Day 2: San Antonio Cuajimoloyas and Benito Juarez.
We left San Isidro Llena Grande early in the morning at 9am with our guide Pedro for San Antonio Cuajimoloyas. It was nice and not too cold. Walking around the village the day before, we noticed how clean and well maintained everything is. Not a dirty paper or plastic bags hung on barbed wire as we find everywhere else in the world and even at home where it seems that people have pleasure to throw their garbage on the property of others. In these small villages, everyone cares about the environment, everyone does their part and they are proud of it.
The path to Cuajimolayas is wooded, well marked and goes up a bit. We walk 8 km with our bags on our backs and an altitude of about 3200 m, it is hard on the lungs and the heart. You have to take your time, rest when you feel the need, drink a lot of water but at least we do not have that headache that we had yesterday, caused by the altitude we are not used to, living close to the ocean. When we arrived at the edge of the village, we were not there yet and the hardest was to come. We had to walk another kilometer in the village to get to the office to check in and take the keys of our cabin. We went back to our residence for one night, another kilometer in the other direction but very steep. We arrived exhausted to discover an adorable cabin and a fantastic view. Luckily, the restaurant was just below. After the well-deserved lunch and a shower with hot water, we met an herbalist who made us go around her garden and explained all the plants and their virtues. Of course, in addition to not understanding everything perfectly, we could not remember everything but it was interesting. Señora Sefrona makes all her ointments with almond oil and beeswax. I bought a calendula that soothes the redness and irritation of the skin and it seems to be effective. After, we went back to the office to find out where we would meet our guide the next day: he will meet us at our cabin at 9 o'clock.
It is cold in Cuajimoloyas in the evening and it was windy. We dressed warmly with several layers, like an onion. Here, people are dressed for inside like for outside: coat, hat and boots. We were even shivering in front of the fire in the chimney so, around 8:30 pm we went to bed and snuggled all night.
The next day we were ready at 9 am but our guide was not there. There was confusion, she was waiting for us at the office. We finally left almost an hour later and she asked us if we wanted to make the long difficult trek of 3 or 4 hours or the easier one on flatter terrain. After our experience yesterday, we chose the flat terrain. The scenery was beautiful, the view was great and we could enjoy our ride even more despite the weight of our backpacks. Arriving at Benito Juarez around 11:30, we had another planned hike: el Mirador, 2.5 km uphill and the last 100m, steep. If we had taken the long and difficult hike, we would not have done that one and it would have been a shame. We saw the village all the way down and it was the only place where we could call Chris's parents with our cell phone. Further down we were waiting for lunch at La Granja de Eli, the last house at the bottom of the village, more than one kilometer from our cabin. Efraim son of Eli, proposed us to get there by truck. This family meal with the grandmother, grandfather Eli, Efraim, his wife and their two little daughters and brother-in-law, is one of the best and healthiest and I have eaten in Mexico: lots of vegetables, salad and potato croquettes, rice. We are very well fed in general and in the countryside or in the mountains the food is simple, no extravagance and it is very good like that. We see that people are healthy, the air is pure, they have good lungs and walking up and down, they also have well muscled legs and a strong heart. Here, we forget all the problems of the world because they do not exist, even the dogs are peaceful, everything is calm. These villages are isolated enough to feel peace and all its benefits. These lands belong to the Zapotec natives and they are protected. Unlike the exuberant and noisy Mexicans, the Zapotecs are calm and more reserved but all of them are charming and welcoming.