High Desert Life

by Miles Hutchins

Last time I wrote, I left us at a 10,300 feet elevation, breathing OK. But how do I get down this mountain?

Ah, yes, there is my faithful steed and his wrangler. Just climb aboard and away we go. Ruts on the trail about two feet deep and we’re kicking up lots of dust. Sorry Bobbi, I should have let you go first. Works out OK though since her horse is smaller than mine and soon we are spaced apart enough to spare her a dust storm.

As we descend, Bobbi tells me to hold on and lean back. Good advice as I was looking at a field and houses straight ahead but a mile or so down hill. Thoughts went through my head, like what would happen if I fell off, and how far would I roll if I did?

Well, obviously we made it back to where we left our bus at 9,000 feet elevation, thanks to our sure-footed friends and their handlers. It was good to get back on our own two feet and even nicer to find an outdoor Mexican fast-food place selling ice cold cerveza.

Sipping on my brewski, I saw a woman making tortillas, and not just tortillas, but blue corn tortillas, big ones. Succumbing to temptation, I ordered one with a white cheese made in Oaxaca, southern part of Mexico. I tell you that was one mighty fine snack.

Our bus ride back to Morelia took us through a village with a street name that took us by surprise: Calle John Lennon. Now Bobbi was Oregon state president of the Beatles fan club back in the day, and actually met the lads, so we both took note of the name and are still puzzled about how it happened to be so named. Mexico is a land of many surprises!

The next day we saw Morelia on foot. Churches, art museum, government building with historically significant murals, and a leisurely lunch spot to people watch.

The following day we headed home, but first a stop in Capula, called Catrina town because it is home to a famous maker of the skeleton dolls brightly dressed. Juan Torres is famous for the dolls, usually about a foot or so tall and made of ceramic. In the town, near his hacienda and art studio, many of his students had dolls and more for sale. Many of us travelers made purchases, then headed for lunch before hitting the road toward Lake Chapala.

A few weeks after the butterfly trip, we got on a van with our first visitor from back home, Catherine, Bobbi’s niece, and took an hour or so trip to Teuchilan. This is the site of Guachimontones, an ancient site dating back to a time before Christ.

In addition to several rock platforms, a large rock mound, and a large round mound that looks like sod upon sod, there was a very modern museum to explain what we were seeing. It was quite moving to realize we were standing on ground of one of the first civilizations in middle America.

Who knows what wonders await us. We are looking forward to a nearby trip to the town of Manzamilta, 7,000 feet in the air and lots of pine trees. Hmm, sounds a bit like places in Central Oregon.

— Miles Hutchins is a retired former Redmond resident who grew up in Central Oregon and now lives in Mexico. Contact him at milesredmond@gmail.com .