Ruta 175

Saints and Skeletons

I returned my attention to the present and the ribbon of tar, at times barely a car width, which wound higher into the Oaxacan mountains. The afternoon air became crisp and fresh. Astringent scents of mountain pine and wood smoke swirled through our open windows. In places the mist hung heavy in the trees. Adobe huts gave way to wooden cottages that were scattered farther and farther from their neighbors. The spectacular scenery unfolded as we rounded each bend. Fresh water streams spilled over tumbled stones and fell down steep cliffs, disappearing into fern-lined canyons. In sunny pockets, brilliant red, yellow and orange flowers crowded against the dark forest. The people we saw wore woolen clothes and hats, stout boots, and thick woven shawls to protect against the chilling dampness of the shadows. We shivered in shorts and sandals.

“I’m cold,” I said. “Let’s stop for some lunch and change…

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