Richard Schaefer and I, two of the Cross-Border Issues Group team, arrived in Mexico City on Sunday afternoon. After catching a bite to eat – tacos al pastor – in our favorite airport eatery, we caught the bus to Cuernavaca. I worked on the Cross-Border Issues Group PowerPoint on the airplane and then turned my attention to the one for Backpack Journalism while in the bus. Both were in good shape, but needed translating into Spanish. By the time we got to Cuernavaca both the laptop battery and I were spent.
We got to Gloria’s glorious house and were greeted with her usual, “Mi casa es tu casa.” We quickly made ourselves at home, having implored the taxista to stop at an OXXO so I could buy rum and coke, we made some drinks and caught up with Gloria’s life and general conditions in Cuernavaca and at Fray Luca. It was great to be there! We’d not been in Cuernavaca in winter and even though it was now evening, it was still relatively warm, by our standards, not Gloria’s, and the greenery off her porch were candy for our eyes, weary of the brown of New Mexico in winter.
Gloria offered us food, but we didn’t want to impose since we know she doesn’t eat late. We also have a favorite place down near the glorieta featuring the one and only Emiliano Zapata. We was great to stretch our legs after a day of travel. We walked down, had some more tacos (of course we did) with the various salsas, limones, cilantro, and onion (for Richard). We enjoyed watching the people and generally being outdoors and back in our home away from home.
We hiked back up “Gloria’s Hill” and called it a night.
The next morning, we were greeted by Mara, always in her hat, providing us with fresh coffee and fresher papaya. We also had grapes and there were pastries, but I stayed away from them. Ernesto came in and it was great to see him. He’s lost some weight and the beard he was sporting. He looked very good. We gave him an English exam over breakfast because there were some words in our PowerPoint for which I couldn’t find the Spanish equivalent. He was very helpful. After breakfast, it was pack up again and head to Fray Luca.
Fray Luca! We had a meeting planned with Gloria, Vero, Arturo, Ernesto and Christian to go over our plans for the summer. We also wanted to make sure we had all the information about why they weren’t coming up in April. We heard it was about the economy, and we knew that could be a factor, but we wanted to make sure there were no other institutional impediments to them coming. We have so looked forward to having them come up, traveling with them through Hopi country. In addition to money, they were hearing from UNM that they needed to bring up a group consisting of at least 12. That’s difficult for them. We said we would see what we could do about it. Additionally, they are now being charged as much now for 2 weeks as they used to pay for 4. We’ll check that out, too.
As for summer, dear Vero had done her homework. She had her Guatemala information and had already been looking into logistics. We discussed the possibilities of using public transportation to get down to Guate/Honduras, as well as partnering with universities in Huehuetenango in Guatemala, and Tegucigalpa in Honduras. It looks like some of Arturo’s students will be working with us, including possibly Paola, a veteran from last year. All went well. I think that we’re starting to firm things up a bit. As Richard said, we’ll know more about everything we can do once we know our numbers. He’s expecting to have a firm grasp on that by the end of April. We are planning as if all is a go, with a couple of nights, perhaps, in Chiapas.
Gloria expressed great interest in the research side of our project and making sure they had all of it because she’s got an accreditation visit this summer and plans to feature it.
Following the meeting, we went to Arturo’s shop for a great video swap. We gave him ours and he gave us his. His students pulled together a great video highlighting our efforts this past summer. He pulled some of the best Padre Alejandro soundbites as well as some great footage from Casa de Buen Samaritano in Oaxaca. He did a good job with the footage and information from Magdalena Teitepac – and telling the hearbreaking story of Roberto Hernandez Cuevas.
Leaving his office we looked east southeast and got a breathtaking view of Popocatépetl, or just “Popo” to its friends — this magnificent mountain. It was the first time we’d seen it covered in snow! It was magnificent. The previous week they’d had lots of rain…I mean LOTS of rain, and the mountains got snow. I told Arturo they had no excuse to only have one Mexican in the Winter Olympics.
Ernesto then drove us to the bus station because we needed to get back into DF and get ready for our presentations. It was hard to leave Cuernavaca after such a brief visit, but the good news is, we’ll be back!