Saturday, March 13, 2010

La Gente

From Mainland MEX

more photos waay below

¨Dinero¨, I heard a kid scream to me from the top of the hill. After searching through my pockets and unable to find any loose change, I hear ¨Fuck you¨.

For some reason, I´ve realized that I rarely write about the people we see out here. Coming from a backpacking background, we tend to focus on the landscape and how it changes each day. On a trip like this, we are really here to experience the culture...the landscape is secondary.

Lately, we´ve been seeing even more and more indegenous culture. 25% of the peoples of Chiapas are indegenous...thats roughly a million folks. As soon as we escape a largish city like Tuxtla Gutierrez or San Cristobol de Las Casas, these are really the only people we see. The men look like most of the other men in Mex, perhaps with darker skin. They are inheritants of the ancient Mayans, and usually are wielding machetes. They walk alongside the carettera on footpaths worn from decades of use with these blades, and occassionally, a bottle of coke. We can hear the high-pitched clang of their blades hitting stalks of corn or trees for firewood.

The women are a different story. Dressesed in beautiful traditional garb, they always catch our eye. Their dresses are ankle length black, with bright turquoise and purple patterns. Women here seem to carry all of the firewood, not men. The wood is wrapped in some sort of cord, then attached to a strap which goes across their forehead. Never attached to their backs. Weve seen 70 plus year old women carrying tons of wood like this, and their husbands lagging behind carrying only a machete.

When we first entered Chiapas, we didn´t feel welcome. None of our smiles were ever returned, and certainly never heard a return of BUENOS DIAS...possibly because they speak different languages, not only spanish! Since leaving San Cristobol, we have felt incredibly welcome. The children see us while they are playing in their backyards and start to sprint toward us. Only once have I got a negative vibe like from the encounter I opened the post with. They scream out GRINGO, GRINGA! as they are chasing us, giggling the whole time. Sometimes they ask for money, or sweets. A girl approached us in the streets of Ocosingo last night, dressed in a beautiful dress with a filthy face, asking for Chicle (gum). We had no gum but gave her a donut. She smiled gratefully and split it with her brother.

There have definitely been times in the past few days when I´ve taken the idea of volunteering even more seriously...

Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico, but sometimes it´s hard to tell when looking at its people...

and now those photos

After hanging out in Monte Alban, way above, we had a fun descent back down to Oaxaca proper.
From Mainland MEX

beauty amongst the foothills and agave as we approached the Sierra

From Mainland MEX

Pretty nice up there...

standard Mexican promotional graffiti

peeking over the divide, dry gave way to lush this is a proper beach!

but this is more of our style at Mazunte...

nice light after the scramble to the top of Punta Cometa

still have a few cactus around

and some salt-mining

your standard view of the Oaxacan Coast, nothin special

goddess guarding the Isthmus of Tehuantepec

¨If there are strong winds, reduce speed¨. WINDY WINDY WINDY out there

and still beautiful

Typical swarming of kids after we go for a dip in the river

really like these mountains

epic epic Canyon del Sumidero via boat for breakfast

and a nice waterfall coming from a cave for dinner

needless to say, we are digging Mexico...probably more than ever. Chiapas is full of natural beauty, not overpopulated, and the people are inspiring. Yesterday after winding through beautiful pine forests, we met a motociclisto, Eduardo, whom we had coffee with in Chiapas del Coro. He was excited to see us while he was on his own 4 day trip with biking buddies, so invited us out to brunch. His buddies were on a really nice loop going to 3 different Mayan ruins, waterfalls, colored lakes, and bird sanctuaries. The boys eat well, and fed us a nice breakfast of juevos con camarones (eggs with shrimp). 10 km later, we were hiking up a large structure in the Tonina ruins, totally alone. With a killer view of the surrounding valley, we couldn´t help but think how lucky we are...

And this has been a recurrent thought these past few days. A feeling of gratitude that things have lined up in our lives to put us together and out here. It´s nice...

Next up are the waterfalls of Agua Azul y Misol=Ha, then the ruins of Palenque, and then out to the Yucatan...

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