The roosters of Arroyo Zacate commence their cantata about 2:00 in the morning, I discovered, while here in Xalapa the chorus begins about 4:00.
Having gone to bed earlier Saturday night than the rest of the household I arose Sunday morning before all except Perfecto’s mother, who, amongst other kitchen chores, was kindling the tortilla fire.
Ivan had told me of a sulfur spring (fuente azufre) at the far end of the pueblo. He pointed down the road in front of his store and indicated “todo derecho”, which means straight ahead all the way.
So, with my camera in hand, I tip toed through the house, quietly bidding la senora “buenos dias” as I passed through the kitchen, and set out through the still sleepy village to find the azufre, in hope of a morning dip.
A couple of blocks from Ivan’s store I cam upon an older gentleman working at preparing a large pile of plam fronds for placement on a roof. I quietly asked if he would permit me to take a photo. He didn’t understand my request so called to his son to come out and speak with me. The son assured me I was welcome to photograph his father at work.
A bit further along I came to a wire fence stretched across the end of the road, with a narrow, wooden, swinging gate along side. A young woman sweeping the yard in front of the house adjacent to the gates instructed me to “pase por favor”. I thanked her and after passing through the gate I was approached by a smiling, older gentleman in a straw hat who directed me to just follow this path traversing a rolling pasture. I thanked him, bid him a good day, and continued on my way.
I turned the final corner in the path and saw there was a woman and her daughter washing clothes in the river into which the sulfur spring flows. I announced myself , so as to not startle them, and asked their permission to approach. The woman bid me to “pase pro favor” and I stepped down to the spring. Departing with their arm loads of clean clothes, the woman encouraged me to take a dip. I responded that I had no swimming suit but she assured me that I would most likely be alone that early in the morning.
They disappeared around the bend in the path, I disrobed, and stepped into the very clear, slightly warm water in the small pool where the water, with only a slight sulfur odor, emerges from rocks just above the level of the river. The water cascades a couple of feet over rocks at the far end of the pool and flows on to the river.
The rocks over which the sulfur water flows are covered with what appeared to me as pure white algae. I was later discussing the white material on the rocks with some of Abbi’s family and was told the white material is skin shed from the many folks who bath in the spring, as the sulfurous water cause the skin to shed. Though the explanation sounded implausible to me I certainly did not argue the matter.
A couple days after my return to Xalapa I visited Javier, the shoe shiner in Parque Juarez I visit every couple of weeks, and told him of the shed skin explanation. He laughed and assured me the white material on the rocks were aquatic plants.
Having completed my refreshing bath and redressed I headed back to town. Not very far along the way I ran across these turkeys and a brood of chicks. I returned to Perfecto and Laura’s home for a breakfast of fruit, cereal, and yogurt and then prepared to depart for Avasolo del Valle to visit Abbi’s father, a bunch of her other relatives, and to attend her niece’s birthday party.