Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

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

Now I'm in the bus station and have no idea how to find my actual bus. I'm alone in a remote violent part of a third-world country. I'm a foot taller than everyone else here. There are no tourists here at all. I missed the 4pm bus, so I wait, but discover I should go across the street for the 5:30 bus to San Cristobal.

Nobody speaks English here, but I get by (barely!) with my tourist phrasebook. This is only Tuxtla. It's going to get worse out in the frontier, in San Cristobal. Probably foolishly, I stick lots of cash & a credit card into my left shoe, in case I get mugged. It's fairly flat but I would not want to run like this.

A guy with the shirt "equipajero" on the back helps me. It's a dark blue with a green stripe. A sign on the TV commercial: "consulte a su pediatria" ... consult your doctor before taking this drug? It's weird to be the only gringo in the bus station: but the TV is playing music videos, many of which are American in English.

On the TV is a children's show with a talking water spritzer and talking computer graphics household items. Another commercial shows a Mexican girl kissing and hugging and brushing the hair of "Kelly", a white doll with blonde hair. How's that for cultural indoctrination? Little girls being taught that the best thing to be is WHITE.

I manage to parrot some Spanish from the guidebook fairly fluently and without actually reading it. If I miss this bus, I'll be stranded here. I've gotten another person to confirm that I'm standing in the right place. So I feel better now. (I'm told later that although no one dresses like an Indian in Tuxtla, that there are plenty of native villagers here.)

A guy with a wand sweeps me for metallic objects before I get on the bus. The bus is fancy: it's like an airplane inside, but all grab blue & grey colors. It's clean & modern. Midnight blue velvety curtains over the windows secured by Velcro.

There's an Indian mother with a video game bleeping and a baby in her lap, sitting next to the father. Some Mexicans have Indian features, but severely Indian appearances have the eagle nose, very dark skin, severely black hair, and a sort of alien body language.

I purchased an assigned seat in the front row, "so I can see", but a partition totally blocks by view forward. There are air and light fixtures overhead, like in an airplane. It's 5:30, a little cold but not much. My left foot hurts where I've stashed the credit card.

A dozen young men (college?) board with clean white dress shirts, immaculate appearance and black pants, and ties. Smiling and very polite. They say "buenos tardes" to everyone as they enter. Are they tourists? They're wearing pocket protectors that say Jesuchristo.

Driver is wearing a jacket -- formal -- and a red tie & white shirt. Some Mexicans have dark blotches like moles. There are a few TVs in the bus; including one right in front of me.

The students ask me to take their picture, so I step into the aisle and hold on with one hand as the bus moves. They hand me like six cameras in succession.

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