San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, MX, the southernmost state in Mexico. The bus from Zipolite to San Cristobal, although overnight and not conducive to sleep, was interesting in that I met a young French couple from an organic farm, a pair of sisters from Madrid, who were teachers, and, more briefly, a young man from Amsterdam and a young woman from Berlin. I love meeting so many fellow adventurers, from other countries, and hearing their stories.
After snatching 3 hours of cat naps, I arrived in San Cristobal early in the morning and took a taxi to Sonia’s house, my second experience with staying at the homes of Airbnb hosts, which I highly recommend. Sonia is fluently bi-lingual, having grown up in Brooklyn and having a Puerto Rican mother and a Cuban father. She was a hospital administrator in NY and now, retired, rents a house with her husband and mother, and shares the space with tourists like myself. She serves a marvelous vegetarian breakfast every morning with the help of Yolanda, her house keeper.
Although San Cristobal is not as beautiful as other cities I have visited in Mexico and has construction on many streets in El Centro, the people I met were more cosmopolitan and more outgoing and kind. Because of the high elevation of 7-8,000 feet, it is very chilly here.
The first day I walked around in a daze from exhaustion, but the second day I met my people here in San Cristobal de las Casas, resulting from the morning’s yoga class at a local alternative/hippie/organic food center on one of the two “walking” streets in the city, which are filled with hotels, restaurants and shops; no cars allowed. I met Richard from OR, who, I hope, will provide much information on intentional communities in the Eugene, OR area.
I had my first on-the-road massage from Parama, who told me about a meeting that night with two members (Danish) of Findhorn Community in Scotland, probably one of the most evolved intentional communities in the world. My journey has now expanded to 15 countries in 15 months. I must visit Findhorn.
Parama, originally from Massachusetts, New Mexico and California, introduced me to Kiki, who is from Hamburg, Germany, has been here for 38 years, is married to a Mexican man and has three adult Mexican sons. Kiki is one of those multi-talented people; a psychotherapist, artist (attended her art show opening on Friday night), and leads a meditation/yoga/dance class on Saturday morning, which I enjoyed very much. She and her family own and operate the art gallery, a hotel, and a wonderful restaurant, called la Paloma (the dove), where I eat every day because it is delicious, reasonably priced and safe food. I will eat at another restaurant today because there are a number of Italian ex-pats here, and this is supposed to be the best Italian restaurant in the town, and it is my last day here so I need to have a new experience.
I did have a new experience at Kiki’s restaurant. She joined me at lunch yesterday and had the ravioli with cuitcacoche sauce, which I ate on another day. I found out that the sauce is made from the fungus on corn, which didn’t sit well with me because, hey, fungus on the corn on my organic farm was nasty. Oh, well….it tasted good when I didn’t know what it was. I have not eaten grasshoppers, crickets or worm/grubs, which are considered delicacies here.
I took a photo yesterday of a Chamula baby, who was in the restaurant with his mother, who was selling something. The Chamulas are the most populous indigenous tribe in this area. As with many poor indigenous people, there is a lot of abuse of women. Men leave their families and the stress of feeding their children, leaving it up to the mothers to keep them from starving. Another interesting, present day fact in the Chamula tribe – when girls reach the age of 12 or 13, a man can just touch the girl, even the sleeve of her blouse, and the girl is required to marry him, no matter his age or physical condition. The girls go to live in the house of their in-laws, no matter who they marry, and are often treated like slaves.
Jade and amber are prevalent here, and you can buy a lot of jewelry. I went to the Jade Museum. Jade was used to fashion ceremonial masks and jewelry and religious artifacts. I would have loved jade earrings but must stick to my farmer’s budget and buy only necessities.
I did buy a new money belt yesterday at the Artisans Market (el Mercado de Artesanias). There were dozens and dozens of stalls. I was excited to buy something to help out the indigenous people who make these articles of textiles, leather and stone and bead jewelry. But I was told by Sonia and by Kiki that all the stalls and products are owned by 5 or 6 wealthy men, who have the sellers as hired employees, although the products are authentic. The belt I bought is probably from Guatemala but it will last me for, at least, the reminder of my time before I return to the States.
The night before I left San Cristobal, I was blessed with a meeting with Susanna and Ole, a Danish couple, who are music therapists. I wish I would have had more time with these delightful, honest and completely trustworthy people. I recognized them immediately on Thursday evening, when I heard their lecture on Findhorn Community, as members of my tribe. I would have enjoyed having some music therapy with them. They live in rural Denmark part of the year (offered me a house sitting job, so they must have recognized me too) and at the Findhorn Community in northern Scotland the other half of the year. I will be visiting them at Findhorn in April, 2016, for information and for a possible future home. Southern Oregon and Southern England are also forerunners in my research of possible new homes, but who knows, maybe I will end up in Bali or Thailand or India or…….(I have since found out that the lovely Susanna died in October, 2015.)
If any of you are interested in living in an established, wonderfully evolved community that has been gathering strength and making a great difference in many people’s lives since the 1960’s, or have family or friends, especially young ones, who are, goggle Findhorn for facts and plan a visit. I will be there for their Experience Week and hope to stay longer by house sitting in this community. Susanna assured me that my skills would be welcome there and that there is dancing!
I also met with Denny on Sunday evening, a French Canadian photographer, who has been traveling for 8 years, including living in China for 3 years. He walked me through, with maps and photos, a 4-6 week SE Asia journey, that was tantalizing. Previously I was just going to spend a couple of weeks in Laos and Cambodia, but, as we looked at the map, his description of the marvels of Southern Viet Nam and Mandalay, Burma/Maramur was just too tempting. Denny’s travels were not the typical tourist route, as mine also aspire to be. I want to meet people in all the countries that I visit, hear their stories and have adventures and experiences to look back on with wonderment and joy.