Not what you’re thinking. School is over!! And I don’t know when I’ve ever been so relieved, except for maybe that time on the Jerry Springer show when I got my DNA results back and found out I wasn’t Charles Manson’s child, but that’s anther story…
If you recall, Jeff and I enrolled in Spanish school with some friends at the beginning of the summer. Thinking this would be great fun, with the added bonus of a summer in an amazing mountain town with like-minded cruisers, going on adventuresome weekend excursions, I was all, like, “come on, Jeff!! This is gonna be awesome! Really, how hard can it be? Just trust me on this!”
Going back to school, to learn a foreign language, in my 50’s, was delusional. Hell, I’m from rural Appalachia, for god’s sake. English comes hard for some of us. And study as I might, I struggled the entire six-weeks. There were times when I questioned my sanity, but, to be fair, there have been countless times in my life that I’ve questioned my grasp on reality, so maybe that’s not really a good depiction of the gravity of the situation.
After the second week, I dropped out of dance class. I know, right? Dance Class???? But geeze, even though our instructor was cute and all, I couldn’t figure out what the hell he was saying, nor could I keep up with his steps– we were just running around the stage like blind drunks, unless you already knew what you were doing, which I did not. He tried to teach us (in vain, I might add) to shimmy our shoulders in a sexy manner while shaking our hips in some other fashion…well, let me tell you, Fabio looked real sexy from behind while he demonstrated this, but I, as a white hillbilly with some German blood thrown in, was not genetically capable of such moves. Nope. Not gonna happen. I tried-I did, but I felt like that time would be better spent with my nose stuck in my books than attempting the impossible.
Oh, and there was to be No Skit!! I know. I was crushed. Crushed!!! I, personally, was counting on a live audience, but there would be no glee in seeing Jeff squirm over his upcoming performance, which I’m sure would have been highly entertaining. (Both the squirming and the performance.)
We refused to let our weekends be dampened, and we did manage to get in some excursions, as well as long urban hikes, discovering hidden gems in our home-away-from-home.
Taxco is a unique Mexican city, in that nearly all the buildings are white, topped with red tiled roofs. The houses hang precariously perched on hillsides, seemingly ready to tumble down the mountain like snowballs in an avalanche. The elevation is around 6000 feet, and climbing the steep hills every day was a true lung-buster (especially for us cruisers who have lived at sea-level for years.)
The steep mountains surrounding the city are lush and green, often covered in fog. They reminded me so much of my home back in the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky. After a good rain, which occurred most nights, the waterfalls flowed freely off the hillsides, making for a surreal beauty difficult to describe.
The streets in Taxco are steep, cobbled and rough, often 2-way but with room enough for only one car. If alleyways were available for walking, they were preferred. But on the way to and from school, we were provided much entertainment watching the standoffs in the street. (Typically, the car coming down the hill has to back up to the nearest wide-spot, but it didn’t always pan-out that way.)
Taxis are everywhere, and they are all the same. White Volkswagon Beetles (the originals), callled Vochos in Taxco. The shocks are long-gone, and the cobbled streets make for, lets just say an uncomfortable ride. The front seat has been removed for easier entry and exit, and the driver opens and closes the passenger door with a rope or chain. They only hold 2 people, but are incredibly cheap.
In the evenings, if we wanted fresh bread or pastries, we walked across the little cobbled street in front of our house and looked for the “Hay Pan” (there is bread) sign taped to a wall. The “pan man” (or lady) was nice enough to post it at street level,saving your breath and leg muscles from climbing the million steps up to the casa for nada. If you wanted to be sure it was there, or if the sign wasn’t up, you’d yell “HAY PAN????” and someone from above would confirm “Si! Hay!” or deny “No Hay” your request. We often brought home a bag of fresh rolls and sweets for under $1.00.
Something that really bothered me in Taxco, and all over Mexico, was the street-dog population. Homeless dogs are everywhere, and my heart breaks daily. They roam the streets in search of a morsel of food, often dodging cars by a sliver of space. Even supposed “pets”, which are kept outside, loose on the street if not on a rooftop, are in terrible condition. Matted, skinny, hopeless. I will say, though, that we have yet to encounter an aggressive dog.
We met a woman whose father had been a close friend of famed silversmith and jewelry designer William Spratling. (He pretty much put Taxco on the map as Mexico’s “Silver City”.) She invited us to tour the Spratling ranch, where she now lives. It was a memorable little field trip, especially since I knew very little about him or much of Taxco’s history.
And at the end of our 6-week Spanish course, as hard as we worked, as frustrated (and sick) as we got, we all came out the better, in many ways. Will I do it again? Dunno. I guess that remains to be seen. Give me a year, I’ll let you know.
Oh. I aced the final.