As my time in Chiapas draws to an end I have been reflecting on my experiences here over the last year. Here is a quick list of a few confessions.

1. Upon reentering US society I will need serious intervention for my quesadilla addiction.

2. I recently saw Juegos Traiciones (The CIA movie with Senn Penn and the blond lady) and was suddenly very aware that I was the only American in that theater and probably in that whole building.

3. As uncomfortable as it is to be gawked at everywhere I go (a tall ‘gringa’ is an anomaly out here), there is a part of me that might have a hard time getting over the fact that I no longer have celebrity status in the US.

4. I might have a breakdown when I experience my first winter again, I have been in perpetual summer for a year!

5. Are you saying cream is not going to be a regular part of my US diet?

6. I might secretly miss the incessant use of the emergency lights in your car… [any time traffic slows a bit, you take a curve on a mountain road, or pretty much whenever someone else is doing it- those 4-way flashers are hard at work]

7. There is a tiny shred inside me that anticipates possibly “missing” our dog Capitan; he sits at the threshold of my room when no one is home and it can be kind of nice.

8. I was planning on smuggling contraband Chiapas cheese (if you tried it you would too!) across the border until my sister told me about the $1000 fine a man recent got for bringing 50 lbs of illegal Bologna to the US… hmm…

9. Now that I am on the eating schedule here (breakfast 7:30am, comida 4pm, light dinner/snack 9pm), I’m not making any guarantees that you won’t see me with a plate of fried plantains at 4pm.

10. If you wonder what my next business venture might be, just think “filled churros,” (endless possibilities: chocolate, strawberry, gajeta, etc. all INSIDE a deep fried sugary, cinnamonny roll?!). GENIUS.

Upon completing this list I now make note that food is a main subject; sorry, it’s true- no change, just making note.

Chiapas or Bust!

May 13, 2011


If you have facebook, you probably have already seen the photo album, but here is a little background on our adventures. Two friends (Molly and Betsy) from the US came to visit Erika and me last weekend! It was a whirlwind as we had four full days together and a whole beautiful state to see. I’ll give you a few highlights…

Really excited about Angela and Mexico... apparently!

Upon arrival Erika and I drug an exhausted Molly and Betsy (up since 4am traveling!) to Las Pichanchas Restaurant for a traditional look at Mexican, specifically Chiapanecan, culture. Angela met up with us and we tried many tasty Mexican delights, including the famous drink at this establishment “Pumpo!” where they all yell and cheer and ring a bell when it’s ordered and it’s poured from a gourd.

They like food here...

The first few nights we slept in Tuxtla hitting up the Sumidero (Canyon) only about 25 minutes from my front door. It was shockingly beautiful and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been there yet. The weather that day was very kind and gave us upper 80’s and clouds (as compared to our 100* for the 5 weeks prior!) but we still burned our shoulders a bit. It’s about a 3 hour RT boat ride that takes you through a canyon with monkeys swinging from the trees, crocodiles sunning on the banks and toucans, vultures, ducks and the like.


On the way back the boat had an incident with running out of gas (they do this trip like 4 times a day!) and obviously due to aforementioned animals there was to be no swimming, so we scorched for a few minutes before being rescued by a guy with ‘an extra red ‘solo’ plastic cup of fuel’ to share… of course- we just have that lying around. Anyway, we were thankful that we didn’t sit there for too long and the ride was absolutely beautiful (our hair afterwards, however, was not (see below)).

Of course as you know, I love San Cristobal, so we took them there. The climate was wonderful as always, escaping the Tuxtla heat, and getting a variety of cuisine. We ate at the fabulous fresh-daily, homemade Italian restaurant (run by an Italian immigrant family) with the best bruschetta I have ever had.  We shopped, coffeed, chatted and just generally had a very lovely time exploring the colonial puebla.

Friday became a nice long drive to Palenque (about 7 hours), ancient ruins in the dense rainforest that boast a Mayan history but that our tour guide Victor says is ‘bogus’ (English is like his 4th language and I think he actually used that term!). He highlighted the Egyptian, Hindi, and Chinese influence and even showed us what I considered to be a far-fetched menorah indicating a presence of the Hebrew people. It did bring up interesting questions about who was first to live here? Who are the Mayans? How are there so many diverse thoughts on Palenque? Can we ever know what really happened here? Did these people know how to coexist in a way we are seeking today or did they just pull rank and assimilate?

We also got the opportunity to sleep ‘in the jungle’ in little cabanas (full structures with indoor plumbing so it wasn’t too rustic). Molly set up her Color Cloud Hammock and we fended off bugs and sounds throughout the night but mostly survived :).

