Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11TH, 1999 -- CHICHEN-ITZA (CONT.)

At Chichen-Itza: vines over the path. A blue butterfly. The wind through the trees is a soft sound. Clay among the sandy ground. Grass sporadically and sand & small rocks where people walk. The wind blows my hat off!

In the Yucatan, after they're buried for 3 years, they remove the skeletons and make a shrine with a tiny box with the bones. Or they wait until someone else in the family dies, which can be a convenient time to dig up. More or less everyone has this practice. The box makes an above-ground shrine. It's a Mayan tradition, but practiced by moderns as well. Not in Chiapas.

After the ruins, we stop at the gift shop area. There are brown "peasant farmer" dolls on the restroom doors for male & female. We go to a restaurant here where teenagers dance on a stage. The women balance trays of glasses on their heads. The men balance bottles on their heads—probably beer.

The dance is a kind of stomping feet & spinning tap dance. The 14-year-old girl has a black scarf with tassles, many gold necklaces, and a white frilly dress in three "layers" with floral embroidery. The men wear all white shirts, not tucked in, but buttoned at the collar. All wear white sandals. The men tap dance with one arm behind the back. They are serious, not smiling. The women have hair done up in a bow, a cone of red flowers. There are rows and rows of long banquet tables here, with white tablecloths.

A buffet lines one wall, ending in a cash register. Bare fluorescent bulbs & stucco walls. Red clay tiles on the floor. The sounds are creaking and grating for chairs on the floor. The dancers whistle and roll their r's while singing. In the corner of the stage there's a fountain with a trickle of water, lit by colored lights. Tall plants in large clay plots surround the room: palm leaves. This is a popular restaurant for tourists.

A busload of Japanese come in. On the way out, a bunch of Indians sell stuff. "Amigo! One dollar!" says a hawker trying to sell a black statuette.

I'm asking questions about a fiction character, Juanita, who leaves the village and gets a career job in biotech. A 20-year-old woman with a "connection" might feel guilty that she has the perk that others don't. This connection could help someone younger with no professional career get a job, when an older person with experience doesn't. It can break friendships, but sometimes people are understanding.

If you've got a connection in the gov't, perhaps a friend or relation, they may not have much power to help you -- just in the office they work in. For example, Jorge knows a guy, "A". His mother is the cousin of the local governor, whom she's never even seen. Apparently his great-grandmother used to play together with the governor's grandmother or something, long ago. "A" quit law school and got a job as a messenger for a bank. He was able to sneak into the PRI and now he works for the party, doing publicity for the next presidential candidate. He gets a wage: 3000 pesos a month.

Many people are trying to get a special position in politics. Mexico has a federal government with a president. Each of its 31 states has a governor. Each city has a mayor. Yucatan has 1.5m people. Merida 850,000.

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