I have absolutely no idea what Suchixtepec really means, but it sure is fun to yell. And that´s what Jill wanted to do to stay warm the whole time we were in San Miguel Suchixtepec, where it was quite chilly and rainy. We ended up riding straight through San José del Pacífico, the mushroom capital of N America (maybe?), where very, uhhh, "inspired" art adorned the side of the highway, and visionary murals were on each wall. The town seemed like it would be interesting, but the weather was gross. It was already fairly chilly, rain was falling pretty heavily, and I´m not even sure how it was falling, because we were definitely not below the clouds, we were right in the middle of them.
We went on down the winding highway until we found the first pull off to San Miguel Suchixtepec, where we had rough directions to the Casa SARAR in our heads (and better directions written down, but not excited to dig through our luggage in the rain). So we wound our way around this crazy vertical, yet still switch-backed alleyway, asking for the plaza principal a couple of times. We stopped when we were right next to it, asking two people setting up a large tent where we might find Casa SARAR, explaining that it was near the municipal building. They looked at us strangely, and pointed behind us. We had parked immediately beneath the stairs of Casa SARAR (see photo of the TA below for reference). Sometimes things work out that well. (On our way out of town, we learned that the next turn off the highway led directly into the plaza, about 50 meters from the Casa SARAR, but we got a better tour of the city this way.) And the tour of the city paid off, because we never had a chance to see it all.
Although we intended to see some of the school projects that SARAR was involved in, we failed to do that because summer had just begin this past week, and also because the Friday we were in town was the inaugural exposition for the regional area. Many local, regional, and national government officials came into town, bands played, food was served, goods and wares were sold. It was pretty cool to see such a big event in such a small town.
(The warm up act)
(Traditional dance in a Veracruz style)
(Jill´s closest new friend)
(A huge feast was prepared)
We learned from our host at Casa SARAR, Tajëëw, that a couple of people from within each small community in the area are responsible for putting on town festivals within their own town every year. It used to be a position of honor that people sought, particularly as a means to enter political life. Now it is a position that people get nominated for. The shift is partially because of the expense of putting on a party that big, and the expectation to offer good food and refreshment. Families are forced to sell their homes to afford the expense, some men have to travel to the states for work to be able to send back money to cover the loans taken out. In any case, this event was a government sponsored expo showcasing the agricultural businesses in the area, as well as the handcrafted furniture, mezcal, jams, woven goods, pastries,... so not quite the same. But interesting to learn about those other parties.
We made some other friends while in SMS. They loved Tajëëw, especially the hot chocolate that she makes, and served as almost daily afternoon entertainment for her, as well as us while we were there:
Casa SARAR also uses a dry toilet system. We didn´t include pictures of the toilet itself before, but here it is in all of it´s grandeur:
(Urine contained in front funnel, goes to separate storage. Dry pit at back of toilet has almost no smell, since it is kept dry (and since a scoop full of earth, sawdust mix is added after each use, visible in the bucket at right). Stick in background used to tamp the mountain when needed, stored carefully to remember which end is the business end. Trashcan at left is the receptacle for used paper, like all toilets in latin america)
Eventually, the clouds broke a bit, allowing us to see a bit more of the mountainside community.
And we were treated to a celebration dinner on our last night there. Alan and Tajëëw were celebrating their last day of work for a couple weeks - after all it was summer break for the schools. Alan cooked up some fantastic rice and lentils, and we shared some mezcal from Oaxaca.
Much to Jill´s relief (please remember that although you´ve only been reading this post for a few minutes, she was cold the entire couple of days we were in SMS), we were off to the beach next!