Thursday, June 18, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Cuernavaca

The post here was written on this date in 2008. At that time I didn't know that I would be publishing my young adult novel on Kindle three years later. What I do know, and knew then, is that I had many rewarding memories of my year south of the border and one of my favorite places there was the city of Cuernavaca on the southern slope of the high altitude mountain that supports Mexico City.  (Cuernavaca itself is nearly a mile above sea level, hence its comfortable spring-like temperatures year-round, despite its proximity to the equator.) 

Among other things in life, I have taken a stab at writing a novel. The setting for part of the story was Mexico, having lived there a year and having become enthralled by its magic. The Red Scorpion is its working title.*

Last night I came across a disk with some of the slides I took in Mexico that year. Over the next few days I'll try to share some of the images here. The people and places of Mexico, and the accompanying memories, will always have a special place in my heart.

What follows is the beginning of my story.

Chapter 1
He woke abruptly, jostled to alertness by the screech of brakes and final recoil as the bus jerked to a stop. He was surprised to find that he had managed to fall asleep at all. The crowded bus included peasants with chickens, crying babies and a crush of people from all stations in life.

Dr. Comstock, glancing out the window, was dismayed to find the bus had not yet reached its destination. It was picking up more passengers, even though the aisle was now full. Several villagers squeezed up onto the steps, some hung out through the doors which had been left open. The bus lurched forward, gears grinding.

A small boy eating a mango placed a sticky hand on the rail in front of Comstock’s knee. Comstock smiled at the boy, but the boy turned his face away. Comstock was a stranger and a foreigner. The boy had been trained not to trust him.

Once more the bus screeched to a stop. This time he could see they had arrived. It was the last leg of his journey, descending to Cuernavaca from the high altitudes of Mexico City. He was eager to begin his work.

Dr. Comstock, a professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota, had come to Mexico to locate the final resting place of Quetzlcoatl, the plumed serpent of Aztec legend. This was Comstock's second research expedition in Mexico. He intended to develop contacts that would enable him to obtain funding for a longer trip the following year. It was Christmas break back home at the University. He could think of nothing better than being in Cuernavaca. While arctic winds chilled the Minnesota countryside, flowers remained perpetually in bloom here in the land of Eternal Spring. Red and coral bougainvillea, lavender jacaranda, flaming poinciana, and golden geraniums splashed the air with color and fragrance. The floral tapestry delighted his eyes in every direction that he looked.

His wife Adele had wanted to join him, but he balked at the idea. Her presence would interfere with his work, he said. He promised she would accompany him on next year’s trip if they could find caretakers to run the Eagle’s Nest, the bed and breakfast they owned and operated.

Comstock had an angular face with deep set eyes and thick, dark eyebrows. He wore his hair cropped short. He felt he looked too British to pass for Mexican, though occasionally it worked out that way because he tanned easily and well.

Exhausted from the journey and relieved to have arrived at all, he carried his baggage the two blocks from the bus station to the hotel.
click on photos to enlarge

*The hotlink for the book was obviously not in the original post, since the book did not yet exist at that time.

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