Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wandering the Yucatan

I've been to Mexico nine times, and always spend a lot of time exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. When the time comes, I plan on retiring to a little fishing village at the tip of the peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico. I don't hang around Cancun, and I don't go to Mexico to hang out in hotels. If this is all you do while in Mexico, you are doing yourself a disservice.

I'm no expert on Mexico. My nine visits to the area total about fourteen weeks of actual time, hardly enough to really understand anything. I don't pretend to know all about the internal workings or the politics. I do know a little bit about the history of the area and the people. I find it fascinating. I appreciate the culture and the food, the weather and the amiability of the people I meet. I detect a very certain dignity in the faces of the inhabitants of this limestone plateau.

If you want to get an idea of what it is really like to live in the Mexico for a non-Mexican, you might want to read the blogs of a couple friends of mine, Rivergirl and CancunCanuck.

In between the more populated areas and bigger cities, many parts of the area are quite remote and difficult to get to. Less traveled roads are often in poor condition, riddles with teeth chattering potholes, and Himalayan speedbumps (topes) that often appear out of nowhere. Even the two lane roads are really only one and a half lanes wide, and meeting traffic coming from the opposite direction requires some maneuvering to pass without incident.

The only thing that I found that I could predictably count on finding from one jungle village to the next, was Coca-Cola. It was everywhere. The more I looked, the more I found it. In every village, if there wasn't a market that sold it, there was a boy on the side of the road, sitting on a cooler, that was full of semi-cold Coke. I passed more than one very elderly man, pedaling a giant tricycle from village to village, distributing the beverage to the boys with the coolers. He would pedal for miles from outpost to outpost, making his rounds, delivering his product to the boys that sat on the coolers.

While visiting the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza with my family in 2006, we were walking down a small path, searching out some shade for my two youngest sons who were making their first trip to Mexico with me. Just out of the corner of my eye, I saw something. It took a second for my brain to register what my eyes had seen, but as soon as I put it together, I immediately stopped, spun around, dropped to a knee, and snapped off this single frame with my camera. I knew that I had snapped a beautiful frame, and I wasn't going to mess with the mood, by trying to take more.

I walked over to the little girls and her mother, showed them the photo, and asked their permission to keep it. They both said it was fine, so I gave them each a few pesos, and we continued on our way.

6 comments:

RiverGirl said...

Scott - OMG you are so right about Coca Cola here. And generic, fake Coke won't cut it here. If I try to give a guest a Soriana (local supermarket chain) brand generic Coke they get offended. They only want the real thing. We joke that the poor here spend 25% of their money just on Coke. Then they spend another 25% on their cell phone bill, and live on the rest. Amazing.

PamperingBeki said...

What a beautiful picture!

Helen said...

Another picture I love ...

~Stella said...

Cool story with great writing!

Urban Woodswalker said...

I wonder just how the mega corporation Coca Cola got them all hooked on this. Fascinating read, and gorgeous picture.

CancunCanuck said...

I love the little girl photos. And I LOVE my Coca Cola, teehee. I can't remember if there is a difference, been a looong time since I had a non-Mexican Coke, but I do drink a lot of what we get here. It's a staple. :)