Thursday, June 4, 2009



We met Will, Naomi’s brother, in Chiapas, on his way back from Nicaragua, where he studied Spanish in a mountain village. Chiapas is a gorgeous state in the south of Mexico. We met in San Cristobal, which is a beautiful colonial city surrounded by green mountain peaks.

Our hotel's courtyard

In the afternoons it stormed, and we joyfully welcomed the rain, because it had been very hot and dry in Querétaro.

Our second day we arose early for a tour of Palenque the Mayan ruins in the jungle. On the way there we stopped at Agua Azul, a stunning series of falls of the most beautiful blue water.

When we arrived we took photos and enjoyed the scenery.

At the last minute it got hot, and we decided to swim in a still pool. It was the perfect temperature, cool and refreshing, but not cold.

We continued on to the next waterfall, which apparently was the one Arnold jumped off in Predator. It was out of season, so the waterfall itself was not so impressive, but we were able to go behind the waterfall into a cave with another waterfall inside, which was also not so impressive.

When we got to Palenque it was HOT.

It is a huge site, and we wandered around trying to find cooler, shady paths from one place to the next. The views from the tops of temples were incredible.

The most exciting part was going inside the center ruin. We went through underground passages and could almost imagine a different time.

There were beautiful plants and trees, including the flamboya tree, which was pretty flamboyant with its bright orange blossoms.

We had been warned not to make the 4 hour journey through the curvy mountain roads twice in one day, however, the tours are set up like that, and if you don’t come back the same day, it’s up to you to find your own way back. Plus, we wanted to enjoy San Cristobal more. Luckily, on the way back we were in more of a bus than a van, and it was dark, so the carsickness was not an issue anymore.
The next day we went to market day in the Mayan village of Chamula. On our way we saw a parade with impressive costumes.

We asked why the clowns were made to look so fat, and were told, “that’s the way it is here.” We have very few photos of Chamula, because it is disrespectful to take photos of the people and their beautiful traditional dress. Most men wore white, including fur vests, and the women had incredible blue and purple woven shawls and black fur skirts. The centerpiece of the village is a large white church with blue and green trim full of symbolism of the four directions, earth, air, etc.

The joining of indigenous culture with Catholic was clearly visible inside and out. We bought tickets to go in the church, (again no pictures because of the belief that the camera takes ones soul), and all the pews were pushed to the side. The floor was covered with aromatic pine needles, and everywhere you looked there were candles lit, on the floor, in front of shrines to saints, on altars. People were sitting in small groups on the floor, chanting, with bottles of soda near them. Traditions have melded, and it is believed that drinking the soda, in conjunction with prayer will get rid of bad spirits. Sometimes eggs are used, and in the most severe cases, a chicken is sacrificed. We didn’t see any chickens.

A lot of things were still closed because of the flu scare, so we missed the jungle zoo with endangered species in Tuxtla.

Will came back to QuerĂ©taro with us, and we got back into the swing of our normal life… briefly. Two things happened that shifted things for us significantly:
1. Naomi got a bacteria in her gut (origin unknown, since she and Will ate all the same things) that set her back for a week, and then it took another week to regain her energy.
2. At the same time, we discovered we did not have water at our house. Not such a good combination. Will and Jose were heroic in their care of Naomi, as well as their determination to figure out the water situation. Oddly, the water situation took a full 2.5 weeks to be resolved. In the meantime, we decided to move on. We easily found a small colonial house closer to the center, and packed our possessions. Our dear friend Barry, who was on his way out of town, offered us his home, right in the center. This was the biggest blessing of all; we were able to relax and recuperate, with the comforts of water, a breezy house, and beautiful views. It was healing to wake up to views of church domes.