Mexico To Home! Ondale! Ondale! Arriba!

Sorry this post has taken err six months to get posted. Things like this seem less important when youre home. Anyway I left off in San Cristobal; from there we booked a tour to go to the Sumidero Canyon for the day before we left. It cost 14$ each (although I later learned that we could have done it for 5$ each had we gone directly to Chiapas De Corzo and gotten on a boat ourselves). Still, it was cool. The canyon was a half-mile high straight up in the deeper spots, and we were on a fast boat that cruised at a good clip. The pictures pretty much say it all:

Sumidero Canyon 1 Sumidero Canyon 2 Sumidero Canyon 3

Sumidero Canyon 4 Sumidero Canyon 5

When we got to the end of the canyon and turned back, I inquired where were the crocodiles I had heard were here. He replied that they were in the water. With a smirk. He then said that to see them we needed a tourist to volunteer to go in the water. No one volunteered :)

Anyway, on the way back we did see a couple of different crocs, and got close enough to get some nice pictures of them, too:

Sumidero Canyon 6 Sumidero Canyon 7 Sumidero Canyon 8

On the way back we stopped at Corzo to have lunch and I had Pozole, which is what happens when you put a tortilla and water in a blender with some cocoa, basically. Thats not how they make it, but thats pretty much what it is. It is a corn drink, very slightly sweet, with cacao beans in it. I liked it, but Crystal didnt. Anyway back in San Cristobal we found some organic chocolate which I thought would make great gifts for the women back home. It said it was made in San Cristobal, but no address. So I walked all over the city, literally, looking for someone who knew where it was made, since I wanted to buy direct and wholesale. I spent about 3 hours that day and next morning looking for it, went down several blind alleys, but finally found it and bought 5 pounds of chocolate.

By now our possessions were starting to snowball and get to be quite a load to haul around, and it was to get worse! We lost track of time that morning (it was the day of our flight) and so we didnt start looking for a taxi until it was almost too late to make it to the airport.

We almost, and I do mean almost, missed our plane to Mexico City that morning. When we finally noticed what time it was, we had 1.5 hours until the flight LEFT. Not to check in, but to takeoff. And we were about an hour or better away. I was having some stuff printed that morning, and before I left I had to pay him; however he gave me a different price than his boss had quoted me (a higher one, naturally) so after we agreed on a compromise and I went to pay him, I realized I was out of pesos, he wouldn´t take dollars, so I had to change some – running downtown to find a bank, changing money, signing papers, etc – and once that was taken care of, I had to find a taxi, and then negotiate a price with him, then the taxi driver wanted to pick up some extra passengers but they weren´t ready by now we were getting quite anxious so we told him to forget it and just take us to the airport. And step on it.

Never say that to a Mexican taxi driver. Seriously.

The dude was a good driver, no doubts, but he literally passed a police car doing two-and-a-half times the speed limit. Granted, it was one of those stupid so-low-that-noone-even-tries-to-obey-it limits of 40kph, but still. I have to say though, e got us through a 40 minute ride in about 25 minutes.

Unfortunately, I didn´t have enough pesos to pay him (we agreed on a price of about 30$ for the ride and the speed) and he wouldn´t take dollars either. Apparently, it is a real hassle for Mexicans to change dollars here. It´s easy for me, but locals apparently have to explain where they got it, why they are changing it, who they are, where they are from, and all that bureaucratic hoo-hah. So he wouldn´t take dollars, even when I offered him 40. So when we arrived at the airport with just 10 minutes to spare until takeoff, we went to check-in and the clerk told us the bags had already left. After a momentary pause, we realized we could carry on all of our packages (at this point numbering 2 tubes, 1 box, 3 backpacks, and us).

So while Crystal got us ticketed, I ran off to find someplace to change dollars to pay the taxi driver – who, it cannot be denied, had earned his fare. I found a store who traded pesos in at 10 for the dollar, which was a criminal rate (at the time, 14.5 pesos to the dollar was what banks gave) but I was out of time. So I did that and paid him, plus gave him all my change as a tip.

Then we went through security. Mind you, we had planned to check our red backpack which had our knives in it. Since we didn´t have a chance to do that, we decided to try to run it through security. I´ve done that before, but this time no luck. They spotted them and took them away, both of our nice swiss army knives (although the total investment was only about 12$, still) and I guess since they already had us stopped, they wanted Crystal´s scissors too. We are talking scissors with a blade a half-inch long. Seriously. While they were in her vanity pack they also took away basically everything else pointy too – her fingernail file, cuticle trimmer, mysterious femininely-used pointy thingy.

On the upside, our pack was lighter with less female stuff. On the downside, I´ve heard about the nail file 25 times since then.

Anyway, we made it on the flight believe it or not. They were still boarding and they let us on. And I looked at Crystal and said ¨See? No sweat!¨ – Then she hit me. I still cant figure out why.

