La Mujer Durmiente - The Sleeping WomanMonday, January 19, 2009
In 1952 my mother made an exploratory trip to Mexico from Buenos Aires. While there she had her hand read by a curandera woman who told her that her attraction to two volcanoes of the Valley of Mexico, Popocatepetl and Ixtacciuatl would make her return. When we did move in 1954 my mother pointed out the two snow-capped mountains from the window of our PanAm plane. I had never seen real snow except in films. Our airplane had crossed the Andes from Buenos Aires to Chile at night on our way to Mexico. Because our airplane was an early version of the Douglas DC-6B it wasn't properly pressurised and we were given oxygen masks when we crossed the darkened peaks of the Andes.
From then on whenever I could spot the two volcanoes I would gaze in wonder. By the late 60s Mexico City's pollution hid them except for a few days of the year. There are many Aztec legends about the two peaks. Ixtacciuatl was the sleeping maiden who waited in vain for her Aztec warrior to return from war. When he returned he found her asleep. The story ends much like an opera. In Spanish Ixtacciuatl is called la mujer durmiente or the sleeping woman.
It is surprising how the most obvious of things isn't always so. It hit me some years ago (not that long!) that nostalgia could only be felt outside of the place you had the feeling for. Thus after a year of living in Venice (if that were ever to happen to me) I would be suffering from Vancouver nostalgia and I would be out scouring the canals in the lookout for an attractive Canadian woman I could photograph undraped under an umbrella.
Since I met the lovely Ms Hernandez who hails from León, Guanajuato some months ago I have been taking her pictures and imposing (she is most willing) my nostalgia on her. Today's which is a photograph I took yesterday, is my nostalgia for those Mexican volcanoes of my youth.
In the late 60s I spent 2 months working as un unpaid assistant to the then most famous Mexican commercial photographer, Arno Brehme. His father Hugo Brehme had become famous in the 20s taking pictures of artistic Mexico which were subsequently converted into postcards. One of his most famous is of the two volcanoes.