dickens of a time getting into the terminal, having to deal with tough traffic jams. We noticed that all the taxis are VW bugs (the better to get around tight places) and all the town’s buses were little VW jitneys. We managed to get the right bus from the terminal to the zocalo (central plaza) but not without some fits and starts.

Seeing the church, shopping for some silver items and just getting into the ambiance of the town served us well. In spite of tourism in Mexico being depressed, there was sort of a ‘state fair’ atmosphere around the zocalo. And our friends, Lourdes and Julio had advised going on Friday rather than Saturday as it wouldn’t be so busy! As we arrived back in Cuernavaca, we managed to take the city bus back to our house, rather than a taxi, which always makes us feel like regular Cuernavacans.

As we wound down toward our last days in Cuernavaca, we discovered we had much too much food on hand, as well as fixings for Margaritas, so we did the sensible thing and had a small cocktail party for our next door neighbors and our landlord and landlady. Donna made delicious deviled eggs, plus we made some dips and fried tortilla chips, some enchiladas cut in half, olives, and peanuts that we bought for a dish that we never got around to making. We had a great time trading stories about Mexico. Gene asked Donna why we hadn’t done this earlier, as there were more stories to tell!

It was fun to hang out in the downtown plazas on Sunday afternoon, observing the families, the vendors, and the musicians. There are three adjoining plazas and everything was going full tilt. There was a mime, people selling souvenirs although there didn’t seem to be any foreign tourists there, mothers blowing bubbles for their toddlers, musicians, and everybody eating. We stopped for a beer and a snack and were serenaded by some mariachis. We took the bus back to ‘our house.’

Then our month in Cuernavaca was over and we came home to rain that turned to snow overnight, a beautiful scene, but what a change! Cuernavaca is known as the city of eternal spring, and that’s just what we experienced.

Until next time–

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