CountrysideWhen I had a chance to just sit back and look around a bit, I realized what a beautiful place we were living in. Sure it was hot and dry and practically empty, but some evenings, it was heaven. We would go out for hiking on the trails that the indigenous people had used for centuries. Sometimes I would steal away by myself and and just find a rock to meditate on. I would sing all of the John Denver songs I could think of, and then I would sing Simon and Garfunkel. It was lonely, but it was the greatest feeling somehow.
ChurchOne week we decided to accept an invitation to the local church. The Catholic church was boarded up all summer and the priest was supposedly off in the city, but La Quema had a second church as well. It was a Seventh Day Adventist Church set up some years before when some missionaries from the States came through the area. The church building was nothing spectacular, but it was enough to house the members. The ceremony consisted of a pastor leading some prayers and then other people taking turns reading from the prayer book. Nobody was very good at reading, but they seemed pretty sincere about their religion. After the ceremony we had brunch at the pastors house. I thought it was odd that they were not vegetarians, but I guess that even missionaries have to be flexible.
The KidsSome of the most fun was from just hanging out with the kids. The village seemed almost entirely devoid of people our age, or anyone between 15 and 30 for that matter. But there were a lot of younger kids always running around. School was not in session when we were there, so the kids were left to their own devices to keep entertained. We had brought some books and whatnot to share with them. We also had fun with frisbee, swimming, hiking, games, and just generally hanging out. We had a couple festivals where we hosted games and dancing for the kids; very popular. Quite often, though, it was the kids who were teaching us simple things like how to make tortillas or sweet bread, how to catch a snake, and how to general survival skills.
CampingI could not get over the fact that were living in the middle of the biggest and most beautiful wilderness foothills I had ever seen. I really wanted to climb this strangely shaped mountain that overlooked the village. One day, Osvaldo and I decided to set out for a two day trip to the top. We barely got to the edge of town before the mayor's brother and some others came out to caution us: there was trouble up there (marijuana?) and the authorities would surely be suspicious of us. Instead we climbed another mountain nearby. We took just enough gear to get through the night and were totally unprepared for the rain storm that night. We were a little humbled by the power of nature, but we lived to tell the story of our little adventure in the hills.