6 months in Mexico


Leaving Oaxaca, our next goal is Mitla, a city very close. We want to stop there for 2 reasons: the archeological site of Mitla and the natural Park Hierbe del Agua.

The first day, we go with the public transportation (in camioneta) 9 miles ahead at the entrance of the Park. We are happy not to use our bikes because the road climbs more than 2000 feet in a few miles. The tourist attractions for this park are the petrified waterfalls, the pools where we can swim and the breathtaking views we can see in the trails. Kayla can’t wait to go in the pool and sings all the way.

Parque natural Hierbe del Agua

When we come back, in the back of the camioneta (a kind of pickup with some unsafe benches) a heavy rain begins. Even if we have a plastic tarp to protect us from this rain, we are all wet. The camioneta stops half a mile from our hostel. It’s still raining so we rent a “tuc-tuc”, a mototaxi: a very cheap transport (around 10 pesos, 0,90 US or 0,50 euro)

Tuck Tuck, local transport

We change our clothes for some dry ones and begin to prepare the meal. We use in that kind of hostels to cook outside on our gas stove. At that time, our neighbour hearing some French language comes to talk to us. Sylvain is a Quebecer traveling by bike to Honduras. We talk a long time with him. He is going like us to San Cristobal de las Casas because he is waiting for his son coming for a week. We can understand his excitation; seeing some family even it’s for a short time is always very pleasant.

 

The day after, we say goodbye to him and we suppose to see him in San Cristobal de las Casas. We visit Mitla and his archeologic site. Some other Zapotec pyramids, smaller than the ones in Monte Alban but very nice to visit.

Sylvain is one day ahead from us and tells us the road condition and the places to sleep on the road. This is very useful for us and helps us to plan our way. It’s warmer and warmer and ride with this warm weather is as difficult as finding a place to stop and to have a drink. At Tehuantepec, we find a hostel with some air-conditioned rooms. The city is at 16 feet of altitude. Since many months we are in the mountains and we are not use at so warm weather. There is nothing to visit here, so we go out of our room just to buy something to eat.

Sylvain, a quebecer cyclist

The time goes fast. We just have 2 more weeks before the end of our visa and we are not very close to the border, we have to go faster. So we take another bus to Tuxla Gutierrez. The main road is now close because of a manifestation. So the bus driver took another road, some small ones very bumpy. Kayla is very quiet since we are shaken a lot and then she starts vomiting on Mary. We put some other clothes on Kayla and we try to clean everything with moistened wipes, Mary has to stay during 6 hours in her dirty clothes. On the road, we saw the sign saying we are in Chiapas, the last Mexican state before Guatemala. We pass Sylvain who is riding his bike. At Tuxla Gutierrez, the state capital city, we stay there for a few days. We find a youth hostel not too expensive and we give to Sylvain the address so he can come the day after.

We are not a fan of this youth hostel because sleeping in a dorm with many people is not the right thing to do with Kayla. She wakes up many times during the night and we don’t want to disturb the other people. And to have a private room is more expensive than a hotel. But this time, the owner is very kind and gives us a dorm just for us, not more expensive than if we share it.

Indeed, Kayla is sometimes very excited, so we have to find her something to do. When it’s not enough, we go take a walk with her. So, she cans spend her energy. During a walk, Mary finds a kind of canteen for the children working on the street. Very interested by that, they go to see what look is like. After a long time, Karl is worried not to see them come back to the hostel, so he goes to meet them. He found them with one of these workers talking about the goal of this non-governmental organization. They give some food to the children and also some literacy class and psychological aids.

We find this very interesting and ask them to make a small movie and an interview when the children are there. He accepts hoping that will help for the Chiapas’ children. As matter of fact, 70% of the Chiapas children are very poor and have to work to help their family to live.

Comedor Solidario "Manos Amigas"

We came back 2 days later with Sylvain who speaks fluently Spanish, this will helps us to ask the good questions. We spend the afternoon there and Kayla can even eat there. She loves that!

Comedor Solidario "Manos Amigas"

Between Tuxla and San Cristobal de las Casas, there is around 37 miles and 6000 feet to climb. Karl would like to ride the way with Sylvain (because Mary didn’t want to do that) but Sylvain decides to take a bus with us to San Cristobal de las Casas. It takes 1 hour to be there. Riding with Sylvain in the city, everybody notice us more than usual. We stop to eat before going to another youth hostel. This time we share a dorm but only with Sylvain and his son Maximilien (he will be there tomorrow).

We take a small bus to go to Chacula, a Tzotzil town. There are 2 Maya’s tribe around San Cristobal de las Casas: the Tzotzils and the Tzeltals, We can identify them by their traditional costumes (woolen skirt with some hair for ones and black plain woolen skirt for the others) and they talks each one a different language.

In that small bus, we are the only tourists with some Tzotsils women and their children. We are squashed like sardines and the driver goes fast. The children look at us. Besides the market, the only interest of this small city is the church. From the outside, the church looks like the other. We have to pay 20 pesos to enter and filming or taking photography is prohibited. We note that the church is empty, no benches and the ground is full of pine needles. The people are seated on the ground in front of small lighted candles. Kayla seems to wonder where the benches are. Usually, she likes the church because she can seat there. She seems fascinated to hear the shamanism incantations. It’s like some long dramatic passages song with low voice. Since a long time, it’s a tradition to drink a sparkle drink during the prayers. It makes them burped and so takes the bad thing out of their body. With the contemporary time, the drink is now a Coke. All the people have their bottle just beside them and take a sip once in a while.

Chacula's church

This “modern tradition” is not amazing when you know that Mexico is the first big consumer of Coke in the world. The Mexicans people drinks Coke from the breakfast time and all day long. It’s common to see some babies drink that. Mexico is now the winner of the childhood obesity. Is there a connection between the two?

Our 6 months Mexican visa is almost out of date. We can’t renew it, so we have to leave the country and re-enter again to have a new visa. Many travelers did that as we see on Internet. The border is in Cuauhtemoc city, 2 hours and a half by bus from San Cristobal de las Casas. We decide to leave our things in the youth hostel, take the bus to the border and come back in the same day. At the border, we have to return our visa and have an exit stamp. On Guatemala border, we have to stamp our passport. The Mexican custom officer takes our visa and stamps our passport and tells us after that we have to stay in Guatemala 3 days before to be able to have a new visa. But if we give him 800 pesos (65$CDN) each so almost 200$ CDN for all the family, we didn’t have to cross the border and he will give us a new visa. Pay that kind of bribe is not what we like, so we refuse. We try anyway to go in Guatemala to have an entrance stamp. The border is around 2.5 miles in La Mesila a rough city. The custom officer told us the same thing: we have to stay 3 days in Guatemala or pay… So we come back to Mexico, in San Cristobal de las Casas without a visa and with an exit stamp. We are know illegal, so we don’t have to be in a hurry to exit Mexico. We will manage this later.

At San Cristobal de las Casas we stay at Caracole youth hostel. It’s an ideal place for Kayla. She is very friendly with all the people and takes a lot of time to play with them, and she will have a chance to play with another kid in the big garden of this hostel. Even if they don’t talk the same language, they play together and they understand each other.

kayla and her friend

We didn’t want to stay here a long time but this colonial city charmed us. It’s the better place to live, this city is cosy and the weather is mild. So we stay there 2 weeks and a half.

When is the time to leave all the people in the hostel come to see us and say good bye and some take picture with Kayla. We leave with great emotion.

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