what a ride!
San Cristobal de Las Casas Travel Blog› entry 12 of 18 › view all entries
I got up early, really early and stood in the freezing cold waiting for the shuttle. I hated taking this option not only because it was way expensive... well beyond what I wanted to pay for transport, but I personally hate tourist buses loaded with whities.. The other option was changing chicken buses about five times just to get to the border of Mexico in which I would have to take a taxi, then another bus and yet another.. There would be no way I could do it in one day and I was not quite comfortable traveling in Guatemala especially after recent incidents and the stories I had heard. Although I hadn't had any bad experiences so far, just traveling the two hours to Chichi to the market, I had to go through two of the bus transfer areas the same I would have had to take if I had decided to chicken bus it to the border.
I decided to go the tourist route and get myself on a direct bus from Panajachel to San Cristobal. At first it was only four of us and I was quite happy with that.... an Italian couple and a guy from Canada who was an obsessive juggler. He was dorky, with long hair, a woman's scarf on his head and pajama paints, but he was cool.. said little and slowly ate a bag of nachos the whole time.
Then we get to a meeting point about two hours into the trip and pick up another group of four whities... Great! We proceed to the border, the guy is flying and Guatemala has windy rough roads comparable to Colombia. Thank god he was a good driver, but we had a couple of close calls. The scenary was magnificent, high altitudes and incredibly cold. We got to the border and I realized they had a really good racket going on here... Two points with heavy tourism and direct bus linking them at the border with the exchange takes place. It was like we were currency and a simple transaction was made and each side swapped whitie for whitie... more or less of equal value.
We all clamored into the big white bus waiting on the other side. An we were off.... A bus full of whities, white faces pressed against the window camara in hand snapping off shots of the mountains, the people, the pueblos and the poverty as we race on by. I couldn't help thinking how horrible this all is.
Disturbing to say the least. I kept thinking the transfer and death of cultures. And we do our part...not only the foulness of our government, but the corruption of theirs. As we pass and I look in their eyes I see shame and I feel it. Slowly their leaving behind their customs and ways of life to adopt ours. Not only is the U.S. itching to get in to conform everyone into consumer glutons, western consumerism chokes them with plastic, lures them to the cities were they can be part of feeding the machine instead of themselves... I saw some women drawing water from a well, were once they probably used clay handmade pots, they now are using plastic pots with the same shape and decorative features of their traditional pots.... Slowly are the days going were people around the world no longer know how to make things, but have learned far too easily how to buy ´things´. They want more things, they want a better life. Not only has the US forced these countries to open in exchange for debt payments, the demand has been created ode to advertisements.... oh advertisements.... those where everyone is squeaky clean and happy, wearing western clothes, living in western style homes, using western products.....made in China. Yes, it is they who want the better life.
And we're doing our part... I'm doing my part. As I travel in this white bus and look in their eyes, I see hate and envy. We sit there in A/C luxury buses snapping off pictures as we're hooked into our ipods. If it weren't for that strange glare and mirrored back image of our faces, we almost could pull it off.... that we actually traveled and not just through. We are comfortable moving from city to city, country to country in our luxury buses. Rarely do we speak to them apart from asking directions and haggling over prices in artisan markets. We safely keep our distance. hidden protected and well traveled...
They look and must say to themselves poverty sucks! Much more intense are the pangs of hunger and the feeling of lack when you see wealth whiz by in a big white bus with plump with faces clicking off photos so they can tick off each country ´Been there, Done that´. We feel good about ourselves as we drop a few dollars and add more notches to our belts.
Hate and envy, traditional clothes are dropped, farms abandoned, family left behind to pursue the dream for a better life in the city. With enough hard work, they too can have addidas shoes and puma hats, ipods and digital cameras and maybe if they're lucky one day they can climb on a big white bus and take pictures of those people with their strange ways....as they pass life by.