Tuesday, 17 March 2009

17 March 2009

Ixmiquilpan, or Actopan, I don’t know which, we had reached the approaches of the last plateau. Now the sun was golden, the air keen blue, and the desert with its occasional rivers a riot of sandy hot space and sudden Biblical treeshade. The shepherds appeared. Now Neal was sleeping and Frank driving. We went through an entire belt of the ascent to the last plateau where the Indians were dressed as in first times, in long flowing robes, the women carrying golden bundles of flax, the men staves. Across the shimmering desert we saw great trees, and under these great trees the shepherds sat and convened, and the sheep moiled in the sun and raised dust beyond. Great maguey plants showered out of the strange Judean earth. “Man, man” I yelled to Neal “wake up and see the shepherds, wake up and see the golden world that Jesus came from, with your own eyes tell!” But he was unconscious. I went out of my mind when we passed suddenly through a ruined dusty dobe town in which hundreds of shepherds were gathered by the shade of a battered wall, their long robes trailing in the dust, their dogs leaping, their children running, their women with head lowered gazing sorrowfully, the men with high staves watching us pass with noble and chieflike miens, as though they had been interrupted in their communal meditations in the living sun by the sudden clanking folly from America with its three broken bozos inside. I yelled to Neal to look. He shot his head up from the seat, saw one glimpse of it all in the fading red sun, and dropped back to sleep. When he woke up he described it to me in detail and said “Yes, man, I’m glad you told me to look. Oh Lord what shall I do? Where will I go?” He rubbed his belly, he looked to heaven with red eyes, he almost wept. At Colonia we reached the final level of the great Mexican plateau and zoomed straight ahead on an arrow road towards Zumpango and Mexico City. Here of course the air was tremendously cool and dry and pleasant. The end of our journey impended. Great fields stretched on both sides of us; a noble wind blew across the occasional immense trees and groves and over old missions turning salmon in the late sun. The clouds were close and huge and pink. “Mexico City by dusk!” We’d made it. When we

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