Our road from Oaxaca City to Juchitan was only a little less bumpy than our ride to Mitla. For some reason we still can’t fathom, we opted for a 7am bus ticket, necessitating our waking at the ungodly hour of 5am. (Well, Ivan got up at 5; Steph, err — we’ll just say closer to 6…)
At the bus station, which was already crowded when we arrived, one of us (not naming any names, Ivan) was in a foul mood and just sat there with a frowny face the whole time, though Steph did everything in her power to make him happy, as usual. She even waited in line at the Mexican equivalent of Starbucks. But when she got to the front of the line, they informed her they didn’t have change for her 200 peso note — what kind of place was this?! So she had to go wait in a line at another shop to get change, then came back to learn they didn’t serve drip coffee — they only had espesso drinks! So the line took forever. But that didn’t bother Steph — much. If Ivan didn’t get his morning Joe, who do you think would be the one to suffer?
Finally, we boarded the bus, but our peace and quiet didn’t last long. First of all, they immediately put on this horrible movie about a high school for super heroes, starring Kurt Russell. And though the bus was supposedly First Class, it jerked back and forth through the mountain roads, tossing us around like popcorn. Your loyal travelers were not happy!
But we were thrilled when the bus stopped at a little village — for we could get breakfast.
We cheerfully sat down at a little restaurant and tried to order eggs and toast. The young waitress looked at us blankly and informed us that they lacked toast. On top of that, either the poor waitress couldn’t understand our espanol (entirely possible), or felt man can’t live by eggs alone (which we refuse to believe), but in any case somehow we ended up with plates piled high not only with scrambled eggs, but with beans and rice as well.
Let me tell you, this inconvenience did not improve Ivan’s mood, and he was less than pleased when Steph insisted on starting a conversation with our busmate, a young Chiapan guy with a baseball hat. It turned out this guy had actually lived in North Carolina, not too far from us. But our shared experience ended there. Sadly, he had failed to receive his immigration papers and had to leave the country, though he had children and a wife still living there. Point taken: there are worse things in life than getting served beans and rice when you didn’t order them. Or is there?
There was one silver lining to the bus trip. In the middle of a beautiful mountain setting, out the window there was a rainbow. Not just a couple beams of color, but a full-blown rainbow. The whole arch, from start to finish. You could literally almost see the pot of gold.
Steph has a hazy recollection of this trip because, true to form, she popped a dramomine after breakfast, among god knows what other pills she has lying around her bag. So she passed the F- out and didn’t wake up until we literally pulled up at the bus station in Juchitan.
Now you’re probably asking yourself, why did they go to Juchitan? Or even, where in the world is Juchitan? In fact, many Oaxacans looked at us very strangely when we told them our plans. The best we got was: “They really know how to party down in Juchitan.”
We can tell you now — that is very true. Juchitan is an insane place. But a little research showed us some other items of note about this remote destination.First of all, Juchitan is probably most famous for supposedly having a matriarchy family structure.
What we can tell you about this is, while the town boasts some very strong-willed women – one of whom literally tried to convince Ivan to give her his camera – it’s not really clear that it’s a matriarchy. As one local told us, the men do work in the ungodly hours of the morning, before any foreigner can actually see them. Funny enough, this is usually what Ivan says when Steph asks him to do house work!
What is true about Juchitan — and most of the Isthmus — is that it’s exceptionally accepting of homosexuality. Families pride themselves on having at least one gay son. One reason for this, we were told, is that having a gay son nearly makes certain that parents will have someone to take care of them in their old age. For, as we all know, heterosexuals tend to be, how to put it, a little on the self-absorbed side (present company excluded, of course.)
But our trip to Juchitan had nothing to do with its special family structure or views on sexuality, interesting as those be. What drew us to this very remote corner of our planet was — wind. Or rather, wind farms.
Along with having very hot, humid weather, Juchitan has an exceptionally steady wind flow — one of the most steady on the planet, in fact. Thus, it has traditionally not counted among Mexico’s prime real estate locations, for who wants to live in the middle of a wind tunnel? But with the rise of wind energy — well, now at least there are a slew of wealthy international corporations that are exploiting the local people in order to get cheap energy. The mighty hand of Capitalism can even thrive here!
But we weren’t thinking about energy when we got to Juchitan. We weren’t thinking at all. The heat and humidity was simply unbearable. Ivan, of course, had the brilliant idea to go around and take pictures, but when Steph heard that, it took all her strength not to slap him. She had had enough. She put her foot down, as her stomach gurgled and turned in violent circles. No, she wouldn’t — couldn’t — go anywhere.
We checked into the Xcaanda Hotel — which, not entirely appropriately, means “My Dream” in the ancient Zapotec language. We stayed in the room sleeping in our air conditioned haven till the sun went down. Ivan didn’t argue much; at least he was able to finish the first season of “Game of Thrones.”
And that is how Juchitan got its name. Along with having a matriarchy, being tolerant of homosexuals, and having a lot of wind farms, it is a very fertile land for killing any remaining New York City J.A.P.P.Y. tendencies.
At least for a little while…