Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our Last Day of Multiregion Meetings in Mexico

Thursday, February 3rd.  Our 4th day, but only a morning work session.  The quiet was amazing.  I think I only heard three explosions all day!  We started the day, as always, with our 7:30 silent meditation in the tea-house.  Over breakfast, we talked about travel and immigration and the remarkable and often absurd problems Mexicans have with visiting or immigrating to the US.  Margarita left right after breakfast for an annual birthday meeting with high-school friends in Mexico City.  She would be back late.

With only a short time to meet before Yoland had to leave, we sat in the courtyard after breakfast to talk about “next steps”.  First, we identified “pending issues” that will require future conference calls to work on.  These include:
* finding a new webmaster after Lance’s contract ends in mid-March.
* reviewing the Minutes from our March 2010 Regional Assembly.
* reviewing & revamping the Seed Grant process.
* exploring outreach to CCs in other Regions sharing themes with Multiregion MCCs.
* fundraising.

We spent quite a bit of time going through all of the notes from the last three days and listing who was charged with who what tasks when we went home.

We started the discussion around finding a new webmaster.  Some candidates were identified and specific plans for the website laid out.  For one thing, we want to be sure that all of the Regional Team can post to the Multiregion blog and that the public can comment on the posts.  We all committed ourselves both to finding material for the blog and to policing the comments to remove the ubiquitous, intrusive Viagra ads, etc.

At this point, Jonathan had to take Yoland to Cuernavaca to catch a bus for the airport in Mexico City.

Linda checked her email and discovered that her flight home on Continental Airlines had been canceled!  There wasn’t much she could do without knowing Spanish as all the folks she called spoke no English.  When Jonathan returned, he spent an hour and a half on the phone working things out.  Ultimately, Continental switched her to flight tomorrow that will require and overnight in Houston before she gets home, but we’ll leave at the same time tomorrow.

When things had been worked out, Jonathan drove me to the trailhead to begin my hike to the pyramid of Tepozteco.  The plan was to approach the pyramid by a shorter route from the town of San Juan on the other side of the mountains above Tepoztlan and then return via the much longer trail from the pyramid down a half-mile in altitude to Tepoztlan.  Linda came along for the ride.  At the recommendation of a friend of Jonathan’s, we went out of town and into the hills along roads that Jonathan had not traveled before.  As we neared the village of San Juan, we stopped to ask villagers the way to the trail.  They directed us back down the way we had come, “past the two trees painted blue”.  I had a feeling from studying the diorama in the Museum yesterday that this was not correct, but who’s going to argue with locals?  With some difficulty, we found the trailhead.  Armed with water bottle, flashlight, and cell phone, I set off to find the pyramid while Jonathan and Linda drove back to the Rose hacienda.

Contrary to Jonathan’s friend’s directions, the trail, once found, was not well-marked or easy to follow.  (The reason would later become apparent.)  The way split often with no clear indication of the correct route.  One woman I encountered gave me some directions, but my level of proficiency in Spanish meant that I was relying more on her hand-gestures than her words.  The dirt road became a trail.  The trail became a path.  The path became often indistinguishable from a dry-streambed, as indeed it often was.  I started using the arrows-made-out-of-broken-twigs tricks that I learned in Cub Scouts to mark the trail back, should it become necessary.  I was now about two miles in from the trailhead, and two miles up and the air was noticeably thinner.

Finally, I got my first view of the white pyramid of Tepozteco...

The pyramid is on the peak to the left of center.
With a shock, I realized that I was on the ridge of mountains behind and ABOVE the pyramid, and that a half-mile deep canyon lay between me and it!  I had been right and the directions from the locals had been wrong.  Had we gone just beyond San Juan there would have been a route following the ridge down to the pyramid and I wouldn’t be in this predicament.  I tried to scope a way further up and around to connect to the correct ridge and set off.

The trail got rougher and steeper.  Rocks started sliding beneath my feet.  I started following a sheer cliff face and it looked like the only way up was via a rock chimney.  At that point, just as I realized that if I went much further it would be much harder to be sure of finding the correct route back if I need to, I rounded a boulder and found the fresh grave of a hiker who had fallen to his death...

I took this as a sign and decided to turn back.  I called Jonathan, explained my situation and asked him to come pick me up.  I’d call when I knew that I was close to the paved road.  I went to a point on the rocks with a commanding view.  I poured out some my water to the Four Directions and thanked the Spirits of the Elements and of the Place in the best Spanish I could muster.  I then made my way back the way I had come, vowing to return and visit the pyramid.  (We have been talking about having a Multiregion Regional Assembly here in 2012, so maybe then…)

I found my way out without too much trouble and met Jonathan… just as rain clouds started to gather – another reason it was probably wise to stop when I did.  On the way back into town, we passed what appeared to be an occult supply shop.  Jonathan said that it would probably be open until 6 pm.  We got back to the hacienda at 5 pm.  I grabbed a quick shower and change of clothes and headed out to visit and ATM, find the shop to see what they had, and do a little gift-shopping before 6.  The shop turned out to be a mix of exotic Hindu stuff imported from India and candles and such for Christian candle magic.  I found a shop with some cool items for my wife Anna.

Returning by way of the restaurant “El Brujo”, I stopped and called Jonathan to have him and Linda come join me for a last dinner and drink.  It featured a fusion of local Mexican and Italian cuisine, and pastries baked on-site.  Jonathan had not yet eaten at this place, but it was great!  Worthy of at least the 4.5 stars in the online reviews.  The owner / master chef was very pleased when Jonathan explained that I am a “brujo” from America!

We made our way back to finish up with items on the computer, pack our bags, and write this, the last report on this trip.  And so, the first face-to-face meeting of the Regional Leadership Team of the URI’s Multiregion came to a close.  We leave at 8 am tomorrow for the drive to Cuernavaca and the bus-trip to Mexico City.  But we won’t have much time to rest… There’s a teleconference of the URI’s Global Council on the 9th.

Interfaith marches onwards!

Blessed Be,
National Interfaith Representative

1 comment:

  1. Don, If you were really using your Cub Scout Wisdom you would never have gone on that hike without someone with you. Ditz!