When I first arrived in Bhutan, I was invited to help the government’s Department of Information demonstrate the power of technology in an effort to get more government funding. We mocked up a distance education system using the two Polycom systems that were in the country at the time. The teacher stood in one room and drew on the blackboard as he spoke. The students sat in an adjacent room […]
A thud at the living room window drew my attention from my book. Not three feet from my head, the impact had left a smear, and there on the table where it had landed after rebounding was a small bird lying on its side. A closer look revealed a long Kingfisher beak, brown feathers tinged with blue, a white collar and a white chest that appeared to be moving. Behind it, an Indian Myna hopped around curiously.
We all have our cures for hiccups that work with varying reliability. Some drink a cup of water upside down. Others swear that a fright works. I usually try holding my breath until the hiccups stop. Patrick, our guide, told us that Mexicans have the only guaranteed cure, and we saw it work when we went to his house for lunch one day.
It was my favourite day of the trip, because Patrick was in his own environment and utterly relaxed. His girlfriend, Gabi, made lunch for us while we sat […]
Our Mexico trip was a way for Fiona to avoid her 40th birthday. By being in a time zone 15 hours ahead of our own, she could pretend that local well-wishers were too early, and when she got messages from Sydney they were too late. She never really had a birthday at all.
I think that logic was spoiled by the fact that she had such a great day. While we were eating breakfast, the hotel staff put on some Mexican music and brought out a heart-shaped […]
Zinacantan men specialise in growing flowers and the women specialise in weaving. We visited a weaving workshop with a number of rooms covered wall-to-wall in bright coloured shawls and table runners and the women delighted in dressing us up in their traditional garments. Fiona wore a skirt, belt and a vibrant blouse that was soon covered beneath a bridal shawl. I was given a simple woollen shirt and a hat, beneath which my western clothes were clearly visible so that I felt half dressed.
The Mayan sun adorns the front of the church in San Juan Chamula, sharing space with Christian symbols. This mixing of religious symbols is common in Chiapas. When the missionaries arrived with the Spanish, they were surprised to see a cross as a religious symbol among the Mayans, assuming that Jesus had appeared in the Americas as well. They soon learnt that the Mayan cross represented the sacred Sabre tree with its long straight trunk and horizontal branches.
Clever missionaries realised that they could use the Mayan symbols to convert […]
Hundreds of people cross the town square at San Juan Chamula while I drink my Mexican tangerine soft drink and Patrick explains about the church on the other side. Most of the people going about their business are Chamula, one of the ethnic groups descended from the Tzotzil Maya. Even we can identify the Chamula women by the black woollen skirts they wear under woven tunics. The indigenous people have great pride in their traditional clothes that are unique to each community and […]
The streets of San Christobal are quite narrow and traffic typically flows in one direction. This doesn’t eliminate the problem of jams at intersections, but the traffic lights have been removed due to increased congestion. Instead, the rule of one has been implemented. This rule means that cars at the two inbound roads at any intersection take turns. One from the north, one from the west, then one from the north again. It worked so well that they’ve been able to convert some streets to pedestrian-only malls.
The Mexican rainy season is imminent and we got a taste on our first night in San Cristobal. Fiona and I both got dressed up to go out to dinner with our guide Patrick, only to have the skies open up as soon as we left our room. We thought we’d be fine under our umbrellas, but the real problem was underfoot. The cobbled streets were ankle deep in running water.
Apparently it was worse fifteen years ago. The two rivers that run through town disappear into a hole just after they join […]
The Chiapas region of Mexico is in the west, near Guatemala, and was once occupied by the Mayan people. The name, which comes from the Chia seed growing in the Sumidero valley was first taken on by the local warriors who even the Aztecs avoided for their fierceness. The Spanish eventually defeated the Chiapas through modern weaponry and allying […]