Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I was chased by an angry turkey.

Now, this is not a picture of the actual turkey, because I was MUCH too rattled to take a picture in the moment, but this is what that devil-turkey looked like.

Several years ago, I went to Mexico on a work trip with my church. We built a little church for a lay-pastor out in the hills. We flew into Vera Cruz, and then drove out into the mountains, in generally a south-eastern direction for a couple hours until we got to the town of San Andres Tuxtla.

This is the Cathedral of St. Joseph in the center of the town square. We stayed a block and a half away. San Andres Tuxtla is a larger town, so there was lots to explore, when we had time. There was a market 2 blocks in the other direction from the church, and we checked that out before leaving. There was also a pharmacia, where I pantomimed the itch on my arm, and the pharmacist gave me a clear gel that to this day I have NO IDEA what it was, but it worked. Alas, most of the time we were working so we didn't explore much. Each day, we drove for about 15 minutes on dirt roads until we got to the little village where we worked.

We built a cinder block building, about the size of my parents'  living room, then put up trusses, a simple roof, and plywood walls. We made rustic benches out of 2x8, and cut square windows out of the plywood. When we got done, it was a simple building, but it worked great for their little church congregation.

Down the road from this little village, there is the beautiful Salto de Eyipantla waterfall. Which I'm sure is redundant, but I don't speak the Spanish, so let me live in ignorance. Here's a picture:

We actually went down to see the waterfall - paid the 5 pesos and walked down the rope/slat bridge to get there, and sure enough, this picture is exactly is what we saw.

OK, now for the turkey.

Right behind the church build, there was a "banyo". You know - the Mexican version of a porta-potty. But the banyo is just a hole in the ground. Yes, there are 4 sticks in the ground, around which is strung some tarp, or something to block the view, but the tarp/sheet/blinds only go up to about my shoulders. This is the usual banyo that we used, hopefully while no one walked around the corner and passed RIGHT BY while you were trying to do your business.

Now, after a day or two at the build, some of us ladies discovered that an easy walk down the dirt path there was a really nice banyo. Now, when I say "really nice", I mean that there was a little roof, and a door made out of sticks and scrap material. But still, better than having EVERYBODY walk past you while you were in the banyo. So Nolia, Kay and I walked to the "nice" banyo one afternoon. As we walked and talked down the dirt path, this turkey started making noises that would lead me to believe that it was not happy with us. Possibly this was because we were walking through his front yard, but I don't know. I'm not an expert in turkey psychology.

As we continued, the turkey got louder, and louder, and more agitated. We decided that we should ignore the turkey, and just keep walking. This was a fine plan, until the turkey started coming after us, making a LOUD noise that I would make for you now, if you were here. Be grateful that you are not, because is it LOUD. Just in case you didn't get that.

At this point, I got a little scared, because the top of the turkey's big "tail" feathers were about at my belly button - this was a BIG turkey. I was a little afraid that if it came after us, it would start pecking at my knees, and I would have to run. And I still had to go to the bathroom.

Suffice it to say that with a little fast-walking, and side-stepping, we got out of the turkey's front yard and eventually made it to the "nice" banyo. But Nolia was a little rattled, and almost dropped the ONLY set of keys to the rental car IN the banyo. Don't worry, we grabbed them before anything bad happened, but I'm sure you can see how this would be a very bad thing.

In the end, we didn't walk to the "nice" banyo very often, for fear of the turkey. The church did get finished, and no one was hurt. Tired, sunburned, and sore, but not hurt.

In a nice postscript to the story, we went back to a nearby village the next year to do the same kind of build for another congregation, and got to see that our little church was thriving. They had decorated it, and built some more benches, and it looked fantastic.

So I guess all's well that ends well.

But I will tell you that I keep my distance from turkeys now. I've learned my lesson.

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