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Tamale Safari

by Kathryn Crosby

Tamale Safari 15 the unpublished adventures of "girl reporter" Kathryn Crosby. While entertainer husban Bing Crosby is busy engaged in Africa on a hunting safari. Ms. Crosby embarks on her own adventure, Her quest for 'the Fínd" takes her from the finnest New York Citv boutiques to the rough and rugged hills of the Mexican sierra, Her goal is to
establish a hands-on school tor budding
archaeologists in the state of Michoacan, and hopefully to find enough treasures meanwhile to begin a local museum
Accompanied by girlfriends, Ms, Crosbys whirlwind safari carríes her and crew through the shops, homes, haciendas, and hearts of Mexicos cities, countryside and people, Written in 1970 as a gift to those who helped her realize her dream, Ms,
Crosbys true tale is a les son in good¬hearted fun. We extend our thanks to her
and all who made it possible to publish this excerpt of her adventures in México,

Sunday, the 9th of August, mass in La Piedad, all a-flutter. Prayers become confused with admiration for the ornate stone masonry of the walls, the exalted tower providing shafts of sunlight for the tabernacle. "...and Lord, let us get lots artifacts."
We leave for the dig by car, are met down the road by tractor. Jose, the primitive archeologist with the pick, looks glum. Trino has a cold, or a hangover-anyway, he looks defensive. We climbed the path silently. Quite a change from the gay chatter of earlier visits.
The tractor driver, Oliver (we immediately add "Twist," for his style with the vehicle), is waiting happily. He's been waiting since even. I think I heard him driver by the hotel at something like six-thirty.
We mount the tractor's wagon. Finally, we are approaching our sierra.
there is a bit of backing, re-maneuvering in some places , a tractor with bigger wheels has been before us, The tire treads fill with mud, and around spin the wheels in slick circles. All right. We're not too far from the pueblito. Someone rushes off to Zula, Frnak and the men are negotiating with each other over best course of procedure. A tractor is coming and horses ordered. Very well see which arrives first.
Ah hah! here comes the tractor! He is coming down the road towards us.
Now he's stuck!
After much shouting of instructions and debating over proper maneuvering, the infernal machine reverses and backs up to our tractor.
Mean while, another tractor has come up behind us and is suck there. There is elaborate tying on of cables.
We girls exit the tractor. Leap-froging our way to the firm footpath by the side of the road, we start to walk. We walk more than a mile. In he distance we see three very short horses coming down the road. Helen, Frances and I look at each at other; and choose mounts. But then Helen demurs, "I don't think so."
We saddle up, Frances first, then Carlitos and I riding double on "Old Spirited." Helen muttering, "I think I'll walk along side for a little bit."
We are on our way to the fields! Our grey-bearded leader is behind us with Helen I turn in desperation, "Which way do we go?"
"The horses know. They go home." I release the reins and "Speedy" takes me through every bit of chaparral he can find. I alter between trying to save my shins and trying to keep Carlos attached to me in some way. He is a perfect Latin gentleman of twelve, and besides that he wants to try the "Look, Ma, no hands" school of equestrianism.
We pass the mud oaths, on to the cobblestone. Now we're past the wall where Don Xincho Martinez's treasury of Metapec is stored, past the higher wall on right, over which we can see the fat pigs and agile chickens. Women peer out form the shadowy houses. We wave, they smile and wave back. Then we reach the tree at the bottom of the hill where the tractor had stopped in the earlier dusty days, where the horses now stop automatically. I give the reins to a two year old, who seems to know exactly what to do with them.
Today is the day for which we have been planning all summer. Those sessions in the river. freezing in the wet suit, looking for a tiny arrow, are nothing now. We will recover jars and cuentas idols and oro. Sure we would.
At the top of the hill Enrique and four of his brothers are waiting. They have been on the hilltop since eight the morning, and have already uncovered a beautiful hieroglyph for me. Ole! It's going to be good.
Enrique and I go over to his land, there is a new hole. He is prepared to find great treasures to prove how valuable the land is wen I buy. His mom explained last night that even though only four hectares were on paper, there were the ten hectares as promised and everyone would respect this and understand it. The smaller acreage was marked because of the rural land law, which gave citizens four hectares freehold.
Now we begin to discuss price, plead far a fair one, she says this land is her treasure. An old man with wild eyes rides up and starts shoutíng at her. "Sell out, you crone. The land is good for nothing. The birds eat your seeds. The cattle eat your crops. Your sons are lazy and can't farm and won't work!" He rides off, leaving us open mouthed and mute.
Now that the diggings is underway, mosquitoes buzz around, attacking in group formation. I become more humble in desires. "Please, let me find needles, cuentas, broken malacates, stone fragments. All we find is a few shards. Along about three in the afternoon Enriques gives a shout and hands me a small round cuenta, it is a brown bead.
