Cuautla, Cuernavaca, and Toluca

Trip Start Oct 10, 2007
Trip End May 15, 2008

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Well, here I am doing a fly by night visit through Mexico and thus my first combo entry.  Also, a disclaimer that I have entered the non-spanish keyboard world as I am updating this from the "states" and I don't know how to find the ennye (n with the squiggle on top) or the accents.

Cuautla is a bit of a townish city between Oaxaca and Cuernavaca as well as the burial place for Emiliano Zapata, the revolutionary hero during the Mexican Revolution, a major player in gaining independence from the oppressive Mexican regime at the time.  Planning on getting a direct bus there I somehow ended up on a bus to Mexico City instead!!  So, once in Mexico City I headed directly to a bus to Cuautla.  A four hour journey that is usually 2.  Most people are not sure why I went to Cuautla and I can't say I am either except for the apparent hot springs which ended up being a ginormous swimming pool with multiple slides and all.  A sulfurous air hung over the hot spring area with so many people packed in I can't imagine it being the tranquil soothing connotation of "hot springs".  Not to wast my 50pesos ($5USD)  I got myself a lounger and me tome un poco del sol "took some sun" aka sun bathed, took a swim and headed to the Zocalo. 

The non stop musical celebration of Cuautla's Zocalo was ten fold in that it is so small that if you stand jusssttt in the right place your ears can have that wonderful sound explosive experience of 4 different types of music hitting them full force at the same time!!!  Move a few steps in any direction and the mood changes to whatever is playing in that direction.  The best thing about the musical Zocalo is it has seemingly random events such as coordinated dances of adolescents and dinner time spontaneous dances of the older folk who mostly reside there.  In the midst of an outdoor eating crowd a song starts and people just get up in mid wine sip or bit of morsel and start an elegantly simple dance.  Seated right back down until the next song and all over again.  Of course the music is mostly live.

Cuernavaca was bigger than I expected and the famed spanish student town was short on any gringos at all.  Of course there was the man from Boston who asked me "are the bars the same in Mexico as anywhere else.?" Well, people hang out drink beer and get drunk, yup pretty much the same.  I did ask where the closest pool hall was for him in espanol.  Not knowing the word for pool-hall I made extravagant motions with my hands and arms.  There is a serious pantomime art to communicating in a newly foreign language!  Somehow I got the information. 

Cuernavaca is home to several Cortes founded structures.  The larges and most grandeur is the Palacio de Cortes, not being able to remember the name I kept referring to it as "THE FORTRESS" which is exactly what it looked like.  Straight out of Monty Python there it was, castle peaks and all, just waiting for a Cuernavacan revolt.  In front was a Napoleon complex statue of Cortes himself.  I find this all a bit interesting as throughout southern Mexico I continue to find an almost honoring of Cortes, the leader of massacres and Spanish dictatorship throughout Mexico, the continual celebration of the Aztec civilization that he conquered, and the most revolutionary leader who fought for the people's rights in Mexico, so much revered that his followers are the Zapatistas ( or ) All of this on the same land in the same nation. 

The Zocalo is quite pretty and holds one more statue honoring motherhood that I have found throughout Guatemala and Mexico.  Granted, there are so many trees, which normally would create a peaceful ambiance, that pigeons have taken over from who knows where and I was lucky to find a spot without pigeon poop.  Staying to the fringes of the park one tried to hit me and missed only by inches with me feeling the bit of splatter that made me go Guacala (yuck, gross, creepy) and also thank my poop forcefield for keeping me safe.

Most places can be visited in a couple of days and thus that is all one really needs in Cuernavaca. I visited the Catedral de la Asuncion, founded by Cortes in 1529 with a history and structure to match his rule.  I also visited Jardin Borda, a botanical garden of sorts with several fountains and some rather territorial ducks that kept several people heading the opposite direction.  The garden surrounds what was once the former home of several historical figures.  There is a museum where you can see old floors, steps and walls of the house all protected by a tourist plank. 

My couchsurfing ( experience here was great.  I got to stay outside of the center which means I got to see where people actually live.  The guy I stayed with and his house-mates were all friendly and I practiced my espanol listening skills with non stop, crazy making telenovelas!  I actually found a favorite that I hope they have in the states.  Unlike the 30 plus running soap operas (why are they called soap operas by the way?) telenovelas last for 3 to 6 months at a time and almost match Jerry Springer style of drama.  Much loved, fast talking and repeating themes they are a great learning tool.

Feeling as though I have become more of a small town type person I decided to take a break before Mexico City and head to Valle de Bravo.  Mid route I stopped in Toluca, the capital of the state of Mexico, and spent the night in the bus station hotel.  There is something about a comfortable bus with a movie and room to sleep that makes me exhausted after a 2 or 3 hour trip.  The camionetas "chicken buses"  always left me energized and ready for the next adventure after 7 hours and 3 bus changes.  That's right, just push me on an old colorful school bus with some local tunes, bad struts, hurting speeds and barely room to sit and I am as happy as can be.
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muddyfeet on

Re: Zapata didn't fight the Spaniards
Perhaps 'independence' is not the best word to use, though the civil war was really about people gaining independence from an oppressive government. But I understand the confusion in my meaning and appreciate your clarification. Spelling has never been my strong point either.

muddyfeet on

Re: Zapata didn't fight the Spaniards
Oh! You know what, I did write independence from Spain! Well, I did put a disclaimer at the end of this blog about accuracy as I was often in a hurry in internet cafes. I will fix the mistake.

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