The long way up

“No hill for a stepper.” – Richard Watson

When we remember Stuart’s dad, Richard Watson, it is often on some ridiculously steep Gorge hike, and we think of him saying, “No hill for a stepper.” In other words, whatever it is, it’s easy if you’re prepared.

Richard lived in Oaxaca for a while, and I wonder if he ever used that phrase here. Our lovely little house, home for the next two months, takes an ungodly amount of climbing to reach. The kind you don’t want to repeat in a day if you can avoid it. Leave at 10 am, walk all over the city, and return late in the evening. Think of the nosebleed route to the top of Mount Defiance, without the switchbacks.

Our little yellow house, from a distance, gives you a notion about our life on the side of a hill
Our little yellow house, from a distance, gives you a notion about our life on the side of a hill

It takes four long blocks of steep, precarious climbing to reach our house. And after about the third block, I’m reminded of a hike I took Abbey on once when she was about 7. After an hour, she was flagging, and I pointed down the hill and said, “Look, Abs, it’s the parking lot, and it’s all downhill from here.” And she famously replied (repeated oft in family lore): “I don’t want to go up, I don’t want to go down, I just want to go on the flat.”

It is a bit shaming to see little abuelas making the trip up our long hill, carrying the day’s groceries with quick steps and even breaths. We consoled ourselves on the first day with the fact that we hadn’t adjusted to the 5,000 feet elevation yet. And now, on the fourth day, we are doing pretty well competing with the abuelas. By the end of January, we should be springing up these hills, even with packs full of mezcal, masa, limes, beans and rice.

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