|En route to Monte Albán|
In the dream, I was jogging near my old high school, which is near my parents’ house, where I’ve been living the last 6 ½ years. It was nighttime. There was a crowd on both sides of the street watching as a young Black man with a big ‘fro was wheeled off on a stretcher. He looked like a guy I went to college with.
He went into convulsions, and some old Black women, whom I took for his relatives, made noises of fright and despair. I thought they were overreacting. I kept walking or jogging down the hill. It was morning by then, and I realized I could just jog to the bus stop to go to work.
|Aaron gazes upon Monte Albán.|
Usually, in that dream scenario, I lose my balance and wake up to find my head has fallen off the pillow. The Black guy by my old high school was interesting, since it’s a private Catholic school in the suburbs. When I went there, we only had a few Black kids, and they were all recruited as athletes, basically.
I was able to eat a bit at breakfast. I took the chance despite some reservations. It ended up working out fine for me.
|Overview of Monte Albán|
Monte Albán was the longest continually inhabited city in Mesoamerica. We had to climb a path winding around the summit to get to the ruins. Then we could see the grandeur of it. There were stepped pyramids surrounding and in the middle of the flattened mountaintop.
The steps were steep, and I was still weak from diarrhea and not eating the day before. I made it up the first, shortest pyramid and took a seat to rest. I also made it back down, which was the real concern. But my strength returned during the tour until I was almost fully revived.
We tarried in the museum after the tour and returned to our bus in the parking lot below, negotiating what I told Eric was a “gauntlet of guilt” made up of people selling trinkets at the entrance.
The delegation folder says we visited a group called Ecochac next, but I have no memory of it. If any of my fellow delegates remember that, please let me know!
We had the afternoon off, which was nice. That must’ve been the day we ran across the red shoes laid out in a street as a reminder of domestic violence.
I was less adventurous in my culinary exploits after the brush with Montezuma. Initially, it was discouraging to be the first to get food poisoning. It made me wonder if I was the least healthy person in the group. But that inferiority complex was soon relieved as more delegates succumbed to the same symptoms that had befallen me. Ironically, my case seemed to be the mildest.
After 15-20 minutes of searching the neighborhood, I finally found some fruit stands and picked up seis limones (six limes). (Limón is the confusing Spanish word that means either “lime” or “lemon.” C’mon, Hispanophones! Make up your mind!) I returned full-handed and squeezed 3 lime halves into a bottle and took it to Aaron, who was lying in bed. Then I made one for me, just in case.
Once enough people had arrived, and we’d achieved a nebulous sort of spiritual quorum, a loaf of bread was passed around, from which we each tore off a piece. Paul said a prayer as part of this “breaking bread” ceremony. For dessert there was a caramel cake (tortamiel, I guess?) that was quite good, served in coffee cups since we’d run out of plates.
We had a devil of a time getting the top off the bottle of Bailey’s-like liqueur Mairi and Sue Ellen had purchased. It was a poor showing of First-World ingenuity in the face of Third-World packaging. Alan cut himself trying to saw off the plastic cap with a knife. But eventually the liqueur flowed even more freely than Alan’s blood.
|Our homemade dinner at the hostel|
I was worried about the community visit the following day, because it had taken me about 2 days to get over my culture shock in Oaxaca City. We’d only be in the village for 2 nights, so I wasn’t sure if that was enough time for me to adjust to the peasant (campesino) lifestyle.