Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

MONDAY, DECEMBER 13TH, 1999 -- BIOTECH PLACES & DZIBILCHALTUN RUINS (CONT.)

It's raining. Rain fills the streets. It's raining so hard, the drains can't keep up. We pass "Euronovias", a bridal shop. "novia" & "nobio" are bride & groom in Spanish OR the same term means girlfriend & boyfriend. We pass a man, walking, who drops litter.

The older woman scientist might afford a car and shop at the mall on the north side, but couldn't afford a house here. The first generation to leave the village may actually prefer a house in the older part of town because there's less culture shock to live there.

Movies here are in English w/Spanish subtitles, except Disney films for kids -- they assume kids may not know English yet.

On a salary of 5500 pesos, you can't come often to the mall. Mexicans who can afford it like to buy trendy jeans. Cheap jeans: 40 pesos. Trendy: 900 pesos!

"Neoliberalism": things normal in the USA become trendy & luxury items in Mexico. Merida is typical of Mexico: a big city with tiny villages all around, where people live modestly.

Our guide, Jorge, says that all these changes in technology are good as long as the young remember the sacrifices that people have made who came before them. Chiapas is not as dangerous as Mexico City, Jorge says. Drivers are sometimes assaulted, even on public buses, so don't drive around late at night in Chiapas.

Robberies have been a problem for tourists who go from Palenque to the ruins at Yaxchilan. So every morning at 6am, there's a convoy of policemen who go with a bunch of buses, basically guarding them en route. If you miss the fleet, then you cannot go. The Zapatistas stop you with an AK-47, which is quite popular. The gun is also called the "goat horn", or "cuerno de chivo". They wear a ski mask garment that covers the head, called a "pasamontanas", with a tilde over the 'n'. They ask for money.

I ask what are the elements of conflict in family life? Jorge says that the role of mothers is very important in Mexico. The son keeps confidence with mother, tells more to mother (about girlfriends, marriage) than to father. Most mothers ask for respect.

One conflict could be the parents not accepting a marriage. If there's a pregnancy, the parents may be against the marriage. Or they may accept the marriage but both families give help. Often couples break up after 1-2 years.

Parents NEVER have an abortion. If a 16-yr-old gets pregnant, she will have to bear the child. Usually the child drops out of school. Typically, parents force them to marry. Lots of social pressure not to be an unwed mother. What would be the reasons NOT to marry? Well, if they come from very well-bred well-educated families, the parents may just say "They made a mistake", and accept the single mother.

In Mexico you can see many mature young people still living with parents, until 26 years old. Some marriages break up in 2-3 years, some stay married. Of course, you can't get a divorce in Catholicism, so if you marry once, you can't marry again -- at least not a church marriage. However, it's possible to get a civil divorce and a civil remarriage.

Jorge has a friend who's 26. She got pregnant at 17 and both families agreed to a marriage -- but it was a civil marriage only. The Mexican saying "You cannot even bathe yourself", it means you're very young and naive. The couple had the first baby, a second baby two years later -- they ended up married for six years. But since it was only a civil marriage, she is still free to get a church marriage. But she'll need to find a man who loves her and accepts her two children. She has an alcohol problem, too.

We see a buzzard -- it's all black. Here in Yucatan, the dry season is Apr & May. Jun-Nov is the rainy season: a couple of hours of rain almost every afternoon. Rains come and then quickly vanish here: not like in good old New England! Some days, though, it rains all day for a couple of days.

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