08 November 2011

Today I've been nostalgic about Mexico, and so I wrote several snippets about it, centering around a Tarahumara character I created some years ago.

The footpath traced a tenuous trail along the canyon about a hundred yeards below its rim. It was steep on either side, but not completely impassible. The trail wound around towering yucca stalks, their foliage reavealing inch long points. Red barked trees oozed their roots over and around and even through the copper-coloured granite.

Manuel was making his way briskly along the trail, almost running, surefooted in his huraches*. He kept glancing to his left, down the canyon slope to the green tinted water below. He knew the trail would not take him there, and he wanted to find a decent spot to descend the treacherous scree.

He finally found it, a break in the yuccas that seemed to lead almost directly to the river. His feet slid in the loose, dry rock, but he was careful not the grab any plants to stop his fall. The yucca leaves would easily slice his hands to the bone and the spiny trees were no better. Only firm rock and the occasional surdy root could safely stablize him.

His rough brown hands found the appropriate holds to keep his downward momentum in check, and within a few moments he was at the bottom of the canyon, perched on a boulder at the water's edge.

The normally sluggish water was swift in this place, bottlenecked by the boulder on which he stood. Upstream though, the backup caused a slow, deep pool. With no futher hesitation, Manuel plunged in fully clothed. The water was only a few feet deep, his head never went under, yet he couldn't breathe for several seconds. The river was pure snow melt. Even in mid-June it was icy.

Refreshed and breathless, Manuel slithered back onto the rock and stood, dripping. Drops fell like crystals from his shirt and shattered on the rock.

He began to scramble back up the way he'd come.

Going up was difficult, but at least he'd cooled his body for the trek. Again avoiding yuccas and other plants, he hauled himself upward. His pants were soon muddied and he could feel the grit between his toes. He left a slimy trail behind him. He made it up to the level of the trail, then crossed it in one step and continued upward toward the canyon rim.

The sun was now just west of center, beating down mercilessly on his back. His shirt was dry before he reached the ridge.

At the top, he stopped to catch his breath and survey the land, getting his bearings. Behind him the ground dropped away, but ahead of him it sloped gently into a plain before being inturrupted by more cliffs.

He'd come from the south, upstream, along the trail and now, he could see another trail, skirting the edges of the plain before him. Another creek ran through the area and it was surrounded on all sides by fields of vibrant foot tall corn.

*sandals made from tire and leather cords.

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