Central America | Mexico | Istmo & Gulf of Mexico | Chiapas | Ocosingo – Ocosingo
Ocosingo, a town near the border of Chiapas, seemed merely a transportation hub at first sight. Most of the visitors who come here are truck drivers stopping the night, and the only two restaurants in town were empty. However, the zocalo, or central plaza, hopped in the evening with vendors, card players, soccer fans, and socializing locals. They stared at us as if we were alien and despite our effort to gaze back with friendliness, they were unwilling to approach us. Even the young candy vendors who pestered everyone else left us alone. People-watching had been my favorite thing to do while traveling, but no matter where I went in Mexico, the locals always seemed to have a better time watching me instead.
As I looked out from a juice bar, 3 well-dressed and pretty little girls about 6 to 9 years old came in. They had been talking to every adult on the zocalo and stealing glances at us earlier, and were still looking at us with shyness. After some giggling and discussion among themselves, they finally came up to us and the oldest smiled shyly. Visibly nervous, words were shooing out of her little mouth like speeding bullets. In addition, the Ocosingo accent, which sounded almost like a different language to my untrained ears, made it impossible for me to understand her.
After a couple slower repetitions, I finally grasped that the local kids were putting on a play the next night and the youngest girl was playing the princess. They were very proud of their work and wanted everyone in town to buy a ticket to see it. In fact, they would even do a part of the play for us.
‘Pero no somos de aqui. Vamos a salir en la manana. (But we are not from here. Well leave in the morning.)’
‘De donde son usted?’
‘Los Estados Unidos.’ My not-so-fluent Spanish was about to fail me.
‘Buen Viaje.’ Her eyes sparkled.
Did it ever occur to them that I could hardly understand them when they spoke slowly, and there was no way I could understand the play? Nevertheless, I was so impressed by their innocent enthusiasm over her work, and moreover the courage to act upon their curiosity while the adults speculated about us from afar. Thanking us for the offer of popsicles, they giggled away, waving to us for each of the dozen times that they passed the juice bar during the remainder of the night.