25.07.2005 - 11.08.2005
Coyoacan = place of the coyotes
According to a local legend, a coyote used to bring chickens to a friar who had saved the coyote from being strangled by a snake. Coyocan was founded by the Toltecs in the 10th century and later settled by the Aztecs, aka Mexica /mesheekah/.
For yet another time, I answered 'no' when Thollem asks if I recognized the area. We were in Colonia Nino Jesus, where I had lived 16 years before, where I walked around like the natives. However, now everything was unfamiliar. I remembered a plaza... Spotting a large map in the median of the busy Miguel Angel de Quevedo Boulevard, we crossed carefully and looked up to find a small plaza not far away, in the neighboring colonia. Could that be the one? We walked among trees, past narrow cobbled streets and high walls enclosing residences. Entering the plaza, I knew at once that it is not THE one, as it lacked my favorite sweet bread shop, and was covered with manicured bushes in triangular patterns. (However, it did have a huge, stone church. Then again, every plaza had one, no matter how tiny the square.) Now a quest, we continued onward, enjoying the beautiful streets of this old town that once was so far removed from the City, only to now be engulfed by it. After a few streets, we rounded a corner. Determining that the next few steps were free of stone to trip on, I looked up, and stopped to see four arched entrances in a row, familiarity overwhelming me. This was it: my route into THE plaza of my memories. Further around the bend, the center of vendors, cars, people, music and, of course, a towering stone church, greeted me with open arms. Here was where I came to buy pan dulce (although my favorite were the biscuits), to attend a mass at Templo de San Juan Bautista (one of the first churches to be built in New Spain), where I people-watched while buying school books and spoke about the state of Mexico and the world with classmates over cafe con leche. Only now did I realize 'my' plaza was La Plaza Hidalgo, the heart of Coyoacan, the zocalo only second to the downtown Zocalo in popularity and importance ... History that never stuck in my memory. The pan dulce did, however, so the panaderia was the first place we enter today. Not all the shelves are full at this afternoon hour, but what is there proves tantalizing: orejas with and without chocolate, pan con mantequilla y azucar, conchas, elotes, galletas, bolillos, cuernos, ... and of course, biscuits. Passing the kiosko (no band in this gazebo today) to sit on a bench near the Templo, we spied a man walking by, spouting a pile of leather hats atop his head, and leaning to one side to counterbalance a large bundle of leather purses and bags. He passed the harmonipan player (the harmonipan originates in Berlin). A man selling balloons entered the scene. Children chased an unseen object jump near a tree in the background. The oreja with chocolate was okay, but didn't compare to the biscuit I gobbled, giving Thollem only a bite. I save the flat, brown paper bag, complete with logo. As we leave, pigeons landed to clean up after us. We crossed the narrow street, weaving between the cars like natives, to the Jardin Centenario, a tree-filled area where the shade enticed everyone to sit and relax. A fountain in the center donned two snarling, beautiful bronze coyotes. This was our second day in Mexico, and I had found a memory. I was left wondering how many more were hiding amongst all the changes I had yet to encounter.