I woke up early with the wind at my back, ready to get a jump on the Day of Giving Thanks. In Mexico we call it Dia de Accion de Gracias. It is a good day to take a walk and think about all the goodness of life.
It was close to eight o’clock this morning when I set out to the campo, the wild, unpopulated area of the village, beyond the pale of settlement. The sun was warm on my back. There was a breeze. The day was promising.
My three dogs were with me, Butch close to my heels, always guarding. Mamacita out in front. Tia running off after birds and rabbits, stopping from time to time to turn around and check my progress. These are campo dogs, rescue dogs, dogs who have learned to be obedient and stay close.
This was a day of exploration. I went far beyond where I usually go along the narrow foot path ascending toward the mountain range that is a backdrop to Teotitlan del Valle, part of the Sierra Madre del Sur. I imagine this to be an ancient trail, the border between our village and the two adjoining us — San Mateo Macuilxochitl and Santiago Ixtaltepec, that the locals call Santiguito.
As I made my way along the incline, I was careful not to stumble on loose lava and sedimentary gravel. Rock outcroppings offered natural stepping-stones.
There are three border markers along this route. I had never been to the third. It was glorious out. I figured, Why not? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, I reminded myself once again. Let’s figure out where this goes.
As we reached the third, I could see there was no path up to it, so I made my own switch back path to scale the hill. The dogs followed. A ridge of rock offered me a natural seat from which I could see across the valley to San Jeronimo Tlacochuhuaya, beyond Santiguito. A perfect spot to meditate.
I imagined those who came before me, centuries past, who sat in this very place, keeping a lookout on the landscape below. In the distance, cooking fires curled skyward and a red-shirted farmer grazed his bull in the lush fields.
Downhill was easy, with a stop at the natural spring for quenching thirsty dogs. Then, a brisk walk home on the back road lined with dried corn stalks and wild marigold fields lining the road.
I covered three-and-a-half miles.
Today, a group of Estadounidenses will gather at Los Danzantes for a special Thanksgiving meal after a mezcal toast at the home of my friend Shannon. An adjoining table is with NC restauranteurs who are opening a Oaxaca destination at the Durham Food Court, two blocks from my apartment.
Today will be a change-up from years past. I won’t be cooking. Neither will Kalisa! (I hope.) Instead of sliced, roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, Jacki’s fabulous cranberry sauce, and an array of pumpkin pies, it will be turkey balls and pumpkin pancake at 7 p.m. Nothing traditional about this year for me!
I’m reminded by my friend Betsy, an Anthony Bourdain afficionado, who said, Travel is the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown. And, my friend, Madelyn, who says, Take life with the wind at your back, moving forward, rather than fighting the headwinds that always set you back.
Happy Day for Giving Thanks.