In my most recent field trip, my group and I traveled to the small pueblo of Capulalpam located
in the mountains of Oaxaca. Unlike the city and most of its surroundings, these mountains were
full of vegetation, potable water and refreshingly clean air; the experience was reminiscent of
Vermont during springtime. The trip getting there, however, was pretty trying for some of us.
In order to illustrate our venture up these green monsters, I quote our TA (she did the
program 3 years ago) who said, “it was like riding in the spinning teacups at the fair for 2.5
hours.” Her description did not disappoint. Turn after winding turn, we went up, down and
around a few of these mountains before finally reaching our destination. Though everyone
prepared themselves with a tablet or two of Dramamine, a few of us (myself included) were
feeling a little queasy by the end. Luckily, there were no accidents and the vans’ drivers left with
no more to clean than could be expected from a large group of snacking college students.
Upon arrival, we were all ready to stretch our legs and check out the amazing views from
the hillside town. After learning about the pueblo and talking with the municipal president, we
were shuffled off in small groups to our respective home stays.
The next day, we went to a community farm that produced much of the pueblo’s produce
with the help of many local students who we saw in action towards the end of our day. Among
other things, they grew carrots, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and garbanzo and string
beans. They taught us ways in which they protected their veggies from weeds or bugs while
growing great tasting and healthy food without the addition of pesticides and with minimal use
of added nutrients. Not only was the tour educational, it was also filling and delicious as we were
able to try some of their veggies (probably the only time I’ve ever enjoyed raw beets). That
night, we had the option of going to a traditional healing center and having a limpia (spiritual
cleansing by a healer), an “energy” reading, a massage, and a temescal (similar to a sauna but
much hotter, often used in traditional medicine).
The following day we awoke at 8, packed and ready for the ride home that afternoon.
After dropping our bags off at a local community center, we happily hiked through a temperate
rainforest (who knew!) in true Vermont fashion. With plenty of sights and endless amounts of
fresh mountain air, we hardly noticed the passing of the 3 and a half hours it took to finish our
hike. Throughout, our tour guide (the municipal president) gave us a quick education in local
herbs used in traditional medicine and the environmental history of the land and the conservation
efforts in place there. Finally, we finished up the day at a small restaurant with local trout for
lunch followed by a zip-line. All in all, it was a great trip with some of the best sights and
experiences so far!
Hasta la próxima,