Hello from Taxco during Semana Santa – The famous Palm Sunday Procession
This morning I woke up early, way before 6 am. I lay awake looking at the blinking lights of Taxco right outside the window of my beautiful accommodation at the Posada de la Misión. I got up, took a shower and took my time since the sun doesn’t come up until about 8 am. At 9:00 I met Christian Berger who is the General Manager of 3 family-owned hotels in Taxco: the Hotel Posada de la Misión, the Hotel Borda and the Hotel Victoria.
I had already had a chance to meet his parents yesterday and it was a pleasure to meet a member of the second generation of this entrepreneurial family as well. Christian is very down-to-earth, very friendly and approachable and walks around in a simple golf shirt, rather than dressing up in a fancy suit. He communicates pleasantly with everyone around him and it is obvious that he has a million and one things on his mind to keep his operations running efficiently. With both his parents being of German descent, Christian himself is also able to communicate in excellent German, so we chatted in my native language.
Wonderful vista from the swimming pool of the Posada de la Mision
Christian told me a little bit about Taxco, his hometown. He mentioned that Taxco actually was the first Mexican town to have a synagogue and talked about a beautiful village on the coast north of Acapulco where he likes to spend his time.
The Hotel Posada de la Misión was opened in 1940 by Christian’s grandparents and more then 65 years later his parents, Mrs. Elena Trauwitz de Berger and Mr. Henry Berger Schmidt, still own the hotel while Christian looks after the day to day management. The complex has about 150 hotel rooms, ranging from single to quadruple suites and master suites. All rooms have a fabulous view of Taxco. The El Mural Restaurant also offers a wonderful panorama of this mining town. A swimming pool overlooking the city with a sitting area is framed on the other side by a wall mosaic by a famous Mexican muralist which has been designated a nationally historic monument and cannot be modified or removed.
The historic mural at the Posada de la Misión
At 10:00 I started to walk into town to see the famous Palm Sunday Procession. I saw young boys (no girls) riding up on mountain bikes with bundles of decorative palm leaves attached to the handlebars. There were many local artisans who were selling beautiful bundles of braided palm leaves and I ended up buying several bundles myself as little presents for some of my contacts in Cuernavaca. Everyone was walking towards downtown.
Braided palm leaves
I walked all the way to the Zócalo where I found one of the last spots on one of the benches surrounding this public space. Many of the benches are located under big leafy trees with a lot of bird activity going on. The white blotches on the benches are a testimony that these spots are popular with birds and I kept looking into the air to try to cover myself in the event one of these avian projectiles was heading my way. It looked like the whole town was coming out and surprisingly there were barely any tourists to be seen.
From loudspeakers mounted on the kiosquo (bandstand) music was blaring and every few minutes a live announcement was being made to invite the crowd to take advantage of some of the refreshments that had been provided, combined with a political advertisement that they should also vote for Felipe Gonzalez, the conservative PAN party’s candidate for the July 2 national elections.
The Christ statue on a donkey arrives
The crowd was getting thicker and finally the procession arrived. Some members of the procession were dressed the way the ancient Hebrews would have been dressed upon Christ’s arrival in Jerusalem. Several people carried a wooden frame that was holding a statue of Christ on a donkey. A large crowd followed the official participants and headed into the Cathedral to get their palm bundles blessed. These blessed palm arrangements are then stuck on people’s doors and they are to ward off evil spirits throughout the year.
I just sat and watched the commotion, old people, couples, children, street merchants, everybody was out and about. This was my opportunity for purchasing some souvenirs and I promptly bought a Taxco t-shirt and a some pottery items. For some strange reason I always find it difficult to avoid hand-crafted pottery when I travel somewhere and since I don’t want to clutter up our house in Toronto I allow myself the purchase of one hand-crafted vase from every place I have gone to, adding to my small collection.
Wonderful hand-made ceramics
After this famous Easter ceremony finished I walked back to the Hotel into the restaurant and had a delicious sopa azteca, the dish that has so far become my favourite here in Mexico. I had just a little bit of time left before my bus was to leave so I relaxed by the pool and looked at the simply stunning panorama of Taxco, this historic silver city. Then, shortly after 3 pm, the bus arrived and the ride back to Cuernavaca took barely an hour and 20 minutes. My friends Alberto and Elisabeth picked me up again and Alberto drove us to a local archeological site right in Cuernavaca: the pyramid of Teopanzolco was built around 900 AD. The word Teopanzolco itself is a Nahuatl word, meaning “The place of the Old Temple”. This area of Morelos has been settled since 2000 BC and has seen a number of Meso-American tribes settle and displace one another over the centuries.
The pyramid of Teopanzolco in Cuernavaca
Following this archeological excursion we went home to Alberto and Elisabeth’s place and had a nice chat for a few hours. I had brought some palm decorations for Alberto’s family from Taxco. After a couple of hours they drove me to my new accommodation location, a local family that hosts language students.
Cynthia is in her late 20s with two children and lives with her mom and step-dad in the same house. She has space for 7 students in her house and some of the bedrooms hold two beds to accommodate two students. Cynthia runs this homestay as a full-time business. Every day she prepares breakfast, lunch and dinner for the language students that stay at her home. She said she hasn’t really had a vacation for many years since she is always hosting several students at the same time, but she said she loves what she does. The additional advantage is she works from home and can spend more time with her kids.
Cynthia and her gorgeous daughter, baking a cake
When I arrived 3 young women were staying at Cynthia’s house, two students from the University of Ohio and one student from Washington, D.C. I was quite exhausted when I came in but I welcomed the opportunity to spend some time in a regular Mexican family’s home and I started to understand that they have to work very hard to make a decent living.