|Chiles (the hot variety) from a market in Puebla, Mexico February 2020|
Why Mexico for part of my sabbatical? As my journey in faith began nearly 37 years ago on a beach in South America when I first felt the presence of Jesus, it was been true ever sense that when I want to rekindle, refresh and remember the roots of my vocation and faith, I must return to Latin America. I need to drink from the well that first inspired me to say "yes" to a way and a life that at the moment I had absolutely no idea where it would lead. The region has been my Holy Land since 1983. And Mexico is one of the giants of Latin America, with its history, culture, its many vibrant indigenous peoples and languages, food, cinema and its proximity to the United States -- making it for me a nation that I have long been drawn to. Mexican people are open and friendly, making it an easy place for traveling gringos.
In exchange for free accommodations in the rectory in Oaxaca City, a significant travel destination in southern Mexico, the trade off was that I would preach and preside for five Sundays at Holy Trinity Episcopal/Anglican Church. Leslie and I fared quite well with a small chapel area as our living and dining room during the week and coped even when there was no running water for two days. Water is a chronic problem in the desert region. We spent four weeks total in Oaxaca City, which in the winter months is a major travel destination for foreigners. We saw no rain and daytime temperatures were in the 80's.
The exchange rate and the power of the U.S. dollar allows ex-pats and other travelers to live and eat very well: high-end restaurants with elaborate tasting menus and expertly trained chefs abound. That brings its own internal issues and conflicts, as one can not walk a block without being confronted with the crushing poverty of so many. I would fill my pocket with peso coins each time I would venture out, unable to look away or deny giving something when I could. (That is probably a topic of a longer blog post.)
|Enjoying some tamales with parishioners after Sunday service on the patio on our last Sunday|
|One of my five Sunday homilies that shall we say were very much off the cuff|
|The "little" church around the corner from the rectory. La Soledad|
Not far outside the city many treasures awaited us. The ruins of Monte Alban, the original settlement in the Valley of the Zapotec peoples going back to 1200 B.C. was massive, inspiring and hot. Mitla was another destination.
|The Main Plaza of Monte Alban|
|With Leslie in nearby Tula is the largest tree in Latin America estimated to be 2,000 years old|
|Getting ready to bury and cook the agave|
|Distillation of mezcal in copper pots in a local and rural producer|
|A traditional post wedding calenda -- amazing!|
|Pondering the mysteries -- with a view of whales and dolphins from the pool. What a gift!|
We arrived home in New Hampshire on February 3. More news to follow.
Thank you Christ Church Exeter for the gift of this time away.