Friday, February 18, 2011

Cuernavaca: The City of Eternal Springtime

Our eighteenth year visiting Cuernavaca in February, and the charm and magic has not faded one bit.  It takes no time at all to adjust from the cold, damp rain of San Francisco to the warm bright Mexican sun, and contentment fills every pore.

The house is incredible. It is on such a grand scale, that our bedroom almost seems as big as our entire SF flat!  Everything is open, and the distinctions between outdoors and indoors are blurred.

Life here is so very different in so many ways.  The house comes replete with a wonderful cook, Natalia, two lovely house maids, Luciana and Daisy, a gardener and an overseer.
Coffee is served around 7:30 in the living salon.  We have breakfast by the pool in the gazebo at 8:30. 

Then around 10:00, Loren and I walk to the Zocolo.  The walk is both delightful and treacherous.  In Cuernavaca, every home is behind very tall walls.  Little shops and tiny restaurants open on to the street.  Cars and taxis juggle for a place along the very narrow roads.

Pedestrians, like ourselves, need to tread very carefully as sidewalks end abruptly, there are pot holes everywhere, uneven pavement trips event he most agile walker, and debris is everywhere.

Our first port of call when we arrive at the Zocolo is the Cafe Universale.  After all these years, the waiters recognize us and show us to "our" table that faces the square.  Loren orders a cafe con leche and I have my Jugo de Zanahoria (fresh squeezed carrot juice that I only have in February in Cuernavaca at the Cafe Universale!)  Young children know immediately that we are tourists and regale us with their beaded necklaces, pottery and trinkets.  "Muy barato," they say- "Very cheap."  They are very persistent, and I learn quickly that even to say, "No, gracias. Yo no lo quiero," is to give them hope.  So we avoid their gaze and pretend they aren't there.  We stay there for about an hour watching the hustle and bustle of the city center.  Over the years it has changed.  When we first came around 1992, there were tanks and armed soldiers everywhere.  Then through the years, that went away.  This year, there is only the occasional presence of soldiers carrying guns.  The past four or five years there has been a lot of construction and digging up of the roads around the city.  This year, much of this is over, and the results are quite lovely. They have taken down all the electrical lines and put them under ground.  Someone told us they did that so people couldn't steal electricity from the city!  

They have built a new stairway leading up to the town square, and placed some charming statues on or around benches.

We need to keep our eye on the clock as  lunch is served at 1:00.  For lunch we move from the pool area to the beautiful veranda.  Natalia is a wonderful cook.  She never asks us what we want.  She comes to Fred asking for money, and then goes to the market.  I love not knowing what we will be having, and I can always be sure it will be wonderful.  Yesterday for example, our first lunch was a delicious soup with a big piece of chicken in it, peppers, zuchinni, carrots and other things I couldn't identify.  On the table were three bowls of onions, chili peppers and something green.  And then there was a basket of tortillas.  So I took a tortilla, put onions, peppers and "something green" then scooped up some chicken and carrots from the soup and made a kind of stuffed tortilla before devouring the soup!

Ah- the afternoon!  It's my time at the pool.  Taking my book and cryptic puzzles, I swab myself with oil, and invite Mr. Sun to do his magic on my old body.  I have convinced myself that my stay in Cuernavaca will eradicate my psoriasis.  I think, even after one day in the sun, the condition is improving!  A couple of hours in the sun punctuated by a few dips in the pool, and I'm ready for a shower and anew change of clothes.

Around 5:00, Loren and I have usually set off again to discover a hotel or restaurant to have a margarita.  However, we changed that routine yesterday when Fred and Kat invited to teach us how to play bridge!  They are avid players, and must have been desperate to think that they could teach us old dogs new tricks, but both Loren and I found it quite fun, and if they haven't been totally turned off by our oafishness, we hope we might play again today.
Our next scheduled appointment is the cocktail hour which begins at 7:00.

  This is held in a beautiful room with a wet bar.  Fred is the margarita master, and it is here that we discuss anything from politics to progeny to philosophy. 

At 8:00, Luciana appears and says, "Senoritas, la comida esta lista."  (Ladies, the meal is ready.)  So we go in to the formal dining room where we are served a delicious meal.  Last night we had carne asada with delicious potatoes and a fresh salad.

This morning,-Friday- Natalia is going to La Mercado to stock up the larder.  Fred and Kat's daughter, Sara, arrives today with her three children.  While we were at the Cafe Universal this morning, a parade of caged animals went by.  The circus is in town!  What perfect timing for Annie, Emily and Ben Ridder.

 That's it for today.  I will try to do a new blog every other day, so keep checking back if you're interested.  Hasta Luego!

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