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Bubba

Jan 28, 2007, 9:20 AM

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Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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My wife met an American woman taking intensive Spanish in San Cristóbal and, together, they took the collectivo from San Cristóbal to the nearby indigenous village of Zenacantán which is the normal way my wife likes to do these trips because that sort of breaks the ice among foreign tourists who speak Spanish and locals who, while normally a bit cold to foreign tourists, are quite affable when those tourists ride among them using their normal mode of transportation and speak Spanish (the locals´ second language).

On the Zinacantán trip, they made the acquaintance of a kid in his 20s from Zinacantán who, as it turns out, also lives in California part of the year and, my wife tells me, spoke very good English. During the course of the conversation, my wife´s traveling companion revealed that she was from Los Angeles and was in San Cristóbal to learn Spanish. The kid, who also resides in Los Angeles when in the states working, was incredulous. He blurted out, " But why would you come to Chiapas to learn Spanish when you live in Los Angeles?"

A cogent question, no?

He then asked my wife, who is not a U.S. citizen but worked in that country for 35 years, how she got into the states when she wished to visit El Norte. She responded, "Same as you, I walk." The whole collectivo was in stitches.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Jan 28, 2007, 11:03 AM)



esperanza

Jan 28, 2007, 10:32 AM

Post #2 of 12 (3607 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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This is a fantastic story, Bubba. I love it. That Bubbette--I can just hear her: 'Same as you, I walk.' I'm laughing here.




http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Bubba

Jan 28, 2007, 7:33 PM

Post #3 of 12 (3584 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Well, my wife had so much fun on the above collectivo trip to Zinacantán that today she was off on another collectivo from San Cristóbal to the ruins at Toniná near Ocosingo, Chiapas which is between San Cristóbal and Palenque.This ruin had been known about by white invaders since the 16th century but excavations only started there in 1972. It is a ruined Maya city with groups of temples-pyramids and over 100 carved monuments dating mostly from the Maya Classic Era and set against the side of an escarpment in what my wife describes as the extraordinarily beautiful and lush Ocosingo Valley. One can climb the monuments there for a spectacular view of the valley and, while she has seen many wonderful ruined Maya sites, she was very impressed by this little visited site which you might have mostly to yourself during the week.

One can drive or take a collectivo or bus from San Cristóbal to Ocosingo in about two hours and Palenque is an hour farther on from Ocosingo. From Palenque one can take tours of Bonampak and Yaxchilán overland and by boat. There was a lot of trouble in this part of the Lacandon Forest last November among different indigenous peoples competing for scarce land but things have calmed down now so we feel it is probably safe to include Banampak and Yaxchilán on your itinerary if you are headed to Chiapas this spring. People are not particularly friendly in this region but will take your money and the trip is certainly worth it.

I don´t think she got to practice her Spanish so much on this trip as many passengers spoke nary a word of it.
She´s supposed to be working on our house not having all this fun while Bubba endures the unusual cloudy dampness of Lake Chapala these past two weeks.


sfmacaws


Jan 28, 2007, 8:23 PM

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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I have never had a good feeling in Ocosingo, it may just be me but you're right that no one is particularly friendly around there. Still, I'd go to see those ruins, they sound interesting.

We've been to Yaxchilan and it is well worth the time to get there. Even just for the ride up the Usamacinta river that you have to take to get to it. Beautiful.

I seem to have a picture for every post tonight. Here's the Usamacinta and the boats you take to get to Yaxchilan



Also a link to my blog on the visit


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Bubba

Jan 29, 2007, 6:54 AM

Post #5 of 12 (3556 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Thanks for the pictures, Jonna. Bubba will shortly have to ride one of those boats to Yaxchilán and hopes his rather large self fits without tipping the boat over. Bubba doesn´t particularly want to become croc food and be recycled as croc poop but at least I would be contributing to the food chain.

Some additional comments on Toniná and Ocosingo as related to me by my wife.

