Where is Ron?
Mexico, June 2001
19 June 2001
Ron and I both left San Antonio Texas on Wednesday 13 June, he for Mexico and me for New Mexico. I returned from my meeting in San Antonio via the NRAO library in Socorro New Mexico, south of Albuquerque. On my return trip from New Mexico my first flight was delayed for 2 hours, which meant I missed the connecting flight from Dallas to Dulles, and the shuttle from Dulles to Charlottesville, arriving home 4 hours later than planned. Although Ron is joking when he suggests I might consider the bus, I do want to be sure everyone knows that, after looking at the atlas, I estimate that I traveled approximately twice the distance he did in half the time, even with delays. I'll stick to the airplane, thank you!
From Morelia, 19 June 2001
After your difficult return trip and your missed transportation connections maybe you should consider using a bus :>). While my trip to Morelia was longer it was very easy!
I hope you have caught up on your sleep and are feeling fine. Thank you for the note on the progress of the weeds and the sprouting new bulbs, for watering the lemon grass, and helping Simon tree the intrepid raccoon in the cherry tree in the middle of the night [Simon is one of our dogs; I didn't help him, but I did listen to him bark for several hours]. And it is wonderful to know that Leo [our grandson] is now speaking two words together! [for example, "nice bear", "hat on", and "Dad's home"] Talking to him in the future will be a pleasure.
The days in San Antonio with you, Marlene and John, and Sarah and Don were fun. It was a shame that Don left John and me in the NexisLexis email room :-). Seeing Harold again in the exhibit hall was an extra treat. So much had changed since I spent my first three months in the Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. On my way to the bus station I walked through the Alamo again, to see something that was still the same. But even that looks different.
The bus around noon to Laredo and across the border was easy, and within 10 minutes I was on another bus to Morelia, arriving early the next morning. I found a hotel and then went and found Teresa at her place before she left for her activities of the day. From this point to now, my time has just flowed without my direction, just following others in a never ending series of novel and fun events and activities.
The experiences I have been having in Morelia have made me think a lot about our sonīs life style and his many friends, as well as remembering a lot of my and your experiences in our early thirties ....and of course remembering my twenties which were so different from my thirties.
When in the future you meet some of my Morelia friends, they will know who you are. And many of them have said to say hello, or wish you well and Leticia sends a kiss. The six days and nights in Morelia have really been a joy and I have been very lucky to make friends with such a unique group of young people. Yes, one thing leads to another and on to something else, just like when I surf on the net late at night, and before I knew it I was staying another day, then another, even though I intended to leave on that day on a later bus.
I wanted to write about my experiences, while my memory is fresh, before catching a bus to Mexico City. I really do intend on catching a bus to Mexico City when I leave this Internet Cafe. Since the bus for Chiapas will be overnight and the total trip from Morelia to somewhere on the southern coast of Chiapas will be 16 to 24 hours (you know how estimates are) then it really does not matter when I leave. As late as I leave today, I will probably arrive a few hours before I leave, except it will be the next day. Realizing that a bus leaves every half hour, I have just been doing one thing more before catching that bus for the last couple of day. But because I have been saying this for the last couple of days, you can understand that nothing is quite firm.
The large files you are downloading are probably all the pictures I have been sending from the Intel digital camera. Usually I use some subject heading like mmC010619 which is for Morelia Mexico the third (C) batch of pictures downloaded and emailed on June 6, 2001. Most of the time I have had to zip the pictures into zip files of about 15 pictures each to be able to attach and send efficiently so the attachments you are downloading are the zip fields. While in Morelia I have taken a lot of pictures and figure it be easier to sort through them at home than figuring out my discards from here. Since I know how long it takes to send them from here I can imagine how long it takes to download them from the CFW connection to our hard disk over the modem we have at home.
The was the right time to come back to Morelia, and I am very lucky to have come now. Over the next few months, beginning next week, the group will be dispersing in many different directions. Leticia to Mexico city, a larger stage for her rising stardom. Her ex-husband (they parted a couple of years ago but I am only now finding out) Gerardo along with his roommate Aner will be moving to a house north of the lake at Patzcuaro for up to a year to produce and record a couple of music CDs. This week Husai started working with a second school and loves teaching English. He will stay in the house for a while but has possibilities of teaching elsewhere, including the States. Gabriel will be moving to Mexico City before he leaves for Cuba in August to study additional marimba techniques. Quy Lan will move to Mexico City to attend acting school and will continue her street acting to earn the money for school. (Look for her picture to appear on the web site later). Teresa will stay and continue her many artistic projects. And Julieta will continue working on her Ph.D. in Philosophy. Next weekend two of their friends are getting married and will also start a new adventure (one works for a company that teaches how to produced movies and the other is a graphic designer who is going to produce the covers for Aner and Garardoīs new CD.) It reminds me of my time living in Atlanta 1967-70 when I realized that my friends were also dispersing in many different directions.
