December 30, 2008

A cave adventure

Lately it’s chilly and windy which means dust accumulating in the window wells and creeping in under the door jambs. Today it has warmed up quite a bit outside, but it is still quite cool in the house with these thick concrete walls. Esperando and crew are busy working on Casa Abeja.

Yesterday we had a nice break from remodeling. For the sake of a kind of romantic and earnest young Mexican man that is a landowner, I will call yesterday’s host of our adventure, Don Diego (Zorro’s counterpart). Well Don Diego had arranged a visit to his family’s ranch for us near Mulege yesterday, which meant a 40 minute ride through the desert across washboarded dirt roads. I still think when I jiggle that much I have to be losing weight. We went to see the cave paintings on his property that were made by people some 10,000 years ago. They must have been thinking in the same manner as those guys from Lascaux in France, as the paintings similarly showed men and animals, mostly deer or fish in ochre or white. For me the stunning piece was of little white handprints grouped together on the wall. But I am getting ahead of myself.

First there was the hike to get to the paintings. It was not far, but it was a little hilly up and down and in some places required climbing on larger boulders. How silly I felt not springing around like some spring lamb like I used to do, but creeping cautiously across the rocks. For this I somewhat blame my hiking boots as my feet are much less flexible in them. We came to a deep clear pond which was fed by spring—how amazing to see water like that in this land of desert. What a joy that pool would be on a hot summer day! Esperando and I both were reminded of Sitting Bull Falls in New Mexico. Alas the stream had to be crossed so we put on our water shoes and waded in water about 2 feet deep, and though we had rolled our jeans up to our knees, the water siphoned the rest of the way up our pant legs. Fortunately it was not icy water and it wasn’t too cold outside. So we walked on a little further and came to where we could view the paintings, in a high cave that was not significantly deep. Sadly much of what must have been there has fallen down over time, but it was still something to see those simple line paintings so alive with the knowledge of those animal’s shape and movement spoken in every turn of the line.

Afterwards we returned to Don Diego’s kitchen, a simple concrete block house still under construction. A simple but delightful meal of tortillas, machacha (shredded beef), and refried beans with some farmer’s cheese (similar to feta) was served to us. Then he gave us a tour of the ranch and we came home with an armful of cilantro, zucchini and radishes and lots of pleasant memories.

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