Berger’s Burg: Why come from Mexico to Queens? I had to find the answer

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Gloria my beautiful wife, came home from school a few days ago and said, "Alex, my handsome husband do you know that children from Mexico are coming into the Queens school district? Isn’t that wonderful I will new be able to learn more about their culture and history.

“But why are their parents leaving the warm climate of Mexico to face the harsh winters of New York City?” I asked.

“Why, indeed",” the B.W. muttered back. “Don’t you know that ‘Y’ is a crocked letter?”

But in an instant, an inspiration began to whir around in my head and I felt a brainstorm coming. I needed a story for my next week’s column, right? And I always wanted to be an investigative reporter, who leaves no stone unturned, right? I said to Gloria. “So, add two and together.”

“Two what?” she asked.

“Why can’t I go directly to Mexico to find the answer to that perplexing question?” I pondered. “The editor will certainly love the story. You must come along so you can learn more about Mexican history and culture first hand.”

Gloria vehemently demurred (see what a great vocabulary I have). But after a little arm-twisting (I threatened to eat the last two pieces of chocolate cake sitting in the fridge) Gloria acquiesced. “ Mexico, here we come!” we shouted in unison.

That very night we packed lightly (just five suitcases) and hustled to the airport. We got there three hours early so we could be the first to know that our flight had been canceled.

We were then told that the flight was not canceled, but that the last plane to Mexico would leave at 11:15 p.m. “But the flight schedule specifically says 10:15 p.m.” I pleaded. “So, next time take the flight schedule,” was the reply.

I felt a little squeamish when the couple an line behind us requested two tickets to wherever their luggage was going. Another woman at the next counter began arguing with the ticket agent who told her that her plane from Chicago would be late. “I don’t understand!” she shouted at him. “How can anything that flies at 700 miles an hour be late?” It wasn’t long before I figured out why it is always a long walk to the plane — it’s to give my baggage a head start.

Much to our chagrin we learned that the plane was a no-frills one. Twenty minutes before departure, the passengers had to get together to elect a pilot. The airline was also very cheap. They couldn’t show movies, so instead, they asked the passengers to pass around pictures of their grandchildren. Happily, the plane finally lifted off after two hours of wait time. The flight controller was out to lunch.

Once ensconced ( here I go again with these words) in our seats, we sat back to relax. However, we were taught the meaning of “inevitable.” That word described that moment when Gloria and I, sitting in a three-seat row inhaling the airplane dinner and drinks, heard the person in the window seat say that she had to go to the lavatory.

Halfway through the flight, the pilot made an announcement: “If we run into trouble, don’t panic. Your life jackets are under your seat. But, if you must put them on, wear them in good health. And thank you for flying My-Goodness Airlines.” Despite problems, we finally landed safely in Mexico.

Our first stop was at Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of Baja California where the Gulf of California converges with the Pacific Ocean In the 16th and 17th centuries, this location was a favored hiding place for pirates who plundered Spanish galleons. Today, it is one of Mexico's fastest grown resort areas.

We headed for Playa Del Amor (Lover's Beach) which is overlooked by a natural arch and pinnacles of rock. Swimming is allowed, but only on the part called Honeymoon Beach. Immediately to the other side is the forbidden Divorce Beach. I spied a bikini-clad beauty and before I could ask her the question, she called her boyfriend to shoo me away. However, I did find out the difference between starboard and portside on a ship: The starboard side is always situated directly opposite portside.

Then we visited the quaint town of Mazatlan, the “Pearl of the Pacific.” It is situated in an area known as the “Mexican Riviera.” The name was derived from the Nahuatl Indian word meaning “place of deer,” although deer no longer are found there.

We took a walking tour exploring the preserved colonial heritage of Old Mazatlan. There was a group of acrobatic young men descending from a tall pole headfirst. Before they reached ground level, I asked the lowest one the question about why anyone would leave Mexico to come to frigid Queens. He dropped the supporting rope and fell on his bead I immediately grabbed Gloria and we departed.

Our last stop was at Puerto Vallarta, where the world-famous Tequila Distilleries are located. The American film director, John Huston, built his home there in a secluded cave. It is backed by the jungle-clad slopes of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The only way in is by boat.

International attention was first drawn to the town by the scandal surrounding Huston's film, "The Night of the Iguana,” which was filmed at nearby Mismaloya. The star, Richard Burton, was accompanied by Elizabeth Taylor, who was still married to Eddie Fisher. The reporters who had come to cover the story were titillated by their torrid love affair. Gloria and I visited Mismaloya where the ruins of the movie set still stand. I approached one observer to ask the question. He called me a pervert and raced away. Oh, well, another day at the office. It was now time to return home and I still couldn’t find the answer to the evasive question.

However, I accompanied Gloria to her school when we returned home and asked the English-speaking parents of a little Mexican girl what attracted them to Queens. Their answer was as plain as the nose on my face . . . so they can read my column.

Alex Berger (Reach Times-Ledger columnist Alex Berger at 718-229-0300, Ext 139, or

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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