The days have been full of many different activities and wonderfully talented young people. Friday night Leticia, Aner, Husai, and Gabriel performed at Bohemia V while Gerardo managed the sound and I tried to make a tape. (lost the middle part of the concert) I went with Teresa on Thursday to the local Montessori School where Dali her friend was teaching. Teresa was designing the costumes for the students upcoming production. It was fun talking to Husaiīs English class full of bright young people serious about wanting to learn English. Last night we went to watch a excellent thought-provoking Mexico movie about an older woman and two younger boys which will never make it past the American censors. Two nights I watched Quy Lan perform on a stool in the church plaza as a statue who bows and shakes hands with the kids when coins clink in the pot at her feet. One night the crowds remained after dark and a light was brought. I remember moving the instruments and Gabrielīs marimba piece by piece to the Bohemia. Markets full of fruit, roasted chicken. Hours talking to Husai or Aner or laughing with a group. Yesterday Husai and Leticia cooked a wonderful Chinese lunch for a group of his friends. Watching Aner and Gerardo edit their music on the computer next to their recording studio in their home. Homemade cookies, late night leftovers, early breakfasts, plenty of hot sauce, fresh fruit and juice, (Oooh the Mangoes!!!) Walks to the store for wine or yogurt. Fresh tortillas from the bakeries as I walk along the street. And of course the hours at the Internet Cafe loading the software to download the Intel pictures, and zipping and sending home by the Internet.
The first night I spend at the Hotel, the next two nights at Teresaīs, and the last two at the home of Gerardo, Aner, Husai, and Leticia. I am sad to leave and very happy to have had the past 5 days and nights.
Give a scritch to Lady [our 18-yr-old cat]. I love you and the way time is flying I will see you very soon.
Photos of Morelia, June 2001
25 June 2001
A further bulletin from Ron's marathon bus ride through Mexico.
Will and Susanna, mentioned below, were college friends of our daughter Sharon. When Sharon and Derrick were married in 1994, Susanna came all the way from San Cristobal to Virginia for the wedding, via bus from San Cristobal to Mexico City, then by plane to the States, then by car to our house. She's been in London for quite a few years now, but Sharon didn't know whether Will was still in San Cristobal. Before Ron left, Sharon gave him Will's name and old San Cristobal work address so Ron could see if he was still there.
The December 1970 events Ron refers to were at the beginning of the year and a half he spent backpacking through Central and South America.
24 June 2001, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico
In December 1970 I was speeding through southern Mexico on the way from Veracruz to Caracas, Venezuela, to meet my friends from the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for New Year's Eve, and didn't stop in Chiapas, thereby missing San Cristobal de Las Casas, a city that I heard Brenda and other travelers talk about for the next 16 months. (Never did get to Caracas either. Spent the next three months in Guatemala.)
Getting here this trip was quite a round about trip from Morelia. In was easy to hop on a bus from Morelia to Mexico City within just a few seconds of buying a ticket. Arriving in Mexico City sometime around 11 pm I discovered that the last direct bus for Chiapas had already left, but a bus for Oaxaca was pulling out immediately, so I took a bus to Oaxaca, arriving early the next morning to catch a bus quickly to Arriaga and another on to Tapachula, a few hours north of Guatemala.
My goal was to see the beach at Puerto Madero, but the next day in Tapachula it rained a lot, so I didn't make it to the beach. Instead I remained in town to watch the torrent of water wash down the streets with no drainage system. I had to take a taxi because I could not cross some of the streets full of the flowing water. While I often enjoy out of the way places that see few tourists, I can not really say that my time in Tapachula provided any material for future stories. Just a mistake in judgment in coming here instead of going straight to San Cristobal. It was not bad enough to complain about or exciting enough to talk about except for the excellent whole large fish I had for dinner and the wonderful sliced mango, melon and pineapple I bought on the street. But I enjoyed my solitude before being immersed in the flow of travelers and tourists on the mountain gringo path.
The bus ride inland along the border of Guatemala into the highlands and then north to San Cristobal had some beautiful views of the mountains and valleys. Very green, with palm and mango trees on the hot coast to lush green fields and forests in the mountains. The passengers on the bus became more European with backpacks.
