Many Months Ago in Mexico: Part 3

This blog entry is told by Kelly because Milo was back in Bergen, Norway completing the first semester of graduate school.

Spending time with the friends I made 7 years prior to this visit was a top priority. They are such good people and they allow me to get an idea of what life is really like in Cuernavaca.

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Here, I am spending time with Ale and her friends. We went to a few really cool bars around the zocalo and shared conversations of many topics over a few beers.

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Ale lives very close to the school I attended whilst in Cuernavaca, so I stayed in her spare room a few times so I could get to school without waking up so early. It was especially convenient when the school planned an excursion to Taxco, Guerrero. Usually, I try to find the cheapest and most authentic way to travel to places like this, but in this case, it was worth the extra money to get there much quicker and without the hassle of transferring from one overcrowded bus to another. Plus, I was able to spend the day with some really great people.

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When I showed these photos to Milo, they said that this city looks like it could be in Italy. I agreed and commented that it is such a beautiful and calm town that looks like it comes right out of a movie.

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Monica mentioned a few times at the school how she was looking forward to tasting mescal again. Not tequila, but mescal is the true spirit of Mexico. It is made with the maguey plant native to Mexico and much more common because it is cheaper and easier to produce than tequila. It is similar to Tequila but stronger and much tastier. I had never tasted it before this trip and am happy Monica encouraged me to try it. What’s nice about this drink is that you’re not supposed to drink it fast, but rather sip it. This style of drinking works better for my low tolerance.  It was much sweeter and smoother than tequila and a must try for any visitor in Mexico.

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I may have wanted to try it just because the bottle had Frida on it and I find her history to be very intriguing.

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Later, this man was selling bracelets with names on them. If you could not find your name, he would quickly create a bracelet with any name. He simply asked you to write the name out and choose the colors. A few minutes after my color selection, I had a bracelet that said Kai. Later I gave that bracelet to my cousin, Whitney. She said she would put it on his tree.

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This building says, “Centro Taxco Joyera,” Taxco’s local jeweler. Little did Milo know, my main motivation for going to this town again was to find us rings. Taxco is famous because of its silver mines. It is by far the cheapest place to purchase Silver in Mexico.

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I knew that we would both want simple yet elegant rings. I also knew that neither one of us would be interested in spending an arm and a leg for a symbol of our love. We understand that our love cannot be quantified by the price of a ring. After spending a few hours looking at dozens of rings, I ended up buying two matching rings that cost a little less than $10 each. I chose the ring on the left.

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The zocalo of any town in Mexico is always a lively, family filled, vibrant place. It is surrounded by beautiful little cafes, jewelry shops, and this magnificent church.

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One thing that I had never done before in this town was try to get lost. Now that it was my third time visiting, I felt safe enough to wander the little streets and find some fantastic off the beaten path views.

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On a side alley, far from the center, I wandered into this artist’s little shop. He happily showed me all of his work. He had divided it all by the materials he used to create each piece. I ended up buying a belt buckle from him which is now my absolute favorite.

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This belt buckle is an Aztecan depiction of an animal similar to a coyote. It is made from silver, bronze, iron, and turquoise.

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After about an hour of wandering, I found my way back in the center. I turned my camera to sepia and pretended to be an artist. The man sleeping before his turn to shine his shoes with the little boy walking as fast as he could is one of my favorite pictures.

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Soon it was time to have a late lunch with everyone who came along for the excursion. The school is a very tight knit community of friends: some teach at the school, others clean the school, and others host students who need accommodations.

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After a long and happy day in Taxco, we sleepily headed back to Cuernavaca.

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Like I said, CETLALIC is very keen on showing the students as much as they can to get a true feeling of the vast, dynamic culture in Mexico.

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La Tallera art gallery/museum, was donated to the people of Mexico by  David Alfaro Siqueiros, who was a famous artist and advocate for social justice. He donated his space to be used by working artists to learn and continue with his vision of displaying politics through art.

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This piece was very interesting and special for us. It is the names of famous people (mostly American) who have used drugs like cocaine and somehow made the lifestyle seem appealing. This display took up all the walls in a very large room. Most of the people listed died of an overdose. Our teacher informed us that while drug cartels in Mexico are a sad fact of modern day Mexico, cartels exist because of the policies and consumption of drugs of its neighbors to the north. A well known fact is that 80% of all drugs consumed in the world are consumed by citizens of the USA. So, to represent this, they wrote all the names with dollar bills. I got really close, it was made with real currency!

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When the USA enacted the “war on drugs,” the violence and gang problems we see in the USA, Mexico and Latin America became much worse. These gangs are trying to fill a market that is unfortunately an unavoidable market. If the USA could deem drug use as a mental health epidemic rather than a crime, I think we would see less violence and use of these destructive narcotics. There would be no room for drug cartels to function if buying, selling, and consumption of drugs were legal, and all of the profit made from these products would be heavily taxed, making a budget for rehabilitation centers. In the USA, we would also see more recovery programs erected in place of prisons, which in  the way they currently function, do not and cannot rehabilitate criminals or drug addicts.

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Our teacher, Roberto, showing off his tattoo.

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The next evening, we went to a showing of “Lisbon Story” at a local cafe. It was nice to watch a movie with the students and owner of the school, but the projector kept malfunctioning and we were all tired and not that interested in the film, so we left about half way through. Needless to say, I don’t think this movie is worth recommending.

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That weekend, I headed back to Tepotzlan to climb up to a pyramid perched at the top of the tallest mountain which overlooks the valley and town. The last time I climbed this, I was 20, hungover, and out of shape. It felt like it took hours and that my muscles would give out.

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This time, it took me about 45 minutes and I felt like I could have done it 3 more times.

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I wasn’t even tired at the top or later that night when I was trying to get to sleep.

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It was nice to see the pyramid up close again. It made me think of my old friend, Chrissy, who I hiked up with last time. Since then, I have lost contact with her, as she is smart enough to avoid using facebook.

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Later in the week, Ale took me to a park in the mountains that is famous for all of its tree swings. Of course, right when we got there it started raining. We went under a tin roof and started to build a fire. Our first attempt was rushed and unsuccessful. We laughed long and hard about how we would be the first to perish if we ever needed to depend on our fire making skills. We built the next fire with more determination, so it  was successful and burned for a long time. We noticed a family who was looking for a place to have a barbecue, so we gave up our place and went exploring in the rain.

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It was a bit dangerous to go swinging on pieces of wood from tree branches, but we had a lot of fun. After a few hours, we were soaking wet and went home.

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I found Peky cuddled up to keep warm.

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Nikolas on the other hand, couldn’t care less about the rain, and wanted to play fetch. I called him “pelota-centrico” or ball-centric, which all my friends had a long laugh about. It’s not that it doesn’t describe him perfectly, but they are not used to words being created like that. They always laughed at the words I made up.

Below, I am enjoying one of my favorite meals downtown with my friends. Rice, potato, and cactus salad tacos with fresh, homemade corn tortillas.

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This concludes part 3 of the post, Many Months Ago in Mexico. Stay tuned for last installment of my adventures in Mexico!

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