Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16TH, 1999 – OAXACA (CONT.)

I'm interviewing a student, who comes to sit next to me in the front and speaks some English. He's worked in Monterrey selling cell phones. They're Mormon missionaries from Monterrey. "Elder" is his Mormon name. The missionaries don't go to the villages -- dangerous -- the Indians kill missionaries! Yikes!

The FBI of Mexico is the "Procuraduria General de la Republica". This guy is very talkative but he keeps straying from the questions I'm asking him. I think he's trying to get control of the conversation so he can convert me to being a Mormon! This might be an eerie theme for the book: someone who appears friendly to the desperate protagonist, but turns out to have a underlying motive.

The Indian villages all have different cultures and styles of clothing. They're not social with other Indian cultures. Indians learn a small amount of English to help sell to tourists in the marketplace.

What would an Indian seller woman think of tourists? She thinks tourists come from a far, far, place and they are very rich! Tourists dress strangely and are very tall, with white skin. North Mexicans can be just as strange to these local people as Americans, because the skin is not so dark and their culture is similar to USA.

Last time on the bus, he ate just before the trip and threw up in the bathroom. Great news. There are twisty parts here in the bus and I'm nauseous. Too much writing. I'm sweating too, it's hot outside, but too many people in the bus makes it hot inside. We're going up a road, it's dark now. Arggh. I'm in agony, trying to keep myself from vomiting.

(I'm writing this following part after I get off the bus!)

He says he can give me a book on Mormonism, but it's in Spanish, so he gives me a magazine instead. I accept this as the price for my being able to question him. The boys are 18-25 years. Every Mormon must do 2 years missionary work. For some of the guys this trip to San Cristobal is extra missionary work.

Now I want my missionary friend to leave me be. The bus is bumping. It's cold and drizzling, but I'm sweating and clenching my stomach against "hiccups" of bile. Inside, I'm clenching my stomach muscles trying to burp a little to release gas but no liquid. There are no straight segments at all here. There are always tight curves. The bus lurches from one curve left to one curve right. That's the worst, when it lurches.

I ask the driver if he can stop for just a couple of minutes, but he says no. I pantomime vomiting noises. He says go to the bathroom to throw up. Great. Please please don't throw up. It almost makes me start praying. I can't watch the TV (some movie with Jodie Foster, English with Spanish subtitles). I can't see the road: curtains block view and it's dark out and raining. Sick sick sick.

Suddenly we get a straight stretch, a speed bump (they're wide here in Mexico) and a stop light! I meekly hope this is the end. I must get off this bus! We arrive at 7:27 but I feel shaky. My legs are shaking as I get off. I've been sitting with my muscles in a clenched position this whole time, giving me the shakes. The nausea started in my stomach, gut-wrenching, and ended up in my head: disorientation, light-headedness. Thank goodness I didn't eat dinner before leaving.

This is the missionary's 3rd time to San Cristobal. They stay in the town - they don't dare go the villages. He's lived in Chiapas for two years. They're here mostly to convert Catholics, not Indians. I get a magazine, "The Ensign of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints". It's in English, saying things like "Confession involves recognizing God's power." I say goodbye to the missionaries and sit there.

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