[Part 4] An incredible insight into our Mexican Zapotecan Village Trek tour in its early stages of discovery.
Today after a quick breakfast started with the famous “tirolesa” that I had missed out on in Benito Juarez (see Day 2). Also known as flying fox and zip-line amongst other things, we walked up above the village to thee point where they had set up the line. This one wasn’t quite as dramatic as the one I saw at Benito Juarez but it looked pretty high nonetheless. The distance across it was 150m. We got strapped in – the gear was professional and pretty new so no worries on that account. I had the honour of going first and after a push from the Australian’s guide – who manned the front while Fulencio manned the end – I flew through the air and across the valley. It wasn’t as fast as I had expected but it was a lot of fun and the views were great. Fulencio explained that when the line is wet it goes a lot faster.
When all four of us were across we said goodbye to the Aussies and headed off with Fulencio, firstly into La Neveria – where he showed us the famous pit where the towns founders found ice which they then sold in Oaxaca. This is no longer feasible as the pit contains no more ice but they now produce large amounts of a form of watercress which serves as the main industry of the village. He alsoshowed us around the small village with its clinic, shop, school (with an enormous 3 pupils) and, of course, a basketball court!
As we walked we noticed that several trees, soon the majority had a form of bromeliad growing all over them. Fulencio said that around November and December when they come into bloom the whole forest turns a beautiful red colour. The Madrenya trees shed and regenerate their bark making for some weird looking trees that brought the Lord of the Rings to mind. The walk today was a good deal longer (technically it was 14km but I‘m sure it was more) so there was no afternoon walk scheduled. As we approached the village we met a sweet older couple who were keen to teach us a few words of Zapotec. Around here there are so few people around that any chance meeting is followed by a handshake and a courteous chat. And when there were foreigners around (i.e. us) they ensured that we were involved too.
We reached Latuvi which was a bigger village of about 600 inhabitants which seemed like a mini-metropolis after the last few villages and the presence of a larger young population was immediately obvious. “Why didn’t you answer your walkie-talkie?” Fulcencio asked one of the youngsters in the tourist office after we arrived. “Because you called me”, he shot back immediately. The impudence of youth, it seems, is also ubiquitous! We said goodbye to Fulcencio, who was probably my favourite guide of them all, though they each had their charms. We tucked into a lunch of chicken and squash stew which Claudia (by far the youngest cook we’d met) lovingly put together for us. After lunch we relaxed and as Karla took a nap I read on the hammocks that looked over the valley. It was nice to have a break from hiking but the imminence of the return to the city hung over us a little too.
For dinner Claudia made us a Memella (I think) – a softish tortilla with tomato, avocado, cheese and beans. She may have been young but she’d been taught well. We had a couple of mescals (a Tequila-like drink made from agave that is very popular throughout Oaxaca) to digest our food and headed to bed to prepare for the early start the following day, the longest walk so far (at least 16km, though inevitably more) and the race against the clock to catch the last bus of the day at two o’clock in Matlan. I was sure I would start jogging in my dreams.