Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

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

The bank is weird because it has a high-tech feel. Marble floor tiles, and fluorescent lights. Holiday wreaths & a Xmas tree. A queue with signs "tiempo estimado de espera en esta fila": how long you're going to stand in line, I guess, with an LED display "'2' minutos" at the front of the line.

It's a large space with one big room, teller's windows on the left, white stucco walls. On right & in back there's a raised area with grey carpeting for bank manager types. An IBM computer says "favor de no tocar", must mean don't touch. All the computers here in Mexico seem to be IBM.

At the head of the line, an automatic box says in Spanish when people can go to the teller window. It's a recorded voice with a white arrow lighting up pointing left or right. The teller's windows are glass with a nine-inch vertical crack for dealing with the tellers. Behind, cameras watch each location. There's a special line for dealing with cashing my travelers' checks. The stucco wall is bare.

Teller lady: red sweater, black hair poofy and "holiday" bow in her hair. A little overweight. Gold rings, 4th finger both hands. Ultraviolet light that she uses for my passport. She stamps my travelers' checks, takes my passport. She has a fast-counting money machine for dollar bills, but doesn't need it for just 1000 pesos.

A market woman sits impassively, frowning, at the front entrance. She selling what appear to be bread rolls(?) with lots of flour on the top, making them appear white. I buy some amber jewelry. The sign says "ambar con insectos" -- amber with insects, ugh. Yikes! I lost my book but I went back to the jewelry shop & found it.

Even the hotels here have public restrooms with no soap. Sigh. I go to a pharmacy and show the lady I need a drug for the bus, by drawing a squiggle and saying "bus" in Spanish. She gives me Dramamine.

I go to Senor Lopez's office but he's busy. Darn! Most Indians cannot read or write, I am told. I try to give him an "extra" tip (yesterday I ran out of cash part-way through his tip) but he doesn't take it. Pride? Possibly embarrassed that I do this in front of his co-worker in the office?

I ask him what tourists do here in Mexico to get in trouble. He says tourists are a little crazy, but it's OK because they have money. He says come back later and he will get someone to meet with me.

I get lunch. Tacos de Pollo -- the same thing, fried small rolls of taco around shredded chicken with shredded lettuce & tomato. Chilaquiles Pollo -- it's a tomato sauce under & around. Tacos are crunchy and flavorful. The cheese is good.

Argh! I knocked my head on a low door. It was a door leading to a short flight of 3 steps, so I was looking down so I could place my feet on the steps, and didn't notice. It knocked me right flat on my back, involuntarily. It really hurts! I sit up and sit there for a full minute gathering myself. Embarrassed, I wave at the tourists staring at me.

There doesn't seem to be any blood, but immediately, groping with my hand, I feel a huge bump. The top of my head feels very delicate. It stings where I touch the bump. I feel kind of like I have a headache at the top of my head, inside the brain, and it also hurts on top of the head, outside the skull. The pain makes me a little unable to concentrate. I feel like just sitting and staring. Well, besides this, no injuries in Mexico (yet). I hope I don't die today, in this foreign, hostile place.

Actually, this area doesn't seem as dangerous as I'd feared. I still don't want to walk around at night or leave the town without a guide, though. www.chiapasonly.com.mx The pain is more focused and less generally all-over after 10 minutes. Opening my jaw or moving my face tends to tug on the skin and it hurts more.

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