When I finally get to Bochil around 1pm, I immediately find an internet café and get on line.
I find Sylvia has given me vague directions, mostly saying I should stop and ask people as I drive, and emphatically insisting I do NOT go to Bochil with my truck, and to especially NOT spend the nite here.
Too late Sylvia. I have not asked anyone directions because she has already told me not to talk with just anyone about where I am going.
The mist and fog is hovering just above the trees, allowing for some visibility as I back track to the turn off that will take me, I HOPE, to Oventic.
I pass through many small towns as the fog and mist closes in and the road gets even more narrow, winding and potholed. Finally, in my maybe 10 foot field of vision, I see the wonderful small black and white sign “Oventic”.
But I don’t see signs for the school. I stop at a little tienda and take the risk to ask directions for the Zapatista Language School. I am meters from the entrance although I have to turn around to find it.
I pull the truck in front of the two other vehicles parked in the road by the entrance to the school. We are all pulled over as far to the side as possible, but they take up half the lane and I take up almost all the lane.
The only things visible in the heavy mist is a wide swinging iron gate chained closed and painted cinnamon with cement-walled and palapa-roofed guard stands on either side: one occupied by two womyn with kerchiefs over half their faces, the other stands empty.
Cold has moved in with the mist and fog and I am so relieved I can stop driving and I will soon be able to settle for the rest of the afternoon and night.
I peer the few visible feet past the gate and guards where a wide cement road appears to be heading straight down the mountainside. I can see the beginnings of colorfully painted buildings on either side of this road and I anticipate discovering what extends beyond the fog.
I am shivering as I approach the womyn and say I am coming for the Language School. Their eyes peer warily out at me as they turn in unison to somehow summons yet another masked person.
He approaches and asks me for my papers. Over the metal gate, I hand him my passport and immediately he disappears into the mist.
I return to the truck parked on the road on the side of the gate, to put on more clothes and re-park so it is in line with a couple other vehicles parked on the road. Fortunately there is hardly any traffic so we are easy for the few vehicles that do pass to get around us.
Two young womyn approach me, one appears to be Hispanic, the other white. We speak Spanish until Trease asks me if I speak english. I find out Trease and Nancy are “internationals” from Ireland. They are waiting in the fog and cold for the bus to return.
They are so disappointed because they wanted to visit Oventik but were denied entrance because they forgot their passports. I am sorry for them but secretly relieved I was able to produce my passport.
When the masked man finally returns he is abrupt and seems pissed. He jabs my passport at me and tells me I cannot enter. No se puede.
I look at him like he has lost his mind. I am trapped in fog and mist on dangerous unfamiliar mountain roads, knowing no one, with no where to go and he’s telling me I can’t come in there?
I tell him I applied at least a month ago and that I was accepted. He tells me no, I am not on the list. I was not accepted.
Another man has approached the gate from my side of the road. He is from Puebla and wants to enter Oventik as well. He tries to help me understand my name is not on the list. I cannot understand it.
Then it dawns on me that my passport has my given name on it and not my shortened name. I try to explain it to the masked man. He will not budge. I want him to return to the junta and tell them, but he will not.
I tell him I have no where to go, that I have driven all the way from California to be here. I see myself sleeping in the truck in the side of this narrow road that has no side, only a lane that I am blocking 3/4th of, in the fog and mist that is getting heavier and heavier.
By this time Nancy has come to speak to the guard on my behalf in perfect Spanish. She explains to me that once the Junta decides, this man cannot return and ask again.
What can I do? Be thankful it is not yet dark although it might as well be.