Posts Tagged ‘gwelluulu’ ye’e’


Dia de San Juan

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Today is El Día de San Juan, the day commemorating the birth of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of both San Juan Luvina and San Juan Atepec, the two closest Zapotec speaking towns to Macuiltianguis.  I am sure there have been numerous festivities this weekend in both towns, celebrating the event.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the towns this time.  But 12 years ago I did get to go, when a friend and I walked from Macuiltianguis to Luvina and then on to Atepec.

Luvina and Macuil are fairly close to one another.  A mountain sits between them, but if you are on the outskirts of Macuil, you can even see Luvina.  (You can see another town, Abejones, sitting on a mountain across from the river from Macuil.  As the crow flies, it might even be closer than Atepec, but not by walking.)  The trip into Luvina was fairly easy.  We took our time and I think I got various plant and insect names along the way. (I seem to recall trying to take a picture of a gwelluulu’ ye’e ‘dung beetle’–literally shit roller–on that trip.)  We got into town and met with the cabildo and saw some of the beginning festivities with fireworks.  The only tricky part was figuring out where to stay, but eventually my friend got us a place to stay with someone who I think might have known his father.

We set out fairly early the next morning with minimal provisions (maybe some bottled water and crackers) for Atepec.  That was a much bigger ordeal.  People still frequently travel between Macuil and Luvina (there’s even a dirt road between them now for cars that wasn’t there in 2000) and I think we even met a peddler selling net bags going between towns and I think some Chinantecs walking between them as well.  Walking between Luvina and Atepec seems less common.  And definitely was more of a challenge as we had to go up a mountain.  That was killer.

Unfortunately after we did get to the top, we made the mistake of going down the other side and ended up kind of lost.  We kept going around the next ridge expecting to see the town in the distance, but no such luck.  I’ve never felt so much in the middle of nowhere.  Nobody else was around–fewer and fewer people work in the fields, and even so, it was El Día de San Juan, so nobody was out anyway.  We did run across someone’s horse, but that was about it.  (I wondered if we could ride him into town, but it was probably for the best we didn’t even try.)  We ran out of our bottled water but found some from a spring to get.  It was delicious.  Finally, we figured out we needed to get back on top of the mountain and had to reascend, which was no easy feat for me.  Eventually, with a lot of help from my friend, we did it, and followed along the crest of the mountain, eating some diiga’ ‘berries’ along the way.  And at last, after about six or seven hours, we made it into town (it was supposed to have only taken us three hours or so).

We wondered into town and found a place serving food to finally get something real to eat.  (There was apparently some discussion between proprietors in Zapotec about whether they should serve us.  Of course, unbeknownst to them, my friend understood what they were saying.)  Luckily, at least we had a place to stay that night, since my friend’s aunt had in-laws in the town.  As part of the San Juan festivities, there was a dance that night, but I really felt out of place after I saw everyone dressed up there and I was still in the same muddy clothes from that day’s journey.  I’m a reluctant dancer anyway, and that didn’t help.

The next day was better.  There were horse races and various events in front of the municipio.  The band played, clowns and acrobats were entertaining the crowd, there was a greased pole climbing contest.  It reminded me somewhat of going to fairs and rodeos as a kid.  ImageI think for our journey back, we eventually managed to hitch a ride with someone up to the main highway.  From there, I don’t remember how we find our way back to Macuil, which means it wasn’t half the adventure of getting to Atepec in the first place.