Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I turned 23 on a bus

So as many of you know, I had planned on spending my 23rd birthday in San José del Paífico, walking through tranquil pine forrests and chilling in the mountains. I instead found myself staring at my watch at 12 am September 1st and wishing myself a happy birthday on an overnight bus from the town of Pochutla to San Cristóbal de las Casas.

San José is a small town nestled in the high mountains of Oxaca. I found the legendary house named La Casa de Doña Catalina, an aging spiritualist from Spain who now lives in Oaxaca. I had heard stories about this house from friends and travellers who I have met along the way. The Inside feels like a cozy cave with trippy 3-D art painted and nailed to the wall that jumps out at the observer no matter what state of mind. After doing the few "tourist" activities the town boasts, I spent an adventurous afternoon with a couple 20-something year old Mexican drifters. In the end, however, I decided that San José wasn`t the place I wanted to be and that I would rather spend my birthday spoiling myself in San Cristóbal.
San Cristóbal de las Casas is a small colonial city in the heart of Chiapas, the southern-most state in Mexico most well known for its poverty, coffee, and Zapatistas. I had been looking forward to visiting Chiapas ever since deciding to travel in Mexico, both because of this recent revolutionary history, and also because I got to know a bit about a coffee collective in Chiapas while volunteering at a migrant resource center in Douglas, AZ last winter.

The tourist industry has left a sizeable footprint in San Cristóbal. Most notably in the hundreds of cheap hostels and the plethora of hip restaurants with internationally inspired menues. I fully disclose that my hiking boots immedieately walked through those tourists footprints by indulging in pancakes for breakfast, a four-cheese bangle sandwich that I ate with sinful pleasure for lunch, and a brick-oven pizza for dinner (no judging--it was my birthday!). I also ate two ice cream cones (and I feel good about it!).

After dinner, I sat around the hostel with the other travellers drinking and joking. We all went to bed early, none of us having slept well on the bus the night before. It wasn`t the crazy weekend-long celebration that took place last September first. There were no surprise parties at Adina`s or delicious ice-cream cakes made by Mika, and unfortunately I wasn`t surrounded by my friends and family. BUT, I think there are worse ways to spend one`s birthday than exploring southern Mexico, and you won`t hear any complaints from me.

much love, many besos, and thanks to everyone who sent happy birthday wishes!


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