Some 40 years ago in 1977 my beloved wife and I embarked on a trip to Mexico. It is a fascinating country, lush with greens everywhere and magnificent architecture. The remains of ancient Mayan and Aztec culture are visible in every city in the country. Pyramids were built there, some say, before the pyramids at Giza in Egypt.
Mexicans are intensely proud of their history and culture and delight in sharing it with the “gringos”.
We started off in beautiful Mexico City with its wide boulevards, statues everywhere, and palatial parks. From there we proceeded to Cuernavaca and to Taxco, the silver capital of the world. Hundreds of artisans create fabulous items made from pure silver worthy of being in the palace of the Emperor Maximilian.
On to sunny Acapulco, the jewel on the Pacific Ocean. A city whose beaches are world famous, its streets congested with shops, tourists from around the world and us… Rahel and me.
Eating was a major problem. We were told not to drink water or anything with ice cubes unless it was certified as aqua purificada. Not to eat salads which had been washed in unpurified water. And of course we were completely at a loss to find anything we could eat that was kosher. Rahel had memorized three Spanish words which she recited to the waiters morning, noon and night… “dos huevos duros”…two hard-boiled eggs. That was her main diet until we returned to Mexico City and found one kosher restaurant.
In Acapulco we had the extremely happy pleasure of meeting a very young and charming couple who were on their honeymoon. Pat and his new bride Alba became our friends. They were a beautiful couple and Rahel and I both fell in love with them.
Poor Pat ate something that was not on the “approved list” of healthy foods and was painfully punished by the revenge of Montezuma.
Alba was born in Cuba and Spanish was her mother-tongue. She and Pat were devout Christians and we admired them for their devotion and love for one another. They respected us very much as Jews and as Israelis.
We have kept in touch with them over the past 40 years. Every Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah and Pesach we receive greeting cards from them wishing us good health and happiness. We respond in kind with Christmas and Easter greetings.
Alba is studying basic Hebrew and attends a club which shows Yiddish films in English. They live in the state of Florida far away from us but they are eternally in our hearts. When my beloved Rahel died last year, they mourned with us and placed a photo of Rahel on a table in their home so that they could see her every day.
As I have often written in previous articles, the motto of my life and its meaning is found in a simple proverb in the Babylonian Talmud. In Aramaic it states “o chevruta o mituta”… give me friendship or give me death. It continues to state that a life without good friends is not a life at all.
Daily in my prayers I recite special psalms for Alba’s improved good health. Knowing and loving Pat and Alba through so many years makes me one of the richest persons on earth. Their love and devotion for us is truly a gift from Almighty God. Their friendship is a blessing and we cherish one another in ways that words are insufficient to describe.
Their love and respect for Israel and for the Jewish people is astounding. Perhaps one of the factors is that they live in a city and state which is “over-flowing” with Jews, especially the “snow-birds” who head for the warm and sunny south in the American winters.
I don’t know if I will ever see Pat and Alba again. The distance is great. But they will remain forever in my heart as loving, cherished, treasured friends.
The Talmudic proverb has immense meaning. My life without the friendship of Pat and Alba would be sorely lacking. Rahel, of blessed memory, adored them and so do I.
Gracias a Dios por su bendicion de Amistad. Viva la Amistad entre Pat, Alba y yo. Thanks be to God for His blessing of friendship. Long live the friendship between Pat, Alba and me.
Loving memories of our first meeting in Mexico. No more “dos huevos duros” but the tamales are OK.