Squinting in San Cristobal
Last night was tamale night, picking up where we had left off with good friends and making new ones. Wes picked up tamales prepared by hand, wrapped in banana leaves, traditional for this area. Some had pork, the rest were a mystery since he didn't quite understand what the abuelita (little grandmother) told him. Some had molé sauce (that's "mo-lay," not the little blind rodent) with shredded chicken, others remained unidentified. All had a prune in the center, and all were delicious! We washed them down with cheap wine and ghost stories while enjoying the cool breeze and wonderful view from Star's rooftop patio above her book store. A few of us wandered off around eleven, others stayed out till later.
This morning there was a light fog, but it was all in my brain. As I stood in the Oxxo convenience store mindlessly preparing two cups of coffee I became aware of the sounds competing for my attention. In my left ear, the deep gonging emanating from the bells in the steeple of the nearby Cathedral of San Cristobal. In my right ear, the BeeGees sang out from a radio encouraging me to keep on Stayin' Alive. I picked up a dona and paid for everything (37 pesos, about $2.85 US).
Outside I stepped down from the raised sidewalk to the newly built pavestones at street level. When we left here in January the work crews were about halfway done with the renovation of the Zocalo, the main plaza in the downtown central historic district. Now their handiwork is complete and the square is surrounded by new large walking areas, restricting the vehicular traffic to one narrow lane and making it all much more pedestrian friendly. I have a feeling that the goal was to better connect the three main tourist walking streets where they intersect.
I look up at the Cathedral which dominates the square. I notice some architectural details that I had missed before. It is possible that the church has had some of its paint retouched. It's also possible that I just never noticed.
I walk the half block back to our hotel. The street is so familiar, like a long-lost friend to become reacquainted with. Last night it was loud and blurry, a river of people and sounds. Tribal drums from the neo-hippies mixed in with pounding bass from the dance clubs until you could feel it in your blood cells. Now the street is in need of some hair of the dog, or perhaps just a hot shower. Colorful stains are abundant on the pavestones, although it is unclear whether the source was food, drink, an earlier parade or possibly something from the stray dogs who help clean up leftovers in the middle of the night.
A Tzotzil woman working for the city is sweeping up with a large palm leaf, and eventually someone will empty the many trash receptacles mounted into the curbs. By the time we brave the daylight for breakfast, much of the evidence of last night's tourist excesses will be gone.
I've missed you San Cristobal. Buenos dias!