Photo hanging in a hotel gift shop in small town Mexico. Despair seeps from the paper into your heart. I hate looking at this picture, but at the same time I’m mesmerized by it.
Hungry? Time for tacos de camarón (served with hot sauce, or for us northerners, mild tomatito sauce) at our favorite seedy bar in Mexico. Yes, it’s seedy with lots of drinking and dart games and drinking and eating and drinking … but, we’re not about to let that stop us. We take the munchkin and go early enough to beat the crowd, chat with the staff who’ve already placed our order–they saw us coming–and enjoy our tacos (and beer) in peace.
in small town Mexico, we find little delights.
Walking home from the beach, we often see people out for a trail ride. The horses live just off main street a few blocks away.
Off for dinner in the next town (a few minute drive away) we find the main street blocked off for the Spring parade, the floats all manned by the kindergarten classes of the area.
Then we see a charming painted wall on a street leading to the beach. I want to live in one of these houses, if only they were real.
The munchkin beating on what’s left of her Peppa Pig piñata.
The best kid’s birthday party
Happens in the street. Yes, the street. In Mexico, that is. And it’s the party our munchkin has chosen for her birthday.
Tables are set up for the cake and food and gifts. Chairs line the sidewalk and curb. The piñata is strung up over the street. Everyone comes—kids, parents, grandparents.
Chicken or pasta salad is served on tostadas, agua de jamaica (made from hibiscus petals) is the favored drink.
The kids play, everyone eats, and then it’s time to sing as the children from youngest to oldest take turns trying to break the piñata. Usually it’s up to one of the teens in the crowd to administer the final blow so the kids can scramble for the candy that tumbles out.
Group photos are taken and candles lit, Feliz Cumpleanos sung to the birthday child, and cake served.
Several hours later, replete and happy, the kids go home with their parents, toting their goodie bags.
Liverpool, first called The Cloth Case, was founded in 1847 by Jean Baptiste Ebrard, a Frenchman who sold clothes from cases in downtown Mexico City.
In 1872, he began importing products from Europe. Much of the merchandise was shipped via Liverpool, England, prompting Ebrard to adopt the name Liverpool for his store.
In 1862 he opened a second store and since then it has not stopped growing. Now, Liverpool is a mid-to-high end retailer and the largest chain of department stores in Mexico, operating 17 shopping and 73 stores under the Liverpool name, 22 stores under the Fábricas de Francia name, 6 Duty Free stores, and 27 specialized boutiques.
And inside –
And it’s hot, hot, hot. 36⁰C (96.8⁰F) Real feel 41⁰C (105.8) Humidity 92%.
We’re dripping as we head into town wearing the skimpiest dresses we own—the ones we got especially for this trip knowing, from experience, what we’d encounter. And it’s not just us sweltering. The residents comment on the heat too, clearly finding it difficult to deal with daily.
But, this morning we’re determined to check out the market.
During the winter, the town square is swarming with tourists eyeing and buying—tapestries, fabrics, jewelry. The artisans travel from town to town hoping to make enough money to carry them through the summer months.
Now the square is empty, but the stalls stretching for several blocks down the street are bustling with locals buying household goods, home remedies, spices, socks and underwear, toys, pirated DVDs, tools, and parts for almost anything you could think of—from blenders to stoves, to …
Vendors trundle their carts and wheelbarrows over the cobblestones hawking their wares—peanuts, candies, drinks, and fruit. Others carry their products such as carpets and toys on their backs.
And those clothes that you donate for poor countries? Yes, they are for sale too, along with new items in a multitude of colors and sizes.
How many of these vendors make sales? Will they have a profit today? Or tomorrow, in the next town? Or the day after that in yet another town?
In an attempt to escape from the heat, we try the ocean after a siesta. The water is as warm as a bath. We retreat to the shady corner of the pool. This water is even hotter, so it’s back inside to sit under the fans.
Why are we here at one of the worst times of the year temperature wise? Because the opportunity to see our friends and family again is worth the discomfort.
“We’re definitely in Mexico now,’ says the Munchkin as our bus makes its way out of Mexico City headed for Cuernavaca. “How do you know?” I ask. “Because there are stands instead of stores, and old buildings, and bumpy roads.” The munchkin is right (although there are stores, of course), but she neglected to mention the food, which is quite different in Cuernavaca than in our little beach town. We arrive in the early afternoon and our Mexican relatives take us to a little market where we indulge in blue-corn gorditas. Mine is filled with beans and cheese. I sample the salsas and choose one that is not too picante. With that, we enjoy a licuado de mamay–a sort of smoothie made from the mamay fruit. Delicious. The next day we are treated to tacos al pastor, the meat cooked on a vertical spit. “Do we like it?” our relatives ask. To which we reply, “Can we come back tomorrow?”And let’s not forget the stuffed chicken breast served with Oaxaca cheese and cactus, and the flan, and the Pinguinos, and the coffee and … PS: I broke my rule of not being invasive with my camera to take these two pictures for you.
We’re excited to be abandoning the beach for part of this trip to Mexico to visit Cuernavaca, the City of Eternal Spring, founded seven centuries ago. This will be a very different view of the country for us. And the joke of the t-shirt? vaca = cow Lonely Planet: There’s always been a formidable glamour surrounding Cuernavaca (kwehr-nah-vah-kah), the capital of Morelos state. With its vast, gated haciendas and sprawling estates, it has traditionally attracted high-society visitors year-round for its warmth, clean air and attractive architecture. Read more here: http://www.tourbymexico.com/morelos/cvca/cvca.htm
The tourist, who came to their little town every winter, walked with a cane. She didn’t know why, but each day he came into the little store where she worked to get his groceries. He spoke a little Spanish and she spoke a little English—enough that they could have small conversations.
One day he came in and saw her son.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“He was born that way,” she said. From what she understood, there was a problem with the tendons in his ankles. The boy couldn’t walk as his ankles turned in. “His dream is to play soccer,” she said.
He gestured to his cane and nodded. “I understand that,” he said. “I knew a boy back home who walked the way your son does. It can be fixed, you know, with surgery.”
“Um hum,” she said. Just where did this man think she would find the money for such surgery?
The man went back home and she thought no more about the conversation.
Then one day the phone rang. “This is Dr. X. from the Shriner’s Hospital in Mexico City. Please tell your friend to stop emailing me. I will examine your son at the end of January and we will see if we can help. Oh, and just so you know, our services are free.”
“You did this?” she asked, when she next saw the tourist.
“Yes, I’ve been emailing and phoning the hospital about your son for the past year.”
“Thank you,” she said. She wanted to say more, but was stymied by language and emotion.
He nodded. He understood.
Friends and family donated money for the bus fare. They stayed with relatives in the City. The young lad had his surgery. The operation was a success.