“ your sejas [eyebrows] say it all, you have what we call toppos Oaxacenos “ I got the feeling this little man, with a closet full of degrees, was making fun of me , or at te very least my face, then I conceded that I had lost my tweezers about 27 days ago , if there was a day to look like my abuelo, it was probably today… but let me start at the beginning…
THE EARLY START
Taxco has a rhythm, a sound to the way it breathes , it varies from day-to-day, alternating like colorful glass beads in a necklace, [but it's there]
This morning I made it my goal to wake up before Cati, the house keeper / washer woman /dog wrangler,(She’s always up sweeping the patio, her long black curly hair tied in a knot … soapy water and a broom washing the patio), fortunately the air smelled a little cooler this morning,[waking me ] and their was a slow and steadied pace to the ,minimal, early morning traffic,[diesel delivery trucks] ’must be about seven’ I thought, I look over at the bed next to me Anne is asleep folded white arms and a mass of curly red hair, and absolutely no consciousness of thought. ‘Today I will make the coffee, and be ready before eight!’ I say again to myself , looking over by the window Brei ( Anne’s daughter) is still asleep, in defiance even, of the sun peaking over the mountains. I manage to wash the cups, the percolator, and spoon in the right amount of coffee,triumphant with tooth-brush in mouth I sneak to the patio to do my victory dance ( in my shorts) as I open the door…. I hear a familiar rasping , Cati looks up ’ Buenos dias’ smiles and goes back to scrubbing the patio, as crest fallen as you can be at that ungodly hour( whatever hour it may be) I return and pour the coffee trying to remember who’s coffee takes what amount of cream and/or sugar, In time for rocky to announce its eight thirty, we’re officially and running late, half-dressed I hear Anne wake groggy and confused then the usual tussle of morning takes over … I leave: a cup of coffee in a mug with a purple straw ,a rather large wedge of cake from the night before as my breakfast ( is cutting the cake te same as making breakfast?….yes …. yes it is)
THE REASON FOR MY EARLY START
Maria-luisa and Gustavo, have been married a little over 23 years , Gustavo is a geologist who teaches his field as well as geography at the university in Taxco, Maria-Luisa ,more than just a loving wife, likes to learn new things ; she has invited me today to the Mexican congress of geology, and geography students [ held this year in Taxco], interested more in people who would be interested in this subject ,than the subject itself , I happily accepted the invitation to meet in the Plazuela d’ san Juan, eventually this takes place: we meet and walk the narrow path alloted pedestrians, the com-bees and bugs drive by just brushing my black skirt, we find a bus going to Iguala: the route needed to get to the university.
La Hacienda de Taxco veijo is the oldest spanish building in the Americas, dating back to the early 16th century, it was originally purposed as a silver refinery, smelter and supply store all within the same grounds, now ferns and trees alike have learned to co-habit with students and faculty. Some areas have the warmth and energy often associated with the young minds that fill the classrooms , other areas are silent ( like the mill and some of the servants quarters which have not been lived in since the hacienda was a working silver refinery) these areas are left untouched by visitors and students alike .
THE STUDENTS CONGRESS
So normally when you get a group of geology, or geography students for that matter. to discuss the needs of said student , it’s a rather dry (albeit informative) affair, not the case with this group of rock nuts [hyuck, hyuck] …. they actually hired a d.j. …. being mexico it was some kind of world .. techno that I have yet to develop an appreciation for but still….
The real treat however was the folk singers that were brought in to play traditional songs from the state of Guerrero … most uniquely : the iguana dance wich if you can imagine a nice traditional mexican folk dance…. where the men drop down on all fours and spring around doing bilateral push ups …like an iguana (there you go if you can’t check this link*) all in all it was completely charming. There were however some very serious notes such as when the students did a tribute to those killed in the 1968 student massacre in wich over 3,000 people were killed ( or taken for interrogations and never found).(* )By the end of the drama I found myself fairly exhausted but content to be in a place that so easily connects Mexico’s' history with its future(an on a side point totally tacky given the serious tone of the drama one of the actors looked disturbingly like a mexican Robert Patterson). However after a bit of wandering around in all this rich historical content I found myself lost…. staring at a giant topographic map of mexico…. trying to look like I wasnt lost… I hear a faintly accented voice from the right ask ” are you looking for some where specific? miss?” ( inside …deep down… you always hate it when you’re so obviously a turist) a sigh I have been spotted ” I was looking for what part of mexico grandfather came from” I say, in spanish :trying to redeem myself…. ” ah, Oaxaca” he replies showing no indication of switching over to spanish, informs me about my Oaxacen topper(s) ( apparently an inescapable genetic trait , the professor [being from Oaxaca] could spot from a mile away) as it turns out … my grandfather was indeed from Oaxaca : it seems no matter how much time I spend here I’m always 1. getting lost,and 2. learning something ( or accepting that I’m lost and getting a taco)
THE RIDE HOME
Back in the com-be , Maria-luisa asleep on my right Gustavo on My left I giggled [internally] at the idea of being able to identify a whole ethnic group by their eye brows, and at being part (at least from the nose up) of that group.
When I get home the crew is there , along with a sticky resin around the table … later anne informs me that I am no longer allowed to make coffee early as my attempts this morning ( apparently I put the lid to the percolator on backwards turning the coffee pot into a caffeine fueled weapon of mass destruction) failed miserably.. I still have a lot to learn. it does matter how you make the coffee.
(*) to learn more about the student massacre of 1968 click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tlatelolco_massacre