Mexico is a land of genuine wonders, and can be remarkably frustrating if you happen to be an artist with a hungry eye and no time at the moment to paint. Today for instance, our plan was to go from Cuernavaca, where we are currently staying, to Tepoztlan, 15 miles away, to have lunch with Sean's aunt and uncle. The day was crystal-clear, perfect 75 degrees, and the volcano (Popocatepetl) was rising up out of successive layers of fog and clouds in the morning. No time to paint. During breakfast on the terrace, the flowers were all blooming beautifully and birds were fluttering all about... so beautiful it bordered on the absurd. No time to paint. As we drove to Tepoztlan, we crossed the mountains that ring Cuernavaca, and saw the entire valley stretched out below us, towns, farms, rock outcroppings the thrust 1000 feet up off the valley floor. No time to paint. As we crossed the top, we could see that Popocatepetl began erupting, and threw up an ash and steam cloud several thousand feet above the summit. No time to paint.
Tepoztlan is a picture perfect Mexican puebla that is justifiably cashing in on it's tourist appeal, yet get off the main drag, and you're nearly stepping back 200 years in time; narrow streets, adobe houses, old women making tortillas by hand. Sean's aunt and uncle live in a 3-acre walled compound that they share with 2 other families. It's very nearly a slice of heaven. Beautiful green gardens, flowering trees spilling color onto the ground, and a mile away at the edge of the town, sheer cliffs rise up forming nearly a quarter mile high wall of rock, making an unbelievable, dramatic, drop-dead gorgeous scene, of the type that can leave a landscape painter shivering with delight. Of course, there was no time to paint, but all throughout the delicious meal and the lively conversation, I couldn't shake the awareness of those awesome surroundings. Exquisite torment, I suppose.
I assured Sean's aunt I'd return next year to paint there. I think she genuinely liked the idea.