Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Contrasts of Cuernavaca

One conversation we have had while here has been about the growing rift between "the haves" and the "have-nots" in the USA.  This contrast is quite apparent here in Cuernavaca.  Each morning, as we sip our carrot juices and capachinos at the Cafe Universal, a constant parade of young children approach our table laden with beaded necklaces, purses, wooden animals and ceramic trinkets.  Some of these children are no more than six years old with runny noses, scabs, and dirty bare feet.  They can be found throughout the city, and we can't help wondering if they actually make any sales and how little they must be living on. We took a trip to La Mercado today- an amazing place half above ground and half in the bowels of the earth with wall-to-wall vendors and wall-to-wall people buying their necessities.

 It is here where Natalia, our cook, goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays to buy all the food for the house guests.

I wish I had an invisible camera, as the faces on the people are remarkable; but I feel awkward taking their pictures.

The food is all on display on large surfaces - much of it I don't even recognize.

My favorite part of the Mercado is the flower mart, filled with beautiful displays.

Right next to the flowers is what might be called the Food Court where people pull up boxes to sit on and are served tacos and tortillas with salsa.  I wish I had the courage to sit down and enjoy one, but I don't think it would be wise.

I marvel at how everything is out in the open, uncovered.  There were very few flies around, and no one seemed worried about the cleanliness of the food. 

Even the meat department has arrays of different animal parts hanging in the open air:  tripe, innards, pigs' heads and feet, entrails, and many things I couldn't begin to name.

All of this I would tend, perhaps incorrectly, to call the attributes of a 'third world" country.  A market like that could not be found in the USA.

As we walk along the streets and see an old wooden painted tour bus or a long forgotten ESSO sign, I am reminded of a time in the past.

But then, come with us to one of the five golf clubs of Cuernavaca.

  This one is at the end of a private gated community with beautiful houses.  In an instant you are transported far far away from the "third world" country and delivered to a place that could be Palm Springs, California.

We had a lovely lunch served in a restaurant overlooking the putting green.  Cuernavaca is the weekend and summer place for many wealthy Mexicans who want to escape the heat and hectic pace of the city.

It truly is a city of contrasts.  To think of being able to go from the underground market, walking along pot-holed crumbling walkways, past vendors selling spoons in the street to magnificent restaurants, golf clubs and hotels all in one day is remarkable...  or is it?  Perhaps that is the condition of most places in the world... certainly most large cities.  Thinking upon this, I would have to say my own city of San Francisco is filled with contrasts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your recent blog about contrasts was quite upsetting. I still remember this in Mexico when I visited so many years ago.Where ever we went,children offering to sell us trinkets at every stop.....Of course, we can see this poverty in California too, but the sight of the children begging is awful to see daily. In Ireland, even more years ago, I was always giving handfuls of change to everyone who asked ..I'm not sure how you can stand it.
Such an uneven world we live in .I have never even been hungry or homeless---we are too fortunate.