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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is steaming with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want ALL to thrive in

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rio de Medino y Zacatecas

I drive through México toward Zacatecas and I think I could be in California or New Mexico.  The land is so similar, just somehow much bigger.

But the reddish dirt exists, the golden grasses, the cacti and small trees that look like mesquite, the flowing mountains and broad stretches of even land.

I see a sign for Rio de Medino when I am about 50 kilometers west of Zacatecas. The sign says it is only 9 kilometers away and the road looks like it is newly paved.

I take the cutoff and drive happily down the road for what I think is 9 kilometers. The paved road suddenly ends and I advance on a dirt and stone road. I go over a mile and see nothing but endless dirt in between fenced fields of some cows walking between furrowed rows.

I don’t see a river – or a town for that matter. I wonder if the river was where the paved road ended. It is approaching dusk so I decide to turn back and head on to Zacatecas and find a place to park for the night.

I arrive in the town – actually I don’t get off the major road going thru Zacatecas but see the city growing and expanding uphill on either side of the road. I see a Pemex gas station with big trucks parked there and I decide to park there overnite also.

It has a 24 hour toilet but I have to pay 3 pesos to use so I wait until morning to use it. It gets very cold, but not as cold as it was at the national park!

In the morning, I wake up, make myself coffee, wave to the 5 or 6 guys congregated across the parking lot staring at me, and head into the beautiful city of Zacatecas.

Nombre de Dios

What a sweet “little” town outside of Durango, maybe less than an hour – I lost track of time after the search for water this morning.

But I am ready to stop when I come to Nombre de Dios – Name of God! I haven’t had time to eat and I’m so hungry!

There’s a little picnic area just before entering the town, which is unusual for here but I've seen a few! At first glance, the dirt leading to the picnic area looks like it won’t hold my truck but then after passing, I notice lots of tire tracks and that the road actually goes down to this pretty, little “river”.

I say “river” as almost all the rivers I’ve seen in México, including Boca El Rrio, are barely filled with large puddles let alone running water.

I was going to turn around and try my luck on the dirt but suddenly a town appears on both sides of the road so I park and walk the length of the town, which is only about 5 or 6 long blocks.

The sign says there are 4,500 people in this town. It really doen’t look that big to me. On one side of the road, I make and right and walk about 7 or 8 blocks until the town ends at a cliff’s edge. The other side of the road only goes about 3 blocks before ending at a large field.

Besides cute little houses mostly adjoined to each other, made of brick, adobe, cement, and clay, and painted the typical beautiful bright colors, there are several businesses including mostly restaurants, a couple of bars, stores selling fresh meat.

Horses and chickens are plentiful, with some of the latter being cooked on the grill. Dogs roam the same way they roam all over México, and several people have little gardens of veggies, melons, and cacti.

Lots of people are out in the streets but mostly on the main street that 45 runs through. It definitely looks as if the town grew around the street. The ubiquitous church whose steeple towers over every building is there a couple of blocks off the main road.

Some people are playing xmas music and some homes are decorated. There are definitely xmas trimmings being sold on the main street.

I only have one conversation with a womon who is grilling chicken. She wants me to buy a whole chicken with onions, tortillas, and salad for 60 pesos, $5.00. I explain I’m a vegetarian so she makes me a salad and puts the grilled onions and tortillas into plastic bags and gives them to me.

I want to pay her but she says feliz navida – oh my. I take off my codepink button and give it to her and then she allows me to give her two girls 10 pesos each.

We talk about her little town, which is very pretty and tranquil. She says this town is peaceful, no violence, but she points over in the direction I am headed, and then the direction I left, and says muy violencia.

I ask her about the truck that pulled up in the next block and emptied soldiers with long rifles and machine guns onto the streets. She waves her hand as if shooing an annoying fly, and says something like they jump around every day.

