I am currently in Taxco de Alercon (“The Silver Capital of the World”) a beautiful colonial Mexican town, all whitewashed walls and red tile roofs lining narrow cobblestone streets. Very picturesque.
The government has designated it a heritage site. I’m not sure if that is the official name or not, but the result is that all the houses and business have to maintain that colonial appearance – circa 15-1600s. There are no neon or other lighted signs, only black lettering on the whitewashed walls allowed, even at McDonald’s (though they managed to put golden arches graphics on the inside of the windows, how very out of place they look in this snapshot out of time.)
Built on and surrounded by several mountains, where they mine silver, cobblestone roads zig, zag, and wind steeply up and down the mountainside. Streets are narrow, the equivalent of an alleyway in the US, and accommodate moving cars, trucks, mini-van buses, people walking, steps into houses and shops, and sometimes parked cars as well — all at angles that would give you vertigo. It is an adventure to say the least to walk up or down the street trying to avoid rocks and potholes and have a delivery truck come along, causing you to brush along the wall of the houses with mere inches to spare, or a taxi swing far to your side of the street in order to make a tight (280 degree) turn, then jam it into low gear and growl its way up the hill. When you see them do this, or you are riding in a combi (a shared ride van) shuddering up a steep hill, you wonder how it is possible. It is even more interesting watching the taxi dances, when one is coming down the hill and another wishes to go up — somehow they all manage though.
As with most of Mexico, the cars spew fumes. Thankfully my accommodations are on the 4th floor, above it all; I usually go out early, retreat to my room mid-day for siesta or work, and go out again in the early evening when the traffic dies down, or I just sit on my patio and enjoy the quiet, the breeze, and the beautiful view. I have a fabulous room in a private home with a private bath, hot and cold running water ( luxury in these parts), a balcony overlooking the alley on one side, a patio on the other side overlooking the valley between three mountains, and a big king sized bed in between (must have been a sight watching them get that bed in here; had to have been lifted in from the alley below through the balcony door, since the steps to this level are a wrought iron circular stair that I have enough trouble negotiating with a little something in my hands.) There is even an automatic washing machine for my clothes though I use the cistern water to run it, so I won’t run out of clean water for my bath.) It is as good or better than a room in a luxury hotel especially since meals are included. And the bonus — every morning I awaken to a view of the sunrise over the mountains from my bed. Bueno!!!
My Hostess, Irma
My hostess, Irma, a sprightly and beautiful (inside and out) 70-year-old Mexican woman (a sister, who looks 50) does not speak much English and my Spanish, though better (I know many more words but have difficulty putting them together) is still woefully adequate for conversation. I muddle my way through with a little help from my offline English/Spanish dictionary and translation program (Jibbigo) on my phone. It is not perfect, sometimes the word for word translation makes no sense, but I try another word or phrase and eventually we get close enough. Irma thinks my “talking phone” is a little brusque; she calls it the Sergeant because it barks orders. Yet if I do not have my phone on me, she sends me off to get it.
Zocolo at night
The weather here is beautiful — warm sunny days and cool nights. I (as most people, there is no where to park a car) walk everywhere unless we have far to go, then we take an autobus/combi, a large van fitted out with extra seats as a taxi that whisk around from place to place on a specific circuit. If the seats wrap around the outside of the vehicle (most do) and they are covered in plastic, it can be a wild ride if you are sitting sideways. I love to walk the winding streets to the Zocolo (central square of most Mexican towns) of Taxco where the locals come to gather in the evening and shop the local fresh market, where you can get just about everything if you look hard enough, and probably get lost doing so. It always amazes me what the local commercial market, sort of a mini-super Walmart grocery selling everything from soup to nuts literally (and I do not mean the kind you eat), even tires, plaster and pots and pans, and what it doesn’t. Certain things are only sold in specialty stores.
If you come here, you need to ride the teleferio (cable cars) to the fancy Hotel Montetaxco (resort and country club) on the mountain overlooking the city where you will find spectacular views of the city and countryside. The ride up and down is pretty exciting too. Don’t come between Dec 12 and Jan 6 though or you may find “no room at the inn” as it is filled with “vacaciones.”