Six weeks at a stamping press. Voluntary servitude of this type is the cost of volunteerism. But it, and the largesse of church ladies, buys bus fare to Tenochtitlan and pocket change for a pocket-change economy to last six long weeks.
At dawn in a gaseous terminal in the vast valley of Mexico, a Red Arrow mountain bus costs less than the IRT for the half-day odyssey into the magical mountains where the old town perches majestically.
From New York --a holy novena of bus seat nights to get me to where an aqueduct could spring from hands used to garden hoses. Where kids from the glacial hump, or the broken cliffs of the Bronx hoped to bring life to rock-clinging slums of hopelessness in the form of water.
The only guy not parentally blessed with funds I had to stand at a stamping press for a spell— my six-week delay sees the water project tank, and yet I go anyway. Better lost and aimless in a foreign land than spend another summer in Queens.
The cavernous abbot’s cell has not been reclaimed by the church, but the meals we expected as productive volunteers now come out of empty student pockets.
It is a town of style and of culture. Great designers drew first breath there. The Lost Generation was there. Hollywood flocked there —while the uninteresting, the under-clothed and underfed died on unseen mountainsides, in hovels that only existed to feed the need for fodder.
Seeking purpose, canvassing for need, we scatter in the winds of the Sierra Madres. Chasing possibilities, the big Irishman and I gamble with our last few pesos to bus down the mountains to the squalor of an Acapulco still staggering, two years after the earth opened there and swallowed beachfronts, ate palm trees, crunched the roadways.
We plunk heavy duros into temperamental payphones to call and find our contacts gone. Though we are not in need of irony, we are told, anyway, that they went to where we had come from.
So you sleep on the beach, and when it rains you plow into a nearby jungle to a lost motel covered in liana and the snaking tendrils of a million plants you know that it must be a mirage, almost gothic, in the rainy mists.
And you find it run by a hapless gringo who tells you the price that you cannot afford.
…and so, since this is Mexico, we bargain, the big Irishman and I. We have him where we want him—there is no one anywhere on this green earth who will knock on his door this night.
The jacal, the dump, has a shower in a tub— but it is a porcelain terrarium of insect life, so we leave it alone and sleep uneasy on well-worn mattresses.
We have saved enough for the return And once back, are set on new roadways. We will leave the town of contrasts for the next adventure, saying goodbye to peasants and the ghosts of Fitzgerald and Brick Top and all the famous who were there and never saw the poor. Bringing a new consciousness to our age? I dunno…hoping for the best.
SEARCH BY TAGS:
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!