The last couple days with Josa were my favorite. We took an overnight trip to a few more communities, this time Nahua instead of Mixteco. In the first village we went to, they were already in their second year of the program, so their gardens were more established and thriving. They grow vegetables to supplement their beans-squash-corn diet, as well as herbs or flowers as small cash crops. I helped one señora clean cilantro to sell at their local market.
Then the family invited us to stay for dinner, and I tried to help make tortillas. They make it look so easy, but really it takes practice! I was clumsy, and tore a tortilla, and I think the lady was genuinely shocked. "My 8 year old daughter is proficient at it," she marveled. (Well, c'mon, we all have the skills we need for our own culture. At 8 I could make mac 'n cheese, vacuum, and record movies off the TV.)
They next day we stopped in another village where they were having a community corn de-graining. After the corn is harvested, it's dried on the cob, and then rubbed off to be stored as grain to make masa for tortillas for the rest of the year. It takes 2-3 days of constant work to de-grain it all, and everyone pitches in with each other's corn.
"Hey, Inge, where'd you pick up this guerra [white girl]? You guys look good together. Gosh, we sure like weddings in this town... and we haven't had one for a long time! Man, a wedding would be great. Oh, and there's this great plot of land at the end of town, could really use a young couple to work it. Just keep it in mind, Inge..."
They were cracking up. "Sounds great... but I don't know how to make tortillas!" I protested. "That's okay, we'll teach you!" One of the older women, probably in her 70's, was puzzled. I told her you can buy tortillas in the US, but not everyone eats them, and that we eat more bread. "Bread!? But, how do you sustain yourselves?" she asked.
Then it was time to leave Guerrero, say goodbye to Josa, and be on my way traveling back north. I went to the new-agey town of Tepoztlan, which has a prehispanic pyramid up on a cliffside overlooking the valley. I've been there before, and it's a steep climb to the top on a stone staircase. I did my best to jog up, but the incline and the heat and the high altitude kicked my butt. It was a great workout though, and a stunning view from the top.
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