Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Random Weekends

The mountain Barrio of Zapotitlán. The End of the line for Combi 42

Lets jump on Combi 42 and see where it goes? As I am always up for a "what the hell moments" with magic phrases like that off we went, Tom (Wales), Rebecca (England) and myself into scary Mexican parts unknown. Forever warned by anyone with vocal chords that it was too dangerous we took heed. Hitting the food court at the El Paseo Shopping Mall we devoured lunch of Chinese Food (which was oddly delicious) and had some spirited albeit dirty conversation, we were off hunting for the elusive 42.

Enjoying the view with a Paulito
Combi's cost 5.50 Pesos (C$.38) to go anywhere in town. We found the street where the magic bus was running and jumped aboard to well deserved quizzical "what the heck are they doing on this bus" looks. The initial ride was a typical ride through town, then we turned onto a cobble stone road that quickly turned to a dirty track and just as quickly started going uphill. Local passengers continued to call out their stops and in no time the 3 Indiana Jones wanna-Be's were alone and digging the ride. At the summit of the road we turned into what turned out to be Zapotitlán, a mountain neighborhood of Tehuacan.

We jumped off the bus at what was the last stop and turn around point which was in front of a house where a couple of guys stood staring at us in bewilderment. We were getting quite a bit of that. As we were deciding which way to go they called us over more out of curiosity I suppose. As it turns out they were really helpful talking about different things we could see in the area. "We do not get many tourists here" said Herr who looked like he was the guy in charge of the Combi's that were coming and going. We finally decided that Herr and Paulito would be happy to be guides for us to various places in the area as some are "a bit dangerous because the locals smoke to much weed". We also discovered that the entire area was an ancient Aztec Site and there were monuments and relics up one of the mountain in the distance, again they would take us for safety. Details were exchanged and off we went thinking what a nice bonus. This was just the beginning.

Caves of the revolution
As we start walking to look at the view Paulito joins us to show us something. I figured this is where we are going to get "whacked". He leads us to a trail that dips down along a side road to a group of caves. His story was that these caves were used to store ammunition during the revolution of 1912. The caves were covered with soot from past fires and I had no reason not to believe him. We toured around inside and out and he excitedly began to tell us all he could about Mexican history. We later found out that he was a tailor and made clothes eking out a living making clothes for locals in the town. He never went to Tehuacan markets. I did not pursue as to why not.

My partners thinking this is a tough hike. Poor souls
As we bounced around the slight trail listening to stories of Mexican history we decided to head back up to what we considered the viewpoint overlooking the valley. Rebecca commented how "I ran up and down the trail like it was nothing leaving then all far behind". "I am in my perfect element" I said and with that simple comment I realized that teaching is going to be a short term or secondary thing for me. My passion really is on "The Trail".

As we stood on the look out Paulito mentioned that he has binoculars and we will go to his house to get them. The 3 minute walk took us past a few houses and more that a few curious stares. As we walked back to the lookout enjoying the view Tom, who is about as chatty and social a person I have ever met, notice a group of curious onlooking hanging about. With a cheery "Lets go talk to them" off he went and so we followed.

What happened next is the magic of a simple day. We a group of young mothers who wanted their kids to meet and play with us. Some of the older members of the community stood just far enough to be a part of the goings on but not close enough to have to be involved, with the exception of one man. He was 76, fit, strong and his mind was clear as a bell.(Sadly I forget his name) and rode up on his bicycle. He to proceeded to regale us with tales of Mexican History all the time using rocks to draw maps and people on the ground around us. He was mesmerizing. We heard stories of  Spanish Conquest, the Aztecs and the Mexican Revolution. How was he so knowledgeable? Were these stories handed down through generations? Nope, seems our boy loves the public library. How about that?

New Friends
After about another hour kids appeared with worn out Ipads and snapped selfies with us. We took photos and said our good byes. We were walked down the mountain by the Paulito and our old boy on the bike talking about coming back to see the amazing things in the area, which we are going to do.

We decided to walk back into town. We stopped for much need water, found a delicious taco shop, watch some local play soccer on various closed fields that could easily be ball hockey rinks and then found ourselves at Indepencia Avenue, 3 blocks from McCarthys and we knew it was happy hour. So there we sat, relishing in what turned out to be a true Mexican cultural experience. What started as a dare to take "old 42" into the mountains ended with new friends and possible guides into parts of the area where very few if any travelers have ever been. The people we met were warm, friendly, curious and inviting and all we had to do to receive these gifts were to be kind, open and friendly right back.

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