Saturday, January 30, 2010


Every so often you pass down a side-street and KA-BAM! There's a pig on the table.

Friday, January 29, 2010

it's all over but the conjugating...

Never knowing who will cross your path is one of life's most unpredictable gifts. And as fate would have it, I write my last post from San Cristobal about someone I met here. Her name is Español.

I was passing the afternoon in the dark corner of a cantina when she entered. The old man sitting next to me watched as I took notice of her. I could smell the scent of Mezcal on his breath as he leaned in close and whispered the word, enamorarse. To-fall-in-love-with. We both sat admiring her beauty as he explained in broken english why I must first fall in love with her if I ever hope to discover the depths of her soul.

A month has passed since that day.  However, like most cross-cultural relationships it began with passionate promise but as the days turned to weeks the questions about our future together started to erode even the best of intentions.

I look back and realize that I never fully appreciated her complexity. Her mixed signals and irregular behavior only added tension to our relationship. My interest in her was (and still is) genuine. But I will admit. I wasn't the most attentive novio, boyfriend, at times. Emotions ran high. One day I thought I knew her for years -the next- it was as if we were meeting for the first time.

Tomorrow- I catch a bus for the Pacific Coast. But it's ok, she will be fine without me. I only wish I could say the same. I trust years from now, only fond memories of her will remain.

Memories incapable of translation.

Monday, January 25, 2010

an afternoon fiesta.

Me and my gringoness followed closely behind my homestay mother and her youngest daughter as we entered the house. The floor of the main room was covered in fresh green pine needles. At the back of the room stood a large impromtu shrine. In front of the shine on the ground burned 30+ candles.  Each side of the room was lined with friends and family who sat reverently on benches made of cinder blocks/wood planks.

I quickly found myself shaking hands with a well dressed, indigenous, drunk elderly man. I guessed at the peak of his inebriated sway he stood 4'9. He had deep creases running down both sides of his dark face. His Posh (tradional whiskey of Chiapas) smile displayed a chaotic mess. His gums had dark colored gaps, permantent shadows of teeth long gone. The slanted pillars of whiteness that remained were as orderly as a clump of coral cactus. His slurred spanish was far beyond my level of comprension but a smile and nod sufficed. I learned after from Marina, my homestay mother, that it was his party and he was very happy to have us.

After introductions I was instructed to follow a few men behind the house. It was there that I watched as a very large pot was lifted from a square two foot deep hole in the earth. It was lunch. It had been cooking on hot coals for the better part of a day and night. We headed back inside to feast on this incredibly tasty stew.

The meal came to an abrupt halt when the sound of a giant two-man marimba began playing outside. The band was stationed on the lawn over looking the valley and the surrounding geriatric volcanoes.  Dancing of all ages ensued. The sun was warm and high in the sky. The heat was cut by a fresh breeze. Further down in the valley kids dodged in between cows, chickens, and pigs as they chased a kite they made earlier in the day.

Left: a view of the valley. Right: The elder man reaching for soda... for a change.

Monday, January 18, 2010

a weekend trip.

In San Cristobal you hear constant buzz about the Mayan ruins of Palenque.  Tours to Palenque from San Cristobal are abundant and affordable. Many include a stop-off in Cascadas de azul (blue waterfalls).  If you can endure a 4+ hour bus ride one-way over close to 4,000 "topes" (giant mexican speedbumps) along a road that is anything but straight, through a few Zapatista checkpoints then this is your reward:

A dip in this swimming hole was by far the highlight of the trip -but beware- this seemingly endless river of falling water brings new meaning to the term 'swift current'.

A view from above Cascadas de Azul (left) and another waterfall Misol Ha further down the road.

Views of the great Mayan city of Palenque.

(click on photos to enlarge)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tamales Sabado

In San Cristobal the classic saying is slightly different. "Nothing is certain except death and tamales on Saturday." Never fails. The entire city, as tradition has it, sits down to tamales every Saturday afternoon. A magical mush of corn goodness, along with a mix of bay leafs, chicken, beans, etc, which is all wrapped and steamed in corn husks and served piping hot. I have come to love these regional treats in a very short time. Oh, and this weekend ritual has its own red light district. That is, every Saturday morning little red lights in front of small homes along quiet side streets throughout town burn bright, indicating they have tamales for sale.

Monday, January 11, 2010

glutton for linguistic punishment.

After a week of classes I am trying to unscramble this linguistic matrix in my head.

In high school it was Japanese. In college, i eeked my way through French class. My twenties were drenched in Italian. As difficult as the challenges are when learning a new language, and coupled with the little success i have had with my previous attempts I never forget the tremendous benefit of communicating with people in their native tongue.  Why not try Spanish, fourth times a charm.

A brief update on my status here in San Cristobal. I am living in a home stay, that is to say i am the newest member of a mexican family who has agreed to host me during my month long linguistic experiment. It's more of a hybrid mexican family, with the father originally from Switzerland and the mother from San Cristobal, and the two kids Didier 10 and Elisa 4. My entrance into this family could be one of the most amazingly random gifts I have ever received in all my travels. They have made me feel at home and as far as i can tell consider me one of the family. 

I have completed my first week of spanish classes, the task is immense. Starting from scratch, learning every aspect of language from the ground up. I often say things wrong, having the little girl Elisa, laugh right out of her high chair when I mistakenly say for example "Nice to meet you beans" rather than "I like beans a lot" mixing up the order of the words in spanish can create some very entertaining mistakes.

Nuff said. I better get back to my studies.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year, New Location.

San Cristobal is a little town (relative to Mexico City) in the Chiapas region of Mexico.  During my travels I have heard wonderous tales about this area and felt it nessesary to find my way here. Taking in a deep breath 7,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by lush jungle and Mayan ruins- I sense my experience here will be a welcomed reprieve from the concrete jungle I left a few days ago.

Friday, January 1, 2010

a twisted dream.

it was a few days ago now. i had a dream. somehow i ended up on an island. a strange island. The plane pumped with an anti-swine flu gas before landing, like piggy in Lord of the Flies i felt like one big nervous twitch. the dream didnt last long. i remember a strange sight. Marxist fairies dancing around my ears, as if waiting for the perfect moment slip inside. surrounded by food lines and hustlers i awoke fantastically frightened with wonder. morning came and the dream lingered like a stale revolution. i found these photos on my camera.

Search This Blog