Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18TH, 1999 – CHIAPAS

Good morning. At 8am there's a natural gas smell from a truck I pass on the street. Chilly. Diffuse white light from a sky which is totally cloud-covered. It's grey-white, not dark. The secondary courtyard off the town square is empty except for the occasional pedestrian, and the fluttering, chirping pigeons. I get a sense that the tourists don't show up until about 9am, so it's still early here.

There's a hand-painted picture on cloth of Santa with a girl in his lap, handing her a Coca-Cola bottle and they're both smiling. There's a diorama here, with a wood frame and red plastic on top. 12'x7', with Spanish moss for trees, clay dolls: unpainted & amateurish: cows, lizards, people, balsa wood marketplace and church. A tiny market: 8 stalls and a stone path, tiny 'baskets & pottery' for sale. A stall with a donkey, a church which is raised up with steps leading up -- nice image, "up". This diorama encapsulates all the things important to local life.

The Christmas tree is decorated with red bottle tops and silver "bottles" which say Coca-Cola. A bell rings out 8 times. There's a pale blue building which I believe is the government center. There's a clock high up on it.

There's a Mexican phrase, "When she was younger & prettier", to refer to the past.

The girls we saw in Zincantan: "They work from sun up to sun down. They don't value their time. It's not a competitive attitude. That's why they sell placemats (2 days work) for 30 pesos.

Here's an idea: The biotech center might attract illegal aliens from Guatemala.

The sky at 8:30am is perfectly white-grey. This shortens the apparent horizon if there are no buildings within view. Right now I'm sitting in the courtyard of a hotel getting this effect. Many Mexicans wear jackets in the morning. It feels cold to them.

I meet with a woman, Gabriela Gudino, who I've made an appointment with. But I'd like to ditch her and go back to Senor Lopez, who was great yesterday! We go to the hotel's bar and sit. Fanta is "un producto de The Coca-Cola Company".

So, this is a ladino! The kind of mixed-race person who really believes that she's pure Spanish, that she's better than other people. She's got too much eye makeup, too much lipstick, too much eyeshadow, and is dressed in a upper-class sweater. Brown hair, upscale appearance. She wrings her hands -- she's cold here: this is the coldest area of Chiapas, I'm told. She wears perfume, a ring, many bracelets, a nice sweater over a turtleneck. But her teeth are uneven, all at differing heights.

The son of the hotel's owner has been sick. Three days, a fever, vomiting, but no sore throat or other flu symptoms. They put cold towels on his forehead. She prefers "natural medicine". There are many women here who do natural medicine. Without saying anything, I find it amusing that someone who so desperately wants to be a "modern woman", and reject the Indian culture, prefers alternative medicine to real doctors. Earrings of blue Mayan polished stone. Big hands. She's tall. She may have grown up wealthy -- or at least, well nourished. Long eyelashes.

Click prev or next to continue Johnny Monsarrat Mexican Trip.