Central America | Mexico | Istmo & Gulf of Mexico | Chiapas | Palenque – Mayabell
Im sitting at a waterfall in northern Chiapas, about fifty kilometers south of Palenque. I think the falls are called Agua Azul, or Blue Water. The water really is blue. Almost more of a turquoise color. I am sitting on sort of an incline and am slowly sliding into the small pool at the bottom of the falls. It is a little touristy here, as most really cool places anywhere are. The falls arent nearly as big or majestic as Niagra, but they are cool and big ands white and the area around them is beautiful. The area directly on the side of the falls is lined with restaurants and little shops selling the locally made Mayan apparel. Touristy yes, but we sat down right next to the falls and at a wonderful meal, right there in the mist and everything. The meal was really good too. I ordered a type of freshwater lobster, very similar to a shrimp or a crawfish. All the legs and heads were in tact. It was a little uneasing at first, but once I tasted it everything was over. It was very tasty. One of the girls we were with, Rosa, ordered a fish soup. It came complete with a fish. Or should I say, it came with a complete fish, head, tail, and all. She had a hard time with it at first, but soon was able to eat the whole thing, or everything that was edible. I drove the van up here from the campsite at Mayabell and brought with me a couple, Bernard and Enya, from Germany, Rosa, from Italy, and Heather, from Canada. It is so much fun being with so many different people, from so many different cultures. The was up here was a little strange because they had old ladies pull a piece of yarn across the street and then there would be five or ten little girls run up to the car and try to sell you fruit and those fried elephant ears that you buy at the county fair. There is a bit of a circus environment here. Everyone is pulling for the tourist dollars so hard, especially the local Mayan children. I have no idea what the true value of the peso is. It is starting to get dark, and the drive home is a little over an hour. I want to be back in Palenque where it is safe, and where there arent signs for Zapatistas on the twisting back road. Ive read in the guidebook that there have been incidents along this route and I just want to play it safe. There is a whole mentality here that I am a rich American, just because of the blonde hair and the white skin. In some ways it is true, in other it is not. I give what I can, when I can, and leave it at that. It is hard for me not to give a few cents to the children who have made a profession of begging. Maybe I shouldnt positively reinforce it by giving them things, and for the most part, I dont. I only give to the people that are selling something.
That is so funny that I ended with that line, and then stopped to give ten pesos to a little Mayan girl that has been working me for the past fifteen minutes. She kept coming back with a different price, every time cheaper than the last. The sun has fallen behind the trees. It will be dark in two hours. We were going to stop at another set of waterfalls, one that was possibly not as touristy, but I dont think that is going to happen. The guidebook said that this was the most spectacular waterfall in all of Mexico. It was probably quite a spot twenty years ago. I am going to have to buy one of these dresses on the way home. They have these white dresses of all natural cotton fabrics. I am sure they are all hand sewn. However, Bernard said that all the fabrics are dyed out of the country and then imported here. The colors are some of the most fantastic I have ever seen. It is really something. I thought that they might be more or less costumes or uniforms to help promote the product, but after being here for a bit, I am starting to think that they are their traditional garb. Last night we hung out at the palapa and played chess, but oh yes, you already know that. I spent most of the night last night trying to write that page. I dont know what the problem was with the computer, but I think it crashed three, four, even five times. I want to finish up writing here so that I can take a swim in the waterfall. That is what life is all about right?
I have a little half page here that I had better finish up before going to sleep. If I have the same problem as last night, I will just turn the whole thing off, roll over, and go to sleep. I did go swimming in the waterfall, it was great. The water seemed warm, and was especially warm for river water in the middle of the winter. Bernhard, who I think I was calling Bernard earlier, went swimming with me. The girls all sat on the shore and watched. I think it might have been more fun with them. The water was clear and blue and the bottom was sand and just a little bit of mud. We ended up getting out of there later than I wanted, and by the time we made it back to
Route 199 night was upon us. There were some Mayan dresses still hanging next to the road, and we drove by very slowly. I was looking for one to jump out at me, but none of them did. Until no, yes, one of them did! It was all white with a little stitch on the chest. It is what I was looking for. The ones in San Miguel de Allende were somewhere around two hundred dollars, this one was ten. Im not sure it is going to hold up or fall apart, but for ten dollars, even if it gets a couple of wears, it will be worth it. I was thinking about giving it to Jen, it is just her style, but then I remembered that I need to get something for Mary Eisman. I promised her something for doing all of that work on the Quadrangle Chronicles. I should get here something a little nicer than a ten dollar dress. All in all a great day. Some more chess and a good dinner at the Mayabell palapa and some engaging conversation that will hopefully be finished tomorrow. Bernhard and Enya wrote in the book tonight. The did it really cool. I think I am going to give it to someone new every night.