© 2012; 1999 Connecting: Solo Travel Network & Lenora Hayman. Information
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Spa and Shop, Mexico – A Solo Travel Report

By Lenora Hayman

My middle-age spread was noticeable, and I knew I must do something about it. Why not combine a health spa and sightseeing holiday in Mexico?

I flew to Mexico City and took one of the Pullman de Morelos buses (US$6) that leaves every hour from the airport to Cuernavaca, a city noted for eternal spring weather and as a cool getaway spot for Mexicans and visitors alike. After a 90-minute drive, a US$5 cab ride got me to Mision del Sol, an ecologically composed resort incorporating Greek, Moorish and Japanese themes. Biodegradable adobe, wood and stone designed rooms ooze peace. Piped in music, flowing streams and flowering shrubs, soft grass for walking barefoot, and a stone garden, all contrive to inspire relaxation and self-awareness.

Cuernavaca For Spas

All the rites of massage, beauty, relaxation, meditation and purification are practiced here. While I rid myself of physical and spiritual toxins in an Aztec type "sweat lodge," other guests got in touch with their inner selves by playing tennis or practicing yoga and tai chi.

Feeling trim and energized by meals the likes of spinach and sprouts crepes with prawns, cactus juice, red beets cream peanuts and green pea tamales, I bought a pair of Mexican huaraches (sandals with rubber car tire soles) and went pounding the streets for some perceptive adventures.

In the Cuauhnauac Museum, once a 16th century palace built by Hernan Cortes, I spent a morning viewing Diego Rivera's powerful murals depicting Mexico's conquest, the War of Independence and the Revolution, all of which were commissioned by former US ambassador Dwight Morrow.

Cuernavaca's foreign inhabitants have included the Shah of Iran, Betty Hutton, and the flamboyant Robert Brady whose home – the former friars convent of San Francisco – is now the Museo Casa de la Torre. It houses 1,300 artworks ranging from Hispanic crucifixes to African masks to photos with film stars.

Amid the gardens of Dwight W Morrow's former home "Casa Manana" is La India Bonita," the oldest traditional restaurant in Cuernavaca. I confess I put my spa diet aside and selectedchilies en nogada-green poblano,a rich concoction of chili filled with ground meat and fruit, covered with walnuts in a cream sauce topped with red pomegranate seeds.

Taxco for Silver

So much for the waistline. I boarded an Estrello de Oro bus to Taxco, high in the hills of Guerrero, about 90-minutes from Cuernavaca. Declared a national monument in the 1930's, all shops, patio-flowered restaurants and hotels lining Taxco's steep, winding, cobblestone streets must retain their red-tiled roofs.

I had reservations at the Montetaxco Resort and Country Club, maybe not the best choice for getting to and fro on foot, but the view was spectacular from its mountain-top location. To reach the resort I got off at the tourist office on the highway and rode a gondola up top. Below my bedroom balcony, the distinctive roofs of Taxco colored the hillside with splotches of red, and at night the town's lights twinkled enchantingly.

Tennis, golf, and horse-back riding facilities are all available at Montetaxco, but I was mainly interested in silver. Silver has been significant to Taxco since Spanish miners discovered lodes of the precious metal in the 1500's. After the Spanish took all they could find, the town languished until 1734 when, according to legend, a man by the name of Don José de la Borda was walking with his horse one day. The horse stumbled, dislodging a stone and exposing a vein of silver that subsequently made Borda very rich. Grateful for his good fortune, he built the twin-spired Santa Prisca Basilica, Taxco's dominant landmark located on Plaza Borda.

In 1932, an American, Wm Spratling, set up a small silver workshop, inspiring local artisans like Antonio Castillo and his cousin to take up silver-smithing. Now, hundreds of silver shops in Taxco sell quality products (look for the Mexi- can government ".925" stamp), and the Castillo family has been producing artworks in silver for over 60 years.

I met Antonio's daughter, Emilia Castillo, who specializes in upscale porcelain dishes embossed with silver fish and animals in her store attached to the Posada Los Castillo a pleasant, centrally located colonial hotel.

My final night I joined local festivities. Under illuminated Santa Prisca, a band played. Boys exploded fireworks and pretended to be charging bulls. The local drink, Berta was liberally dispensed from containers carried by beribboned donkeys. By this time my middle-age spread was the last thing on my mind.


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