Our Rainforest Cabana

Agua Azul (Blue Water) is an amazing set of waterfalls that we are told are bright blue… when it hasn’t been raining. Unfortunately, being the rainforest there is a lot of rain, which there had been for three mornings prior. So we visited “Agua Café” (brown water). The rain kicks up the silt and such, so it’s still relatively clean (I tell everyone that as I was the only one who swam and am still convinced I was the cleanest of all of us by the end of the day! :))

Color Clouds are amazing!

The "big" city!!

We did make it back to Villahermosa, a town in the next state over, Tabasco. We stayed at a friend’s apartment (yes, we got legit showers there) and Erika and I loved being in a ‘bigger city!’ ha. There was a little more shopping, city planning and upscale-ish restaurants- enough to make us feel like we were in NYC baby! Zara got a good couple hours and dollars from us all the next morning before we headed back to Tuxtla.

Chiapas views...

There was a lot of driving (thanks Erika!) but thankfully the views were awesome and the company even better. I am so thankful for friends- what a great adventure- both Chiapas and life.

Mom and me.

Hola! Today is the Dia de la Madre in Mexico (Mother’s Day). We are celebrating it up all day, presents, games at school, dressed up meals together, flowers- you name it! It is a worthy cause, to celebrate mothers. They make the world turn. Especially my mother- she makes my world turn and it’s a pretty nice view, thanks to her. Here are a few things I love about my mom:

1. She always let me know that above anything I might ever do, she loves and will continue to love me forever; this is as close to unconditional love as I can get on this earth.

2. She makes a lot out of a little… couch cushions were hours of fun forts, ice cream pie turned into whole picnics at the park, orange tic-tacs and a cabbage patch doll named Martha, were all we needed to make a rockin’ tea party, hand-me-down clothes with a little tailoring were like new.

3. She let her kids leave the nest- she continues to trust that her little chicks will desire to return rather than keep us tucked tightly away out of fear.

4. She is a confident, tall, beautiful woman who loves Jesus with all of her heart- and she’s not afraid to show me that.

5. She values open communication- even if it’s something she might not want to hear.

6. One of my first lessons I remember is, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted and forgiving.” And she practices what she preaches.

7. She loves my dad and she shows me how much she loves my dad which enables them to mutually serve one another and demonstrate a relationship I hope I am lucky enough to have.

8. She loves people. She takes her relationships seriously and with great care and perseverance.

9. She fights against injustice.

10. She prays for me everyday- probably many times a day.

I love my mom for who she is… and then she shows me what love is and encourages me to believe in it. I am so thankful for my mother. This life would not be nearly as fruitful, full and good without her. Thank you Carol Trellis Shirk for all you are and do for me and they people around me.

So here are a few pics to go with my last post:

View from my Easter balcony

Lovely puebla- San Cris!

"Alcatraz" flower (Easter calla lilie)

The Beautiful Salgado home in San Cristobal

And then I recently came across an old file of Easter 2009 photos. All the fun of so many houses, people, ideas, and FOOD! I love my friends. Thanks for making some great lasting memories for me. Let’s do Easter together again next year. XOXO.

Our Easter Brunch, only this one was in 2009...

Austin and Rals- Dynamic C-Duo.

Beautiful Becca brewing things in the kitchen... It's sure to be good with her there!

Brother Tim... looking quite dapper- even the flowers are coming out to see him!

American friends are coming to visit today… so watch for an amazing Chiapas album coming up soon! There is much to see, feel, smell, taste and do. Not to mention all the English… Ohhhh the English!!!


April 24, 2011

It’s Saturday night, April 23, 2011. I am in San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico.

About 2000 years ago, Jesus lay in His borrowed tomb right now. I think many people might have been bewildered by His death, but a few of His followers were probably full of sorrow and grieving right about now. I like to think there may have been a great hope in their minds too though. A hope that this thing Jesus said was true- that in fact He would continue to be the Man He proclaimed to be and He would rise up tomorrow and truly have victory over the things of this world, over our tormentors. A victory that is not based in logic, but in love. A love that is intensely different from our world’s limited definition, but one that actually said, with conviction and sincerity, ‘I care about you more than my reputation and even my body;’ knowing that the life of a man could never really be held within this wall of skin…

As I consider the humanity of Jesus, even crying out with last breaths “Father, why have You forsaken me,” revealing both a vulnerability and a strength, this is what I hear, in this cozy mountain town…

Church bells are ringing a deep knowing rhythmic sound that dance from tile to tile across the rooftops, kissing anyone who wants to hear. Frequent fireworks play a game with each other- one side bellows then the other side responds, chasing each other across the misty sky. There is a fountain splashing water from one layer to the next, calm and melodic it confidently pours out the joy of its fullness. Occasional cars zoom by, people hanging out the windows as they celebrate this holy weekend with cheers and music. It’s cool outside, the air is fresh and the bright flowers of Primavera (“spring” in Spanish) adorn every window box and courtyard. The city looks sleepy, draped in their hand-sewn wraps, but they won’t go to bed for hours, if at all.

