I scrambled hastily through my bag looking for my 35th piece of clothing & the only piece I hadn´t worn yet - my lohn johns. Welcome to San Cristobal de las Casas. The coldest city in Mexico.
San Cristobal is very cool. It´s very relaxed. Muy tranquilo. It´s a colonial city, which means it looks very silimar to Europe I guess. The architecture is impressive. This is the place where vendors meow in the street, walk around in costumes, or drive around playing the Mission Impossible theme. There´s an underground I haven´t quite found yet - it´s evident from the grafitti. The Zapatista movement originated here in Chiapas, & there still seems to be alot of support in the countryside. The weather gets me - like Canada in the fall. As low as 5 degrees at night, but still 25 during the day. Alot of trees don´t have leaves, I can see my breath, & the local delicacy of corn on the cob with mayonnaise, shredded cheese & hot sauce scratches me right where I itch. Mmmmmmmmmyum.
It was nice being with friends. We climbed ruins together like monkeys in the jungle. Drinking piña polatas & swimming in waterfalls, even getting drunk on the longer than hell busride with Kerry & Luiz singing as loud as they could. There´s something ironic about getting left in front of the church for the patron saint of travellers, to have to stramble down 300 stairs to get back to town. And Kerry with her broken leg... San Cristobal - we drink to you every night.
Another week - another fiesta. January 5th (or 6th?) was Dia de los Reyes, & Abraham substituted our ignorance with cake. In Mexico, they celebrate the Three Kings, or the Three Wise Men (or the Three Magicians directly translated from Spanish). This day is like Christmas; kids get presents & adults get fruitcake. Baked inside the cake is a toy, usually a little white man, & whoever gets the piece with the man inside has to throw a party for all their friends or buy everyone tamales on the 2nd of February. Why? It´s another saints day. Luiz got ours. He´s going to be in Toronto at that time. I dare you to go there & demand tamales, or at least a beer.
Since my friends left, things have been falling into place. The way they do when you let them.
I have been learning to play futbol from Jose Luis (Mexico) & Roberto (Italy). They are so quick with their skills & I do alot more running after the ball than catching up to it. But they are nice to me, and let me get a couple in. Playing against the backdrop of the mountains at sunset is striking.
I sat beside the only other person sitting alone at the bar at Zirko, a salsa bar, who turns out to be Basilio, who is pretty much the coolest guy here. Caballero, surfer, architect - I´m still waiting for him to say he works for Vandelay Industries. We biked through these mountains the next day. Past quarries, staring down cliffs, & into fields of black sheep. 4 treacherous hours of much steeper terrain than my humble prairie town, turned into a great day.
Horseback riding to the small town of San Juan Chamula. Sunday means the market is much bigger & the church is much better attended. The story of the church blends worlds. It was built by Catholics from Spain, but they honour Mayan traditions now, as well as occasional masses or baptisms. The ground is spread with pine needles, to be closer to the earth, and I couldn´t imagine how their old church burned down with the amount of candles there were (re: 10x300 against each wall.) The open floor had people standing lit candles on the ground, sipping Posh & juice for prayer. Each family had eggs, and sometimes a chicken next to them for sacrifice. The candles were only the colours of corn throughout the harvest (white, yellow, red, black). The police of the town wore white wool uniforms, and get angry when you take their pictures (pictures to come).
The terrain for the riding was through the foothills of the mountain, a river, then up a small road. I ride a horse like I ride a camel when it goes above a walk - bouncy. I still need to figure out how they stay so close & comfortable & make it look easy. It took time to figure out how to communicate with my horse. We were told they know not to run on the roads, because it bothers the villagers. I guess my horse got the message of me trying to speed it up most times, when it took off at a run right near the end. I was not as prepared as I thought & almost fell off when I tried to adjust my footing. Through thorn tree & pine tree branches - as bad as you can imagine. When I did get him to slow - I guess I am 5´7 all-Canadian muscle like Kerry says - my cheeks were wet with tears. I can´t seperate the words terrifying or thrilling from each other.
As I pull my sweater on, complete with touque & gloves for the evening, I have a shot of tequila next to me spiked with habañero, courtesy of some friendly Americans. Hopefully I can scour out another sweet band for the evening (Zumbido, Xofrenio) maybe Cuban or salsa influenced, or metal like last night, but I´m not picky! I´m just happy my live music cravings are finally being filled!