SOMETHING MORE THAN A NAME MARCH 2014
Any break of heart is mended quick; a necessity to those who wish to live. Just ask me about this department!!
Driving home now ise steeling oneself rather than looking forward with dreams. We drive now after a local again very good local mechanic for far less than the dealer would cost (they know their stuff on the Mexicanentry roads where auto repair is advertized a hundred times) checks El Burro’s transmission fluid and plugs a leak, we leave Morelia through Sinaloa, go through Province of Nayarit, on into Sonora province. Route Fifteen up the Pacific Coast. Beaches again. We stay West of Tepic in San Blas a hotel, where they take care of an injured pelican who shares the open inside lobby. Pelicans having trouble here and in US. It is on our trip the least expensive lodging, 200 pesos but clean and good. A few old Mexicans seem to have retired in rooms here. Here we buy pure cane brown sugar full of vitamins I think very hard if possible at all to get in US. It’s a lovely town with lagoons, fishing and farm country all around. For a while we pursue the seacoast North . Here Burro again gets oil changed. In Mexico most gas stations are full service and the attendant checks all fluids, like break, transmission, oil, and the tires too. Pretty important thing as roads don’t have gas stations for quite a distance sometimes.
Everyone historical just bout has to be a revolutionary and here in San Blas iconic representations of Insurgente Mercado appear. This San Blas appears to be a popular Mexican beach vacation spot. It is an interesting place, the Square El Zocalo quite like in past years for strolling …
There is a lovely very old stone church in the center of Town. It does not look to have been opened to ring the bells recently but out front is a plaque which reads:
Los Campana de San Blas
“But to me a dreamer of dreams
To whom what is and what seems
are often one and the same
The bells of San Blas to me
have strange wild melody
And are something more than a name”
Henry W. Longfellow
Par mi, un sonador de ensueno
Para quien cuanto es y cuanto le asameja
A denudo son ”uno y lo mismo”
Paa mi las companas de san blas
poseen una extrana y salvaja melodia
y son algo mas que un numbre
The quote from Mainer is a surprise. An enlightenment poet of the 19th Century, who also experienced if I recall right the brutality of the American Civil War, Henry W, a fellow Mainer evidently traveled here in the 1870s and also felt the magic.
We introduce Burro to Nuvi (GPS) who only works in the U.S. and they seem still to get along. We travel up the Pacific rimmed by the Sierra Madre but it is easy driving this trip, no snake trails up and down and around like a roller coaster.
Many trucks of soldiers heading South. It seems strange to see all these young guys with automatic rifles slung over their shoulders in the back of trucks in their army greens. Most when spoken with have sweet smiles.
We stop now at the most expensive hotel on our trip. Usually it is just blind luck where we stop. Amazing how if trust or reckless trust is given, how life seems to produce maybe small but still wonders…. In Hermosilla, El Kino, which cost $650 pesos a night for two, but is most beautiful with old iron work, Tiffany lamp, and bears a plaque saying it is part of Mexico’s patrimony, has 410 rooms, a bar and seems a kind of fitting present to us ourselves after staying in many small mas economico hotels, averaging 350 pesos a night, two of which had a cockroach or so join us, but most of which were clean and pleasant. El Kino has been here since 1863 and boasts much history. It has a soul of its own and real style.
At one stop, a soldier sees we have an extra tarp in back of El Burro (our luggage is on top of El Burro tied together with straps and another tarp) and asks he if can have it. We are not using it. These young guys and some women soldiers too are stuck standing in the sun. We say yes. They are very grateful. We feel good about it.
We take one side trip now to a small town Los Masas, in the mountains East of Route 15, which remains nameless because surely when discovered will become the next San Miguel D’Allende – a lovely place but one which we skipped this trip as it is so popular. Here in Los Masa the entire town is streets lined with small brightly colored traditional adobe structures, nestled in tall mountains. We have great tortillas and head back West to Route 15, following a bus we later notice has no passengers and which ends up on a mountain winding road, again. We do not see the driver who we hope is not the grim reaper and stop and ever so carefully turn around on the dirt road overlooking too great a valley. Happily a taxi cab comes up and the driver merrily as if we were not on a mountain’s edge leads us back to where we went off course.
We pass many gricultural coopertives for which Mexico was well known some years back. It appears they have a good deal of quite expensive farm machinery. The fields stretch with growing lemons, avocados, corn, soybeans, sorghum. We think and are pretty sure that the agricultural revolution has squeezed out most of the small farmers and that the big machinery has come with a price; grow Monsanto or equivalent seedless produce – so the coops are dependent on Monsanto for new seeds each year. It does appear that in our sleep we have allowed agricultural giants to have ruined natural and organic agriculture. We city folk never gave it a thought …. Chernoshevsky wrote in pre revolutionary Russia “Shto Delat?” What is to Be done?
