Taxco, a colonial silver mining town, lies about 2 1/2 hours southwest of Mexico City by bus. After packing up our bags and saying goodbye to the Hotel Posada Viena, Tiffany and I walked to the Cuauhtémoc station and took the metro to the Autobus Terminal South. I had already spied the station when we traveled to Xochimilco so getting there was no problem. After boarding the bus we settled in with the free bottles of water and snacks they provided us. There was even a DVD and television set-up aboard showing the Spanish language version of “50 First Dates.” Even en Espanol, I could tell this was one creepy movie.
The road took us through mountain passes and the town of Cuernavaca. Although the landscape was frequently pastoral, one rarely seems to escape the effects of industrialization in central Mexico — that is until you roll into Taxco. The city’s red-tile roofed houses and buildings cling to the side of a steep mountain, basically piled on top of each other. Swarms of white, VW taxis motored up and down the narrow streets. The effect was rather like a Mediterranean village — all white stucco, sun-baked brick and German-engineering. We were so taken with the city that we got kind of carried away with the photo-taking. Every angle, every view was a picture waiting to be snapped. And although we were obviously not the first people to discover the town’s charms, Taxco sort of felt like a little secret.
The town’s heart centered around the zocalo of Plaza Borda, bounded by the 200 year old Santa Prisca Cathedral, which was filled with scary Jesus statues and odd paintings. Even during the week, the plaza was filled with people, talking, playing, laughing. Vendors sold balloons and elotes asados. Renowned for its silver, shops selling the precious metal at discount prices were literally everywhere. I had booked two nights at the Hotel Los Arcos. The comfortable, airy hotel was allegedly built in 1620. Our small room was well lit with windows looking out to the northern edge of the city while an interior window looked over the larger inner courtyard. Everything was great except for the water which trickled out of the faucet thanks to poor water pressure.
We soaked up the ambiance and took in some local chow. My first request was a bowl of posole which we enjoyed at Pozolaria Tia Calla. We also indulged in some local ice cream (I had rompope — that’s eggnog to you). Almost every restaurant or bar in Taxco featured an excellent view of the city. We returned twice to the Agua Escondido‘s rooftop terrace (although they quadruple charged my credit card as I discovered when I got home) although not every place had comfortable seating. Berta’s Bar, home of the famous Berta — a drink consisting of tequila, honey and lime — featured tiny chairs that cramped muscles when used. We ended our first day in Taxco at the funky Cafe Sasha where I got drunk and scared a bunch of American expats with my “communist talk.”
Taxco is crowned with a huge statue of Christ at its highest point. The statue and its foundation were actually completed in 2002 although its effect makes it seem a lot older. For our second day in the town, I proposed that we make our way to the statue. Unfortunately a sorry breakfast of scrambled eggs and hot dogs(!) served at Cafe Borda provided me with my vacation’s first and only really bad meal. Summoning up our strength to take on Taxco’s steep (and I do mean steep — Teotihuacan’s got nothing on Taxco) avenues, we embarked. I hadn’t counted on the scorching sun’s effect as we made our way up. Gradually, the tourist traps gave way to the real Taxco and its residents who didn’t seem all that excited that a couple of gringos were walking around their hood. Can’t say I blame them but I made an effort to say “hola” to everyone I met. At one point, we seemed to be circling the base of the statue and never seemed to get closer. We finally met a young girl, about 7, who spoke to us in Spanish. I asked if she could take me to the top to see the statue and she led the way. Little did I suspect that this little guia‘s short cut consisted of us walking through people’s houses, trespassing on private land and clawing our way up muddy banks of rock and soil. I started to wonder how we would get back without her. Were we going to have to go through these people’s houses again? Approaching the base of the statue from the side, we climbed over and found ourselves in the clouds. I was covered with sweat and vowed to not leave until I was sufficiently seco.
On the way down we ran into an American couple we happened to meet at Cafe Borda. They too were on their way to the top and leading the way was their own little guide. I must admit that the entire time we were in Mexico, the only time I really felt that something might go really wrong was when that little girl took us through those people’s living quarters. I thought for two seconds that we were gonna get jumped by some urchins.
We spent the rest of the day picking up gifts for relatives — I myself bought a coveted Lucha Libre mask for myself. We were gonna miss Taxco and its peaceful ways but we had to return to DF for one more day on our way to the airport home…
TO BE CONCLUDED…