Friday, January 29, 2010

The Road to Juquila - Part 3: Not A Journey for the Feint of Heart

The Road to Juquila is a most difficult one.
This is definitely not a journey to made by the feint of heart.
It is a five hour drive from the city of Oaxaca to Juquila.
And most of that is through the mountains.

If you easily get car sick then this trip is not for you.
The road winds and twists and turns and zig zags.
And if you aren’t accustomed to the way folks drive in Mexico,
well, it can get pretty scary,
especially when you’re traveling up the mountainside.

I know I already said this
in my previous blog entry.
But it does bear repeating.
Four of the five hours is like a roller coaster ride,
quite literally.
Thankfully, I was smart enough to forgo my morning coffee.
I wasn’t thinking of the twists and turns in the road,
but rather that there would be no rest areas in the mountains.
Smart, smart move on my part.
I got the dry heaves about 2/3 of the way up.
I love amusement parks,
though I don’t care for roller coasters all that much.
I’m the cool aunt who loves the Demon Drop at Cedar Point.
But this drive does not compare.

Our vehicle left at 5a.m. and I thought that we would sleep
at least for the first half of the way.
Let me tell you that won’t happen.
When you see that there are no guard rails
you just want to stay alert.

Once we arrived at Juquila
We quickly found a pharmacy
to be sure that we all had Dramamine
for the ride back.
It would have been smarter to start the day that way,
but live and learn.
this is NOT a journey to made
by the feint of heart.

If you have never taken a ride
in a taxi cab in Mexico City,
if you’ve only done the luxury tour bus thing,
well, you’ll be in for a BIG surprise.
Take a cab in Mexico.
Sit in the front seat.
And then, imagine that cab
twisting up the mountainside with no guard rails. . .

But the Road to Juquila
is a journey that is worth it
if you have a love for
and devotion to Our Lady,
under any of Her various titles.

Once you get beyond the roller coaster ride
and just let go and let God
you will become absolutely amazed
at the grandeur and the beauty.
It is just amazing what our God can do
with dirt and stone and clay and rock.
It is a tremendous thing that our God has done
with trees and plant life.

It touches the heart
to see horses running,
just running because they are horses
and that’s what they do.

It is a gift to gaze upon goats as they gracefully graze
or bulls as they meander on the side of the road,
right next to the van.
And chickens cross the road like squirrels.

It’s just so inspiring
to see nature and wildlife
in this area of the world
as it was meant to be
. . . clean and free. . . .

But you’ll miss all of this
if you sleep
or if you are getting car sick
or if you are worried about safety issues.
Just let go
and be in the sacred space
that leads to Her sacred space.

And once you finally arrive at Juquila,
well, let me just say
that this is NOT a place
for tourists who want something fancy.
You’ll want to bring your own toilet paper
and maybe even disinfectant spray.
I would forgo the hand sanitizer
and just bring alcohol to wash your hands with,
and plenty of it.

And there aren’t that many hotels.
And the hotels are small,
not that many rooms.
I understand that the few that are there
fill up quickly on the weekends.
In fact,
it is quite common for pilgrims to camp out
in the mountains
when there is no room.
Although we didn’t spend the night there,
I, for one,
wouldn’t have a problem staying in of these hotels.
But let me assure you,
these at not like the Best Western.
But really now,
what do you need?
A bed and a shower, right?
You’ll get that and you’ll also receive
perhaps the finest hospitality there is to offer.

I have journeyed to Mexico many times
to several different areas
and have never had any stomach issues
or anything like that.
But if you have a sensitive stomach
or if you are a pretty picky eater
Juquila could prove a bit of a challenge.
You won’t find restaurants
that cater to the American tourist,
nor will you find McDonald’s, KFC
or any other fast food favorites.
Juquila is Oaxaca.
Come prepared to eat
the Oaxaca specialty dishes.
Come prepared to eat
mole Oaxaqueño.

The food is prepared by people
who won’t use a heat lamp or a microwave.
It’s prepared for you when you order it.
It’s fresh and it’s good
and it’s a delight to see people
so eager to serve you and make sure
that you eat well and are satisfied.

The tortillas
were probably made fresh that day
and the eggs probably couldn’t be fresher,
probably laid by that chicken you saw outside
as you entered the restaurant!

The pan de yema, a Oaxaqueño specialty bread,
was probably also just made that morning.
And the fruit
is probably much more healthier
than any you’ve ever had,
even if you’ve never seen a fruit like that before,
even if you can’t name what kind of fruit it is.
Even the candy is handmade.
Leave the finicky eaters in your family at home.
And forget the diet and just enjoy!

What you will find
is that the food is prepared
by a people who understand
what many of us seem to have forgotten:
That all of life is sacred,
even our work,
even our workplace.

The Road to Juquila
is not a journey to be taken
by the feint of heart.
But if we can clear the path of all these obstacles,
obstacles that only we, ourselves,
place in our own way,
obstacles that are born in our heads,
we will be open and ready
to receive in our hearts
all the sacred
that so graciously awaits us
when we decide to travel
that Road to Juquila.

I haven’t even finished
writing everything I want to write
in this blog about the trip
and I am already ready
to go back. . . .

. . and when I go back
if there is no room in the hotel,
that’s OK because I know
that even Our Lord had no place to lay his head.
Even Our Lady,
who is the reason for a trip to Juquila,
knows what it’s like
when there is no room in the inn.
those pilgrims camping out
along the road
are truly a people of scripture.

But, there again,
you’ll miss all of this
if all you want is creature comforts.

. . .so, are you coming with me next time???

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
About the photos:
The first to pictures are of nuts, peanut brittle and handmade candy. All of which can be purchased by street vendors just near the church.

The last photo is of an "altarcito" (a little altar) in the restaurant where we stopped to have lunch, St. Martin de Tours (San Martin Caballero) and Jesus. These little altars are very common among faith-filled business owners. (these little altars abound in SWDetroit as well!)


LA VIDA said...

When I can breath again with out an oxygen tank I will go. How wonderful.. God has truly blessed you... You truly motivate me and help me stengthen my faith
Sweet Heart of Jesus Be my Love....Sweet Heart of Mary Be my Salvation.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm. You make it sound yummy and wholesome! I can't wait to read the part where you actually visit Her. The beauty of nature is a connection with He who created all that is. It is an awesome thing! You know me as a song/hymn writer, but I did write a poem a few years back about the huge oak tree under which I live in Florida for six months. It holds me in its arms as Our Mother holds me under the protection of her cloak. Everything is a connection, and when you see life as one huge connection, you enjoy life and you are in love with life. God is so good to us! You were blessed to make this trip, carsickness and all. I can't wait to read more. ¡Bendiciones!