Monday, June 6, 2011

Road Babe Dispatch From Benito Juarez

I arrived in Benito Juarez by foot. The second-class bus had dropped me at a fork in a curvy road with nothing in sight. Yet, I was not only relieved, I was overjoyed. The tightly-enclosed space, sharp turns, and lack of air flow had nauseated me. When the bus driver yelled “Benito Juarez,” I squirmed out of the sea of stagnant sweaty bodies.

The tonic of fresh mountain air rushed over me. I strolled up the winding road that was covered with leaves the size of my open hand and a cacophony of colorful flowers. Pine trees mixed with enormous agave cactus.

When I started to unpack, it hit me. I had left my tent on the bus. I ran frantically to the ecotourism office, where the attendant Aleno called the bus station of the nearest town: Cuajimoloyas. He said we should meet in the office at 5:30 the next morning to sort everything out.

As I set up a rented tent, I layered up too, because it was already getting cold. I ate at the comedor, one of only three buildings that comprised the town center. I then made a fire, which smoldered all night. Deep in the lush woods, I heard no sound but giant flying beetles. Even in July, I could see my breath.

I was at the office by 5:15, wearing two sweaters, two pairs of socks and a big coat. I waited until 7:00. With teeth chattering and legs shaking, I spoke to passing locals bound for work. The ground was thick with frozen beetles. I watched them come back to life in slow tai-chi movements. Finally, Aleno arrived. He’d gotten thru to the station the night before.

After a hearty breakfast, I hiked several kilometers of steep switchbacks to the mirador - purplish grey clouds above dim peaks and valleys, as if someone had turned the lights down, green mountains behind me with grazing sheep, goats and donkeys, rows of corn between patches of wild blue flowers, the occasional shanty, and the sound of turkey gobbles. Slender raindrops began to fall as I trekked down.

When the precipitation taps on the rain fly stopped, I set off again to find waterfalls but got lost. In such beautiful scenery, I didn’t mind traversing the unknown. After much aimless wandering, I heard the water and felt the damp air but couldn't locate the cascade or resolve the enigma.

At the end of a day like that, you eat everything in sight: Chichilo (a brown sauce with chicken, peas and mushrooms) plus zucchini flowers stuffed in cheese-lined tortillas. In the morning I packed up, saying goodbye to the woods, the tai-chi beetles and the comedor. Walked back to the main highway and hitched a ride from a truck that flashed its lights in the frigid cloudy morning. I rode in the back, watching the forest disappear behind me.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.

1 comment:

  1. MARITZA DEL CARMEN CRUZ UPALIAMarch 28, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    I like this photo because it is very well taken and the girl is very pretty