Wednesday, October 19, 2011

there is a trail that winds 'round the river

photographs taken in guacetepec where i learned to make tortillas,
walk in mud, and how to love again.

i'd wake up early to the sound of roosters. readjusting myself in my hammock, i would lay waiting for the sun to seep through the windows of the church i was sleeping in. breathing in the smell of early morning fires drenched in the wetness of the night's rain, i'd soak up the stillness of the time before the sun rose. while everyone else lay sleeping around me - i was tiptoeing, quietly through my mind, my dreams and desires and memories and my longings. the sun would start to sneak into the darkness, and like a summoning, it would call to me, and i would rise.

the first day, i just stood there. the kitchen was dark, filled with women standing around the fire flipping the tortillas as the smoke filled the air. the light would shine through the cracks of the wood beams of the shack and the light would make their skin shine like gold. they were quiet at first - shy. when i watched them, they would giggle - covering their faces to hide their embarrassment. the women hardly spoke spanish and so we were unable to talk to one another. inspired by the absence of words, i would just stand, silently, enjoying the simple act of being.

i noticed mariann first because her hair was curly. she stood to the side, usually looking at me, and then looking away - like she was flirting with me. her husband, isidro, told me that she loved my hair. that she would go home and talk to him about it all night long. and so i asked her to do my hair like hers. i remember how gentle she was with my hair. and i remember how she touched my nose like i was her child.

by the second day, i was hiding behind the kitchen with the women while they dressed me in their clothes. we were all giggling, together. their bashfulness vanished, and what emerged were these incredibly silly, wild, and playful women who began to treat me as if i belonged to them. they paraded me around to their husbands, they invited me to each of their meals, they taught me how to make tortillas, they gave me jobs to do - and even invited me to kill the chickens and clean them. and even the foods that i knew would make me sick, i couldn't refuse.

if you were able to see inside of my chest before leaving for mexico, i imagine that you wouldn't have been able to recognize my heart. it'd become so brittle, hard, and dead. as the women welcomed me, i could feel their hands touching and healing parts of me that had become so dark. it was only my second week there - and it was only the beginning of a journey - and i could already feel myself changing. i came to them weak, begging for something - and they had no idea that i had come to them in order to learn how to live again.

on the last day in guacetepec, i sat between pastor antonio and his wife at the lunch table. as we passed around communion to one another, these tears started streaming down my face. for i was hungry, and they gave me something to eat. and i was thirsty, and they offered me something to drink. i was a stranger and they took me in. even if we spoke the same language, there still would have been no words, and so instead our tears ran together down our cheeks and chests. they ran together into the release of the joy and hope that the women from the village and i had given each other. and as i stood on the truck, keeping my eyes fixed on them until the road turned and i couldn't see them anymore, i finally found the words and whispered to them, thank you, thank you, thank you.


  1. thank YOU thank YOU thank YOU! beautiful words, beautiful pictures, beautiful people and week and world. it's like i just got to go back for a little while...