Toniná, at seven levels up against that escarpment, is the highest construction among all ancient Maya cities and a spectacular sight. If you climb the ruins the view of the Ocosingo valley is stunning . Unlike many Maya ruins, you will not be distracted by large groups of tourists. Despite the surliness you may encounter in Ocosingo, the staff at the ruins and the excellent museum at Toniná are very friendly and helpful. You do not need a guide or tour to go there but can take a collectivo or drive yourself (in a standard vehicle) the 13 kilometers from Ocosingo.

The French guides, which take Maya ruins very seriously since the French are in love with the Maya civilization, rate Toniná two stars - the same as Palenque - a very high rating in French guidebooks. Whatever one may think of the French in general, their guidebooks are more serious and detailed than many U.S. published guidebooks.

Ocosingo is, indeed, not a particularly friendly place but that doesn´t imply any underlying threat to the visitor. It is a Mexican, not indigenous, town although many indigenous people live in the area. This area seems to be extremely poor in comparison to many other parts of Chiapas and some of that seemingly sullen general demeanor may arise from that fact. It is also a Zapatista stronghold but, once again, that should not put one off as there is no overt hostility to tourists. The primary local Maya dialect is Tzeltzal and many local people do not speak Spanish.

You don´t have to linger in Ocosingo to visit Toniná.

They are about to improve the road to Toniná and encourage tourism to help the local economy so get there soon to avoid the expected influx of tourists. Now is also the time to see Bonampak and Yaxchilán while many tourists are reluctant to go there. I remember visiting Uxmal and Chichen Itza years ago. Uxmal was deserted and Chichen was jammed with tourists and noisy kids. To this day we treasure the Uxmal visit more. There is nothing like visiting these sites in relative solitude for a more introspective experience.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Jan 29, 2007, 7:22 AM)


raferguson


Feb 2, 2007, 8:32 PM

Post #6 of 12 (3489 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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For what it is worth, we were at Uxmal the week of Christmas 2006, and it was gorgeous, unspoiled, uncrowded, everything that Chitzen was not. Chitzen was stuffed full of vendors, a working definition of underemployment. Tuluum is gorgeous, but somewhat crowded, and they won't let you climb on anything. We enjoyed our visit to Coba a few years ago, because there was hardly anyone there.

We saw Chitzen, Tuluum, and Uxmal on a ten day trip. More than our usual ruin quota. We visited Chitzen and Tuluum with family, our second visit to both. Uxmal was new for us, we loved it, about as much as we like Palenque.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


Bubba

Feb 3, 2007, 6:27 AM

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Re: [raferguson] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Richard:

Our experiences were somewhat similar to yours except that we arrived at the Tulum ruins just when they opened in the morning during the week on a fall vacation and there was not a soul there but us. We were blown away by Tulum and its setting on that beautiful beach on the Caribbean. There was no one there to prevent us from climbing all over everything. On that same vacation we visited Coba which, with the tall pyramid, forested setting and raised thoroughfares, was a real pleasure.

While Tulum and Coba are not considered that important by archaeologists, they are spectacular sites for the layperson. Get up early folks and get there before the tourist buses, It´s worth it.

Uxmal was the first Maya ruin we ever saw back in the 80s and we loved it. Chichen was a drag on a Sunday with screaming kids everywhere. We will be making our first trip to Palenque soon.

Our absolute favorite ruin in the Maya territory was Tikal in Guatemala both for its architecture and incredible jungle setting. When we went there long ago one had to fly in from Guatemala City but I believe one can now bus or even drive in from Mexico or Belize.


sfmacaws


Feb 3, 2007, 9:34 AM

Post #8 of 12 (3454 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Yes, you can drive into Tikal from Belize, we've done it twice. There are very nice B&Bs on lake Peten Itza before you enter the park and of course there is the Jaguar and one other hotel in the park. You can also camp inside the park, there are 2 huge areas for this, but you cannot bring any domestic animal into the park. Unfortunately, while trying to drive in our dog Chica took a dislike for one of the ticket guys and started barking at him. We had to leave the RV outside the gates.

We've been to most of the major Mayan sites, and many, many of the smaller ones. I would list the major sites in this order based on beauty and relevance and my ability to imagine the city in its prime. Tikal, Palenque, Uxmal, Yaxchilan, Copan (Honduras), Caracol (Belize), Cobá, Calakmul and probably last but still on the list, Chichén Itza.

