Friday, May 15, 2009

If You Build It, They Will Come.

I know...I have to stop referencing movies. It's almost like I'm obsessed. Maybe it's because of our inability to see a good flick where we are living. The release of Wolverine has been postponed due to the Swine Flu, and the only other movies playing here are Mall Cop and Fast and Furious which has been dubbed over in Spanish.....painful.

Anyway, there is some relevance to my title. About a week and on half ago, San Cristobal was practically a ghost town. Our theory was that the tourists who come through here are typically on trips where they are just passing through for a day or two on a total trip of 2 to 3 weeks for example. Due to the Swine Flu, our suspicion was that those trips ended (some abruptly), and the new wave of tourists did not continue to come. As a result, the streets around town were very quiet at night, and many businesses were closed. Michelle and I started trying to look for tourists, and it was rare to find one. On the RARE occation that we would see one, we would point and say, "look a tourist", as if we are not one of them, and then we would laugh, realizing how ridiculous it was to say that.

The slump in Tourism has been hard on this area in many ways. Many people here, especially the indigenous, live hand to mouth. With no tourists to buy their trinkets and shirts, etc. (that were made via microcredit loans), they very possibly
had no way to eat or pay back their loans during that time. When the child vendors would approach us trying to sell bracelets and little wooden dogs, instead of just leaving, they began asking for a few pesos "just because", or if they saw a container of take out food, they would ask if they could have it. Most of the time, like last night for example, we have given up our food to a little girl or boy when asked. There have been a few occasions when I have seen an entire family including infants, children and collective mothers, sharing a toxic orange ice sucker type treat like it was gold. In those moments, it's hard not to feel pain for them in so many ways. One, in that they are eating something horrible for their teeth, and completely non nutritious, and two, because the lack of nutrition is what keeps the children from growing fully. In those instances, I want to give them an awesome muffin or loaf of bread made of pan integral, but then I don't want to be insulting and say "here you need this"!. So right now we wait until we are asked. Maybe this will change down the road.

On a lighter note (sorry about that), the tourists are returning! Just 3 days ago we began to see a gradual influx of foreign tourists, and today, the town seems to be up and running as usual. It was really neat to see the transition.

In other news, Michelle and I have taken up Chess or Ahedrez in Espanol. We shopped around to find a good deal on a set that we can cart around with us, and Michelle found a perfect one made of wood. We downloaded the instructions from the internet, and I don't want to say we're experts now, but we don't have to look at the instructions anymore at least. It's been a lot of fun. Sometimes we'll go out and have a glass of wine at an outside cafe and play a game or two. It's nice to hear and see the people while we are preoccupied doing something else. It gives us an opportunity to hear spanish spoken and every little bit helps.

Also, we just had a run in with Herbie. I can't believe how emotionally attached to this car I am. I really didn't know how much I had missed Herbie until I saw this version. (I think I even surprised myself). At this point, I think I want Michelle and I to own a Herbie of our own. This may be a passing thing, but I don't think so. Michelle thinks I'm crazy. Her comment to me, "I had my Bug Phase, that was a long time ago, and you did too". Anyway, we'll see. The real question is, will Michelle allow me to have one! As a once famous beer holder says, "If she ain't happy, you ain't happy", and don't we all know that to be true. :)
Ps. That picture at top: We are nowhere near there right now. I just forgot to post it when we were in Playa Del Carmen.
Pss. We're planning on leaving on Monday for Northern Guatemala. There we will begin our formal Spanish classes and hopefully live with a family. Thanks for reading!

Ciao for now.....


  1. robbin in oregonMay 18, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    hola chicos!! always good to see what you are up to. and, thanks for the clarification on the pic. i just wasn't sure where that gorgeous water could be in san cristobal. hugs to you both!!

  2. So much fun! The "Surrender your Booty" T-shirt, the Cato admonition to Michelle to "FOR ONCE, SHUT YOUR MOUTH",and yet,the serious tone of your genuine concern and pain for hunger and poverty you can experience first-hand, among the native population. You guys should sell this valuable TRAVEL LOG! And yes, Mark, I think you should find a Herbie (or "Lovebug",as you used to call it when you had your first car, bright colored.)
    Did that occurrence between David and Goliath really take place or was that some type of trick video?
    God be with you on your treacherous journey to Guatemala, where people still get killed when they are courageous enough to stand up against corruption.

  3. Herbie is so cute.... I got to meet him when I was like in the 3rd grade when I lived in the L.A. Area. We went to a Roller Derby and he was there. He does get around and hardly ages it appears. GO BUGS!!

  4. Mark, Personally I like how you reference movies. It makes it more fun and interesing, right?

    I praying for all the people struggling to keep food on the table for their families. I can't imagine what that would be like. It's so sad and here in the land of opportunity we often forget how lucky we are.

    And last but not least. I think you should add a little herbie to your family.