Monday, August 04, 2003

8/3/03 San Cristobal
We made a couple of miscalculations about the culture today. First, this is not an early rising culture, so being the first people on the street at 8:00 AM-ish will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Second, this was an especially bad day to be out early since it was Sunday and EVERYONE seemed to be at church, except for the Eurotrash.

Today we found a cybercafe so we could be at least moderately plugged in while here, if only for narcicisstic (sp?) weblogs. This city caters to travelers, many who are on their way to Guatemala or Mexico City. In fact, many tourists appear oblivious to the rebels not far outside of town. Maybe they notice the governement soldiers with machine guns in the plaza (the site of the very first Zapatista action on the eve of NAFTA in 1994), but it does not seem to affect them. The first computer in the cyber cafe crashed hard in the middle of my first post, which set this weblog way behind. I am trying to catch up but I have promised myself only one hour online a day. This is too amazing a place to spend it in front of a computer, although cybercafes are like bars here. All the young Chiapans hang out here, mailing jokes across the room to each other and smoking cigarettes.

We made a trip to the Indian Market today. That was a serious market. Fruits, vegetables, and freshly slaughtered beef and chicken, all at room temperature. It made me think about how resillient people are. I am sure that if you took a chicken home from there and cooked it up into some chilliquilles, it would be just fine. Americans, however, have come to expect their food processed and packed into discrete, refrigerated packages, far removed from the place it was slaughtered. The funny thing is that all that processing and transport required a soup of antibiotics, hormones and waste, and the product approaches toxic, both to the purchaser and the world. This place makes me remember why we need to return to local markets and local producers.

We also walked to the edge of the Centro Districto (Central District) today to the Museum of Mayn Medicine. There were displays of indigenous medicinal plants used in their medical practice. I watched a video about Mayan childbirth, a disgusting process, no matter what the culture.

We have also moved hotels to the one that will be used by the group that we are meeting tonight. I hope they are not too freaky.

The indians that travel to the market place are dark, slightly built and very, very, very poor. Most still wear traditional dress made up of colorful wraps or thick, dark wool skirts. I hope to grab some pictures of them, but photography can be offensive to them. Understandable. This is their lives, not a display for the tourists.

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