We cross the border but before that there is no open office to accept back proof we are taking our car over the border and to prove we did not sell it in Mexico. Coming in cost us $300 deposit, taking across the car required us to make a $300 deposit, supposedly returnable on our return of the car to the US. Noone there to return anything!! I hear this happens to others. The only ripoff we really experience is this at the hands of the Mexican Government. American Custom Officer is not very pleasant, telling us to get out of car, then that he said stay in the car, then getting us out, at which point Esposa notes to him, he treats us worse than we were treated in two months in Mexico, or three, and he softens up. Admits it is shocking that we US shot two Mexican youths crossing the fence last week evidently for throwing rocks or smuggling marijuana which never existed???
They take some vegetables but nothing else from us. We find we have nothing but pesos on crossing. Nowhere to change them except at a bank where we have a card. Fortunately we make it to Tucson where there is a Bank of America. Important to have a bank account these days. How much longer will cash mean anything in this world?
Making a sidetrip to California to see grand children, we foolishly allow the car keys to get locked in the car in a small California town where we stop for gas. We are fast joined by two or three hispanic kids and a black kid who do their best with a hanger to get it through the window and down to the lock. Also a young woman with a nerve disorder comes up and takes me a short way to a mechanic station. By the time I get back, a courtly and patriarchal black gentleman by name of Emmett has come over and opened the window quickly with a slightly more sturdy device than hanger. Girl with nerve issue says he must have been a car thiefn last life. He laughs almost as if out of control and says must have been indeed. He drove truck most of his life so evidently knows his stuff. He advises not to give the other folk anything because they live down behind the gas station which also is near a casino down the street. They can go to work but don’t want to. He laughs as if tickled pink. His appearance on the scene could not be more like the appearance of a TV but real Angel … says he watched us thirty minutes from across the road and just could not help coming over. It is a little easier to like my fellow countrymen after making his acquaintance.
From California we head West and reach the Navajo Nation in Arizona and Utah, meeting the next day in Mexican Hat a friend of Jim with whom we had spent good days in Patzcuaro, a 96 years old man, and his family. They live in Mecidine Hat (sic) the Navaho Nation, almost on the border of Utah and Arizona, their farm with chickens and sheep on vast plains, walled by the striking and unequalled drama of the great red mesas.
A wirey and small at this age wizened man, he wears a US Navy baseball hat, was decorated and served in the Pacific with other Navajo Indians, famous for having been Code Talkers on the combat radio which the enemy could not understand. We discussed at some length a question he could not get an answer to, namely how the Hopi (which related to the 1848 and 1868 treaties, about which I know nothing), got so much land from the US, whereas the Navajos, who had always been allies of the US, got so little. His daughter explained some of the rich and varied creation stories of the Navaho. Advised by a doctor he would be dead in three days if he tried Peyote, he recounts how since then he has eaten peyote regularly and healed himself and others with this ancient medicine for many Northern tribes and for the Huichol Apache in particular. He recounts how he told the doctor he was no doctor, I am the doctor. He had much to say including how peyote is given from the earth to help man to communicate with God and nature. His whole family in fact lived and lives on peyote as a regular food which is OK with the law if you are one quarter Indian or married to an indigenous person. It does not appear to have hurt him, his daughter or any other family member, one of whom teaches at school and is getting her PHD, another younger one who is top of her class, or for that matter anyone else. Of course, the United States Government makes it a felony for a non-indian to use or possess and the brilliant Supreme Court Justice Scalia, despite its use ritually for thousands of years by Native Americans, does not consider their use of Peyote a natural right.
At the motel in Medicine Hat (sic), when I said we were going to see this well known old man, the owner had said, “ Oh yes we know him well. He was driving into the mountains up to two years ago when he eventually could not drive safely anymore, hunting I don’t know what …
“Happy Landing!” the old Peyote Roadman said as we parted, and moved on across the Great Plains toward Maine…
Almost unbelievably when we pulled over by chance for the night at a motel in Julesberg Nebraska, a town we never heard of before, on checking in, the Motel Manager mentioned to us that he too had traveled in Mexico that winter and stopped in Patzcuaro where he net one “Arturo?” with whom he discussedthe nature of painting and sketching …” We shared a few glasses from our bottle of Mezcal with him and his wife, who was from Michoacan.
And we proceed in a straight line across the great plains. Almost two dimensional …