Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12TH, 1999 – UXMAL (CONT.)

Now we drive towards the Uxmal ruins. What is their attitude towards the US? They love Americans, as long as they bring money! There's a Mexican saying, "no hard feelings between Mexico & US, it's just business is business."

A few Mexicans think that the US is trying to control Mexico, but businessmen who make money off the US are very happy with the relationship. There's a Mexican saying "Poor Mexico. It's so far away from God & so close to the USA." It means Mexico is a poor country living next to the USA, a rich country, which does nothing to help Mexico. Some blame Americans, some don't.

The pilgrims ("peregrinos") we saw are called "los corredores", or "runners". From the age of 5 or 6 they start their religious education. At 12 their first communion. Saturday religious classes: 1 or 2 hours, and Sunday mass. Then communion, a big mass for all the kids about to "graduate".

Necessary in order to marry under church law: a church certificate of communion & baptism. 3 times a week you must go for pre-marriage chats, 2 hrs each, for 3 months. Need a certificate that you've been to the chats. Salsa music & a feast after the communion, a big social event for family & friends. Mainly brandy is served, and champagne to toast, which must be imported from out of Mexico (it's a Spanish custom).

Wedding: The old men at the party must dance with the bride. The old friends of the groom's grab him and toss him around, and (cheering & clapping) take him to the restroom and take off his clothes and leave him in underwear. They give the clothing to the bride, who must go to the restroom and dress him again. About 80% follow this custom after the dancing w/bride. The bride & her friends visit every table, saying hello to every guest. Women friends of the bride collect money for the honeymoon and clip the money behind the bride's head, all over the veil.

Merida is a savannah-type jungle, not a rainforest, so it's not very dense. This kind of jungle is "sub-tropical". There's a 5-6 month rainy season. Chiapas is a rainforest. Trees have very wide trunks. They have parrots, raccoons, white tailed deer, snakes (incl. boa & guacamayes), jaguar. The snakes aren't dangerous unless you step on them. Rattlesnakes don't bite you unless you annoy them with a stick or step on them. "ochcan", the Mayan name for boa. Also rabbits, and ocelots (tiny jaguars).

Some villages have problems with animals. Jaguars are blank & shiny -- they look like panthers but aren't. There are very few jaguars left, they've been hunted for their skins. Swamps with crocodiles & alligators, and over 300 species of birds, including 40 migratory birds. You can take a boat ride and go see pink flamingos. There are rivers in the Chiapas jungle.

We pass a red field of clay, where engineers are experimenting with agriculture. Most fields are just fossilized limestone and clay. Chiapas has better soil -- also red & brown -- but more rain makes it better soil. Stucco is a very fine layer over stone or cement or wood.

I take my sunglasses off and get a sunburn just below my eyes and upper cheeks where I failed to put suntan lotion. The wind blows our hats off, and we have to either chase them or make a quick motion to keep it on. The wind blows leaves around. Under a tree, leaves & sticks fall on us from above when wind blows.

We can pity the ancient Mayans because they didn't know there was more to life than primitive ways. All they knew was what they were raised to know. However, isn't that the same today? Jobs, family, marriage, humans just tend to do whatever is normal in society -- in other words, what we are raised to do. What will they pity us for 1000 years from now?

The jungle isn't open, like forests in the USA. You can't just step between the trees. It's so dense, you need a machete to open a pathway. A bougainvillea is a wonderful tree with red flowers. It's three stories tall with cascades of leaves like hanging moss coming off of it.

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