This is part 2 of The Pilgrimage to Champigñón, you can read part 1 here.
Highway 135 Mexico,
I left the construction site before the sun rose. I was pissed off that my sleeping bag didn’t protect me from the condensation.
On the side of the road I was preoccupied looking to the sky in random muse when a man in a rusty van stopped.
I couldn’t understand him at all but after telling him I was going to Oaxaca he kept saying “Serca, serca!” I tremored through my dictionary looking for the word the way it sounded. It means nearby. He was overjoyed when I finally understood him and we sat in a comfortable silence for the next 150km’s.
The next driver was equally as pleasant, wearing a refreshing menthol green shirt with a white vertical striped pattern. It was unbuttoned to the bottom of his chest with a shark tooth pennant resting against his sternum. He smiled alot.
A kind young priest also picked me up, I kept falling asleep and leaning on him, I laughed and he wasn’t bothered.
I walked along the highway for a couple of hours by choice. I’m wearing a psychedlic pair of purple boardshorts which finish an inch before my knee cap. My socks are burgundy, pulled up just beneath the peak of my calf muscle, their elasticity is excellent holding them in place. My shoes are a black pair of vans. I have a baggy teal coloured V neck tshirt on, and a golden yellow and blue flannelette long sleeve shirt over the top to shield my arms from the sun. My hat is a floppy wide brim Australian bush hat with a large flap on the back to cover the neck, it’s a horse skin colour and I call it the frill neck lizard. I’m wearing a pair of Ray Bans which I call the John Lennons.
On the right side of the road I notice a short brown lady tending to something atop a ridge, I was ambivalent about approaching her but pushed myself. On the ridge sits a view of the hills, foreground with red ploughed earth and sparse dwellings. The old women has ground yellow teeth and a white wide brimmed hat on. Behind a fence are 3 donkeys, two bulls, two smouldering fires and a bamboo straw hut. “Amigo!!” Says a little brown man. I tell him “Yo caminando, pedeer aventon, Oaxaca,” (I walk, hitch hike, Oaxaca.)
The sun is going down and he offers me a place to sleep in his straw hut where he keeps hay for his animals, “El Rancho!” he calls it. He points down the hill to a crater surrounded by shrub, “Water,” he tells me in spanish.
The hut is small and to the roof high with hay besides a narrow walkway down oneside, he throws a hair covered rug down for me on an ascending pile of straw. I thank him repeatedly then him and his mother dissapear.
I washed the upper half of my body in the clear stream and accidentally slipped in ankle deep clay wearing my shoes. I clumsily traipsed back to the hut across the fields dragging my feet in the earth, soon realising I was ignorantly trampling Benito’s sprouting crop.
At dark after hearing the definitive movements of unidentified lifeforms between the hay, I abandon the hut for the stars.
I setup the blue tarpolin and sleeping bag on the hard ground, sprayed my skin with natural repellant and tried to sleep.
I heard a loud evinrude type buzzing sound and flung the lid of my tortilla open catching a glimpse of a chocolate bar sized dragonfly, its beating wings framed in the glow of the embers like a strobelight.
I kept thinking the donkey would lay ontop of me in the night and crush me to death or stomp the shit out of me in a confused frenzy, that a team of coyotes would tear my face off after tracking me through the crap I took in a hole behind Benito’s hut, or that the rats in the hay would come out and poison my blood by biting chunks out of my finger like a piece of cheese.
The tarpolin is covered in condensation in and out, my sleeping bag is damp, I do NOT appreciate it.
Next day I walk, I wait for the sun to rise over the eastern ranges to remove the frost from my breath, the dew from my sleeping bag slung across my shoulders and the squelch from my shoes. There it is, the instant warmth, I smile. I don’t feel like looking at the motorists yet, zooming by, mouths gaping wide, wondering why or from where I came with skin so white.
As I walk, I become aware of the sweat forming in my backside, it’s itchy and I’m not wearing underwear, the area hasn’t been washed for over two days.
Shortly later I reach a shallow canyon either side of the road with a thin stream running down the centre of it. As I begin the rocky descent down there, I think about my intentions to write of such observations like the former, and how I’ve tried to refine myself from vulgar jocularities in adulthood. But what for? Everything I’ve done before has prepared me for this moment, my speech and my thoughts in it. It’s not mean’t to be beautiful, it’s just meant to be real.
I bathe in the stream, entertaining myself at the thought of a coach driving by with it’s high windows and passengers looking down at my pale naked body.
I’m going to hang out here a while and write, do some pushups, then I’ll walk til my shoes dry.
Down stream I see a bull on a rope with a tiny brown man looking at me waving, I smile and wave back then join him and his nephew at the top of the canyon. They invite me back to their house for something to eat, but not before they plough the field with a primitive wooden contraption harnessed to the necks of two bulls.
Juan is at the rear guiding the pick through the earth, jabbing the bull on the right in the hind quarters with a pointed object tied to a stick. “Sully! Ocho!” He shouts in a uvalial vibration reminiscent of Mongolian throat singing. The bulls lower leg is bleeding, it keeps dipping it’s head refusing to move, Emilio is up the front steering with a guide rope smiling under the incinerationg sun.
“SULLYY!!” Juan shouts as the whhoop of the stick cuts through the air thumping the flesh on the bulls ribcage with a hollow resound. It doesn’t move. Jaun prepares his footing to cane the bulls side once more, voicing a short laboured “ocho,” then **WHHOMP** SULLYYY!! The bull bucks into acceleration accross the field,
if it would only learn to move like the other bull it wouldn’t be bashed to death.
Juan takes to hitting the bull on it’s nose bone after repeateded non compliance, swinging the stick and breaking it on impact sending it’s other half flying 10metres away into the air. Is there a word to describe laughing helplessly when you know you shouldn’t?
I went back to their “casa” and met the family. They fed me pollo, frijoles, cheesy broccoli in soup with tortilla’s and cordial.
They kept pointing at the hammock and saying tranquilo but I didn’t understand. I was paranoid of outstaying my welcome and there was a storm coming.
I paused at the end of my stay to say “Gracias por la comida.” (thanks for the food) No problem, they said.
While leaving their property I wished I could think of a way to show my appreciation, anyway at all. Besides cleaning up and washing dishes.
I got on the road again and decided I was going to walk the rest of the 70km’s to Oaxaca, there will be shelter somewhere along the way.
I hear a beep behind me and raise my umbrella without looking, it beeps again and a man slows down offering me a ride in his four wheel drive, I’m not going to refuse.
I get in and try to look up some of the words my lunch hosts were saying to me earlier. I ascertain they were trying to warn me that it’s very dangerous to walk at night.
My first stop in the city is a bar to try Mezcal, then I will rest and continue the search for the magic mushroom.