Mexico 28, 3rd May

I wasted most of the morning in Comitan, wandering round, visiting museums, sitting on the plaza. Then I drove on towards Ocosingo. All my guide books and also an Englishman I met at Xpu-Ha had suggested that Rancho Esmeralda was a great place to stay. Seems it's shut. I couldn't find out why, it was apparently being run very successfully by an American couple. However the guard at the Tonina site suggested I park on the football field just round the corner. No amenities, but free!

The Tonina site has without doubt the most beautiful views from any of the cities that I have seen.

On the way down to the Yucatan I had driven past the turn off for waterfalls of Agua Azul, meaning to visit on my way back. Now I had returned via the frontier road I had to backtrack some 40 miles to see them. But it was worth it.

The water is a wonderful turquoise blue. I talked with Tawny from Washington, who has been living here 2 months, and who has been all over the place. She's lived 2 years in Blackpool and 2 years in the bush in South Africa, in Greece and in Italy, amongst many other places. She's driven an old RV down through North and South America to Tierra del Fuego, as far south as you can go and been moving around for 20 years. I'm meeting some amazing people. She told me there were some superb falls about an hour's walk downstream and gave me instructions. First, don't take any valuables, there are signs posted saying there's been some robberies. Next go to the village, about 40 minutes walk, and ask for the cascades and a guida. I did that and held up a 10 peso coin. A man immediately delegated his son to be guide. It was rather a fun procession. Small boy, then me, then 4 more even smaller boys along just for the fun of it. Walking through their village it's obvious these people here don't have anything. Even in the comparatively wealthy Agua Azil park area some of the young girls working in the restaurants, who have left school to help the family finances, work a 12 hour day and are paid 90 pesos per month. Yep. $9 a MONTH.

The falls were wonderful, amazing huge falls. Thinking of the robberies I only took my small camera so didn't get any worthwhile photos. It was hot, really hot, walking through the jungle. When I got back everything I was wearing was absolutely soaked with perspiration. I went swimming. A touch cold for me but what a background for a swim.

Now it is the morning of my second day here, and it's raining. Not hard by local standards but it's heavy rain. 2 hours so far and showing no signs of stopping.

It did eventually stop but there was still lots of low cloud around, visibility was generally poor. I'll leave tomorrow, hopefully everything will be clearer. I've been along the road before, there are lots of good views, it would be a pity to miss them.

Best regards

David Barker

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