May 26, 2016
Wow, long time no paint!
I had a couple of fun visits from family. Then friends of ours announced they would be moving back to the states and wanted me to take over the lease of their place. I can’t imagine a better place for the money, still in Xochimilco, but further away from the noisy church. So I had to get ready for that move while packing for a vacation to Chiapas.
This painting is from that trip. It was in some ways grueling. The highways are very sinuous to say the least. They are too dangerous to drive at night so the trip to San Cristóbal de las Casas had to be in two legs. The first took us to Juchitán in Oaxaca. Being at sea level, it was freakin’ hot and humid. There was nothing in the town I wanted to see. Rocío had been there before and mentioned a market selling more exotic meats like iguana, turtle, etc. I wasn’t interested.
The next leg got us to SCLC after driving through a pretty impressive wind farm and lots of very arid country. Eventually we climbed and things greened up nicely. San Cristóbal de las Casas is a beautiful colonial city with a great climate. The place is stuffed with good restaurants. The only down side is that compared to Oaxaca, there is very little culture. The city is mostly hotels and restaurants, very few galleries, museums, or music venues. They have a great textile museum, but no other visual arts.
We took a drive around the mountains near San Cristóbal to see some of the indigenous villages. I understand that the descendants of the Maya have had a very hard time since the conquest. Driving around there I felt like I was driving around the back hills of W. Virginia. We weren’t from around those parts. We were either aggressively solicited by vendors or scorned.
So, finally we headed out for Palenque, a bit apprehensive for the road and the heat that awaited in the lowland jungle. The road was awful. There were something like 3,000 speed bumps, the only speed enforcement in most of Mexico. Halfway along we reached Ocosingo, where some Zapatistas had set up a roadblock to collect money. That slowed us by an hour. Then as we descended to the lowlands, there were groups of women blocking the road with ropes held at either end by someone selling bananas etc. This was a bit alarming to me. When the women were trying to sell stuff, a car approached from the other direction not slowing a bit. The women dropped the ropes as the truck sped past. That’s how I learned to blow past vendors’ roadblocks.
We had a nice hotel in Palenque and enjoyed the swimming pool immensely. Macaws flew overhead and smaller parrots chattered from palms. The next morning we visited the ruins. In that jungle setting, it looked spectacular. Even more enjoyable was the wildlife we could see from the uppermost temple. We saw a group of howler monkeys in a nearby tree. Toucans flew nearby. A white hawk perched a ways away looking for snakes. In the afternoon the monkeys did what they were named for. I developed a pretty good impression of them which fooled our waiter that evening.
We enjoyed the wildlife so much, we booked a night in a small hotel tucked into the jungle. Outside a restaurant, a young howler monkey, Pancho, was goofing off for the humans. I handed him my hat and he put it on. You can’t tell me that he didn’t know he was “aping” me.
Running roadblocks we made it back to San Cristóbal where I came down with giardia. No matter, we weren’t to be denied a trip to Cañón del Sumidero. It means Canyon of the Drain. The man-made lake at the end of the canyon is fed by a river originating in Guatemala. The walls rose more than 3,000 feet above the river.
We returned to Oaxaca after the two-day trip. I had intended to stay in Oaxaca during the heat of May so I could say I did it. Holy crap!! It gets really hot here in May. The old apartment turns into an oven in the night and some nights I’d lay in front of a fan in my underwear spraying myself with water. I hadn’t been so hot since going to Burning Man. So my first purchase after moving in was a portable air conditioner. It’s been great! And I’m happy to say that as I write this, a big thunderstorm has dumped a bunch of rain cooling off things nicely. I think the rainy season is upon us…
We do miss Achiles, the hound dog that Ricardo got to replace the drowned Tobías. We could see that the bond between them was strong and affectionate. I think they will be fine. Achiles is just a big ole lover, can’t imagine him being much of a threat to intruders. We also miss the back yard with its many birds close at hand. But the new place is wonderful, especially the roof top terrace.
Of course the first thing I set up in the new place was my studio:
That’s all for now folks.