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Sunday 11th April - Easter Sunday in San Cristobal
By Claire
Saturday, 17th April 2004 23:56

We had a lie-in and a very late breakfast in the little courtyard outside our room, watching an irridescent hummingbird buzz round pink flowers and laughing everytime the clockwork cuckoo duck bird hooted. We took a taxi to the bus station to deposit our big bags and then sat around in the town square watching the world go by for a while. Everywhere, the local Indians wandered round with hand-made textiles, a speciality of the area, and children tried to sell knotted bracelets or bags or belts. In the other areas we'd visited we could politely say no to them and they'd go away but here they were insistent and actually tried arguing with us. It's a lot easier to say no to people though when you can't really understand what they're trying to tell you.

It was Easter Sunday but we sort of forgot about that. There were no chocolate eggs in the entire country, not a single Easter bunny or fluffy chick to remind us what it was all about. Instead, everyone was smartly-dressed and we were regaled with xylophone music from the bandstand in the town square. We didn't get to go to a church service, perhaps they started earlier than we did today, and besides it feels rude to stand and watch while everyone's being religious, but every now and then the bells would ring. It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon, writing our diaries and trying very hard to explain what my PDA was to a curious middle-aged Mexican couple who spoke less English than we do Spanish. Fortunately, the words 'computer' and 'internet' seem virtually universal these days and the man shook my hand, impressed, when he left for the day. Everywhere we go Horace, my little computer, and Boris, Mikey's, seem to draw a crowd! Time to stop off at an internet cafe (they are everywhere in Mexico, some better than others, and all with a different method for typing the '@' key) and then check our bags onto the bus for the ride to Merida.

I said before that the buses generally seemed very good, so this ride was obviously the exception to the rule. We knew that we'd have to go all the way back through the windy mountain paths to Palenque to get to the main road, so I suppose we were expecting the bumps and tight turns. But the bus had almost no air conditioning, and the driver liked the window open so that the hot, wet jungle air could make everything sticky and uncomfortable, and my chair was broken so that it either reclined fully or sat bolt upright whenever we went over a speed bump or round a corner. There wasn't a film (based on Universal Soldier: The Return, perhaps that was a good thing) and the loo didn't flush at all (which really wasn't a good thing). Every couple of hours or so the bus would be pulled over by some sort of police or military road block and a man with a gun and a torch would board and check that we weren't whoever we weren't meant to be. It was a very long night, but on the plus side, we haven't lost any time as we arrived in Merida (bright, humid, quite warm) at 8.30 in the morning. We took a taxi to the hostel and slept for a few hours so that we could explore Merida properly.

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