By Etty Beke
Mauricio and I were looking for volcanic rock. A rock that was not too soft, not too hard, big enough and porous enough, that would allow Mauricio to shape it into half a sphere.
Polo, a wood carver working at the Casa de Cultura, took us to his house and gave us a rock from his backyard. He collected interesting rocks, as well as many other things. He walked it back on his shoulders, he was a strong guy, with the most badass cowboy outfit. Unfortunately the rock turned out to be too soft to work with.
We asked Juvencio, Carolina’s partner-artisan, who makes tea light holders with volcanic rock, for leads as to where we could find some material. He said to go look behind the pantheon (cemetery). We walked there and spotted some potential rocks by the side of the road. As we approached the site with tezontle (a type of volcanic rock), we ran into a couple of dogs. Mauricio was afraid they might attack us. Apparently field dogs, unlike the hundreds walking around the town of Malinalco, are actually protective of their territories. We walked back, took a couple of rocks from the side of the road and quickly realized no strong, badass cowboys were accompanying us. We hailed a cab. The rocks turned out to be too hard to work with.
Juvencio offered to show us exactly where we could get the volcanic rock, but we had to first pick up some wood from his house. Carolina, Mauricio, Juvencio and I headed there. He locked up his dog and we entered his backyard/parking lot/workshop. There were scraps of all kinds of things lying all over the place. You could tell that him and his father (a builder) were like most people in this town, incredibly resourceful. He placed the piece of wood on the floor and for ten minutes tried to get his broken chainsaw started. Frustrated, he decided we should get going in his old Ford pick-up truck. As we started driving uphill we realized the truck wouldn’t enter gears. We quickly drove back to his house and got into his old Volkswagen Safari.
His friends make fun of his car calling it “El Carro Bomba” (The Car Bomb). He found it in a dump and brought it home. His father gave him crap for spending money fixing it. I think it’s a hit and I think he thinks so too.
We got to the site, parked the car, put the broken chainsaw in the tiny trunk located in the front of the car and crossed over the barbwire. As we walked towards the area with tezontle he told me the land was owned by a city lady who was never there. The cows grazing were of a farmer whom he has had to run away from, forced to leave his rocks behind. He said not to worry, it was just 3:30pm and the farmer usually shows up around 6pm. Needless to say, two minutes later, the silhouette of the farmer riding his horse appeared in the distance. Oy vey. What do we do? Carolina and I asked him. He said to just stand still. We stood there, he stood there, he looked at us, we looked at him, and he rode away after a few minutes. Whew.
We finally got the right kind of rock and it all worked out.