Chichén is an impressive site even though most of it is rebuilt, it gives an incredible view of the expansive life of a late Mayan city and if that's the only one you are able to visit then don't skip it because someone said it was too touristy.

I recommend spending the night at a hotel there (Club Med is good) and walking into the park early in the morning. It will be cooler and the buses from Cancun arrive around 11am when you are heading back to your hotel for lunch and a swim. After 3pm, most buses have left and you can return for sunset - bring lots of bug spray. The light shows at night in Chichén and Uxmal are pretty stupid but kind of entertaining if you happen to be there and they are on, I wouldn't pay to see them.

RVs can stay in one of the parking lots at Uxmal and I think Chichén for a fee. Almost all of the other ruins RVs can park free (or for a small tip to the caretaker) in the parking lots, some of the smaller ruins along the Puuc route are really beautiful for this as there will be no one there at night but the caretaker.

The vendors that apparently now clog Chichén Itza did not used to be allowed on the grounds. There have been many political wars over them and at the latest attempt to remove them from the federal land of the park, Bubba's neighbor, Compañero Zero or the media star previously known as Comandante Marcos, came to demonstrate with the vendors that it was their patrimonial right to sell cheap Taiwan made imitation Mayan masks, hammocks, bracelets, etc within the grounds of the monument. Just say no.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Bubba

Feb 3, 2007, 11:03 AM

Post #9 of 12 (3446 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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There have been many political wars over them and at the latest attempt to remove them from the federal land of the park, Bubba's neighbor, Compañero Zero or the media star previously known as Comandante Marcos, came to demonstrate with the vendors that it was their patrimonial right to sell cheap Taiwan made imitation Mayan masks, hammocks, bracelets, etc within the grounds of the monument. Just say no.

You can´t say Compañero Zero ne Sub-Comandante Marcos is not a marketing genius. The Zapatistas have made a fortune over the years selling Zapatista dolls although those are truly made by local indigenous folk unless the Chinese have recently moved in there as well.

For those of you who are puzzled that an indigenous movement seemingly involving local Mayans has white intellectual leadership, it goes back to 1994 when Sub-Comandante Marcos was to be a military leader in the uprising and the sub-comandante in charge (the comandante being a behind-the-scenes white Mexico City marxist) was a local who spoke poor Spanish and no English while Marcos spoke passable English. During the first hours of the 1994 uprising, a number of American tourists were freaked out that they might be killed or harmed in some way and approached the local subcomandante pleading for help in English. Marcos was the only Zapatista there who spoke English so he was called in to placate the tourists in English and while he was doing so, the international press who had flown in from all parts of the world made the assumption that Marcos was the Zapatista leader. Marcos, being an egocentric and ambitious man, did nothing to discourage this misconception, much to the chagrin of his Mexico City superiors and thus was born the paradox of the white intellectual Mexico City leader of an indigenous movement.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Feb 3, 2007, 12:27 PM)


sfmacaws


Feb 3, 2007, 12:21 PM

Post #10 of 12 (3438 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Mi error, le olvido usar la palabra sub. Se llamaba Sub-Comandante Marcos pero no más, ahora se llama Compañero Zero.

Sorry, I forgot to put the sub in his old title.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




Bubba

Feb 3, 2007, 12:39 PM

Post #11 of 12 (3432 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Jonna:

Far be it from The Bubba to correct you. I was using the word "ne" as in, "formerly known as", not as in "not". You misinterpreted my meaning.

We who keep up with this stuff know that, Sub-Comandante Marcos recently changed his name to Compañero Zero and started riding a bicycle in order, I guess, to show some humility of which he actually has none.


sfmacaws


Feb 3, 2007, 1:18 PM

Post #12 of 12 (3428 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Intensive Spanish on the Collectivo

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Well, life has a way of dealing out humility, perhaps he has acquired some. Ramona died last year while we were in San Cristóbal and right before he went off on his tour of the Republic. My kinder self believes that this had a big effect on him.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán


 
 
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