Great travel writing can stir up the shallows, the fondly forgotten, the murky areas of memory and past experiences float up into clarity – surprising, fresh and newly remembered. That happened this morning when I found myself, phone in hand scrolling through a long article in the NY Times about returning to Mexico City.
Plagued by street crime and horrific thefts in the 1990’s tourists fled the grand city even though it was never embroiled in the narco-trafficing terrors that still linger in deeper pockets of the country. Tourists have been returning and in truth, some of us never stopped going.
I grew up camping on beaches in Baja long after Hollywood celebrities first marked the urban area as a playground. Remnants remain in Ensenada where murals in the colonial halls give fading witness to stars like Rita Hayworth, Bing Crosby and others, gambling, drinking and dancing.
Much later I started a series of pilgrimages to the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan, longing to see the pyramids, seeking renewal after the ravages of divorce and found it. My teacher, Victoria Allen, had been there many times over decades spent studying with don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, and descendant in the Nagual tradition.
In Teo, in ‘classrooms’ along the Avenue of the Dead, I rediscovered the healing aspects of ritual as we quietly let go of that which no longer served us in private ceremonies that Victoria gently led. The echoes of deep traditions fed my spirit and I’ve returned a half dozen times to that nourishing space, “the place where man becomes god,” where I found healing and strength. The stones echo with whistles from vendors selling the ceramic toys from baskets. European visitors trek the Avenue with maps in hand. The intrepid climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, dazzled by the views and flummoxed by the beauty of butterflies bouncing along invisible air currents. The smaller Pyramid of the Moon stands adjacent, yet in an exalted position at the top of the Avenue.
To be there on a Solstice or Equinox is powerful. Then the white garbed medicine men and women bring their acolytes to do ceremony amidst the stones.
On one of those pilgrimages I reached out to my group to see if anyone was interested in spending a day or two exploring Mexico City before returning home. Luckily my friend, Pamela, agreed. She had lived there decades earlier as a young wife and anthropology student. I discovered an exotic, sophisticated and culturally overwhelming miasma… To be continued.
In the next post I explore Mexico City twice!
My hope is that as the border jumping visits become more frequent, tourists won’t just visit Mexico for suntans, cheap booze, drunken spring break bacchanals and all-inclusive resorts, but to cherish and learn from the rich, deep cultures waiting there for us to recognize their presence and that we may quietly renew our exhausted spirits – culturally, through cuisine, art, ritual and architecture.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE PARTS ABOUT VISITING MEXICO?