Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No Time or Distance

I'd whittled down the 'needs' of a pilgrim to the bear minimum... a safe place to sleep (heat and comfort set aside as 'wants'), some water to wash, maybe something to eat, and a map. The map has now fallen off the list. I looked all around the city of the Parral for a map of the state of Durango to no avail.

Other than the general guidance of 'walk south', I'm at the mercy of the locals every day. 'How many kilometers to the next village?' or 'Is there a village 35 or 40 kilometers along the old route to Mexico City?' are the questions I ask with little hope of getting a valuable answer. I'm convinced that no Mexican has walked further than their own village cemetary. Few people know what a kilometer is or how long it possibly would take to walk one. Arghh. Head south...Mexico City is the largest city in the world, how could I possibly miss it?

I was heading south across some corn fields toward the pre-columbian town of Indè, in the mountains a few days ago. I'm out of the desert now, heading up up up into the foothills of the Sierra Madres. I asked every one I passed, how far to Indè? The answers varied from 4 km to 45 km. How can I plan based on these kinds of answers?? Head south.

I saw some of the Native Americans, who come down during the harvest time to help in the fields. The women and girls dress in long colorful skirts, so they're easy to identify. Harvesting corn is a family affair. Taking a break under a shade tree, I asked a family how far to Indè. How many kilometers? How many hours by foot? The older man silently pointed to the sun then pointed to two mountain peaks drawing their M shape with his finger. Then, without the flourish of a magician making a coin disappear, he covered one hand with the other.

Sure enough, four hours later, just as I crossed over the progressively higher ridges on a winding dirt road and looked down at the sleepy hamlet, I looked up at the two peaks of the M and watched the sun sink behind them. Who needs a map when there's a sensible native around who walks from place to place instead of taking a ride in a pickup truck.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So good to hear from you-I was starting to get worried. But, I should know better, shouldn't I? I look forward to hearing about your adventures in person upon your return. Karen

ksam said...

Funny how someone from one of the oldest least "technical" cultures was able to give you a clear and useable answer! Truly amazing. Glad to hear your safe again. Buen Camino, Karin

OHMV said...

Happy St. Juan Diego Day! So glad to know you are still on the path and the road less traveled! Sending prayers for your continued safety and success! Sylvia

Anonymous said...

Good grief you amazing woman! I, like the others, was starting to worry due to the lack of posts since the 26th. Keeping track of your progress and still trying to contemplate your motivation, but still fascinated. Can't wait for the next update.
Laurie S.

Anonymous said...

Would it be cheating if we just email you some general mapquest pages so that you have something to go by in case you don't run into a wise old dude? Missing you all the same. Good luck

Compostelle 2008 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Compostelle 2008 said...

I looked Indé up on google map and the pictures of the Iglesia San Juan Bautista and the square around the church somehow brought to my mind, Fromista in Spain. Certainly the Iglesia is not of the same stature as the church of Saint Martin is but the town seems to be built around the church as was Fromista and in the pictures I saw people sitting on those beautiful white benches, it just took me back to the Camino.

Michèle, Ottawa (ON) Canada

monica said...

keep us posted as much as you can. good luck. we love hearing about your trip and all the people. prayers to you!!!! Monica

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

Finding your way, once again. Still in India, having had dinner two nights ago with some Buddhist friends, last night Moslem, tonight Hindu. In each home the room where we ate delicious home cooked food becomes the bedroom for all after we leave. Beautifulmpeople in this world