National Geographic : 1964 Dec
KODACHROMES(C) NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Coco loco, a coconut-water cocktail in the hull, refreshes a beauty beside a pool. famous Swiss swing-band leader (his nick name Teddy comes from the bear that is the emblem of the Swiss canton of Bern). He was, however, most celebrated in Germany-until he had a dispute with the Nazis. "I am playing swing in Berlin in 1938," he told me, "and the Gestapo come in. "'This swing is Jewish music,' they say. 'It is against the law.' They order a German march. Instead, we play 'Bugle Call Rag' and smuggle into it their anthem, the Horst Wes sel song-and we swing it. Well, that finishes me in Germany." Teddy came to Acapulco in 1946, working on a movie, then managing hotels and clubs. Organization Wins for La Laja Squatters Far from La Perla and its glittering in ternational set, though actually only a ten minute ride away, lies La Laja, an 86-acre community of 7,500 squatters. Their ranks include the unskilled hotel workers who earn the minimum wage of $1.72 a day, the house maids who make $16 to $24 a month. The people of the Laja are called para 864 caidistas, parachutists, because they just seemed to drop out of the air. But some had actually bought Laja land from swindlers who had no right to it. Six years ago, their "king" organized the Laja people to resist efforts to oust them. He set up an independent guard force, even levied "taxes." And he campaigned to persuade the federal government to buy the land and resell it to the occupants on an installment basis. Insecurity has made the Laja people and their king suspicious, and I was advised to approach them through an emissary, their parish priest, Padre Angel (preceding page). Padre Angel Martinez Galeana, a dynamic man of 35 with a quick, gentle smile, met me in his orphanage, Casa Hogar del Niflo. Here he cares for 84 boys and two girls, ranging from infants to children of 15, on an income of 300 pesos ($24) a day. The padre introduced me to the children and to the sisters who do the cooking and teaching; then he showed me around. "I help make the buildings myself," Padre Angel told me in English. "At first I have only 15 children I find sleeping on the beach and in the streets. In a few days they all run away -they want to be free-all except one. But little by little they come back. "Come, I want you to meet my first orphan -the one who did not run away." We went to the Escuela Fray Bartolome D. Laurel, two blocks away, the first school in the Laja, also built by Padre Angel. It was a crowded place-312 children in six class rooms-but a happy one. The children swarmed round the padre, kissing his hands and laughing The padre called over a shy young man. "My first orphan," he said, "Fran cisco T6llez-now teacher in second grade." A paternal pride shone in the padre's eyes. "Come," said the priest. "You must visit my parishioners-and meet Sefior L6pez." This, I had learned, was the king, whose name is Alfredo L6pez Cisneros. Padre Angel led me briskly up a steep dirt road, strewn with thin, flat stones. "Now we are in the heart of La Laja," he said. "Laja means flagstone, like these you see." Traveler's-palm fronds drop a veil of lace between camera and Easter week bathers on Caletilla Beach, once called "the morn ing beach." With the influx of visitors during this busy season, beaches no longer are distinguished as special morning or after noon haunts; people go where they hope crowds will be thinnest.