San Cristobal is one of those special places scattered around the globe that attracts large numbers of backpackers for extended stays. As you know I often find some very interesting travelers to share stories with, and for me the travelers I meet are as interesting as the places I visit.
After an interesting but uneventful evening I went to bed early at the San Martin Hotel and Laundry in order to get up early for a tour of the small villages around the area. In the main plaza around 9 am I found Senora Mercedes with her colorful umbrella and joined her tour group. Seldom have I found such an exceptional group of travelers as the people on this tour. I feel sure that I will hear from several of them again in the future and perhaps visit some of them in Mexico City in the future.
We were taken to a large home made into what appeared to be a museum with the walls covered with some beautiful photographs of the native people, plants, trees and scenes. Then after a few minutes we joined another small group and took two small vans to Chamula, one of the main villages in the area. We were lucky because we had picked the day of the festival: fireworks, large crowds, decorations, flowers, dances, costumes, and general festivities. Picture taking was not allowed inside the church and the Indians resent having their picture taken. So only panoramic pictures were allowed. Inside the church they were baptizing infants and the whole scene just begged to be photographed. It was a large church with no pews, but tables scattered around were covered with candles in glasses or bowls. Along the edge of the room on the floor and on tables were other burning candles. And at the end it was just solid display of candles of all sorts. I would say not hundreds, but thousands of candles. Large pieces of material were draped across the ceiling and the walls were covered with beautiful flowers they grow in the area (one of their exports).
Outside in the Plaza people were under frames of metal covered with material with firecrackers attached, and would dance around the plaza as the firecrackers exploded. Large colorful paper balloons with something burning inside (perhaps some kind of wick in a cup) would rise and float across the plaza trying to miss the several electrical wires. Some would burst into flames and come tumbling down into the plaza, others floated way up into the sky.
I enjoyed the quote I heard from one of my Mexican friends who said she had always thought she had to visit another country like Tibet or Nepal to find exotic scenes, and was surprised to find it in her own country.
Later the vans took us near another village and we walked into it and on to another by foot through fields of produce and sheep. A most pleasant and interesting day full of unusual scenes with some interesting young people.
When I returned to the plaza, I went to my room to get the address for the Institute where Sharonīs friends Will and Susanna had worked. I had somehow missed the fact that Will was the Director of the place. The guy at the hotel gave me directions, and when I got there it was a surprise to discover it was the same home and museum I had visited in the morning. They said I was late and couldnīt let me in without a ticket, which I could buy across the road. I didnīt understand what I was late for, but I bought a ticket anyway. They hurried me through the building until I caught up with the ongoing tour group lead by Peppie (probably not spelled correctly). At the end of the tour, about 6:45, he told the group that the dinner at the long dinning table we were looking at would be held at 9 instead of 7 tonight because of a film group that was working late. I thought the idea of having dinner where Will and Susanna had worked sounded interesting so I made a reservation.
Peppie remembered Will and Susanna. When he was a young kid he drove the jeep for Frans and Gertrude Duby Blom who founded the house of Na Bolom to serve as a center for the studies of Mayan Civilization.
In between the tour and the dinner I tried about a half dozen Internet cafes before finding one that had a USB connection and would let me load my Intel software for my digital camera so I could download and email home my pictures.
The movie making group made up most of the dinner group. It turned out to be a family making a 14 part adventure series for a young audience for Disney. The father was the director, the mother the producer, the son (age around 11 I guess) supported his cousinīs leading role. She was 14 and spoke excellent English. The older son was in charge of lighting and other supporting stuff. The fatherīs brother was the pilot who flew the six seater Cessna to all the film sites. Today they had been out in the rain forest with the local natives. Another cousin was the tour guide for the group since she lived in Tuztla, the capital of Chiapas.
Then there was a gentleman who worked for the local government and his fiancee. He has promised to send me a copy of the investigative report he made into the causes and solutions to the conflicts in the area. Should be interesting and I promised to read every word (he said it would be in English).
Perhaps the most interesting guy at the table sat across from me. He explained he lived in the rain forest. I thought the Indians in the rain forest wanted nothing to do with outsiders, but here he was speaking English as well as Spanish while his native language he said was Mayan. He opened up the conversation by telling me he knew Will. I guess Peppie has spread the word about me.
After dinner I joined some of my friends from the dayīs tour of the villages and we told stories until late at night. All in all, one of the most full, interesting and enjoyable days I have had in a long time.
From here there is a rather long bus ride ahead [from San Cristobal back home!]. Perhaps I will break it somewhere along the way.
Love you and looking forward to seeing you soon.
Photos of Chiapas, June 2001
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