Thursday, April 10, 2014

lupe meets lupe

"Why would an eye clinic have an armed guard acting as a doorman?"

It was the first question that popped into my head when we arrived at the clinic on Monday.  The guard is the picture of graciousness.  But no one gets in and out of the locked door without his helping hand.

But why is he there?  I had images of Marty Feldman look-alikes reprising his role in Young Frankenstein.  Perhaps, making forced withdrawals from the eye bank.

I learned the reason why.  And I will tell you as soon as I tell you about Lupe's appointment.  The therapy is going well, but Lupe's doctor is still concerned that a full-size eye may not fit.  But the therapy and prayers continue.  (And more about that in a bit, as well.)

While Lupe was in her therapy session, Alex and I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood where the clinic is located -- Benito Juárez.

At first glance, the streets look like a mixed residential and commercial area.  With the emphasis on commercial.  In addition, to the eye, ear, and architect clinic, there is an eccentric mix of businesses.

A barber shop right out of Mayberry RFD.

A whimsical prop for a beauty shop.

A brightly painted building inviting us to indulge in the pleasures of la iguana -- though neither of us could figure out what those pleasures might be.

And lots of restaurants.  From sushi to traditional Mexican to French.  Including this eye searing pink ice cream parlor.  Maybe that is why there is an eye clinic in the neighborhood.

Even the territorial headquarters of the Salvation Army.

Or this formal wear rental shop that has obviously seen better days.

But it was the proprietress who gave me the lead to find my tailor.  I stopped by to thank her.

It struck me as odd that a formal wear shop would be tucked in with the other businesses.  As if it were a bit out of place.

But a turn down the next corner showed us why the shop is there.  This is a solid middle class neighborhood.  From what I have been told, there are areas in the borough that are upper middle class.

The houses here show a pride of ownership.  With plenty of designer touches.

If I had to live in a big city, this would be the place to live.

And Mexicans concur. 
Of Mexico City's boroughs, Benito Juárez is reputed to have the highest socioeconomic index in Mexico.

That brings us back to the guard at the door.  Where wealth congregates, so do thieves.  The borough suffers from a disproportionate number of robberies and assaults.  Hardly a statistic to warm the heart of the Chamber of Commerce.

But yesterday was not a day to dwell on crime.  And we won't do that here, either.

I had promised a treat for Lupe and Alex -- a trip to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Both Lupe and Alex were emotionally stunned by the complex.

You all know the story how the image of Mary was miraculously painted on an Indian peasant's cloak.  No matter what your take is on the icon's creation, it holds an immense hold on Mexicans.
Enrique Peña Nieto may think he governs Mexico.  He is just borrowing it; it belongs to Guadalupe.  The patron saint of Mexico.  The people have repeatedly risen up against politicians who have tried to divest that relationship.

The icon was formerly housed in a Baroque church that began suffering the fate of several stone churches built on dry lake beds.  It started sinking.

You may not be able to see it in this photograph, but the left side of the church has sunk several feet.

The icon is now stored in a new basilica.  A huge stadium of a church that is as rich in texture as it is in space.

All of that is for this --

The Lady herself.  Stripped of any emotional or religious context, it is not much.  And, if approached with that mindset, the piece can be underwhelming.

For Lupe, it brought tears to her eyes and prayers to her lips.  I am not here to gainsay anyone's relationship with God.

There are additional buildings to visit.  My favorite is the Capilla del Pocito.

An oval-shaped chapel built over the spot where the fourth apparition was revealed -- the painted cloak.

The three of us could have spent a full day there, but we had hired a driver for only a limited time -- and I stretched it to allow Lupe to soak in as much of whatever it was she sought.

Then we were off to dinner -- at Don Cuervas's favorite Italian restaurant in Mexico City: Macelleria Roma.  You got to see the outside yesterday.  We got to experience the place in our insides.

The Don did not steer us wrong.  I dropped my carbohydrate limitation to enjoy the feted bread served with a plate of olive oil nestling a pool of butter perfectly spiced.  It was worth busting my limit.

I had eggplant parmesan.  Alex had ravioli.  Lupe had spaghetti carbonara.  And we all shared a dish of some of the best creamed spinach I have ever eaten.

All in all, it was a full day for all us.


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