Road Trip, 1987 – Adventures with Ma: Finding our Roots in Chavinda, Michoacán

The Great Bus Ride

Early the next morning, we headed to the bus terminal for the next part of our journey: Zamora, Michoacán. We had been told to take a first class bus on either the Estrella de Oro or the Estrella Blanca bus.  Cousin Lu had warned us against taking the second or third class buses, as we would be riding with the chickens, according to her. We were also told those would be the quickest, as the other buses made lots of stops. The terminal was huge, the bus was very comfortable. We sat back and relaxed for the ride, I had the window and Ma had the aisle.  The bus departed promptly at 9:00am, out of the parking lot, onto the street, around the corner… and broke down with a flat tire.  It took about 5 minutes for us to find out what had happened, as the bus had just stopped moving.  I remember looking down and seeing the driver standing by the side of the bus, casually smoking a cigarette, as if just taking a break.  An hour later, we were off.  The drive was peaceful, the occasional slow-moving vehicle slowed us down to a crawl at times, until the bus driver yanked the wheel and pulled a Speedy Gonzalez and passed around it. Ma occupied her time by chatting with a very nice university student from Uruapan with a nice, almost angelic face, who sat across the aisle from her. A couple of backpackers joined in the conversation. As it was too difficult for me to lean over and be part of the conversation and not wanting to be rude by asking everyone to repeat themselves, I occupied my time by staring out the window, enjoying the scenery and taking the occasional photo to prove we had been there.  All would turn out blurry with a green tint from the window, making it seem more likely that we had been on a bus on Mars.

 We drove through the countryside and past small towns… well, sort of.  Continue reading

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Cousins & Aztec Stomping Grounds: Mexico City, 1978

It was summer of 1978; Ma told me we were going to Mexico. It was not a question, it was a statement; she was taking me to Mexico.  I was thirteen yrs old, which translates to ‘rebellious teenager who prefers to be with her friends doing nothing than go gallivanting anywhere with her mother’.  Okay, so it kinda sounded like fun; after all, I was half Mexican, Taco was my nickname, I was taking Spanish in school and excelling (naturally!).  Mom then said Mary and Steve were also coming along.  I yielded; we were on our way to Mexico! Continue reading

3 Ladies in a Red Car on the Bicentennial Independence Route to Guanajuato

In 2010, one could find signs all over the country for ‘Ruta 2010’. It was a play on words – or in this case, numbers – for the year (2010), which broken up (20 and 10), represented the 200th anniversary of the Mexican Independence movement and the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution.  The country was brimming with excitement and national pride, waiting for the major celebrations to begin.

The Rutas de la Revolución consisted of 3 main routes. Each followed the paths of the revolution’s jefes: the Ruta de la Democracia on the trail of Francisco I. Madero; the Ruta Zapatista followed Zapata’s footsteps and the Ruta de la Revolución Constitucionalista followed the trails of Carranza, Obregón, González and ‘Pancho’ Villa.

There were also 3 main Rutas de la Independencia; we would focusing on one of them – the Ruta de la Libertad. More importantly, we were going back to a picturesque town that Ma and I fell in love with in 1987: Guanajuato,  Guanajuato.  So nice, you have to say it twice. In P’urhépecha: ‘Quanax huato’. Translation – not so romantic; it doesn’t exactly conjure up an image of the romance and legends the town holds, but definitely amusing:  Hilly Place of the Frogs.

Guanajuato – Hilly Place of Frogs, Colonial Buildings and Winding Streets

El Cubilete – Cristo Rey looks down upon Mexico with open arms.

Just outside of the town of Guanajuato is the mountain which is the geographical center of Mexico: El Cubilete, with the impressive statue of Cristo Rey on top, arms outreached.  I pulled over to take photos; we had all decided not to visit it, as we had all been there done that; besides- my memory was quite intact from that visit – a gazillion hairpin curves on a road 3 feet wide with no safety railings and straight drops down: I did NOT want to drive that road! Continue reading

Taco’s Mexican History 101: Viva Mexico! The Cry for Independence

THE OTHER CONQUEST: COLONIAL MEXICO

Mural in stairwell of the Alhondiga, Guanajuato. The indigenous people – slaves – cry out to Dolores Hidalgo for help.

The Spaniards had conquered; a new era began: Nueva España. Mexico became a viceroyalty of Spain, its capital was built upon the ruins of Tenochtitlán and renamed ‘México Tenochtitlán’, renamed again in 1584 as ‘La Ciudad de México’ – Mexico City.  New laws were instated, such as one stating no cruelty to the indigenous people, but they were not very well enforced.  Some colonial officials such as Nuño de Guzmán became notorious for their cruelty.

The Spanish crown sent the Catholic church to the new land and convert the pagans; churches went up left and right, using indigenous people as workers (some would say slaves).  Along with it went the Spanish Inquisition and the auto de fé – public ceremonies of the Inquisition kind that included hangings and burnings of the heathen.  This went on from 1571 to 1850 – when the very last auto de fé took place.  That is not to say that all clergy were evil; there were a few, such as Vasco de Quiroga. who defended the indigenous people and truly did portray love.

The indigenous people may have been protected, but they had no rights in the eyes of the Crown.  Three centuries of this can leave a bad taste… Continue reading