Colors of Mexico 3: White
I know, white is not a color. Scientifically, it is even an absence of color. However, I must say that I have rarely seen such a beautiful absence, such an amazing nothing. This nothing which covers walls in which thousands of colorful existences dwell. This nothing which depresses the whole world when clouds dare to hide the sun. This nothing which falls off the sky every winter. This nothing on my skin, in my eyes, on my nails. I personally love this absence of color. The absence sometimes means more than presence.
After spending one week in Mexico City, my best friend and I decided that it was time to discover another part of Mexico. After long researches in our travel guide, our choice ultimately falls on Taxco, without any obvious reason.
The day after, on Sunday, we go to the bus station to wait for the departure of our bus. A two hours long journey is ahead of us, through mountains and sublimes landscapes.
The bus turns right above the mountain, heading to the sky. Everything is seized by a white light. The bus struggles to climb, putting a lot of pressure upon the motor. Arid hills surround us, where few cactus try to settle down on this dry and crazed skin. They are like green noodles, displaying their thorns against the hostile neighbors. Grey broken rocks cover the ground, letting only a few plants grow. After each hill comes another one until the horizon blurs up. Nothing but a road passes through these wrinkles, indicators of ancient but immortal skin. By living in The United States first and then in Mexico, I’ve experienced what immensity meant. In France, and in Europe in general, everything is restricted and clustered. Driving more than two hours without any variations in the landscapes is rare. In the Americas, landscapes are endless, the horizon gets lost, and the sun sets in unknown places. We are completely dominated by the stretch of the emptiness facing us. I remember travelling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas: 6 hours of nothing but desert. Some houses and animals sometimes show up, walking around like lost souls, seeking for lost times. Power lines reminded us that human beings had once upon a time-travelled across there, but it was the only remaining sign of life.
This reminds me of a novel I’ve recently read, called Pedro Pàramo, by Juan Rulfo. I strongly recommend you to read it, it is a masterpiece. It is only 200 pages long, but it has a depth I have rarely seen before. We follow the path of a man who is looking for his father, and we travel with him across Mexican history. Souls and bodies guide us through the doors of Mexican culture, meeting up with human-beings wandering like spirits. Only the wind is reassuring in this atmosphere. People wish they could disappear and fly away with it, but they are tied up to this wretched dry ground like a turtle can’t get rid of its carapace. With the movie called Ya no estoy aqui that I recommended you guys in the last entry and this novel, I am trying to set up a list of works that may enable you to get into Mexican culture. Not only I want to share my experiences and images I’ve got in my mind with you, but I also want to help you discover a culture I personally love.
The bus reaches the top of the mountain after one last effort. We are close to 3000 thousands meters of altitude, and my head is spinning because of excitement. Head in the clouds, I feel the bus starting to ride down. A lovely city then shows up out of nowhere: I recognize Taxco, our destination, according to the pictures I had seen before. The first thing that blows me away is the immaculate white covering each and every wall. The entire city seems to be covered with snow, a haven of freshness within the heat. Contrasting with the rest of the country, which is almost entirely colorful, Taxco is characterized by its absence of color, by its nothingness. The sun rays reflect and go back to where they come from. The city is clinging to the mountain as if it wants to be protected from an enemy. To handle the immensity around, the inhabitants have gathered and formed a society.
As we approach, I catch a glimpse of a cathedral standing out, two parallel towers connecting the city to the sky. I feel the excitement rushing in me, and I realize that we were not mistaken about the choice of our destination. We get off the bus, honestly a little lost. Our exploration relies on Google Maps. The main square is a quarter away, taxis offer us rides but we trust our legs, walking around remains the best way to visit a city. We walk through narrow streets made of cobblestones, between white and bricked walls. Within the room between the buildings, purple orchids serve as a fence before the slope. The two cathedral towers are our Venus, indicating us the way with their force of attraction.
Merchants seated down on their front door accost us to sell their last production. We avoid cars and scooters, pavements do not seem to have made their way up until here. The street heads directed towards a mountain standing like a wall, informing us that we have arrived, going further is pointless. After a slight turn to the left, the wonderful cathedral faces us. Sculptures and towers mix up, our eyes get confused. A market is setting up in the main square, cups and dresses fight for the standout. Craftspeople are painting hats, cups and statues of La Santa Muerte in front of us. La Santa Muerte is the personification of death and one of the main idols in Mexico. We can find in every Mexican market. But her scary dead face looking down at me, like I really should leave, will not defeat my desire for a souvenir. I afford a gorgeous cup, ornamented with birds and flowers drawings on a red background. I must say that I deeply fell in love with this cup, and it is the only one I have been using ever since.
In order to have lunch, we enter every restaurant on our way until finding the perfect one, called the Del Angel Inn Restaurante. With a point of view over the whole city, our table offered an amazing location. My friend and I are blown away by the forest of roofs in front of us. For the first time in Mexico, I see “Western roofs”: sloping and made of tiles. The reason is that Taxco is actually a colonial city, built up by Spanish colons when they found out silver mines in the region. They then imported their architecture. With all these considerations in my mind, the waiter shows up with the food, bringing me el mole I ordered. Despite the European architecture surrounding us, we never feel confused about where we are because everything else is entirely Mexican, especially the food. El mole is a speciality mainly composed of species and chocolate, served with chicken. It might sound odd to mix up chocolate and chicken, but I ensure you that it makes sense as soon as your tongue feels the flavor spreading around. I find it really delicious, and it’s even better accompanied by a beer.
When we exit the restaurant, we look up to the summit of the mountain behind and see a Jesus statue standing. He is spreading out its arm over the city, inviting everybody to come under his protection. It is considered as the most important landmark in Taxco, so we can’t miss it out. Climbing takes around half an hour. We search our way through the debris, unfinished houses and stairs. Out of the center are the social outcasts, looking down at the city like people in exile. Inhabitants help us clear our way, leading us to shorter stairs and hidden shortcuts. A football field expresses the end of the constructed city. A game is taking place, I wonder how they can play under this heat, while just a few stairs exhaust me out. We have not arrived yet, Jesus is still above us. We have to walk through a forest, and as we make our last steps, we see an endless landscape stretching in front of us. It is absolutely breath-taking, the hills are spread as far as the eye can see and the city is stuck between them. We obviously take many pictures to save memories.
It is now 7 pm, the sun and the mountains meet up, the obscurity chases the light. It is time to board our bus to go back home. I spent a marvellous day here in Taxco, and I am already looking forward to our next trip.
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