We made a long and bumpy bus ride down the country, but up in the mountains to St. Cristobal de las Casas (SCC). After a couple of short stops in Campeche and Palenque, I was ready for a week in one place again.
The bus ride was long and winding, and I had a lot of time to think. Although we had only been away for three weeks, it is very different to being on holiday. Knowing you are not going home anytime soon and that this is your life, at least for the next half a year, makes for a very different experience.
Before I came away I had written about my anxieties about leaving friends and particularly my sons. I miss them, but chatting on Messenger and Skype is actually ok and it doesn’t hurt like I thought it would. However, the biggest surprise is the feelings I have around helplessness. A strong word, but I can’t even ask for directions to the bus stop yet, let alone find my own way from point A to point B. Not knowing local customs and practice is a difficult thing to manage and heightens anxiety and lowers confidence. I went to a public loo the other day and someone gave me some loo roll as I went in, everyone else gave her 5 pesos, so so did I, but I really wasn’t sure if it was for before, during or after later, with wet hands, think it was for after!
So, although I am loving Mexico, it’s not easy getting tongue tied when someone rattles off some Spanish and waits for an answer, or being given magazines in the hairdressers and only being able to look at the pictures! You kind of forget all of the things you had to do and achieve, in order to experience this adventure.
So to the adventure…
We had a lovely little cabin, at the top of an unpaved, seldom used lane. It would have been tranquil, apart from the almost continual fireworks and dogs barking, I am not sure who set who off!
We spent about 3 days, doing admin, laundry, blogs and general relaxing and about three days in and around SCC downtown and one fantastic day going through the Sumidero Canyon. I would like all weeks to have this sort of balance, but we will see.
SCC has a recent history, which most people seem to know, but as usual, I did not. I am not going to begin to try write anything historically accurate, the main points are here: Zapatistas. The town is buzzing, it had a charming square, zocalo or plaza (take your pick) with a bandstand and music and sunshine and people just bustling. We sat in the Zapatista cafe for a good few hours people watching, counting dreamcatchers, dreadlocks and tie-dye shirts. I think SCC downtown is my favourite so far.
On Tuesday we were due to go for a trip to the canyon, but there was a protest by local taxi drivers who blocked all of the roads in and out of SCC, people seemed unconcerned and continued to stroll around. A few local kids set up a game of football in the unusually empty roads (no jumpers available for goalposts).
Nobody seemed to moan. It just was. Everyone just waited another day to do what they were going to do, and so did we.
We got a minibus early (9.00am) the next day and about an hour later, got on a fairly speedy boat. We then had an amazing two hours going up a canyon. I can’t begin to describe the scenery, it was truly awesome, spectacular and strangely peaceful.
It’s hard making life changes, some days you wonder why you did, but then you spend a day in a canyon and then it all comes flooding back.