absolute delight and was held in the ancient opera house. Later, I followed the Rondal, stu-
dents dressed as 16 th -century Spanish nobility in capes, puffy short pants, and long stock-
ings, playing guitars and singing romantic songs, either love songs or sometimes risqué
versions with double meanings, through the streets and into the university. I attended a
cabaret; also Lorca's play “ La Casa de la Señora Bernada Alba ,” saw “ Don Juan Tenorio ,”
and for the first time in a decade the opera “ Carmen ” performed by the Mexico City Com-
pany. And there were endless dances, bands, art shows and exhibitions, even puppet shows,
in the six nearby plazas.
Mexican youth, particularly university students, venerate fabled pre-Columbian Indian cul-
ture and promote pre-Hispanic rituals. Spain put a Catholic patina on pagan rites and now
a student-led pagan revival adds a second decorative leaf. It appears that D.H. Lawrence's
“The Plumed Serpent,” written in 1926, foretold a present spiritual trend.
Students told me that kleptomaniacs rule the country, and corruption is accepted as inev-
itable. My barometer, taxi drivers, (less corrupt in the north than the south, whose meters
never work, or are nonexistent) I test from time to time and pay the price. If you ask the
price of the fare before you get in the cab you're likely to be quoted the official rate, the
best price. When you ask, “How much do I owe?” at the destination, the likely answer is
an inflated tab. In asking, you indicate to the driver that you are not familiar with the set
rates, and his integrity quickly slides to a profitable answer.
Maybe Mexicans take first prize in shoeshines! Both my black walking shoes and black
running shoes radiated a brilliant glow that made me watch my own feet glide over cobble-
stones with a pleasure only surpassed by a fresh can of Almond Royal chocolates. When
sneakers took over the walking world, we lost the simple, profound pleasure of a glistening
foot “feetish.” Mexican “angelitos negros,” must shine the black holes in space.
“University” loses something in translation. This university often is a two-year work-study
program of 30 percent on the job, 70 percent in the classroom, based on the French model.
Courses are practical, industrial, business and English, no liberal arts. I should not criticize
any education; this is progress.
The students were friendly, courteous, frequently studied and worked under less than ideal
conditions, and were making progress in English. It's a start. In fact, what I did notice was
that many Mexicans now have some English at their command. Just a few years ago, when
I traveled to Zacatecas, or when I made a seven-city bus exploration, English was not in
evidence as I find it today. The best students invariably had lived in the U.S.