Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18TH, 1999 – CHIAPAS (CONT.)

Prostitution is not illegal here. You have to have a drink and sit for a while, before to see what kind of women you like. There are basically two ways to get a prostitute: 1. go to a cabaret, a place for drinking & dancing 2. go straight to a house of prostitution

A white person could never enter a bar like this, because you're white and you'll get spotted. Drunk people would harass you and gather around you trying to get your money. A waiter comes to your table, and you say to waiter, "I want that one."

The prostitutes are sitting around flirting and dancing. Striptease after midnight. It's very cold to be taking your clothes off. This weather is terrible. Their nipples get erect. They start shaking and shivering.

Then there are rooms behind the dancing place. You have to use a condom. If you don't bring one, they'll sell it to you. It costs 250 or 300 pesos for 10-15 minutes. For gringos doing this, the might raise the prices. A beer for 20 pesos becomes 50 pesos. A woman for 300 pesos becomes 600. If the cabaret is big, they will have their own rooms. But if small, then you have to go to a hotel.

Another way to get a prostitute is to go to a "prostitute house" or "red light house" or "house of sweeties". "cari~nosas" is "sweeties" or "friendlies" and means prostitute. A prostitute house is just somebody's private house. A normal room, a sitting room, in the back 5-10 rooms with beds. The women are there in the sitting room. If it's empty, you wait for them.

Prostitutes always dress like mestizos, "occidental dress", because that's supposed to be more attractive. (don't forget the racism.) The women are Guatemalans and Mexicans, not Indians. Although maybe if they are Indians, they just dress like mestizos.

What's it like? You walk in, and a woman says "can I help you". "guerito" (witih two dots over the u) is "blondy man", it's a friendly word for a white person with blonde hair. Even a whitish Spaniard with brown hair -- it looks blond compared with the raven dark hair.

One cabaret here in San Cristobal is called 'Hawaiano'. It's just outside the ciry to the south. He says that back after the Vietnam War it was easy to pick up Mexican and North American women for free. But today it's different, especially with AIDS.

Other crime here? -- stealing cars. They break the glass, there's no alarm for breaking the glass, and take things like stereo. Sometimes they try to steal the whole car, which means getting around the alarm system. You know how when you try to turn the steering wheel without a key, the wheel locks? Somehow they have a trick that gets around the wheel lock, even without a key. Then they disassemble the car into parts or move it to Guatemala. There are automobile garages where they paint the car & start to take pieces away.

Does it happen in San Cristobal? Yes. Two years ago, many problems with stealing cars in "La Hormiga" - (I think this is Spanish for "ants"), which is a suburb of San Cristobal where the Indians lived. The police found 68 or 70 stolen cars underground. They dug a big hole, put plastic down there, and drove the cars in, and then covered it over, to let time pass.

More crime. Many taxis are "piratas" = "pirates". Indians who own a private car, usually stolen, who works as a taxi driver with no permission. They even paint their cars to look like taxis. They can drive you to a remote place and rob you. Taxis have special license plates, and police warn people do NOT take a taxi unless you see the right license plate.

I forgot to ask, but I did notice that real taxis seem to have license plates beginning with "BHA". Perhaps that's the special license plate. I say, if you can tell the fake taxis from their license plates, then surely the police would be able to grab these guys pretty quickly. My guide says, no, the police let the piratas work, because Marcos says it's OK to let the Indians work outside the system. Piratas of course charge less than real taxis.

There's no collective transportation after 7pm in San Cristobal, so an Indian who wants to get home must take a taxi to his village. When you get in the taxi, they watch you: do you have rings or fancy watch or nice clothing? If you speak Spanish and you know the town, then you are OK. But if you take a taxi from the bus station, they may take your baggage.

A rich person says "oh, just take me to a good hotel"... obviously doesn't even know where they are. So the taxi driver notices this and says "I've got a great private hotel in the forest". Then drives there, and "Give me all your money!" Why? "Because you have all these things. I have nothing!" The Indian will have a gun. Rich tourists always come with a tour agency, so this never really happens. Only backpackers and hitchhikers are really at risk.

It's pretty safe to take a pirate taxi, actually, you won't lose your life. About the worst that might happen is they might say, "sell me your boots", and you're scared so you say "no, you like them, just take them".

Sometimes hikers come out of the city with girlfriends and go camping outside town but not at a real camping ground (presumably to save money, or out of cluelessness). Those people are in real danger of mugging.

Some gringos are stupid, they say "I come from the USA so nobody can touch me", like they have a star on their chest. Well, that's wrong. Everybody in Mexico says they're friendly, but really they just want money.

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