There is a feeling that we are all under this great big blanket together; a strange warmth around you and a closeness to strangers. As the light glows, I feel like we have pulled the comforter over our heads together and we whisper dreams and laugh together by the covered lamp light, seeing our breath fade into the midnight-blue air.

I feel something mystical today. Sensitivity landed on my skin this morning and taps me to believe even at the slightest happening. The beauty of this Creator overwhelms me and I feel very small… and I like that.


April 10, 2011

Ok, so I didn’t really think fighting was my thing (with the exception of recognizing my inner-fighter when I played really aggressive and competitive volleyball… that and the time in college where a wasted girl spit on my foot at a frat party and it was all I could do not to pop her one right in the eye…) but I went to my first boxing match today and I actually enjoyed it. It has inspired me to do some research so that next time when people are cheering or booing I actually know why. There was a lot of unexplained ‘hugging’ that I am especially eager to read up on too.

A group of friends and I went to the convention center and watched the “world’s first reality TV show about boxing” being filmed, currently in Tuxtla. This was basically a variety show (due to filming nad time between matches) with a few famous Chiapaneco/Mexican singers, break dancing and girls in minis and major high heels caring the “Round 2” signs. There was an opening exhibition match of “Thai Boxing” (apparently?) that really threw me for a loop when the kicking started. This was followed by 3 intense matches including 4 Mexicans, a South Korean and a Peruvian. This was the 3rd week of matches with one more to go. Did I mention it was women’s boxing? It seems that all the women live together for this show, like a “Real World” meets Vegas Fight Night I guess?

It was quite an experience. I had a camera in my bag, but we weren’t allowed to use them. However the lady in charge came and bailed me out from have to walk 2 blocks back to the car and mentioned “they need to sit close because you have to keep a close eye on that one…” Ha. So, while we got the tickets and VIP from a friend working the event, I like to think I had something to do with getting us in the 4th row. Thus, unfortunately no pics… not that I would have been easy to lose as I was literally a foot taller than everyone I was around. Literally. (Mom, it was only one step up from the little-people convention…)

The show will start airing here and then end up in US and Canada. It seemed like a lot of good work was going into it… so if you happen to see something about a women’s boxing reality TV show in Mexico… look for me!

The Beach: Take 2

March 31, 2011




Two weekends ago we celebrated the birth of Benito Juarez on the beaches of Chiapas. This was my second beach trip since my arrival! We had Monday off, which made for a relaxing drive through the state. After taking an accidental detour to Tonala and Puerta Arista, we finally made it to our destination, Pijijapan and our nearby beach day resort, Chocohuital. (try to say those 10 times fast!)

While the town was small, there were tons of people out and about and we even saw some kind of a ‘children’s parade or protest’ and some kids chucked candy at us like the were weapons. We still ate them.

These were thousands of sleeping birds on those wires! It was seriously amazing to see!

We went to a great little place that you can’t stay at yet because they are just starting the hotel part, but you pay $250 pesos (that’s about $20USD) and you can use the pools and bathrooms and lounge chairs for the day. Of your $250 pesos, $150 goes towards food, so you are really paying about $8USD to stay at the most ‘resorty’ place I have found in Chiapas.







This particular point on the water (I am sure there is some fancy name for this that Buster would know with his Oceanography education and all… but I am at a loss.) is great because on the one side of this little inlet island is lake-like water, while on the other side it’s the raging ocean. It’s all right there, so you can just take your pick. We swam, tanned, read, drank some well-chilled Mexican brews, enjoyed fresh shrimp, kayaked while the sun went down one night and spent relaxing evenings watching movies (ahem, I LOVE King’s Speech) in our hotel beds with our take-out quesadillas.






It was seriously relaxing. You really should consider coming to visit me, but before you get all jealous thinking my life is just some chill thing on the beach, just a reminder – these are my holiday weekends too!

Erika and me!!

We considered staying here... hehe.