Bricks and stones…

When I first arrived in Taxco, I watched in amazement as a one story building on the street side, which revealed a three story caved-in structure on the back began to be transformed into a beautiful multi-story edifice with covered balconies and beautiful views.

Quite the transformation right?

What is even more amazing is how the work is done — by hand! There are no cranes to lift bricks to the second, third, or higher floors, they are carried there a few bricks at a time. And if you need supplies delivered to an inaccessible location. Where there is a will there is a way.

Cement is mixed by hand, put into buckets, poured into the forms (which were also created by hand), and so it goes, day by day by day, little by little, one brick at a time until eventually walls, and doors, and balconies appear where there was only air.

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It took three years, but now there are some mighty fine looking rooms (habitacions) at the Hotel de Mineral de la Taxco  ready for occupation.

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Escaleras

The word of the day is escalera — stairs, in English.

Stairs, MexicoAs you might remember, I live on the 4th floor. To get from my room to the main level, I must descend one spiral staircase and two long sets of regular stone or tile steps. And, of course, for every trip down, I must also climb back up.

For some reason today was an especially rigorous stair climbing day. I went down for breakfast, up to get dressed, down to meet someone, who was late, so back up again, and down to meet them later…

And on and on it went — 22 trips altogether. And that does not count the set of stairs outside the house to reach the calle (street.)

Here is a sampling of some of my “favorite” Mexican escaleras. Some old, some new, some fancy, some not, and some when you come to them you just say, “Whoa!”

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Who needs a Stairmaster when you have the real thing?!!!

Securidad

If you have been watching the news, you know that Guerrero state has been in a state of chaos recently. Some students, protesting the inequalities of the government’s placement of teachers (urban students favored over rural) were rounded up by police and disappeared. It is assumed that the then mayor of Iguala and his wife, who has connections to a drug cartel, ordered the police to transfer the students to the cartel inferring that some of the students had rival gang connections.

Well you can just imagine what happened.

The students are missing and presumed dead.

All over Mexico, and the world, people have protested these barbaric actions. Unrest is high and tempers are short.

Protesters, tent city, Chilpancingo, MexicoProtesters have built a tent city, on the zocolo, in the middle of the market in Chilpancingo, the state capital. The government is on full military alert, which means there is a heavy Federal Police presence in Chilpancingo, Iguala, and other cities with universities (including Taxco), especially so during holiday periods when the students do not have classes.

Tent City, Chilpancingo, MexicoAlthough all is quiet here, the heavy military presence feels a little like Madison during the height of the Vietnam War protests.

With this unrest comes insecurity and people are more aware than usual of their vulnerabilities. It is not uncommon for people known to be successful or have wealth to build a “fortress” of protection around themselves. Now even the average Juan is doing the same.

Wall with broken glass on top, Taxco, Mexico

Houses already secured by solid metal doors, walled courtyards, and decorative ironwork over windows, are raising walls higher to make access to their homes impossible.

 

 

Wall with broken glass on top, Taxco, Mexico

 

Broken bottles are set into the cement on top not so much to deter birds landing and dropping gifts into the patio below as to keep possible intruders out.

(This used to be one of my favorite houses too. A lovely courtyard behind a one story wall, provided privacy yet was bright and airy. Now with its three story wall, it is more like a dungeon.)

Houses, Taxco, MexicoEven the little guy, between these two much larger, taller buildings has added onto his house, though his found materials construction and corrugated metal roof pale in comparison.

Yet, if anyone were to consider his humble abode worthy of breaking into, the resident turkey would give a gobble.