A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!


Visit Expedia…

Expedia is my favorite place to book airfare, and they handle hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc. I like the organization of the site for figuring out what flights I want. Click on the suitcase to take a look.

I was very pleased to win an award for this blog! Even better for you: click through for lists of all sorts of award-winning travel blogs.

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

Tripbase Blog Awards 2009

We went to La Chicaroma several more times over the couple of days that we stayed in Bernal. I talked more with the woman I had already met. Ana Hernandez and her husband Juvenal Becera, owners of the shop, were of the Chichimeca people. “I live to dance!” declared Juvenal at one point. They are members of a traditional dance group that has its roots in the most ancient of times.


Juvenal likes to intersperse singing and conversation.

I was under the impression, from some Aztec dancers I had met in Colorado, that the Mexican government had discouraged such dancing, but Juvenal told me that in the past decade or so, traditional dances — which are very spiritual — are being performed much more in the open. With Alejandro and his colleagues at El Tajín, and now Juvenal and Ana, so open about their heritage and proud of it, I sensed something in Mexico that I had never noticed before. I’m still not sure if I had been oblivious or if there is now a greater receptivity in Mexico to the native past.

Ana told me that a high point for her had been dancing just in front of the Pyramid of the Moon at Teotihuacán. She and Juvenal, along with other members of their group, have traveled to many parts of Mexico to dance, often at events where many traditional dance groups come together from all over the country. They fast, refrain from sleep, and otherwise prepare themselves spiritually before dancing.

She walked across her shop and took her dancing head-dress off a cabinet. I thought she was going to put it on, but instead she put it on me. I was honored, and it felt wonderful to have the feathers coming out of my head like a fountain of energy. Ana took it off me for a minute and put her dancing garment on me, like a poncho over my clothes, and put an elaborately carved staff in my hand. I was totally taken aback. Not much leaves me speechless, but this did. I was almost in tears — of gratitude — for being taken so deeply into Ana’s world.

Rosana Hart in a sacred dance costume
I felt the sacredness of wearing Ana’s dance costume.

This made me feel free to ask a question I had long wondered about. Did they feel that the coming of the Spanish was totally a tragedy? “No, not at all,” she said. “It was an encounter between two peoples.” She and Juvenal explained to me several times, to be sure I could follow their Spanish, that the conquistadors had not succeeded in finding the true gold of the Native peoples, because the real treasure lay in their hearts. And so it still is today, they said.

View from the central plaza of Bernal
La Peña from the central plaza

I told them how much I enjoy the Mexican love of life, the courtesy of relationships, the ability to savor the moment. Did they think that these things were from the Native heritage?

They did. “The Spaniards did not come here with joy in their hearts,” Ana pointed out. They came with greed, with lust for power, and similar feelings.

I would visit with Ana and Juvenal until my brain was fried from so much Spanish, then go do something else and come back later. Sometimes Kelly joined me in the shop. One afternoon, he and I talked with Juvenal about the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. Did he know about that? Indeed he did, but the thoughts of his tradition were a little different: they calculated that a new world, or a new way of being, would begin sometime between 2017 and 2032.

Kelly and I were about ready for some lunch, and there was another foreigner who had been browsing in the shop. I asked him if he would mind taking a picture of us with Ana and Juvenal. He gladly did, and as we left the shop together, we fell into conversation. Jay turned out to be an American building a house in Bernal, planning to live here more in the future. We spent much of the day with him, and through him met Robert, another American who lived in the town. We all hit it off, even to a mutual interest of Kelly and Robert in alternative building methods. Going with the flow in Bernal was leading us right to the people we wanted to meet! There were only a handful of foreigners living in the town.

Kelly and I had a fantasy of maybe buying some land, or an old house, in the area. Mexican real estate prices in general are quite high, and this charming little town was no exception. Robert and Jay told us about land in the $45,000 range, and a house for about twice that, as examples. The fantasy receded but didn’t disappear entirely.

When Kelly and I felt ready to leave Bernal, we had had a taste of the energies and discovered a wonderful community. It is being discovered by Mexicans, but only a little by foreigners. Several people told us that they did not want this to become another San Miguel de Allende. I would ask what this meant. “People who don’t care about the Mexicans,” one person said. “People who get drunk and carry on… Sodom and Gomorrah,” said Juvenal.

We would soon find out. We had people to see in San Miguel de Allende.

[Next: San Miguel de Allende]

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