I ask her if she rides a horse and she looks horrified. Her girls giggle and I ask them if they ride a horse. They are 5 and 7, and Lupita is a single mom who also hates her name. I tell her it is beautiful but if she wants to, she should just change it.

I ask Lupita if there are women in Los Dios who are feminists. She struggles to understand me. I ask her if she knows “feminista” and she says certainly. I ask if she is a feminista and she says yes but doesn’t look at me.

I want to ask her to introduce me to the feminists but she is cooking and has her two girls. I cannot tell if they live in the space that is the restaurant, or maybe behind the space or if they have another home. I don’t ask.

Everywhere I walk, people say hello and good morning, good afternoon – but no one else speaks with me. 

I walk back to the truck, make me tortillas and avocado with salad, and get back on the road. I’m a happy viajera!

Search for water

I think I’m almost out of water and I don’t want to start my trip farther into the interior of México without water so I ask the two womyn working  at the coffee shop if there’s a water plant close by. Neither of them speak english and my Spanish did not improve while Alma traveled with me.

They tell me there is no water plant in Durango but there is a municipal water company that supplies all the water. It is only about 5 or 6 blocks away.

They draw me a map and I get there in moments, the same time an armored truck is pulling up with a guard carrying a machine gun. The building is painted blue and has lines inside like a bank so I’m thinking I have the wrong place.

I walk down the street a couple of feet and ask a guy working in a parking lot where the water company is at. He points to the blue building and I say but there are men with guns there. He says it is because there is so much money there.

So I go back and inside there is a womon sitting at an “informacion” desk. I ask her for water for my truck, which is parked right in front. She looks at it and says, no they only service buildings and homes.

Finally, I am taken into another office where one of the guy tells me where to go. It is also only 6 or 6 blocks away. When I pull up to the little building with the agua sign, the locking garage door is pulled down and closed.

But there are two young men working next door. I ask them about the water & they say yes, that’s the water place & point to a man pulling up in a truck and say that’s him.

He is selling filtered water that he filters right there. He shows me the big filters and the 3 faucets that he fills 20 liter bottles with. He says he cannot fill my tanks because he doesn’t have a llaves, which is the one I can connect my hose to.

I notice he has an extension on the faucet that makes the threaded part smaller. He takes the extension off and there is the end that will fit. I hand him my little attachment thing that Shazam made me get - THANK YOU AGAIN - that screws in both ends but pops on and off at the middle.

Unfortunately, the screws on the one that attaches to his faucet is stripped - grrrrrr. He directs me to another place about another 10 blocks away. I drive off, looking for this new place.

Finally I find it and it is just a dispenser in the wall with an old womon out front sweeping the sidewalk and street of course. I attempt to talk with her. She speaks quickly and has a hard time understanding me. She is abrupt and motioning down the street. Then she asks me where is my esposo - I tell no necesito - and she breaks out into a huge, toothless grin.

Then she slows down and tells me to go to the white building and ask in there. I find that building too, it is some kind of public service building. A womon in uniform directs me a couple blocks away to another water filtering place.

At this place, a young womon is sweeping. She tries to help me and shows me all of her connections - none will work with my hose.

I decide to go back to the hardware store and replace my plastic connector thing and return to the first guy. I find my way back to the hardware store, purchase the replacement and find the water filtering place.

The man takes the part and screws it into his faucet - and then we realize it won't work because it is the end that needs to be screwed into my hose! grrrrr.

So off again to the hardware store. This time, I take his attachment (that goes from the right size for my hose to a smaller size). I decide to get an attachment that will go from the small size to the correct size for my hose, just in case I run into this situation again.

When I get back with the parts, he hooks his end up, I hook up my end, and off we go! The tanks are full, it is still early, and I head out of Durango.

As I leave, I feel a little sad and wonder am I really a city womon totally? I really loved finding my way around this big city, figuring out how to meet my needs in a strange place, talking with everyone, and the hustle and bustle of so many folks living in close proximity.

But off I go to explore more of Mexico!