Transferring back to Frances Ruth's area, some hundred yards away, the grounds appear as if it has been prepared for trench warfare, circa World War I. One soldier is missing. Ah yes, there she is-lying on her side in the hole, stretched out long-ways (and that's 5'8" long not including her reach). She rests on her elbow, badana covered hair almost flat in the dirt, digging quietly with the left hand. A large unattractive group of unwashed shards have stacked up in the middle. We put them in a costal, which looks like a toe stack to me.
The sun betas down mercilessly. What ho in the distance? An old man with a staff is walking up the hill accompanied by a young man in avery white cowboy hat-straw, Mexican variety. I wonder how they got here?
Jose, the gerente of Señor Martinez's land, goes forward... and does a lot of listening. They ease on toward us, I hear 'periodista' and 'journal' and 'sierra.' Evidently they want to do a story on the beauties of the valley.
They ease up closer, where our boys are standing with pick and shovel in hand. It looks suspiciously like an excavation, you know. I ask the old man how they arrived. "By station wagon," he says. Interesting that the could get here by station wagon when we have stuck three tractors. He must know a secret road.
The old man talks of Pittsburgh, where he lived until his devoted war duty in the Second World War. He says something about trying to enlist but his leg was so bad he couldn't Dear gallant war hero. He has very blue eyes. He speaks of his wife from Duluth. They are retired down here from Guadalajara, writing for a very new newspaper, therefore their stories must be excellent. The young man is especially interested that. I don't really feel they are any of my business.
Then he says, quite casually, that if they skip anything, making a little motion toward the gaping hole in front of us, in their story about the beauties of the valley, that they would be liable to spend twenty-two days in jail without pay.
Heavens! This was something unlike your Sunday supplement story. I lower my big white sunglasses, stare at the man and say in my cruelest English, "Please explain."
He says, in English that could never have been further north than Matamoros, "Well, perhaps you will understand better if I speak in Spanish."
"Not at all. What does writing a story about the valley have to do with twenty-two days in jail?'
The young man, smiling bashfully asks, "Do you have permits to dig here?"
"But of course, those of the mayor."
They both make large brushing- aside motions, Este no vale.
Drawing myself to full height , I suppose the name Ignacio Bernal means something to you?"
The young man, looking rather wide eyed, asks "You have his permission to dig?"
Como no? "But of curse," I lie through clenched teeth, staring at him through clenched teeth, staring at him until he looks away.
The old man murmurs, "Oh, but Señora, you must be mistaken! We don't want to write about this pointing to the hole.
"Muy bueno. Jose, you have hidden the marijuana, have you not?" Jose smiles his enigmatic smile, "Si Señora."
"Well then lets get on with it." One of the boys picks up the rock with a large piece of hieroglyph that Enrique had dug out for me that morning, and we start down the hill.
One the way down my teeth start chattering. Those journalist could certainly check out my story before I could get to Mexico City to conseguir permiso to excavate.
With the dawn came the sneaking suspicion that the ´reporters´ might the not have been and accident. I could have told them about the school, but I certainly didnt want to tell a newspaper, and a yellow sheet at that, about a story this good. Strangely, the workmen didnt seem upset.
Frances said, I think they wanted a bribe.
Because they mentioned not once but at spend twenty-two days in jail sin pagado.
Oh, that had never occurred to me!
We laugh most of the winding way to Guadalajara. Its a mad dash to the airport, thought naturally the plane is late. Off to Mexico City, this is the purpose of the whole trip!
We have the local authorities permission to establish our dig. Now we need approval from on high. La Piedad is a little concerned about Federal interference, but they neednt be.
The call comes back, confirming an appointment for me with Dr. Ignacio Bernal. I take a taxi to see one of the handsome men Ive ever seen. Very tall, with aquiline features, a strong patrician nose, laughing eyes (that Im sure could shrivel you if he felt you were lying). I lurchingly tell him about the desire for a school and a dig in La Piedad. He says, But theres no problem at all. We simply have to know that a competent archeologist will be in charge of the project. He looks at me, the laughs out loud and says, not an oficionada. Of course, the treasures must stay in Mexico.
I assure him they will, and tell him of the desire establish a museum in La Piedad so that they would have the treasures, the students would have the treasures must stay in Mexico.
I assure him they will, and tell him of the desire to establish museum in La Piedad so that they would have the treasures, the students would have the experiences, and the doctors could write their books. He feels that a local museum is as valid a place as the National Museum, all I want from you is information about the scientific aspects of the dig as it progresses.
After our arrangements have been made (in less than twenty minutes), I ask if he I available to come dig in the summer. He laughs again. I think he might check up on in thought.