Mar 2012

Blog, North America


San Cristóbal and the Babies

For a while I’ve been wondering what baby gifts we should get for our friends Jen and Eric, who are expecting twin girls soon.  You could say I don’t really “get” kids. When I speak to them I use long multisyllabic words, I assume that they want to talk about politics, or I force them to sit through my soapbox monologues about the intricacies of proper espresso preparation.  It was thus with great joy that I discovered the two perfect gifts for Jen and Eric’s future daughters while strolling around the artisan market in San Cristobal de las Casas.

The first thing I found was this great little handmade wool monkey.  It’s a mother hugging its baby.  It seemed like a gift that would remind child #1, we’ll call her Guadalupe, that her mother, like this monkey, is a caregiver.  I don’t know a damn thing about kids, but it seems like little Guadalupe will benefit from a constant reminder that her mother will give her a hug when she gets sad about petty injustices, or whatever it is that kids get sad about.

Later I was walking by a market stall when this next gem caught my eye.  For child #2, we’ll call her Wanda, I couldn’t pass up this handsome wool figurine of the masked leader of the Zapatista rebels, Subcomandante Marcos.  He wears a black ski mask over his face and carries a camouflaged rucksack on his back to aid in his survival while camping in the mountains. His cute little wool hands tightly clasp a Kalashnikov machine gun.  In times of despair, little Wanda can look at her Subcomandante Marcos doll and find solace in the idea that one day the evils of globalization will be put down and the mountain villages of Chiapas will once again thrive.

There you go Jen and Eric.  Let me know if you ever need a babysitter when we’re done with our trip.  I’m sure I can come up with a well thought out lecture to deliver while you two go out for a nice dinner.

San Cristobal de las Casas was a beautiful town, and one of our favorites yet in Mexico.  It’s mountain location in a pine forest at 7,200 feet, roughly the same elevation as Flagstaff, made us feel at home.  Walking through the cobbled streets, through the brightly colored buildings and ample open air markets, we encountered a great number of women and children dressed in traditional Mayan clothing.  Women wore long skirts made of black goat hide still thick with unruly goat fur, and brightly colored cardigans.  Every Mayan girl over the age of 15 or so had at least one baby in tow.

We found a campsite within walking distance of downtown, yet still tucked away in the trees at the base of the hills.  By day we wandered the town streets or took short trips to the surrounding villages (like the last post), while in the evenings we fell asleep to the sound of crickets.  We spent one evening chatting with a couple from Switzerland who are on their way north from Argentina to the United States.  So far we’ve met at least a dozen groups of Europeans doing this route, but pretty much nobody else seems to be heading south like us.

After a few days in San Cristobal, the ocean started calling to us.   The surfboards were looking a little parched and the fishing poles still longed to be used for their intended purpose.  And with that, we loaded up Nacho, secured our baby warming gifts, and headed east.  Someplace warm.  A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called Palenque.

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  1. Cat

    You’re only 20 hours away from Tamarindo, Costa Rica!! We leave tonight, and if there is ANY way you’ll be there by the 10th, shoot Kyle an email (he’ll have his Blackberry). I want to see you guys so badly.

    Comment by Cat on March 2, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  2. Sherrie Aoki

    Brad, you are right, you have a ways to go on fully grasping the kid thing. Nice effort though. I would have gone with two of those adorable monkees because children are like dogs, or is it the dogs who are like children? One twin is always going to be wanting the adorable chew toy her sister is hugging and if they had identical Kongs the theory is that the result would be a pair of Happy Campers. I’d mount the Zapatista rebel leader on your dash as a precautionary show of support while travelling thru their neck of the woods. Besides, that machine gun looks like a stick and someone could take an eye out. Admit it, deep down you wanted that wool figurine for yourself. A chotski for a chotski. Some day I will spell that one right.
    Nice interior shot of an intimate soiree inside the bus. This is one of those situations where you hope everyone is wearing fresh socks and that beans and rice were not served for dinner.
    Love the color in your shots of the marketplace. The arrangement of the produce is incredible too. You have a good eye.
    Keep on runnin’ and keep on stopping to smell the smells.

    Comment by Sherrie Aoki on March 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

  3. Sherrie, Sheena did tell me that Subcomandante Marcos’ gun would be frowned upon by the US Department of Safe Kid Toys, but I overrode her concerns. If the kid can’t handle a stick to the eye, how can she expect to get anywhere in this world? Jen and Eric will thank me when little Wanda becomes President ;) I didn’t mention it in the blog, but I also bought Sheena a pair of Subcomandante Marcos earrings.

    Comment by Brad on March 2, 2012 at 3:38 pm

  4. Barb Wieber

    Bradley and Sheena,
    Your adventure is so amazing. I love your colorful pics. Your camp looks so inviting and so very peaceful. Just getting up in the mornings and just roaming around the towns and seeing new different type of culture just opens up your new way of thinking and aiming at the next journey. Hey Sheen you were wondering what to make with your yarn you have, maybe you could make some wool monkeys. Do you remember that lamb you made that was so adorable that you gave me. Monkey projects!!! Luv U both XOXOXO Mom

    Comment by Barb Wieber on March 2, 2012 at 4:14 pm

  5. unibagel

    “A place where the beer flows like wine.”, just love that phrase…

    Comment by unibagel on March 3, 2012 at 2:19 pm

  6. Eric

    Thanks Brad, we have been stressing about names, but not anymore, Guadalupe and Wanda it is. You know, I have been having nightmares lately that one of my children will turn out to be a quiet little loveable monkey and the other a rebel who drives her dad crazy. Now I fear your funny little blog is turning out to be a bad omen. WTF?

    Comment by Eric on March 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm

  7. Brad Ruston

    Oh, I dunno, Brad, the French are assholes

    Comment by Brad Ruston on March 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm

  8. Elmira

    What Sherrie Aoki said…

    Comment by Elmira on March 4, 2012 at 6:55 am

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