Friday, July 31, 2009

animal insanity

It's been a while since I posted, and this time I swear I've barely sat in front of a computer for two weeks. A fact, which, I'm slightly ashamed to say, seems so damn strange.

A lot has happened. My cousin Matt came and G and I took him up to Palenque and then over and further into the jungle. We also showed him all around San Cristobal, of course, and dragged him around Tuxtla some. Sadly, he is a working man and missed out on the beach trip that followed. With our Belgian neighbors, we decided to go farther than we had to to reach a beach so we could get to a really, really sweet beach. We spent four full days in Mazunte (with a delightful overnight bus trip on each end) and were back in San Cristobal just this morning. I will most likely post about the jungle and the beach in the coming days, so as not to forget.

But for now, I am lazy and will just make a list. Typified by surprise encounters like one when we got back to our casita today with the (furry and slightly less than palm-length) spider in the above picture, this summer has been rife with animals, among them:

every size and color of ant you can think of from small white ones to black flying ones,
worms for eating,
in the jungle: huge roaches, striped mosquitoes, a pet monkey we played with, plenty of dogs, tiny fish in the water nipping at my ankles, so many butterflies for some reason attracted to gravel,
crocodiles: big ones we saw in the canyon from the boat, one snapping its jaws behind a fence at a preserve, one somehow out of the mangrove and into the sea, reported sightings at the beach in mazunte,
a spider monkey i got to shake hands with,
talio, our neighbor's amazing rescued street dog, who turns up on the street still, met us once when we were having wine on the sidewalk,
chango, our other neighbors' new kitten, a tiny guy, growing by the day, climbing over, scratching up everyone,
circus animals going through the street in cages (i only saw a pic of that),
some rodent that was too quick to identify in the dark but huge and ran across the ground where we stayed at the beach, scurrying just under our beds,
and also at the beach crabs of varying size and color, especially at night and in the dark, some as big as my fist and bigger,
chickens: clucking, pecking, some in that strange phase between chick and grown, some having their necks wrung in the church at chamula,
in the pacific, a few kilos from shore: sea turtles, some swimming, one we got to swim with in the deep, deep sea, and then many turtles mating--pairs of them floating, the female's flipper flapping to keep them floating--dolphins--young and fast streaks out of and back into the water, newly dead and giant fish caught by fishermen we talked to, boat-to-boat,
birds, birds, birds,
hummingbirds in our garden,
barking street dogs, mating street dogs, sleeping street dogs,
bees--one stinging my friend as he jumped and screamed,
huge wasps,
fruit flies,
strange little beetles that retract their legs and turn into tiny pellets,
bright green iquanas and other lizards, including
geckos, of course.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Yesterday, we got up early, about seven. I remembered how much I truly am a morning person. We walked to the bus station and caught a bus to Comitan, the largest city near the Guatemalan border. There, we took a combi to Monte Bello, where we checked out four of the 59 lakes they've got there. The weather wasn't perfect lake weather, a cloud scattered sky playing hide and seek with the sun, but it was beatiful--the lakes we saw clear turquoise with the sun shining on them. They were selling all sorts of random things from Guatemala there, like cigarettes called After Hours,and cardamom gum with Arabic writing on the package, and Guatemalan beer, which I am swilling, above. (More pics here.) It's called Gallo, which means "rooster". Yup. The landscape between Monte Bello and Comitan really struck me on the way back, flat land, overed in flowered brush, cows grazing, random little shacks selling tacos and yard ornaments. And Comitan had one of the most beautiful zocalos (the inevitable square in each city) I've seen in all the cities I've gotten to see in Mexico this last year. This zocalo had amazing fountains, well-pruned trees, beautiful cobbled streets surrounding it. With all that bus-riding I was able to get 100 pages into Orhan Pamuk's "Snow", which is fantastic. And we got back to San Cristobal just in time to be the first customers at mariscos (seafood) night at this amazing quesadilla hole-in-the-wall we've recently become obsessed with. My favorite was the squid and broccoli in cream sauce. Or maybe the crab wrapped in bacon. Or...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


These are the worms one of G's friends cooked up in our house last Saturday night. They brought them from Tuxtla. Apparently they're a delicacy and it's the season. (Ants, too, which we roasted over the barbecue the next night, but that's another story.) As soon as word got around they were being cooked, the party that had been next door moved mostly to our house. You could stretch the things out, joint by joint, which was what the cook did, to make them cook faster. Fried up, they didn't taste like much, but it was sort of an insane thing, and this pretty girl went around with a plate, offering them. Some people screwed up their noses, but most gave it a try. I'm not sure if eating the things was the reason, but the party got pretty insane. Shall we blame it on the worms? Or the mezcal and tequila? Or my delicious flan?