Party in Atzompa

April 1992

Having barely staggered away from a mere lunch prepared by Dolores Porras' once, I can only imagine the feast at a birthday party at her home in Atzompa...

As crazy as it all is, life gets better and better down here all the time, as I grow more used to the ways of these people and more comfortable in my Spanish. Also my friendships and connections with people are growing.

Dolores Porras, the potter I knew from Sante Fe lives in the village of Atzompa just out of Oaxaca and I go to visit often. She calls me hijo, or son, now and I never leave their house without my poor stomach about to burst from all the food they've stuffed in it. Friday night, Dolores' husband, Alfredo, put on a huge birthday party for her and even hired a band. They set up their stage right on top of the stone kiln and played cumbia all night and Dolores forced me to dance with her beautiful daughters. Alfredo forced me to drink cold Coronas of which he had 10 cases. Half the village was invited to this extravaganza and the other half stood and watched from the street. To be certain, there all few tall gringos that come dance the cumbia in Atzompa, although I'd be vain and foolish to flatter myself by thinking the street side audience was there to watch me. I was but a side show to a great event, and no doubt the butt of many jokes. Unfortunately for me, I could not stay on till the band dropped from exhaustion for I had to catch the last bus to Oaxaca.

I bid my adioses to Dolores and Alfredo who only reluctantly let me go. Alfredo assured me, however, that if I had any problems on the way to the bus stop to call him and he would handle it. He then pulled aside his shirt and showed me a pistol stuck in his pants. I might have been a little more surprised if I had not already become familiar with this pistol. Undoubtedly it once served its owner with power but now the trigger can't even be pulled and besides Alfredo owned no bullets. Nonetheless, when you give a big party in the countryside you play president and police.


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