Feeling euphoric, soon as we are settled, a waiter comes by, carrying a huge blackboard and sets it down on the ground. On it the menu of the day is listed in colorful and curlicued script. We order and then continue with our drinks. In no hurry to go anywhere, just letting ourselves loosen up and enjoy  the moment. Time slips by and then we are invited to the table all set up for us on the terrace shaded with bright and vibrant umbrellas. The food! The food!!! This is my very first trip to Mexico, which was originally meant to be just a short orientation thing, but as has been with my life, it stretches into almost three weeks. Work! What else? I am required to dive right into the thick of it, as I had to several years earlier in Germany. And so I do.

The people I am working with are wonderful partners and the hosts. This is the rewards part of the hard work. Our taste buds are treated to the fat succulent camarones con ajos, and fresh red snappers and carne asada replete with Mexican flavors of chili and cilantro and lime. No hard taco shell anywhere in sight, like back in the USA. I didn’t know anything about the TexMex and the CalMex part of what I had come to think of as the authentic Mexican food. Soft shell flautas at McGill’s in Isla Vista washed down with XXX beer is as far as I had come to know of the Mexican cuisine. So it turns out to be the most deliciously pleasant surprise.

I am brought here by Carlos Civita, the partner of our Mexican publishers, Ampudia family of Editorial Caballero.  Carlos, of the famed Civita family originally from Italy, but known for their publishing empire Editorial Abril in Argentina. During the political upheaval there, the family just decided to cash in and leave. His father, Cesar Civita is now living in New York City while Carlos has taken up residence in Mexico City. The delightful bunch, some of the most wonderful people I have ever been fortunate enough to know. Carlos basically takes me under his wing and the very first weekend that I am in Mexico City, he just hands me the keys to his little Renault, so I get to explore the city on my own. Now when I think back, it could well have been a disaster. Because driving in Mexico City is not exactly like driving in Chicago or even New York. Its more like Bombay and Saigon where the chaos and survival of the fittest reigns supreme. Not to mention extra attention I needed to pay to the car’s manual transmission. I remember, how the little Renault shuddered and came to a stand still right in the middle of a square with hundreds of cars zapping by and not paying any attention to stranded me. Not even the cops nearby directing traffic budge an inch. Somehow I survive and get the thing going again. I won’t even mention how many times I got lost during that weekend.

But the weekend after, he wants to show me around and picks Cuernavaca and Las Mañanitas as our destinations, accompanied by his visiting parents, and makes it in to a family outing. They pick me up from my hotel around ten. Early for Mexico, because the lunch is never served before two at the earliest. But before we settle down and splurge at Las Mañanitas, he wants us to attend that morning’s mass at Cuernavaca’s  Catedral de la Asunción de María. That seems a bit odd because Carlos and his family are not exactly what I would call religious folks. Plus, they are born Jewish, though Carlos’ wife Marta is Catholic. But he has heard so much about the uniqueness of the mass performed by the Bishop of Cuernavaca cathedral, and how uplifting his sermons are and how they are devoid of religious dogmas.

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