sierra norte

These photos are from my last weekend in the state of Oaxaca, around the end of February. My dear friends took us on a two-night hike in the nearby Sierra Norte range. Accompanied by their fox-like dog Lupe, we walked past massive maguey plants (from which mezcal is made) and high altitude trout farms. We got cozy in a cabin with a fireplace and talked about Norway and laughed until we fell asleep. We had a dip in a very brisk stream, an afternoon inexplicably spent setting up a swing in the yard of a quirky local anthropologist, then drove out of the mountains into a rainbow, magical moment of dusk.

When I got back, I wrote this in a spurt of fresh-air fueled inspiration.

~

Sierra Norte

In the mountains, mosquito bitten, stream driven, through a canopy of Spanish moss and over the crumbling pine ridges—find the milkiness in the new moon sky, the tail end of an animal in my headlamp’s bright, the steady strength of legs carrying me.

In the mountains, you find that old friends, true friends, never exhaust the chatterbox, the comfort in leaning shoulder next to shoulder, a subtle pliable line of support against each other, rather than ever really on each other.

In the mountains you find fingers tingling and altitudinous dreams.

In the mountains you forget your family, your future—

In the mountains you leave your aspirations to waste,

and surrender to the rhythm of streams, and legs, and simple sweet things.

From the mountains, we come back to exhaust pipes and people outside hospitals at night, the blocks of the city and taco spits spinning. The grandparents at my homestay are awake, their faces kind as always. Sadness comes for leaving something that is sweet and ending already, for leaving the colors and gridded streets and plumerias singing.

I am always leaving before my time is exhausted and wonder what would happen if I stayed. I tell myself not to be sad because I am leaving but happy to have found a place that I like in the first place. I tell myself it’s okay. I can come back.

I set my plans in motion and the motion is going to carry me until one day I say—

I must stop,

I am stopping.

And until then I will be swept, and swayed, to the ends of myself, perceiver and creature— never sole witness—only a particle in a pastel buttered sinking sunset, in the green hills descending into golden fields, then to cities, then to people, then to plains.

Ary and Alex. Post-hike, pre-dinner Doritos.
Georgia and I, surrounded by long trails of Spanish moss. Wearing my Free Tibet shirt. Don’t tell the CCP.

~

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