MEXICO: Snakes in the Garden

Mexico's famed resort city of Cuernavaca, balmy and scented with jasmine and heliotrope, has just the atmosphere for languorous relaxation. As the 45,000 Mexican inhabitants pad about the streets, busily putting things off until mañana, many of the 5,000 U.S. residents take their ease in elegant villas with lush gardens, shady patios, gemlike swimming pools and high pastel walls.

What goes on behind those walls, naturally, is no outsider's business, and the great majority of the foreign colonists—retired businessmen, artists and writers, well-heeled or well-married expatriates—are thoroughly respectable, thoroughly discreet, or sometimes...

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