Looking for the Wildflowers…and Finding Something More

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Kathi and I went around the high hills (or low mountains, depending on your perspective) to the the north of Jocotepec to see if there were any wildflowers showing themselves.

It was rather late in the year to be looking for them, but since we had had some rains in September and even a few in October, long after the rainy season usually ends, we thought we might find something.  And so we did.  Not just some wildflowers, but one of the most elaborate little cemeteries I’ve ever seen.

If you travel a couple of miles north toward Guadalajara from Jocotepec on Mexico Highway 15, you’ll see a turn off for the little pueblos of Potrerillos and Las Trojes.  And even though it’s only a short distance from Joco as the eagle flies, and even as the RAV4 drives, it’s a very different type of place.

My friend Phyllis, who has lived hereabouts for many, many years, says that the little towns on the north side of the mountains remind her of what the north shore of Lake Chapala where we now live, used to be like 30 years ago.  Lots of flowers right next to the main road, for instance.

And boys learn from their father how to herd cattle:

while seated on a beautiful horse and saddle, even if their feet don’t quite reach the stirrups:

But, as I said, Kathi and I were there looking for wildflowers and wild plants.  One of the things that both of us noticed is how many plants were thriving on the hillsides, even this late in the year.

And how many were growing cheek-by-jowl with harvested crops:

The most beautiful grouping of flowers we saw, in yellow, white, purple, pink, and green were between Potrerillos and Las Trojes, but unfortunately my camera had conked out by then because (1) it’s old, and (2) I’d taken a few too many photos at the cemetery just outside of Potrerillos.

Kathi and I hadn’t planned to go there at all.  Heck, let’s admit it, we didn’t even know the place existed.  But as we drove over to take a look at the main church (templo), we both saw the panteon (cemetery) in the distance.  We were both gobsmacked by the number of monuments or mausoleums in the place,  so we HAD to go over and check it out.

And, friends, we were even more gobsmacked (I love that word) when we got there!

First of all, it’s a loooong walk on a dirt road from the church to the panteon.  A long way to carry a coffin as folks mostly do around here.  Once we got to the entrance gates to the cemetery, we discovered they were gold.  (Kath mentioned that at least they weren’t pearly, so she was willing to drive through them.)

All along the way from the gates were these brick pyramids with upside down pots on them.  I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean, but I’d like to know.

It was the panteon itself that kinda freaked Kathi and I out that day.  They were all so elaborate.

And most of them said “Property of….”  Usually around here, we just see family names on tombstones.

There were even burial sites with what appeared to be a casita next to them:

And some that looked like casitas all by themselves:

I mean, this one has curtains!

But I think, honestly, that the thing that made Kathi and I think the most about the afterlife was the fact that almost every gravesite/mausoleum we saw had these:

Yes!  Air vents!!

Okay, honestly?  It didn’t freak me out that much; it kind of gave me hope.  Reminded me of the poem:  “Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there; I do not sleep.”

So make of it what you will.  Happy Halloween and Day of the Dead.

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About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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11 Responses to Looking for the Wildflowers…and Finding Something More

  1. Love love your writing and your unique, quirky point of view.

    • Barbara says:

      Thank you, my friend. And if you thought what i wrote was quirky, you should have heard what Kathi and i had to say not only about the air vents, but about the gravesites with lots of missing bricks! Not old bricks, mind you, new bricks!! Kathi kept yelling “ZOMBIES” but i was way cool. You know, like i always am.

  2. Love your photos – what a lovely day and that’s a trip I would have liked to take! Simply amazing!

    • Barbara says:

      Linda, you just have to come back again. Now that i know you, i would never “book you up” like i did before you came down this year. Who knew that you would like the same kind of things that i like and that kathi likes???? For some reason, i got it in my head that you needed to be “entertained.” So wrong!

  3. Kathi says:

    You pretty much covered it all…..except the scary parts….Like when I gunned Rav Boy to get through a little creek/mud and when we almost came nose to nose with a big tractor and a bunch of guys riding on it on a narrow dirt track. We were soooo lucky to meet up with them at the very end of the road at a place where the road got wide. Our Barb is a great copilot and hardly ever screams.

    • Barbara says:

      and i don’t believe i screamed even once that day! and shooting the rapids in Rav Boy was very exciting. i still do wonder, however, what we would have done had we met the tractor guys on that little dirt road instead of at the entrance/exit to it. we might still be sitting there! i am a great copilot and kath is a great driver.

  4. Barbara says:

    Oh I LOVE this! LOVE. The cemeteries in Mexico fascinate me – this one is fabulous. I can hear you two commenting on all as you tour it. : ) Your sense of humor delights me. 3:11 in the morning here (just down the road from Seattle) and I’m laughing out loud over coffee and your adventures. You always come back with much more than you go for!

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Other Barbara (OB)

  5. Barbara says:

    I had to come back to look at these photos again. I love the horse’s head on one – I assume the person loved horses – not that it’s a horse that’s buried? Oh who knows – and who cares – they’re all fabulous! I can’t get over the money spent – it’s a huge expense here in the U.S. even for a nice headstone. Something like this would…would….well…you can only imagine what the cemetery people would think. Love it!

    OB

    • Barbara says:

      OB, during my first time in potrerillos, i asked a friend who is fluent in Spanish what the word meant. She didn’t know so we asked some of the locals. They didn’t seem to know either, but the consensus was that it has something to do with horses. And the horse’s head that you are talking about wasn’t the only gravesite with equines. So obviously those animals are very important to lots of people there, including the young horseman!

  6. wyotoad says:

    Here is Bob Dylan covering Blind Lemon Jefferson. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEX3gLE1IeM

  7. vsvevg says:

    What a great Mexican story Barbara. Head out for flowers and find ventilated tombs, and gobsmacked?! you know I love that!

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