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Albert Maywood Courtright II

Trip to Mexico, Summer 1940

Sunday, July 28

Yolande & I went to the Symphony concert at the Palacio. Igor Stravinsky conducting. Had seats right in front row - too close to basses. 1st base player used 5-string bass. Good orchestra. Met Alan & Jim & took the same bus home. Went for walk in Chapultapec Park in afternoon with Yolande & Alan. Everybody, mostly poor folks, out for a holiday. Whole families. Women with babies wrapped in a shawl. Soldiers. Native orch. - 3 viol, 1 bass guitar, 1 standard & 1 small playing after beats. No rain today.

Monday, July 29

Rained hard during the night. It's bad luck to return money! Yvette paid the wrong person for something she had bought. When she tried to get the money back to pay the proper person there was no change. She'll have to take it out in trade. The person to whom she owed the money told her it was bad luck to return money. Another superstition involves the tortilla shops. They must never sell all of their dough. Some must always be kept to add to tomorrow's batch. Otherwise they would lose thier [sic] customers. We went downtown to a movie in the afternoon - Andy Hardy Detective. Purse snatcher tried to grab Yvette's purse at Sanbon where we had a malted milk. It was dark by the time we started home. Merchants all trust Americans. They keep very little change on hand & when they can't change your bills they tell you to let it go till [sic] tomorrow (mañana). Bought a lottery ticket 50¢ (Mex.) off a boy who got on our running board while we were parked at a market. He makes 4 centavos commission on each ticket he sells.

Tuesday, July 30

Went to San Angel where we visited San Angel Inn. Nice gardens - big pine trees & brilliant flowers. Nobody around except two waiters. Picked up a boy guide who took us to see the [Pedragal] "Piedras" a stone quarry under which have been found some skeletons & relics. Couldn't have found the place without our guide. The present human habitations more interesting than the ancient relics. From top of quarry could look down on the native huts - each surrounded by a stone wall waist high leaving an alleyway about 4 ft wide. Interesting bridges over small stream paved with cobblestones. Dropped our guide, Humberto, about 10 yrs old at the Obregon Monument then set out for "Desierto de los Leones." No desert and no lions. High in mountains to west of city. Pine forest of huge trees. Had a guide of about 6 yrs. Ragged & no shoes. Monastery very much in ruins. Took our flash lights so we could see in subterranean passages. Had coca-colas in a so-called restaurant. Good vantage point to watch poor Mexican family at their midday meal. Tortillas & milk.

Wednesday, July 31

Every night we hear a little whistle going round & round our block from about 11 p.m. on. Found out it was the "velador" watch for this block. The maid says many blocks have them but not all. We have a watchman inside our gates & one out. Still we are advised to keep our windows locked at night. The half dozen mosquitoes that get in however are our biggest problem.

Yvette & I went downtown in the afternoon. Yvette looked for a silver belt. We bought a French book for Yolande, a color film & got some money changed at the Am. Ex. Traveled on the bus. Most of the clerks speak French as well as Spanish & English.

Thursday, August 1

Walked downtown - principally to mail airmail letter to Canada (60 centavos). Bought some Mexican popular songs & manuscript paper. Visited exhibition of Mexican products in Palacio - chicle, petroleum, liquors, leather, goods, pottery & henequin.

In the afternoon Yvette & I visited some new homes in Lomas de Chapultepec. All were on the same plan. Large hall - living room, 2 stories high with fire place. Dining room on one side & another living room on the other all connected by arches. Kitchen (6ft wide) tiled & small serving room. Garage connects to hall as does stairway to 2nd floor. 2nd floor has balcony overlooking lower hall. 3 bedrooms, each with an outside balcony. Built-in flow boxes. Full bath on 2nd floor. Toilet & wash bowl on 1st. Servants quarters of 1 room & toilet opening into rear court. Laundry tubs in rear court. Wood heater. Doors Philippine mahogany in place & spattered with plaster & tar. No basement, of course. Exteriors of various designs - modern & Spanish, novel effects. All exterior doors & windows steel - made to order. Rent is $300 per mo (Mex.). Not for sale at any price. Drove on out to see new military hospital - gigantic.

Friday, August 2

Got up an hour earlier than usual 8 p.m. EST & went to Toluca. Market day is Friday. Had our first good view of Popo & Ixtax: whose tops were high above the morning clouds in the valley. Passed many men carrying pottery toward Mexico City. At 10,000 ft there is a National park where camping is permitted. The market was very interesting - especially the baskets & serapes. Bought a number of baskets & a serape for Alan, sombreros for Yolande & Alan. Six school girls trying to learn English got acquainted with us & had their picture taken with us & gave us their names. Ate our usual lunch of bread & butter & bananas. Many tourists - all buying baskets & serapes.

Motor trucks all have names & mottos. Have seen - Hitler, Villa, Admiral Graf Spee etc. Asi es la vida - Conquistador de Corazones on the bumper. A load of mattresses & a man sleeping on top (asi es la vida). Every truck as one or two passenger on top of the load.

Milk here is not pasteurized, that is, the best milk isn't. Pasteurized milk sells for 22¢ a liter, leche certificada for 30¢. The latter must be sold within 12 hrs. The cows are tested for T.B. - fever etc.

Saturday, August 3

Yvette can't think of the word for mutton so she asks for "meat of the animal that has wool." Went marketing alone this morning. Tried a small papaya but didn't like it so gave it to the maids. Yvette & I went down town on the bus after lunch. Looked over the excavation of the Aztec ruins across from the Cathedral. Almost bought a silver belt for Yvette consisting of 4 brackets. $4.50 pesos each. 18 pesos for $3.60 for the belt. The sidewalk salesman only had one & sent a boy to the silver factory to have the other 3 made for us. It would take about an hour he informed us. After getting the address of the silver factory & the information that we could visit it on Monday we left. Tried tortillas with maple syrup. The look like buckwheat cakes but the taste is not the same. Watched an Indian woman making mole to stuff a turkey. She was grinding chile & chicken & turkey livers together on a metate.

Only material mixed with corn & water to make tortillas is lime. We bought a chunk at Toluca thinking it was dried tortilla dough. Yvette thinks it is this which makes the Indians teeth so white.

Table of Contents
Sunday, July 21 through Saturday, July 27
Sunday, August 4 through Saturday, August 10

Last modified on 15 April 2021 18:02