Sierra Norte: Day 1 Felix Wong

Today we did a 12-kilometer hike through the Sierra Norte with Tierra Ventura Ecoturismo. Starting in Latuvi and ending in Lachatao, we learned about many medicinal plants from Javier, our native, Spanish-speaking tour guide. After the hike we sat inside an ancient temascal (steam bath) where we sweated away stress and toxins for 75 minutes. In between all this, we enjoyed gorgeous scenery and munched on sublime Oaxacan food.

The steam bath was part sauna and part time machine back to a simpler time when creating non-collapsing buildings was something of a miracle in itself. In ancient times, temascals were used to purify the body after hard exertion. It was also used to cure the sick and for women to give birth.

None of us were ill or pregnant, but we still appreciated the experience especially after hiking eight miles through the mountains. Imagine crawling into a stone oven three feet tall by four feet deep in your underwear and doing nothing but meditating. Or joking around while your Spanish-speaking tour guide occasionally splashes water on hot coals to increase the heat and humidity.

It was very relaxing for both the body and the mind, and prepared us for a good night’s sleep before continuing our trek through the Sierra Norte the following day.

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Starting out in Latuvi: Marie (a Tierra Ventura guide), Susan, Meagan, Sarah, and Evan.Manzanita.Madrone, or "tourist tree" because it "looks red and loses all its skin."  It is a hard wood.Colorful caterpillar.El Rio de Camino Real.Squash.Fields de maiz (corn).Toro (bull).Bay leaves.  They are often used in mole.Horsetail.  It is good for the prostate.Funky tree.This wall was made around 1911.  It served as a barrier to hide behind against attackers.The maguey (or century plant) is used to make mezcal, a distilled alcoholic beverage native to Mexico.Marigolds.Cardo santo is good for treating cholesterol when made into a tea.Stinging nettle.Cacti in front of a house.Lots of Spanish moss over the trail.Sarah by the Rio de El Camino Real.Flor de calabaza (flower squash).Flower arrangement of marigolds.A tribute to the Virgin of Juquila, This plant is arnica, known for its anti-inflammatory effects and is used to treat sprains, strains, and bruises.Walking under a cool rock.Marie with a siempre viva (bush sedum) plant.Siempre viva.Oreja de elefante (elephant's ear).Prickly pear.Aloe.A cactus arrangement growing out of rock with moss.An epiphyte among Spanish moss.A mine.The flor de muerto is used a lot during DChurch in Lachatao.Felix Wong outside the church in Lachatao.An office in Lachatao.Our lodge in San Miguel AmatlThe view out the window of our lodge in San Miguel AmatlLater in the evening, we visited a traditional temascal (sweat lodge).  We stayed in there (behind the small door) for 1hr 15min.When we came back to the lodge, a fire was lit in the fireplace in the room.  We slept very well that night.

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