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BillDollear

Bill Dollear

wkdollear@comcast.net

Ajijic News December, 2021

          I’m back.  If you will have me.  I’m back at Ajijic News.  And I returned to Mexico in October and November, 2021, for 10 days.  I went to Cuernavaca.  This was my first time there in 15 years.  I have been to Mexico recently.  But those recent trips were as a clown. I was with the Patch Adams caring clown group.  We visited children’s hospitals, orphanages, schools, etc. 

          For this Cuernavaca visit I had my own nose.  My hair was still funny but it was my own hair.  I wore no loud costume.  My pants did not have 10 pockets. 

          I stayed with a family I first met in 1998 when I went there to study Spanish.  I did not know what to expect.  I had heard Cuernavaca had numerous problems over the years.  No more American students studying Spanish.  Covid.  Etc. 

          I was pleasantly surprised.  Cuernavaca is alive.  Covid is still making a presence.  Everyone (almost) wears a mask, even outside.  And there are no, or much fewer, Spanish students. 

          The vibrant colors and loud music are still there.  The zocolo was filled.  There are changes.  The millennial clock, which I witnessed being constructed in 1999, was not there.  It fell during the 2017 earthquake.  The Palacio Cortez is closed and has been since that earthquake.  It sustained much interior damage, as did the Catedral.  The Catedral was closed but it is open now. 

          The Plaza in between the Government building and the huge CUERNAVACA letters is more free and open for walking.  There used to be many vendors and booths scattered about.

          There are still vendors.  One man was selling balloons while deeply concentrating on an Anthony Burgess book.  The title was in Spanish.  I don’t think it was A Clockwork Orange.  I should have taken his picture and bought a balloon.  I will do that when I return if I see him again and he is still reading. 

          Next to the Palacio Cortez they are building the largest KFC I have ever seen.  It looks to be three floors. 

          All around there are flowers and colors.  However, many of those colors are the graffiti that is everywhere.  And most sidewalks are in desperate need of repair.   Traffic can be heavy.  Crossing the streets is a challenge.  I discovered this while out jogging.  Since no cars stopped at the Alto signs I began to think Alto does not mean Stop. But that is what my Spanish/English dictionary and wikipedia say. 

 Something must have happened to the turn signals on cars.  Either  all of them are broken or no one uses them.  Horns work.  They work very well, in fact. 

          These are only minor malfunctions.  They call Cuernavaca La Tierra de Primavera Eternal.  Land of Eternal Spring.  When I was there it only rained one night.  I have to admit there was the LOUDEST thunder I have ever heard in my life.  I almost jumped out of bed. 

          During the Day of the Dead celebrations we went to Tepoztlan at night.  Tepoztlan is a town about 30 minutes or so outside of Cuernavaca.  Depends who is driving.  In the past it would have been called a ‘hippie’ town with incense, palm readings, etc. It still has that aura but now it is more of a tourist town with many restaurants and cafes.  On the night we were there it was filled with children singing a song while asking for candy.  And many costumes.  La Catrina was very popular.  She is a female skeleton with a fancy hat filled with flowers and a very bright decorated face. 

          We had a tour guide who led us through dark streets and showed us where brujos (man witches) lived and ghosts, etc.  Part of the tour included a small glass of Ponche.  This was a little bit of warm milk mixed with a lot of mescal.  Luckily for me someone in our group did not want hers.  So I made the sacrifice and drank hers.  That might be why I only remember some of the tour.

          At the end of our nocternal adventure we held hands and meditated.  And then the guide came to each of us and gave us a ‘cleansing’ my rubbing and tapping various parts of our bodies.  This was near a lake where a boy was said to fly over water. 

          The night was a lot of fun.  My whole stay was.  There are nice touches of Mexico I forgot about.  As people leave a restaurant they say “provecho” to the other customers. It is a way of saying enjoy your meal.  Now I’m back in Chicago.  Here as people leave restaurants they say, “Youse gonna finish dat?”

           Youse have Merry Christmas.  Feliz Navidad. 




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