Catholics & Coronas – It’s all about the people!

The sites I’ve seen on this last leg in Mexico have been as charming and impressive as the last.  However, the people we have met in  our last few days in Mexico has inspired my eagerness to return.  

Hola Acapulco!  Bleary eyed from yet another 10 hour bus ride and 3 days of silence in the  dorms, it was time to splurge.  Nea, my fellow backpacker let me book and we arrived at Las Brisas Hotel and Resort.  An adorable pink and white property, high on the hill in Acapulco.  We were immediately impressed,  the service was impeccable from the get go.  Eduardo greeted us with his warm smile and with the quote of the week.  “Ladies, think of the jeep as your elevator.” This property is humongous!  The candy coloured jeep took us to our room, and what a view!  Not to mention our very own private pool!! (Ok so that was unnecessary but it was only a little bit extra.) We were in paradise, lazing about poolside discussing our silence experience, lapping up the rays and Nea getting her kit off at every opportunity (closet nudist that one.)  We headed to the Sunset Bar, where we met the delightful Leo. Having tended this spot for over 10 years this is his bar and this man is a legend. Overlooking the spectacular sunset on the pacific, the vibe makes you feel like you are in your mates lounge room. Leo even gave the whole bar a round of drinks on him because the cutie couple next to us  got engaged !! 

I explored the town with Carmen the delightful driver who spoke little English and even with my limited Spanish, through our warm smiles, giggles and hand gestures we understood each other.  Isn’t it funny that words really are such a small part of communication, because we really did enjoy our time together.  She encouraged me to take a boat trip to Isla de la Roqueta to see the Virgin Mary submerged underwater off the coast,  the visibility was not great but I did meet two charming boys who took me to lunch on the island .  They explained the history of buildings and monuments in Mexico I simply must see and introduced me to a very odd drink called michelada.  Not sure that’s my cup of tea but I tried it, beer and tomato juice?  Back on the mainland Leo and Eduardo were doting on us again at cocktail hour, they insisted we see the cliff divers.  My dad having been to Acapulco in his navy days over 40 years ago also said it was a must see.  The show was brief but terrifying!  These strapping young men, climb the 136 foot cliffs and hover at the top awaiting the tide to be just right, as to not hit the rocks below.  At that perfect moment like a graceful Olympian, down they go toward the crashing waves and tumultuous sea.  I held my breath more than once.  The last diver of the evening lit two torches and after kissing the feet of the mother Mary shrine atop the cliff, performed a faultless dive with a somersault or two and it was over! Wow! Wow! Wow!  Generations of divers have been performing this for tourists and locals for years, it certainly is a timeless spectacle. 

Our trip nearing its end we arrived in Mexico City and it was time to farewell my travel buddy and yogi off on her next adventure whilst I hit the church trail. This is how I met the magnificent Ismael.  Having taken us to dinner the night before, by chance Ismael was also my driver for my last day in Mexico and I simply adore this man.  We explored his great city, whilst discussing all things Catholicism, he was so knowledgeable and keen to tell me everything I wanted and should know.  We went to the Plaza des las Tres Culturas. Then passed the Santa Judas followed by an eventful stroll through La Villa de Guadalupe. There are several churches in this place and is the most visited catholic site on earth.  It was here in which The Virgin Mary appeared to San Juan Diego, which resulted in the original church being constructed on that site. Followed by 5 other magnificent buildings across the ages, to accommodate the congregations as the population grew.  As it was a Sunday there were services taking place in all of the churches and thousands of faithfuls wandering around the grounds.  The architecture a real treat.

My favourite the dainty chapel within the new Basilica, the latest addition to the complex.  Modern and not grand like the other buildings but I felt the warmth and love of God in that little room.  We passed by the Virgin de Guadalupe on the viewing travelator  This painting revered by all Mexicans and the detail and intricacy of this piece of art history was fascinating.  Symbolism on steroids in every feature, constellations in the print of her dress, the moon at her feet and the baby bump only slightly visible.  I loved my time with Ismael. His calm, steady voice and his ever articulate delivery with passion and enthusiasm made for radiant conversation.  I’ll definitely be back to explore, next time we’ll go to Puebla and Cholula. 

I met up with Julio, the chatterbox diver we had met in Isla Mujeres.  He took me out to dinner with his friends to one of the oldest buildings in town.  Julio can literally talk under water but again his passion and patriotism as he walked me through the modern history of his great nation was delightful.  I was in awe listening to every word as I sipped my tequila and corona.  His paraphrasing of significant events like “and then Napoleon came and we kicked his ass” was comical and informative.  

Mexico is a country full of history, breathtaking landscapes, diverse cities, fabulous food and the people are amazing.  Kind, welcoming, faithful and colourful characters. I was actually nervous coming here and needed a pep talk and a cuddle before leaving Dubai. What for?  Sure there is crime here and pockets with some significant issues but name a country who doesn’t.  Mexico for me was a random trip to meet a friend and now is firmly on the list to explore further next year and beyond. 

Mexico – Te Amo y Hasta Luego.

Yours in Faith

The Unlikely Pilgrim

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