16th March Mexico 8

Didn't do a lot the next day, just pottered along. I noticed I'd got what sounded like a slightly blowing silencer,I checked with a mechanic, he said not to worry, it's the exhaust gasket blowing, no problem, worst that will happen is it might be noisy. Maybe one day I'll get it fixed, meanwhile I'll live with it. It's not very noisy and I think it's not an easy replacement. That evening I spotted a woodyard a little off the road, I asked if I could park there for the night, and got an immediate answer, yes. No ifs and buts, just a straight yes. It had taken me a while to work out how to ask the question in Spanish.

In Tuxtla Gutierrez I noticed a Sam's Club, no Wal-Mart. So I joined and stocked up, mostly on drinks. In the afternoon I took a boat trip up the Canyon del Sumidero.

I carried on to Chiapa de Corzo and parked in the plaza. You can just see the van behind the tree.

I did say just. There was a nearly 500 year old brick built thing with a sort of pond in the middle.

I couldn't work out what it was, but it did say it was the only one in Mexico. Nice little town Chiapa. It was Sunday when I got there, all sorts of stuff going on in the square, kids in best clothes for the crowning of the junior king and queen of something.

I stayed parked in the square for the night, it was a bit noisy, then continued on to San Cristobal de la Casas. Another really nice town,

the market and area around was full of Indian ladies selling wares, all dressed in very colourful and smart embroidered blouses. A very proud people. Even though many of them don't have two pennies to rub together, they are existing just on the bread line. You see lots of people walking all over Mexico, but more so round the Indian villages. I plan to go out to a couple of their villages on the way back, can't take a camera, they are very touchy about photos.

I must press on, there was an unusual shower of rain today which reminded me the rainy season starts in the Yucatan in April, after that it gets unbearable, I started the trip really quite a lot later than I would ideally have liked.

I took another photo in the centre of San Cristabel

and planned to park up for the night in a secure parking suggested by the tourist office. I had a detailed map but couldn't find the entrance so I've stopped under a street lamp outside a Corona (beer) distribution centre. That'll do just fine. It actually turned quite quiet until about 6.30 am when everyone is starting to go to work, and I'm beginning to stir anyway.

The high hill scenery since Oaxaca, apart from 100 miles or so crossing the isthmus has been quite stupendous. Magnificent views, up and down almost like a roller coaster. San Christobel is 7000 ft for example, Chiapa, close by the canyon floor, only 1500 ft. Green green huge hills of trees scattered with minute homes (hovels probably most of them) and patches of cleared ground. This region, San Cristobal and around has noticeably less litter than I have seen elsewhere and is consequently much more pleasant to drive though. In some areas litter is in an almost continuous line along the side of the road and almost every place where you can stop is almost knee deep in discarded bags of rubbish with most every roadside bush festooned with old plastic bags.

Best regards

David Barker

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