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New Cruiser: Expeditions

The travels of an all aluminum Land Cruiser and its owners…

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San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico

Written by Raenelle on Tuesday, October 28, 2003
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Yesterday was our last day travelling along the Pacific coast of Mexico before heading inland for a while. Just before reaching the Chiapas border (for those of you unfamiliar with Southern Mexico, Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico that borders Guatamala) we were stopped for about an hour due to a ‘protest’. Actually, it was a peaceful blockade of the road by the local indians who were trying to send a message to the government to stop taking their land and to return the land to them … or something along those lines (the Spanish was a little confusing to understand). There were large semi-trucks backed up for about 3km behind the blockade, but we arrived at the right time, because everybody was allowed to pass soon after our arrival (apparently some people had been waiting for 7 hours to cross the blockade). Since it was getting dark, we camped in the back garden of a nearby hotel where three yappy dogs who didn’t like our presence succeeded in keeping us awake all night!

We headed into Chiapas and proceeded to go up up up up and up some more into the Chiapas higChiapas Highlandshlands. What a beautiful area. We found ourselves at 2,500m elevation and for the first time on this trip, it turned chilly in the evening! Most of the people in the Chiapas highlands wear their traditional indian clothing. Each of the villages has its own colour, so all the men and women from one village wear the same colour, or combination of colours. We saw a green and purple village, a red and black village and a blue and yellow village. All of the clothing is hand woven by the women and the patterns that they weave can be extremely complex. We stopped to look at some handwoven items and our minds boggled when we thought of the amount of time that went into each item.

Upon returning to the truck, it would not start at all. Completely dead. Damn those batteries. Not more battery problems. But the batteries were actually fine, and after pulling apart a bunch of things in the engine compartment, we realized that the starter relay was fried. We fixed the problem (actually, Robin fixed the problem with me and about 10 curious young indian boys looking on), and we were off again. But it was dark. We took the first road off the highway and saw an old women sitting at a roadside stand selling baked goods and other snacks. We stopped and asked her, Victoria, if she knew where we could camp and since there was nowhere nearby, she invited us to stay at her house.

VictoriaMayan friends lived with her husband, her three daughters, and her adult daughter’s (Julia) two children. The family was a true Mayan indian family, and we couldn’t believe what an amazing opportunity we were presented with to meet such wonderful people. The family lived on a small property with three small buildings as bedrooms, a small building as a kitchen and living area, and a small shack where they kept a fire to heat water. The toilets were pit toilets, and there were no showers. The laundry was all washed by hand outside, and there were some chickens pecking around the yard. It got cold that night, and we couldn’t imagine living in the highlands during winter when the temperature dips to freezing and families still have to wash their clothes outside by hand and sleep in homes where a constant draft comes in through spaces in the wooden slats in the walls.

We spent the evening talking to Julia and exchanging views on our respective countries and on her life in Chiapas and our life in Canada. She spoke Spanish and her native Tsotsil, and was trying to learn English. We greatly improved our Spanish skills over the course of the evening, and then headed off to bed.

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