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  • Maria de Jesus, Acosta ( nichname Chuchita), had a very colourful past. You can see her in the middle of this photo of Enrique's wedding day. She would sit and regale us with funny anecdotes and also tragic stories from her past. It took her a long time to accept me into the family. She was very suspicious of the English girl who dared to marry her adored grandson; mock the way I talked in English and scream with laughter when I made mistakes in the kitchen.

    One afternoon, when I had helped prepare the vegetables for our lunch, she sat with me in the shade of the veranda and told me about her husband.

    “He was a rich man. He owned a one of the main grocery stores in Cuernavaca in 1930 and he was very successful. I was very proud to marry him and we had a beautiful son and daughter, Pepe and Pepina.

    One day I waved goodby to him as he set off up the mountains to Mexico City carrying a lot of money with him to buy provisions for the store. It was the last time I saw him," she sighed, "He was such a handsome man.

    I waited and waited for him to return and then I heard the bad news. When he was passing ‘Tres Marias’ he was ambushed by bandits and killed.”

    Abita took her handkerchief that had been stuffed down her cleavage together with her money for the market that day; and wiped her tears away.

    “His family did not like me. I was very young. They took over the store and I was caste out to provide for myself with a toddler and a six month old baby. I should be a rich woman now but because of those bandits all was lost.

    But I was determined to show them I could cope. I got a job as a civil servant and I was very proud that my children always ate well and wore smart clothes. They always had their milk and eggs every day.”

    “Abita, why did you never marry again?” I asked.

    “Ah,” she said with a faraway look in her eyes, “I had many suitors, one was a general in the army; but I was independent by then and I had a beautiful daughter. I heard stories of step fathers abusing their step daughters and I wanted to protect Pepina.”

    'Heavy fighting ensued from 1910 to 1915, the years of the Mexican Revolution. The end of the Revolutionary movement marked the beginning of a period of dramatic social changes which led to the creation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917. Widespread land reform and nationalization of the country's basic industries were achieved during the 1930' (

    'In Mexico at that time (1930's) was a very wild and lawless country, with bandits roaming in the countryside away from the larger cities, and every train had an armoured carriage at its end in which were a body of soldiers, to protect the passengers. It was commonly said, that in the event of a bandit hold up, the soldiers were of more danger to the passengers than the bandits, being better armed and just as poor, more inclined to kill and rob rather than just rob. Not surprising really as they were nearly all conscripts, seldom paid, and expected to live off the land. Fortunately we never encountered any bandits on the railway, but did occasionally see, when travelling around the country by car, the body of an alleged bandit by the roadside, summarily shot by the army, or so one was told, but it was quite as likely that sometimes they were simply peasants who had refused a demand for cash or food.'
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