The Last Aztec Princess Celebrates Birthday

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Escrito por Anita Cowan desde ( el día viernes, 14 de agosto, 2009 a las 10:16:07 horas :

Anita Rellstab Chimalpopoca de Hahner, resident of Zihuatanejo and owner of Bungalows Pacificos in the Madera Beach neighborhood, is having a birthday. She was born 84 years ago in the state of Mexico. Her father, a Swiss mining engineer, sent her at age 6 to attend primary school in Switzerland. When she returned to Mexico six years later, she spoke several languages but none of them Spanish. She soon re-learned Spanish from her mother, a native of Mexico, and the employees of the mining hacienda. After graduating highschool in DF, she was involved with entrepreneurial ventures as diverse as owning a duck farm and managing a folkloric dance troup. Her father eventually built the Hotel Miami in Acapulco. It was a hotel popular with Swiss and German tourists and remains a family enterprise.

Anita and her late husband, Max Hahner, came to Zihuatanejo forty years ago. They built Bungalows Pacificos at a time when the nearest neighboring hotel was Irma's. Decades of loyal clients ensued. Not only was the view from those terraces spectacular, but Anita organized all-day outings for her guests--from trips into the Sierra to swim in beautiful rivers to visiting the pottery makers of Coacoyul. She hosted many a breakfast, lunch, and dinner for guests around her own table and would throw in ad hoc cooking lessons--avocado soup, meats in jumil sauce, cocada, cold stuffed chilis...Moreover, she knew every plant or flower that ever put down a root and every bird that ever took wing in Mexico. She was one of the first (and still) defenders of the bay and its environs. No doubt several generations of ex-officials have withered ears from her famous calls to the "proper authorities".

So our last Aztec princess is 84 years young today (if you think that's a silly nick-name, do your homework on Chimalpopoca). It's been a tough year in every sense...a broken hip, a loyal clientel which has aged out, fierce competition. There were no mariachis playing when I called from Texas at 7 a.m., but I got her to laughing with my best version of "Las Mananitas". There's spirit there and after all, her mother lived 105 years. Her family has gathered around for the day. On this coming Sunday there will be another celebration at her place on the Playa Blanca beach, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. It's on the beach road not far from La Barra. White fence painted with hummingbirds and "Ananda" written on the wall. Hope you will give her a call (4-21-12) or better yet, stop by the beach and wish her a Feliz Cumpleanos. Remind her that Max always said "It's the first hundred years that are the hardest!" and this Zihuatanejo treasure (and mi tocaya) un fuerte abrazo.

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