The trip to Mexico was as much external as it was internal, filled with beautiful people and places. One of the first places I went was Teatro Degollado with Castle. Every time I went while I lived in Guadalajara it seemed to be closed. There were no plays this week, but I was able to go inside and see the old European style of the playhouse. It was like something pulled from a movie, to incredible to be real.
After that we went to visit his friend, the man in charge of maintaining the historical buildings in El Centro. The government offices were in an old monastery with a massive open courtyard in the center. He took us to the old library, filled with the smell of books and old wood. I love that smell, a thousand books aging together. The wood carvings were simple, but they fit the room perfectly, from the double stairway to the wooden ceiling. We finished by climbing up to the roof, looking down on the churches and schools of downtown. There is something wonderful about going behind locked doors and finding the beauty that is there.
I got to see spring at UVM, the university where Castle studies. I lived in Guadalajara for a year and I don’t remember it ever being this colorful.
There’s an awesome artist corner that usually opens up on Saturdays, but it wasn’ t there when I went to Chapulapec after breakfast with Villa. The life was still there, and the beauty, people walking, riding, taking photos, or relaxing in the sun. It was my favorite place in the city, always humming with life. I was lucky to have lived so close to it.
I spent a couple days in Zacatecas with the Diplomat. The city feels old, like it belongs in the colonial area, even if the people don’t. At Museo Rafael Coronel there was what looked like a graduation photo day. The guys were off somewhere else in the massive, ancient building and gardens while the girls had their pictures taken near the entrance. Everyone was well dressed, in vibrant colors, gowns, or suits with ties. It’s hard to find a place in Zacatecas that isn’t beautiful, but I understand why they would choose the gardens and ruins in the middle of spring.
We ate, hit the museums, saw the top of Cerra de Bufa at night, and wandered the city. I will never understand humanity’s laziness, though. In the midst of beauty, there is trash. Shouting into a well to hear the echo we saw plastic bottles and bags. A corncob in the fountain, and trash on every street. Zacatecas is clean in comparision to Guadalajara, but there is still that show of apathy and disrespect that contrast the colonial buildings and cobblestone streets.
Anywhere in Mexico the museums are incredible. Some of them are themed, like the Don Quixote museum of Guanajuato, one of my favorites, but most are filled with a mix of exhibits. They usually have something local, from the colonial era or from the civilizations before, but the rest can be anything and everything. Museo Rafael Coronal had masks from all over the world of every make and material, some funny, some fascinating. There was one that looked like someone with elephantitis, half the mask covered in ropes and the face a bit distorted. I wonder if they saw power in that condition, like the people who worship them in India.
We went to the abandoned ancient fortress city of La Quemada. It survived for a long time, growing and prospering when water and food was abundant. There were hundreds of human sacrifices found in small pits on the site, and the city was built for giants rather than men. In the end it was burned to the ground and the people left it to the sands. About half of it has been unearthed and repaired, and the muted browns are beautiful against the stark blue of the sky at that altitude, and there are signs of life everywhere, from cows and snakes to the birds in the sky.
Every time I think back to where I went, to conversations I had, and to who I saw there is a good memory. Sparring in the old studio with Castle and the Fighters, eating and laughing with them afterwards. Teachers I hadn’t seen in years, amazing meals, random encounters, and always something wonderful to behold. There are so many people I didn’t get to see, so many things left to do. I think I will always love Mexico in a way I may never love another place on Earth. Estoy guero, pero mi corazón está Mexicano.