So after an uneventful flight change in Mexico City, we landed in Monterrey. The airport is quite a ways from the city, and there seems to be a sort of Taxi Mafia and it has all the taxi and bus prices hacked up to crazy prices for the ride from the airport into town. It cost us 5$ each on a bus for a 40 minute ride. A taxi wanted 30 for both of us. Mind you, it cost less than that to get across Honduras. I spent the better part of an hour trying to find or negotiate a better price (you know me) but 5$ each was the best. And then, there were only three of us on the bus! But it´s Mexico, can´t always understand it. Actually, you seldom understand it.

So we arrived in the inner city of Monterrey late at night. It was pretty creepy, reminiscent of Detroit or Chicago. Dark, dismal, knots of gang-like people on the corners. I had found a hotel on the internet and managed to find it after a few adventures. On the internet, they advertised $11 a person. On arrival, I was quoted $7, which I agreed to happily (most hotels in Monterrey seemed to charge almost US prices).

When I got my money out, he charged me $15 a person. Then when I balked it became $5. Then a few minutes later he knocked on my door and said he made a mistake, and tried to charge me $15 again. So we settled on $10 at last call. I told him I wasn´t paying more than I was quoted on the internet. I told him I paid him what he´s going to get and if he changed it again I was leaving. I meant it too, so he finally left us alone.

Anyway, it settled down after that. We were in a not-so-nice part of town. We tried to find a restaurant but all we found was halloween and druggies. Don´t ask. Anyway, we wound up back at the hotel eating granola. I really didnt like Monterrey very much, although to be fair I didnt see it under the best light.

Next morning we caught a bus for Reynosa from Monterrey. Again I got entangled in dialectic changes, since there “bus” was NOT an understandable alternative for “autobus”. “Bus” was not understood at all. And “Reynosa” was not an appropriate substitute sound for “RRRReynosa”. You have to trill the first R. I dont know why, but “bus to Reynosa” got me blank looks, and then a few finally said “oh, an AUTObus to RRRReynosa!”

Spent the night in Reynosa – a seedy border town – found some food to take home (a case of Pineapple and a case of Papaya – about 70 pounds altogether), some Kahlua-like stuff that I am fond of which is only sold in Mexico, and did some general last-minutes-in-Mexico shopping. Crystal wanted some yogurt, and we were in a large chain grocery store, and she couldnt find it at first.Then she found a little bit on the end of this aisle:

Yogurt Aisle

She said thats not very much. I said look around the corner; that entire island, from one end to the other on both sides is FULL of nothing but yogurt. They consume a lot more of it down there than we do. So next morning we caught a bus for McAllen. We had to get off the bus and walk through customs into the US – carrying the fruit, which they looked at carefully but allowed to pass (except for the tangerine Crystal forgot to eat, which was confiscated) pay a tax on the alchohol of 2.50$ for 2 liters, and finally got to the bus station, where we awaited a connecting bus to Austin, where we were to meet my parents.

Taco Bell

We had a 2 hour layover, and both of us were starving for Taco Bell. After 6 weeks in Latin America, Taco Bell was all we could think about. So the nearest one was 11 blocks each way. So 22 blocks of walking later, I was back with tacos! I was stopped in the yard of the bus station by a self-important guard who refused to let me in to the station. Mind you, I was 10 yards away from the unlocked glass doors which opened up onto the main room of the station. And I had tickets! But no, I had to enter through the other side of the building.

There was NO reason for that at all. It wasnt like I went through a line, the other side of the glass was a public space in the middle of the station, not a restricted area. It irritated me. But I walked around the whole bus station to get right back where I almost was (although in retrospect I think I should have insisted on going through the short way). Crystal then informed me that the security guard inside had made her not sit with her feet on the benches (the benches were steel, and it wasnt like they were that clean anyway). So then I juggled for awhile to kill time and of course after a while the guard came over and told me it was prohibited. By this time I was weary of ignorant rules and demanded to know why. He said it was prohibited, I said why again. He didnt know and didnt care. I then informed him that this rule was stupid. But since I only had 10 minutes more, I let it slide. It just illustrates one of the major differences between the USA and Latin America.

In Central America, I could have built a fire in the middle of the bus station and no one would have cared. I could have roasted corn on it and opened a concession stand and no one would have cared. Here, in the “Land of the Free”, I juggle quietly, not bothering anyone, or try to walk into the bus station in a slightly unusual way, or sit with my feet on the bench, and a pompous security guard is there to tell me its against the rules. I missed Mexico already. Maybe Ill go to Morocco next ?

2 Responses

  1. Luis David Perez-V. Says:

    The Natnee website is definetely my favorite one to visit when seeking amusement; in fact, the part that amused me the most about the Ondale Ondale post was the part where Natnee said See? No sweat! to Crystal :-) I would have loooved to see a video- recording of that question and its forceful reply. :-)

  2. Cheivi Vara Says:

    dats rite
    pozole IS basicaly tortilla in watur
    CORN SOOP! (: thur are awf course difurent types of pozole
    some sweet pozole, some plain pozole, some spicy pozole, etc.

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Posted on July 31st, 2009 by Natnee and filed under Mexico |



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