It feels almost wrong knowing that I have not posted anything since Friday night. It's not for lack of things going on; quite the contrary. I had planned into the calendar a three day weekend so people could catch their breath, explore on their own, and perhaps go to Guelaguetza on Monday. So, some went to Puebla, others went to host stay birthday parties, and others toured towns where Alebrijes are made and Hierve el Agua, the gigantic soda springs a few hours out of town.
This is my sixth time in Oaxaca in just over twenty years, and for the last ten years, I have dreamed about going into the elusive mountains on the edge of town. Public transport is not great, and it is rumored to be cold, so I have never had the means or the clothes to go. But, in planning for this trip, I found a receipt from years ago where a student group had visited the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca. So, in the name of a scouting mission for future years, and to satisfy my own curiosity, I rented a car and Paty, Noah and I made the very windy trip up in to the mountains.
We spent our first night in some cabins near the Magic Town of Capulálpam de Méndez, and quite by chance watched the Guelaguetza de la Sierra - where other mountain towns sent their participants to dance the night away. The plaza was in front of the church, hanging on the side of a mountain and the views went on forever.
The next day, we drove on a dirt road to Santa Catarina Lachatao. Citing Wikipedia, there are roughly 1300 inhabitants in the mountain village at over 6000' elevation. Almost no-one has an automobile and people walk up and down the steep roads easily. The people in Lachatao are friendly, their time is not our time, and no-one is asking for a hand out or for tips. You are asked to hire a guide if you explore the mountains, so we hired José to take us to a nearby mine that had originally been explored by the Spanish.
On the walk back through the countryside, José started picking out herbs and explaining their names and medicinal qualities. Then, he found two mushrooms and then a bunch of mustard greens. Soon, his hands were overflowing with mountain produce which he said would be a great dinner.
We spent a memorable night in a cabin high on the mountain. On Monday morning, it was time to return to reality in Oaxaca, and today, Tuesday, was the first day of our last week of classes. We all were refreshed from our weekends away, and we all are excited to be in the home stretch.