The superintendiente (CO) is in town so that has meant many travels visiting people in their homes. Between mountain climbing in Tetipac, and Indiana Jonesing it in Dolores, I have had my share of adventures right here in Taxco.
Houses are perched on the side of a steep hillsides. Sometimes there are proper steps and other times, there is a dirt path to scramble up or down. And sometimes the dirt path, leads to a set of steps that for some reason adorns just part of the hillside (often the part in the middle.)
I have joked about needing to be part mountain goat when walking in some parts of town, and that was true of a recent day in service. We started at the bottom of town, walked up a not too steep hill, past the chickens and pigs, and headed out into the outer reaches where the cobblestones stop and the gravel road begins; but that was not the most challenging part of our day.
On our way back, we were going to visit Veronica. We came to a house set about 8-10 feet below the level of the road. There was no obvious way to get to this house, still, it was apparent that someone lived there. It was indicated to me that we should go down the hill, but how? Where?
Never fear, there is always a way. In this case, it was a few tumbled rocks, next to an unfinished building foundation, that led to a dirt path with a trickle of water running down the middle. Now how was I supposed to know that this was the callejon (little street, aka alley) and not a drainage path???? I followed Sarah and our Mexican companion and picked my way down the path, thinking we were going to the house, but noooooo! we walked right by, and then it really got interesting.
The path beyond the house dropped steeply down the mountainside. Now a mountain goat I am not, but believe me I needed to be as this path, all twelve inches wide of it, winds steeply, like the roads, down the hillside, with plants, most of which have some sort of burr or thorn, grabbing at you from both sides. There were rocks in places, giving some footing in the loose soil, which cascaded down the hill as we walked; tree branches and even a discarded tire or two formed make shift steps along the way.
Down, down, down we went, step by slow, careful step, when suddenly we came to a set of stairs. Oh good I thought, when just as suddenly as they started, they ended 50 feet (and one house) later at a 4-foot high platform which we had to scramble around, hands in the weeds, to get back to the path. After descending probably 300 yards in this fashion, we came to the house. Veronica, her husband, and 6 month old son live in one room – about 12 x 12 or so – in a 3 room house probably shared with one or the other set of parents.
There is a small plastic table with a few plastic chairs, a two burner gas cook top and a small refrigerator, plus a dresser, double bed, and a mattress on the floor where she sits pulling a cord that rocks the baby suspended in a makeshift cradle (created with a blanket wrapped around a couple of ropes and secured with clothes pins. ) The mattress, covering most of the floor, is not only where Veronica and her husband sleep, the double bed serving as a changing area for the baby, is also a safety measure in case the baby falls out of the cradle. (Think about this family the next time you complain about what you do not have.)
When it was time to go, we stepped over the dog and scrambled up the dirt path with the rocks and sticks, around the base of the stairs to nowhere, climbing the hillside, up and up, over the old tires, until finally, all weak knees and out of breath (at least me) we reached the road at the top. I can’t imagine carrying a baby or groceries up or down this way, but they do.
Later, our Mexican companion confided to Vanessa that she was worried about me the whole time. “What would I tell the brothers if I broke her?” she said.
Today, I had the opportunity to view the path from a house across the way. Doesn’t look so bad from there!