Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998
From: Claude Marthaler <>

Subject: Iztaccihuatl or the Sleeping Woman

Oaxaca, Mexico, April 21, km 69816,
day per day one year on the American continent

Dear Redfishes !

Leaving Mexico city has been a relief. The Yak rode up the Paso del Cortez at 368O m, then to a radio-emission refuge at 41OO m. And climbed the volcana Iztacccihuatl at 523O m.

It was Semana Santa, the holy week, and two jewelery sellers at Amecameca, the town at the foot of the Popocatepetl at 546O m., invited me to drink Pulke, a cactus-made alcohol, similar to the tibetan Tchang, the barley beer version.

They showed me the anatomy of the Iztaccihuatl or sleeping woman, which touched the bright sky. Everything was there, the cabellera, hairs, la cabeza, head, el cuello, the neck, el pecho, the breast, la barrigua, the belly, las rodillos, the knees, los pies, the feet. Clearly visible to everyone.

No doubts, the Aztecs have been good physionomists, with a net predilection for the breast - the most voluminous summit. The two Mexicans, who had already a few liters of the God beverage in the belly told me the aphrodisiac virtue of pulke, but instead I could immediately feel its high diuretic one ! The Popocatepetl !

Everyone from all over the world wanted to climb it, but who knew about this unpronouncable volcana ? In Mexico, the sex discrimination was applied to the mountains, too. The Popo was higher, he was still active, with a distinct volcano form. A pefect symbol of machism.

At the refuge at Paso del Cortez, the two gards were killing the time. Starting the day at preparing chili in an old stone-Maya vase, waiting for the first program of the national TV. They were totally deconnected from the place, unsensible at the changes of the Popo humors, which was closed for three years, mainly because of smoke emissions.

A huge pile of T-shirts, stickers, posters and postcards showing the most impressive performances of the Popo were lying like dead corpses on the furniture. A kind of Soviet atmosphere that my two companions, a couple of Checks, knew better than anyone else.

One day later, we started at four in the morning. A bright moon printed our shadows aside the steep ashy, sandy trail. As soon as we reached los piedes, we heard a strange, strong noise, too constant to be a mechanical one. We turned our heads and here was the Popo adding his smoke to the human pollution.

He was jealous like a Mexican that we started our erotical trip on the sleeping woman. We passed several refugees, but truly said only one was really there, the others were skeletons of metal bars with trashes around. We crossed high up two glaciers with thousands of icy penitents and some visible crevasses. Five and a half hours we were on the top - the breast.

The Yak joined the hot plains through a pine forest, a twenty-eight kilometers fresh downhill. He never found again the pulke drinkers, but knew by now all the secrets of the sleeping woman. At the hottest day, thirty-eight gradius celsius, nine liters of daily drink.

The highway to Oaxaca was a surreal one, nearly deserted like the desert around. Too expensive for most of the people. Some Mexicans were selling small self-made red-painted wood trucks, lying under bridges. Children coming back from an invisible school would walk along to join their far-away house, perched on a sandy hill.

Despite the autopista was clearly forbidden to any cyclists, at the toll post, the young guy in charge let me go easely. A police car passed me. A silent highway ! I was dreaming to lie one day like the sleeping woman, out of the warmth, closer to reality -closer to the sky ?...

The YAK_

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