Sunday, 25 April 2010


Sunday evening 9pm.  Hotel Media Luna.
Well, this is going to be interesting. I am using the hotel s computer. It is linked to another keyboard. Both are Spanish and a lot of the keys donàt work or work differently, as you can see. So this blog will be full of typos, so apologies in advance.
The journey from San Miguel de Allende to San Cristobal de las Casas took nealy 24 hours with a long stop in Mexico City North Bus Station. It is spacious and clean, not like poky old Victoria so we felt quite safe sitting and biding our time. We travelled from Mexico City by night and woke up to a misty dawn over the most stunning scenary-semi tropical and mountainous, very different from the plains of Central Mexico
We are here mainly to meet people and visit projects run by UNA Exchange s partner organisation, Natate. On the first evening the young staff and volunteers did a presentation about their work and yesterday we visited a school, where a young French man and an Italian woman are working. It is an alternative private school, a bit like Steiner and I had the sense that both would like to be working with indigenous, more needy children. On his own initiative, the French man, who is just 19 and on a gap year, has set up, with an Irish guy, an evening school for children who are working during the day. It is held on the streets and we àre hoping to drop in. Young boys polish shoes and little girls, often followed by younger brothers and sisters sell handicrafts. Our children dont know they àre born. Tomorrow, we àre hoping to visit three projects, two are environmental and the other a museum for Mayan medicinal plants.
San Cristobal de las Casas is a lively little town surrounded by limestone hills with the Rio Grijalva running by. Today we went on  a boat trip through The Sumidero canyon, full of Egrest, Vultures and Pelicans. We even saw some crocodiles!.  The town was designed as a Spanish stronghold against an often hostile indigenous population. In 1994, there was an uprising  in the spirit of Emiliano Zapata, led by a pipe smoking balaclavaed Commandent.  Even now, there are signs everywhere, Action not words. The Mayans are the predominant indigenous group and it would seem that there is still a lot of discrmination against them.
Yesterday, we visited the home of Trudy Blom, a Swiss journalist and photographer, who died at the age of around 95, in 1993, and who recorded the faces of the indigenous people of the Lacandon rain forest, particularly the women who fought in the 1910 revolution Her house is known as Na Bolom. In the local language, Bolom means Jaguar, which has special powers as a spiritual messenger between this and the other world. When she and her husband, a Danish Archaeologist, first arrived there was a misunderstanding about their name. The local people heard Bolom rather than Blom, and so this gave her a great start in the respect department. She is still highly regarded for the work she did to protect and advocate for the rights of these people who were never colonised by the Spanish.. Their house became known as The House of the Jaguar.

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