From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog
We boarded La Montaña [The Mountain] on April 30, 2021, at the scheduled time. The boat was docked about 50 breaststrokes away the harbor, “far from the hustle and bustle / of fake society.”[i] Fluttering around the boat were laughing gulls, cormorants, frigate birds, corococo birds, and even a little lost hummingbird making a nest in the pulpit. In the ship’s hull beneath the water, bottlenose dolphins drummed the beat of a cumbia, a whale shark kept the rhythm with its fins, and a manta ray moved its black wings like flying hips.
The buccaneer group, headed up by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés who, along with a troop made up of an insurgenta[ii] who is part of the Tercios Compas [Zapatista media team], an insurgente who is a driver and a mechanic, a driver who is a Zapatista base of support, 5 more Terci@s Compas, a comandanta and two comandantes[iii] came to send off the maritime delegation—the 421st Squadron—and make sure that the group had everything that they needed for the nautical epic. A support team from the Sixth Commission also attended in order to write the obituaries of those who might die during the mission.
The ship’s crew didn’t put up any resistance. In fact, the captain had previously ordered that a large banner be raised on the mast of the boat with an image depicting the Zapatista maritime delegation, thereby including La Montaña and the whole crew in the struggle for life. With the masts and spars exposed, the symbol of Zapatista delirium rippled even more brightly in the wind.
We could say that it was a consensual boarding. There wasn’t any aggression on the part of the Zapatista troops nor by the vessel’s crew. You could say that there was a sort of mutual understanding between us and the crew of La Montaña even though in the initial meeting they were as surprised as we were.
We would have stood there looking at each other if it weren’t for an insect looking extraordinarily like a beetle who came out of the stern and screamed, “Boarding! If there’s a lot of them, we’ll run! If there’s only few, we’ll hide! And if there’s nobody, onward! We were born to die!” That was what settled everything. Bewildered, the crew looked first at the bug and then at us. We didn’t know if we should apologize for the interruption or join the pirate attack.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés thought it the right moment for introductions, so he said: “Good afternoon. My name is Moisés, Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés, and these are…” Turning around to present the troops, SubMoy realized that no one was there.
(Zapatista Maritime Delegation)
The calendar? An early morning in April. Geography? The mountains of the Mexican Southeast. A sudden silence overtakes the crickets, the distant barking of dogs, and the echo of marimba music. Here, in the belly of the mountains, it sounds more like a whisper than a shout. If we weren’t where we are, you might think it was the murmur of the open ocean. But it’s not the sound of waves crashing against the coast, the beach, or the cliff edge marked by a sheer drop. No, it’s something more than that. And then… a long wail and a sudden, brief tremor.
The mountain gets up, shyly lifting its skirts a bit and, not without some difficulty, pulls its feet out of the earth. It takes a first step, grimacing in pain. Far from maps, tourist destinations and catastrophes, the soles of the small mountain’s feet are bleeding. But here all are in on the plan, so an unexpected rain falls to wash its feet and cure its wounds.
“Take care, daughter,” says the mother Ceiba tree. “You can do it!” says the Huapác tree, as if to itself. The paraque bird leads the way. “Go east, friend, go east,” it says as it hops from side to side. Clothed in trees, birds, and stones, the mountain walks, and with each step, sleepy men, women, persons who are neither men nor women, and boys and girls grab onto her skirts. They climb up her blouse, crown the tip of her breasts, continue up her shoulders, and, when they have reached the top of her head, they awaken.
To the east, the sun, just edging above the horizon, slows its stubborn daily rise. It’s quite a sight to see a mountain, with a crown of humans, walking along. But besides the sun and a few gray clouds that the night left behind, no one here seems surprised.
“So it was written,” says Old Man Antonio as he sharpens his double-edged machete, and Doña Juanita nods and sighs. The fire smells like coffee and cooked corn. A cumbia is playing on the community radio. The lyrics speak of an impossible legend: a mountain traversing history against the grain.
Seven people, seven Zapatistas, will make up the maritime division of our delegation to Europe. Four men, two women, and one other (unoa otroa). 4, 2, 1. The 421st Squadron is already stationed at the “Zapatistas Maritime-Land Training Center” located in the Comandanta Ramona Seedbed in the Tzotz Choj zone.