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And pass the cemetery gates

From Veracruz we headed back to Mexico City for one night, before setting out for the silver mining town of Taxco, set amongst the slopes and valleys of a small corner of a region of tightly-packed, large hills. The town has a strictly enforced policy of maintaining its colonial look, and this and the hills make for many winding, steep laneways to get lost in between renaissance Spanish houses. The defacto gate into town consists of the remaining arches of an old aqueduct. We went for Day of the Dead, on a year where this would have some elevated significance for Taxco.

Taxco has a huge cemetery, the essential ingredient for Day of the Dead, but earlier this year it (or a house adjacent) was the scene of a shoot-out where government forces killed fifteen cartel members. Before this, dozens of bodies had been found dumped at the bottom of abandoned silver mines. Maybe due to this, there were federal police trucks scattered here and there around the cemetery, watching things.

However, no-one seemed perturbed, and the rituals of this day went on as normal. The cemetery was full with the amusing; full mariachi bands surrounding and brutally serenading a grave (it's not gentle music); and full with the poignant; mothers sitting silently and alone next to the grave of their child; and full of the sweet; children happily playing with toy trucks on the graves of siblings, like they were again playing with the siblings.

After some walking around, a sense that we were intruding, maybe felt more by us than by the locals, made us make for an impromptu restaurant between sections of the cemetery (a taco stand with a tarpaulin-roofed eating area) and watch the word go by. While I was dull and had beer, Naomi drank a cocktail thats preparation requires a machete: a fresh coconut with a hole chopped into it to pour in vodka and drop in a straw. Naomi taught me the art of biting open pumpkin seed shells without breaking the edible part, and we chatted with the main guy running the stand.

At some point into the vodka, Naomi remembered me saying that in Mixquic the year before, bratty children had chased Jimmy P and I through the streets demanding lollies. Noticing children here weren't doing this, and feeling somewhat robbed, Nae starting chasing down the children to offer them lollies, unphased by my repeated bulletins that this is a creepy way to behave.

Near Taxco are the Cacahuamilpa caves, huge caverns with hight ceilings, big enough to hold opera concerts in. Which they do, on the stage they have built and its bleachers. Another addition I've never seen deep beneath the earth in a cave is a block of toilets, something the septuagenarians in our tour were pleased about. There is also a nice story about the grave to an English explorer and his loyal dog, who went to get help when the master was trapped in the cave, and upon failing to get help came back to die with him.

As a final note, stay away from the torture museam in Taxco, unless you are one of those who has somehow reached the point of thinking it's acceptable to publish as fact a list of ways in which men are inferior.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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