editor’s note: When I was in high school, my mom got a job and an apartment so I could go to school in town. Those winters, my dad, Steve Rogers (co-author of People’s Guide to Mexico) went down south on his own for the first time since he and my mom got together. In 1995, my mom gave him a journal to record his travels for us. I know other people out there miss Steve as much as I do, so I thought it might be neat to publish a few short excerpts from that journal. Here they are.
March 15, 1995, San Miguel de Allende
Woke up this morning feeling a little lonely on my 57th birthday. Arrived in SM at 11 PM on the 14th and went to this no-name hotel in sort of a daze. Dogs and roosters and then clanging church bells kept me awake a lot during the night — weird to step out into the bright sunlight here in Mexico, in San Miguel where it all looks so familiar and yet suddenly so different. Was glad to find the Kadens home and to find John Kibbons staying with them. They invited me to stay with them and we had a wonderful birthday dinner cooked by John–chicken, roast baby potatoes w/ rosemary, tomatoes stuffed w/ rice and chorizo, tossed salad — a very elegant meal. Then we had a fun evening sitting around until midnight telling stories and reminiscing about old times in Alaska. All in all, a very fun birthday and I liked my present from Tina. I plan to keep up the journal!
March 16, 1995, San Miguel de Allende
Had a day doing errands–breakfast at Mama Mia’s with Pancho Pemex. He has been sick with kidney problems and has lost a huge amount of weight. He says he is recovering and is still cheerful and funny. A joke from Pancho: Why are people calling Pres. Zedillo Señor Kotex?Because he’s in the right place at the wrong time!
March 17, 1995, San Miguel de Allende
Feels good to be in San Miguel. Got a haircut and a beard trim–the barber took off more of my beard than I wanted, but I guess I do look more respectable. Barley said he changed me from a revolutionary to a philosopher –muy Mexicano, no?
March 18,19, 20, Mexico City
Three days in the Big E. Pretty hectic–all work–no play. Felt a little uncomfortable at times in the street after getting robbed last year, but all went well and everybody was real friendly. Stayed at the good old Monte Carlo — now a little over $10 for single w/ baño. Had some good meals for cheap too and walked miles and miles. Buying artesania is very competitive –the gringos are grabbing everything as fast as they can before the prices go up. It’s ironic to have the money and have great prices but no merchandise to buy! As Nicodemus in Oaxaca says, “Cuando el pobre tiene carne, es vigilia.” Old Mexican proverb. Mexico City is surprisingly easy to deal with. Taxis are cheap and plentiful and the metro keeps expanding. People are generally very friendly for such a big city. The air didn’t seem too bad but it was hot in the afternoon. Anyway, I was glad to get bidness done and get on south to Oaxaca— one of my favorite places in the world.
March 22, Oaxaca
Left D.F. on the 9 AM ADO on Tuesday the 21st and got to Oaxaca by 2:40 PM via the new highway! Sort of boring scenery, as it passes through no towns and you see no people. Very little traffic on the road. Tolls are high, I guess. Three full days in Oaxaca and parts of two others — Not long enough! Staying at Del Valle Norte Hotel out of habit — noisy with uncomfortable bed but otherwise pleasant. The Zocalo is my favorite thing in Oaxaca. After meditation one day I came out to the Zocalo in late afternoon. Big storm clouds were building over the mountains but the sun was shining through and the light was magnificent — the old buildings were virtually glowing in colors of gold, brown, green, and grey. Balloon sellers with huge volumes of balloons in all colors bobbing over their heads were in front of the cathedral, and a program of little children in costumes were singing on the plaza.