[Part one of a two part post on my travels to Mexico.]
Cuernavaca is a town in Mexico that has attracted people for millennia. Specifically, Cuernavaca is currently a town in the state of Morelos in the country of Mexico. But the political and geographic realities only solidified in the 1800’s. As early as the 7th century, the area was inhabited by a subgroup of the Aztec Indians known as the Tlahuica Indians. Intertribal battles were followed by incursions from Mexico. The Mexicans were followed by Americans and later the French. Throw in major influence from the Catholic faith, movie stars, and hippies, and you now have one of the most colorful, culturally rich, verdant areas on our planet. Let me be clear: Cuernavaca is wonderful! It is called the City of Eternal Spring and it proved the righteousness of that name during our stay.
It is not, however, antiseptically polished for the tourist set. I suppose it could be in areas…if you stayed ensconced in a lovely hotel. But life in Cuernavaca plays out for real people in the markets and on the street corners in astonishing colors. Children run up to your car at stoplights peddling Chiclets and roses at hours that make Western mothers “tsk tsk,” but this is simply the reality of the economy. Graffiti is rampant, but so much so that it is really a part of the fabric of the town. You can hate it or you can be interested in it…that is your choice. The grand homes of Cuernavaca are behind high walls. Gates draw back to reveal stunning oases in the middle of what can be a humble area, judged from 100 feet down the road. But, dear God, the Bougainvilleas and Birds of Paradise and Staghorn Ferns and green green grass and lovely trees…it is as if you are opening a simple box filled with gemstones.