Since I am doing this trip in style to fit in all that I must see in a week’s time (private car and chofer), I have a lot of opportunities to chat with Juan, el chofer, in these seven days. Apart from exchanging ideas on our respective cultures and our ideas on the ancient Mayas, I have had some opportunities to improve my Spanish and pick up some Mexican slangs. ¡Está padrísimo! (It is very very cool!)
Being the only passenger, I also got to play my latin music, which spurred the comment that “la cigüeña se equivocó” when I was born, referring to the myth that storks deliver babies and it has dropped me off in the wrong Country in my case.
When I showed him my painting that I bought in Playa del Carmen, The comment was “¡Que padre esta pintura!” (How cool is this painting!). I have to say it is pretty cool. The Artist is a Tzuhutil Maya from the Chiapas region. It is showing the back of Mayan women in their traditional costumes and food and animals typical for the Mayans. I love the strong colors used and also the textures of the oil on the canvas. The painting is very alive. The lady at the Casa Tzuhutil gallery told me that the Tzuhutil Mayas made their own canvasses from Manta (a type of cloth – most likely from cotton).
I like Juan. He drives safely, he does not mind asking for directions or the locals when he does not know things, and he goes out of his way to make me comfortable. He is also chatty and curious, without being “metiche” (busybody or for the Singaporeans: kaypoh).
When I bought a big bag of “totopos” (tortilla chips), I ate two then put the bag away. Then I grabbed more chips, then I put it away again. After a few times of this, he said “ya te picaste” (the tortilla chips are addictive and you cannot eat only one!). The amount of snacks “botones” I ate was always making me thirsty. So we stopped a few times at various “tendejon” or “abarrote” to quench our thirst (small provision shops aka warung in Indonesia aka sari sari shops in the Philippines).
On the evening that we stayed at a quaint and quiet town, Santa Elena, we decided to stop at a “cervefrio” – a place to buy cold beer! (Cerve is from cerveza aka beer, frio means cold) to help us pass time and rest as there is zero entertainment in that place (though where we stayed, Sacbe Bungalows was clean and comfortable).
There was a day I was “manones” (heavy in context of mood, not fun, low energy), but then, a self reminder that I am finally on Mexican adventure lifted my mood and “me fui a soltar el chongo” (I let my hair down) for the rest of the trip. I had my margaritas and my sweet and sour botones, and all the food I wanted to try.
During meals I also always asked for habañero chiles. Nothing beats spicy food. And one time, the habañero chile was sooooo spicy, the kind that makes your lips burned and your eyes watered!! We call this type of chile “bravo”.
We also at times shared meals, so that I can try a few more things. I would always asked “¿podemos hacer una vaquita?” And luckily neither of us “es un cacique” (an Indian chief in the context that a chief is usually greedy and everything is for himself first). If I had done that and ate more than my actual portion, he would have told me “¡me caciquiaste!” (Just kidding! I would not be so greedy and he would never tell me that even if I ate more).
The trip was overall amazing! ¡Estoy contentísima! I had amazing experience visiting the Mayan ruins because we always started early. And we never had to deal with people “hasta la madre” (tons of people).
Still not convinced how amazing Mexico is?? What else are you waiting for????