Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Our home away from home

We are settling into our little  apartmento here in San Cristobal de las Casas (such a long name... haven't figured how people shorten it or if they do) and so far so good!  It's more sparsely furnished than the place we rented in Antigua but it feels so good to have our own space and feel like we have a home (even if it's only for 12 days).  We went out to the big shopping plaza (full of mega stores) and loaded up with groceries so we have a fully stocked kitchen now.  We've been exploring the streets and getting familiar with things... our corner store for  matches for the gas stove,  refills of "Agua Puraficada" and the occasional treat! There is a little vegetable and fruit tienda about 5 blocks down and over and the local market is about a 7 minute walk away.. for a more colourful shopping experience.  And there are two supermercados  in walking distance for basics like bread, eggs, cheese etc. (we have to go to the megastore for more westernized foods... like spaghetti sauce or instant oatmeal).  It's amazing how the routine  things like  shopping for our own food and cooking have become exciting to us, but it's that sense of comfort and home that we've been needing in our travels.

Corner Tienda

Our apartment has a cute little patio where we get the afternoon sun and watch the lizards scamper about on the terracotta roof tiles. The morning sun blazes in on the kitchen/living room area while the kids draw, we sip on coffee and listen to CBC radio, our connection to home... love it (when the internet connection is strong enough, that is).  We have TV again and are getting our fill of movies and tv shows (Sean loves the Jamie Oliver 15 minute meals) and we just found a great bookstore and loaded up with reading material (Eric is steadily working through them so we don't have to carry them all.. always the practical).  Homeschooling has been going surprisingly well... it feels fairly easy at this point... light years away from all those frustrations we had in the beginning (back in November).  Our litte bit of spanish (pocito espanol) has come back... Mexican spanish is so much easier to follow than in Guatemala so we are feeling encouraged to try again, though we are still heavy users of miming! We went to the craft market today and bought a few tipicos for our apartmento (I'm not a very hard bargainer.. so I'm sure I paid more than needed but I don't feel  right to haggle over a dollor or two). You'd think we are settling in for long stay  (we even bought a pot and cups for the kitchen at the mega store), but I think we are just really needing this sense of home for now (we've been travelling for 298 days!).

30 Tapachula, Barrio Carrillo, San Cristobal de las Casas


walking back from a days outing

Outside the apartment, the socio-economic and political inequities here in Chiapas are grabbing our attention.  We see little, little kids being so independent, walking the streets selling the tipico crafts or offering to shine shoes.   We look at them and wonder how old they must be.  Many people here have a smaller stature... many grown men and women are the same height as Sean, so we are not sure if these kids, that seem so small, are as young as they appear but we figure some of them are 5 or 6 years old... out on their own all day... responsible for making some money... possibly every day.

When we were at the mega super store, two little boys came up to us to help us out with our groceries. They  flagged down a taxi for us, loaded up the trunk with our groceries and scampered away with huge smiles on their faces when they checked how much "propina" we gave them.  The contrast of the privileged and not privileged is so evident here... seeing two boys probably the same or younger age than Sean and Liam... side by side... the boys busy working and Sean and Liam just standing their watching.  And I image those boys at the superstore  might be considered privileged amongst some... they have a way of making some money.  We see a lot of older women begging and grown men working as shoe shine boys along side the 7 year old doing the same.

When we walk to the Zacalo and through the pedestrian streets lined with stores, cafes, restaurants and bars, we see  people requesting a few pesos or urging  tourist to buy their crafts.  We tend to give "donations"... it just doesn't seem right not to (as we sit there leisurely sippping on our wine and beer).  Liam petitions us to give more, to hand out the big stuff... the bills instead of our loose change, and he is right.. the change is  never really enough anyways.  He is our helper, we look at each other when we first notice a person with hands out.. I dig into my bag for change, and he runs over to put the money in the "begging" bowls.  In exchange we've gotten a lot of kind blessings along the way. We hope the boys realize that they come from a very privileged place (and appreciate that) and  are also able to  value the strength and industriousness that these people seem to have. We try to explain why things are the way they are but mostly the boys just observe.. soaking it all in.... we'll see what impact is has for them someday. Hopefully an expanded, more compassionate world view.


  1. Nice story!


    1. Thanks Dave! Hope the everyone there is enjoying the signs of Spring!

  2. Congrats on 300 DAYS TRAVELLING!!!!! Wow, did that ever go fast - probably faster for you guys. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the trip! Sean and Liam's blogs have been awesome! I can really see how much their writing / creative writing has improved over the lat 300 days.


    1. Thanks Cathy! We celebrated today with "no homeschooling", lunch out (sangrias and Beers), and then Gelato while we strolled the streets.. and a beautiful sunny day too! I'll let the boys know their blogs are in demand.. it might help to get them going on it again! Hope spring is there soon!