Monday, December 24, 2007

Cuernavaca

Intimacy, as I understand it, is communicating trust and letting others be themselves. It’s accepting them as they are and being ourselves as we are. Intimacy is something we need but rarely receive or give. Life without intimacy is merely existence.

Today, Sunday, we went to the anthropology museum and walked through an area with expensive hotels, limousines and Cadillac and Hummer dealers. Quiet, orderliness, wealth and aloofness abounded.

The contrast was sharp as compared to our accommodations over the previous three days. We had been staying in a good hotel on an old street in the historic district. It is an area whose grandeur has waned and whose zenith is a part of history. In the evenings the sounds of traffic, drums, music and laughter challenge the volume of the TV. When dark descends the streets are littered. In the mornings the streets and sidewalks have been swept by hand; the litter is gone but the embedded dirt accumulated over years remains.

Tonight we’re in a hotel in Cuernavaca. The reservations were made by a brother of the man my niece is marrying. Our amenities include a clean room, a private bath, a television, one electrical outlet and clean towels given to us at the front desk when we received the door key. The room is about 10 by 10 with a separate bath and a closet.

Amenities do not include a door knob on the closet. It is missing. There is no door knob on the inside of the entrance door and never has been. An old-fashioned deadbolt suffices to open the door. There is no remote for the TV. To change the channel we must use the down button. The up button does not work. The entire bath is tiled and the shower is one end of the room. There is no division for the shower. It is simply a shower head high on the wall, controls for hot and cold water and a drain on the floor. The room has neither heat nor air conditioning, clock nor radio, carpeting nor phone.

I like our room. I like it better than any in Mexico City near the Hummer dealer. I prefer it to the room we had for the last three days. My room gives me an opportunity for intimacy. Through my niece or cousin, both of whom speak Spanish, I can express gratitude to the young man who checked the room, deemed it acceptable and made the reservations. I cannot talk with the family at the front desk but I can smile and say “Thank you. Gracias!”. I can pass people climbing or descending the stairs and each meeting holds the possibility of intimacy – of chipping away at the shell of my more affluent but limited world and peaking into the world of others.

For me a vacation isn’t about the number of stars that rate my lodging. A vacation is about intimate experiences.

Things I’ve learned thus far.

  • Speaking Spanish isn’t necessary. A smile, the word “Gracias”, the ability to point and a willingness to eat whatever was ordered are all that are necessary.
  • When boarding the bus no one checks baggage. Be prepared to put your baggage in the cargo bay yourself.
  • The correct pronunciation of the name Teotihuacan is tay-oh-tee-wah-can. (I had wondered about that for 41 years.)
  • There's not enough time to write about everything and post photos.

What I wish I hadn’t learned:

  • It hurts like hell to walk by a two year old boy sitting on a crowded street next to his young mother who is nursing an infant and extending a hand pleadingly.

3 Comments:

Blogger SimplyTim said...

Paul,

Yes, fiber in life and in food and in relationships.

Oh my, the woman and the breast and the child and the hand and never will you forget that moment.

Tim

12/24/2007 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

The joy you reflect as you journey through life is a wondrous thing to see.

12/24/2007 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger anonymous julie said...

I find that your first paragraph is one I needed to hear... the last, I hope, is a sight I won't grow cold to. I see it so often.

12/25/2007 08:06:00 PM  

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