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December 2, 2012 / la otra Mexicana

My Chabela story

It was at the end of my first visit to Mexico. A lyrical month spent in old Morelia, getting to know Mario’s enormous family. We would walk together down the Avenida Madero and he would point out cousin after cousin. My plane left from Mexico City and to get there, we could travel by bus over Mil Cumbres, a thousand passes- a twisty turny high mountain road, or take the over night train. We chose the train. We each had a sleeping compartment. Somewhere in the early morning I was awakened by a strong jolt. I was slammed into the train wall. Not too hard, but enough to be a surprise. I called out to Mario. Neither of us knew what had happened till we heard other passengers ‘Que se cayo el tren’ – the train fell. ‘Y nadie murio?’ -and nobody died? At this point we crawled out of our berths to learn that the cross ties had rotted and broken, right next to a pile of strong new ones the railroad was eventually going to replace. This caused the rain to simply fall over on one side. A major inconvenience, but not a disaster A woman passing through our car reached into her large basket, under the napkins and brought out corundas -those typically Michoacan tamales in pyramid shape and wrapped in banana leaves. We ate them as we climbed down onto the ground. All around us, other passengers were climbing up a hill to a slat sided truck waiting to take them into the nearest town. I was walking through the muddy field, gathering wild flowers. Everything was beautiful with Mario, even a train wreck. We were so much in our own world that someone from the last truck had to call us from our reverie. We scrambled up the hill and got into the truck which took us to Atlacomulco and a small truck stop restaurant. To me, it was blissful to eat breakfast, staring with love blinded eyes at the man I knew I was gong to marry. The last bus carrying the remaining train passengers left, left us in Atlacomulco, and we were blissfully unaware. Someone let us know, and before Mario could begin to worry about how we were going to get to Mexico City, a gravelly voice from the next table said: -Yo los llevo. I will take you. The voice came from a middle-aged woman in dark glasses and long braids, very straight and strong. Chabela Vargas.Image


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