Taxco de Alarkon, Guerrero.
After those days on the beach, one day we just have to leave Acapulco and after the day's drive we end up in Taxco de Alarcón (wiki), pueblo mágico, till lately silver mining town perched into one hill side, the vochito (VW-beetle) taxis manage the curvy narrow dangerous cobble stone alleys without problems where my van struggles. We arrive late and the boys are hungry and we find a pizza restaurant right near Santa Prisca Church, almost level with its roof we sit on a terrace, the pizzas are awful, the view over the dimly lit town the best we can get.
But on the terrace icy wind blows after dark, we are back on high altitude levels (1,750m), we still have no place for night, driving out of Taxco I take a left and the road leads higher very steep, Monte Taxco, where it ends is a parking for a hotel, ideal. Late after a first sleep in I discover Daniel has a fever, an ear infection from all that jumping in the waves; I undress him and put cold tissues on his forehead, all night, not so much sleep for me.
Morning sun wakes, the boys play outside, then we take the teleférico down to Taxco. But Taxco city is hot and climbing steep alleys the last thing especially Daniel wants, my poor just never get a choice, only ice cream. Later that day we end up in Cuernavaca, its central area is blocked by an enormous hot traffic jam, pre silly season excitement, we don't know where to go, even stopping for cold drinks is difficult. The mollusk spits us out again, further away we wait, eat, after dark late we drive back in find a hotel, a parking, a shower, it makes sense to get installed for the festivities and after all we have done to him Daniel has no more fever.
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexican Independence Day.
Hernán Cortez built his palace on the rubbles of the destroyed Aztec temples (1526), the base is still visible today. The wars of independence (from Spain) swept through here 200 years ago, José María Morelos who succeeded the great independence leader Miguel Hidalgo after his execution, was imprisoned in the Cortez palacio. Another 100 years later Emilliano Zapata, maybe the most significant figure of the 1911 Mexican Revolution wars, fought this territory with his Liberation Army of the South, till he was tricked and assassinated in 1919. Like Che Guevara's Zapata's legend lives.
We come to Cuernavaca (wiki) for the 201 year independence celebrations and they kick off late at night on the 15th. In good manner we get drunk before, in evening sun, mark the boys faces with green, white and red, then wait on the Zocalo and we are right in front of the stage. A Mexican band plays, a 30 piece orchestra, all white and white sombreros, a band of all ages. The boys are heavy boys now, sitting them on the shoulders for long is becoming more and more impossible. Daniel is the first who disappears in the crowd in front, C. by intuition goes and searches him in the back, behind us; he might just not have found his way back. Before she comes back I send David who wants to go as well, out to the front; ok go and find Daniel! Now C. comes back and she's actually found Daniel in our back. In the meantime David has slipped through the barriers in front of the stage. Security presents him on stage and I go and pick him up. It so much reminds me of Lithuania where similar happened to me a year ago.
Now the governor or mayor talks, swings his Mexican emblem from the balcony of the Palacio de Gobierno and shouts the grito ¡Viva Mexico, Viva Hidalgo! Then the fireworks go off, something explodes on the ground, shortly the fireworks stop, then resume again. They have barely shot up their final rounds and the first drops of rains fall out of the skies. The off tells us to never let go of our children's hands, the next band makes itself ready. With the fireworks gone I now realize the lightening; I know also too well about the severity of the rains around here. Not wanting to be unfriendly to the next band we hang around till the pouring starts and everybody runs for cover at the same time; C. and Daniel, me and David and everybody else. In the chaos David loses one of his sandals, some more precious waiting and wetting minutes back and forward in the rain. When we run again he loses the same one again, this is how him and me lose C. and Daniel, and through the streams of people and water and David's one naked foot we make it to our hotel where we find Daniel and Christina again and they even managed to recuperate David's lost sandal for a second time.
What an independence day!
We wake in the morning to roaring truck engines and while C. sleeps in I sneak out with the boys to watch the parade, of military and riot police, firefighters and plumbers, teachers and students, nurses and nurses, yes the marching nurses are the funniest and most serious marchers.
"Its better to die on your feet than to live on your knees". Zapata (wiki) is legendary in Mexico, even more idolized than first indígenas president and liberal reformer Benito Juárez (died 1872). Zapata was a practical revolutionary, an agrarian reformer, a fighter for the poor, peasants and indigenous. His followers, Zapatistas demanded "Reforma, Libertad Ley y Justicia" (Reform, Freedom, Law and Justice) as drawn up in the Plan of Ayala with a call for devolution of land and property to townships and citizens, as opposed to being owned by large hacendados.
Zapata became a martyr after his treacherous murder (1919), his statue has a centre place in every town square or roundabout especially in Southern Mexico, in the presidential palace in Mexico City his larger then life size painting opens the gallery of paintings of Mexican presidents in the presidential offices, in line with Juárez, Diaz, Fox, Calderón and all those in between.
Last but not least his name serves patronage to the Zapatista Army of National Liberation in Chiapas and their uprising and armed conflict with the Mexican state and this summer I have been through the Zapatista controlled autonomous territories with my boys. (ThisFabTrek)
We are in Zapata's land and leaving Cuernavaca we plan to follow the route of the Zapata, places of significance in Emiliano Zapata's life. Zapata today is obviously marketed in tourism by the same people he opposed.
Via Tepoztlán, and we wanted to come to this pueblo mágico, just now in light of the masses don't want to get out, search a parking on an Independence Day weekend, we get to Cuautla. Cuautla was the first city Zapata forces took over, Zapata's mausoleum is located here. Anenecuilco is a bit to the south and the place where Emiliano Zapata was born, it houses a small badly run museum now. At night we get to Chinameca, the Hacienda de San Juan, the sad place where he was murdered on April 10, 1919 after having been deceived and lured into a meeting with feign defectors. Under an old stone arch, on a golden horse, a golden Zapata with the rifle in the air, this statue marks the very location.
It is late and we don't know what to do here, when suddenly a band of musicians marches down from the hill, them following is a crowd dancing, some in indigenous costumes. It is the conservative PAN sponsoring a weekend evening drink-up on Independence Day weekend, a huge barrel of jamaica juice and tequila is on offer, a band of Banda musicians playing the type of hip jazzy quick brass that is so common here in the south. We are invited and it unfolds under the Golden Zapata while my boys chase the dogs around with other kids.
Tetela del Volcan.
This Mexican journey with my boys has run its course and there is just so little time left, we are under the volcano Popocatépetl, and there is one thing I intend to do get up to Paso del Cortez. On the way via the volcanos slopes we hit Tetela del Volcan (wiki), sixteenth century Dominican ex-convent with some amazing frescoes.
Back Under the Volcano after one full circle, Popocatépetl and Paso de Cortés.
I am high, one full circle, we cross Paso del Cortez (3,700m) and have mount and volcano Papacatepetl just 7km away on the 2nd last day. Warm evening sun helps a bit when the chilly thin air sweeps through shorts and shirts. It is what I was looking to do and only half accomplished jet lagged on the second day into the journey with my boys 2.5 months ago. Such is a full circle.
Memories flash through my mind, I am content with these 10,000km through Mexico and Belize when we set up camp at 3,400m on the other side of the pass.
2 days later we fly back to Vienna, my boys are back in kindergarden, I organize their lives for the years ahead, so I can take them again and again.
Just what will be next?