audience sporting umbrellas during sporadic downpours the first two nights. Crowds were
thinned, sponsors disappointed.
This year, music of Veracruz, its Caribbean origins, sea shanties, and its famous composer
Augustin Lara, set the musical theme. Fifty harps, the perfect instrument for angels,
crowded the stage under cover, fearing rain, leaving less room for the dance numbers.
I took an exciting hike into the nearby and newly opened, Ecological Zone, where the local
guide was occupied with a group picnic as I ventured into the wilds alone. After a while all
trees, shrubs, paths looked the same. I used my Sunday comic-strip memory of Mark Trail
and his outdoor wisdom to mark my path with stones as I ventured into the wilderness.
If laughter is the measuring stick, the most fun I had was watching two street mimes,
identical twin brothers, performing, clowning, satirizing and pulling the public audience
into their routines.
After Guanajuato, I drove south to Queretaro to join the Global Volunteers and found
that their literature failed to mention “indentured servitude” or “slavery,” which I quickly
learned to be the case. No one complained, but we were scheduled to work a six-day week,
classes beginning at 7 a.m. Each day began in pitch darkness, 5:50 a.m., without breakfast
because not even the underpaid kitchen staff began before 7. Our school van picked us up
at 6:30 for the twenty-minute ride to the university where we participated in five straight
classes before lunch, then two after, and a return to the hotel at 4 p.m. Breakfast became a
daily banana and a cup of school coffee. School lunches were only so-so, and I preferred
“Cup of Noodles.” So my friend Everett was on the mark when I told him about volunteer-
ing to teach and he had said, “Davis, have you been taking dumb pills?”
Hotel El Señorial enjoys a perfect location on the edge of the protected colonial heritage
zone. Queretaro is far different from my memory of fifteen-or-so years ago. There was no
beauty then that I recall. What sticks in my mind is that the bandstand was so dilapidated
that the musicians used care arranging their chairs so as not to fall through the floor, and
it was not a minor inconvenience. Today the entire colonial center (at least a half-mile
square) has been refurbished. It is well-tended, pedestrian friendly, attractive with well-
maintained plazas with delightful, artistic, fountains, outdoor cafés, a wide variety of res-
taurants, bookstores, coffee shops, and music everywhere. I now put Queretero at the top
of my Mexican list.
The English classes were basic. Most students had just one semester under their belt. The
Mexican teachers used us for conversation, primed the students to ask, “What is your name,