Sunday, March 26, 2006

Now in San Christobal

So I made the move from Xela Guatemala to San Christobal Mexico. The 7 hour ride was basically uneventful, I sat behind an overweight dutch guy and the only noteworthy thing worth mentioning was the scence on the border between the countries. I wouldn´t exactly call it organized choas, becasue there wasn´t much organization. There was a huge public market where people were selling fruit, batteries, fake puma merchandise and then suddenly the passport control. My passport was quickly stamped without so much a glance at my face, and I walked across the border with a bunch of different tourists and hopped on a mini bus. Immediately I noticed the absence of Gallo beer signs (ubiqitous in Guatemala) and the deluge of Corona, Sol and Superior in their place. Yet as we made it further into Chiapas, past the farmers and the military installations, the slabs of concrete they call home in Guatemala became comlorful smooth stucco walls of the homes in Mexico.

Arriving in the city, I quickly got money from the ATM and checked my email to find the address of the home that I¨m staying at. I schlepped 20 minutes to Beatrice´s place only to find no one home. I sat outside on my bag for about 5 minutes, hopelessly ringing the bell on occasion, before schlepping back to the center of town. After finding a public bathroom (10 cents to pee in a toilet with no seat), a shoe shiner in the middle of the park called me over and I decided give my boots some love. I took lunch of chicken and rice and beans at a simple restaurant near the center and then returned to Beatrice´s. She was there, welcomed me in, and showed me my room (with a magnificent view of the city). I rested for a while and then returned to the city to walk around again. On a small pedestrian walkway near the central church, there was reasonably good live Jazz blaring from a bar and a guy scooping frozen desert from a funky little cart. He took the cone, opened 4 containers in the cart and and began layering tiny little spoon size scoops of red, yellow, blue and white frozen stuff on the surface of the hole in the cone. The final product was a small work of art to be consumed by a happy kid. I didn´t get one, though I wanted to, becasue my belly, sigh, is bothering me.

San Christobal is another world from Xela, things here are pretty: the poeple, the architecture, the ¨cultural¨ scene. Last night I left the house around 9 and actually felt like I could walk around without having to keep both hands in both pockets clutching my wallet and camera. There are street lights, citizens who (unlike Guatamaltecos) haven´t endured years of civil war and less poverty. After eating a light dinner with Beatrice, her 26 year old son and 5 year old neice and then playing barbie with the neice, I returned to the bar where the Jazz was coming from, took a beer and I watched a bunch of teenagers try to rock out. They were bad. I left, walked around past a not so good mariachi band playing on the street to a bunch of gringos, endless habburger vendors (here, perhaps motivated by their names, hamburgers come with a slab of ham on top of the patty) and half internet cafes half pool halls. After my first authentic hot shower in weeks, I slept well.

This mornign I woke up and had two chicken filled tamalitos for breakers, then made off for town again. This time I was trying to find a bicycle tour company whose address is marked incorrectly on the map in my tourbook. I got totally lost in an indiginous neighborhood and tried to talk with a couple of drunk guys on the bank of the dirty river but my Spanish wasn´t up to snuff, sigh. Then I found myself in the middle of the thin rows of the marketplace surrounded by dried fish and bootlet DVDs. I bought an avacado and put it in my bag for later.

Now I´m off to see a documentary about the Zapatista movement, and then I´ll go to bed early so I am well rested for my first day of school at Instituto Jovel tomorrow morning.

I´ll post pictures when I can.


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