This is a real place inhabited by one of the ancient cultures of our planet. The Aztec. Sure, Cortez came with his great gift of smallpox and the grand civilization died off and the Catholic priests burned all of the written history of these great people; however, the descendents remain….living with continued dignity and harmony with the planet, high in the mountains hidden in the beautiful rain forest. Their culture, their language and most important, their spirit very much alive. We have the great fortune of knowing one of these families and being invited into the sacred forest with them to join in their everyday lives, feast times and to hear, listen with the heart and join in the spirit as they tell their stories. You see they speak Nauhtl (http://www.omniglot.com/writing/nahuatl.htm) , the native tongue…….not at all like Spanish. We are so lucky as to have been taught some phrases. It is such a beautiful language and interestingly enough I noticed that one must smile when speaking it. It is only the current generation living in these forests who also speak Spanish, so tightly do these beautiful people hold to their culture. In order to reach them one must travel some of the most treacherous roads I have ever seen, clinging to the side of the mountains. Of course, we could go on foot through the ancient trails……….but I am afraid of snakes and do not have the stamina of an Aztec runner……so it is to the small muddy trail I go.
Even with this the trip is a day long, in the back of a truck with chickens and small children. We have known Diego for several years and he has become part of our family so I feel very safe and secure……….that is until I glance to my right and see the clouds far, far, far below me. The rain falls constantly and the road is not wide enough for one vehicle….the soil primarily clay so we slide ever so precariously to the edge now and then. My heart beats rapidly as I fear that I may never see the village at the top and become another sacrifice pitched into the yearning mouth of the skies.
Along the way we find where someone has built a catchment of sorts for the water that continuously pours from the mountaintop.
We finally reach the end of the road and now must continue our travels on foot. Here where the road ends is a small cinderblock building that we are told is a school constructed by the Governor to teach the Nauhtl language and culture to ensure that it does not die….smart guy that one! We also find a hand crafted statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe; even here high above the clouds Catholicism has reached and become entwined with the ancient beliefs……although I doubt the Pope would recognize the full interpretation.
Finally we come to our destinationon. It is so beautiful and lush. Surrounding me are coffee plants, giant bamboo, banana trees, mango, papaya, oranges and many, many other plants that I do not know and their names are given to me in Nauhtl so I cannot even write or remember them. All I see is forest, thick, green, lush and the most incredible sound that we have forgotten exists……silence. silence so deep …… so broad… you can hear the droplets of rain on each leaf…and i promise you …. you can hear each leaf give thanks for the rain…..amazing..
I do not take many photos while we are here. I can tell it is not appreciated and I do not want to offend our most gracious hosts. I do snap a photo of the lady of the house in her kitchen. A kitchen constructed of the giant bamboo that grow here…. she is preparing some wonderful treat for us.
What a marvelous time we had. Their homes are not one building, but a separate building for each room: the kitchen (built far away from the others in case of a fire breaking out) the sleeping rooms, separate buildings and all built around a center plaza, if you will, each roof top draining into an above the ground cistern to catch rain water and wherever you turn, vegetables growing and flowers, flowers, flowers……..the trees covered in bromeliads………orchids….oh my this is such a paradise. The family was apologizing for being poor and I told them that I felt they were some of the richest people I had ever or would ever meet. As the sun set someone ran off to get the (“the” not “a”) lightbulb to put into a socket on the plaza. The Governor also made sure his people had electricity. I learned much had changed for them since the election of this Govenor…….you see he is Aztec too….or as they say he is indigenous not Spaniard. I wish I could meet him …. he impresses me at every turn.
The earth was so pure and perfect, the water so clean and pristine……wow…..guess I forgot what it was supposed to look like.
You often hear that the Aztecs were mystical and magical people……you know what… they still are. I would not trade my time with these people for anything and I hope to return someday. My only hope is that they and their culture will be able to survive so the we can return from time to time to remember who we should be.
This post is dedicated to Diego and his wonderful family, their culture, hospitality and oneness with our planet.