Eva Peron And The Mayan Sacrifice
“Local elections are commencing,” continues Correspondent Michael Paladin, picking up where he left off yesterday in his reporting from San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
“Last night, on a pickup truck carrying a blow-up vinyl doll representing the candidate, the candidate herself was at the microphone. A dead ringer for Eva Peron, with the pulled back bleached blonde hair, the gestures, and the exhortations to the crowd. She pleaded, she begged, she ranted. Wonderful theater.
“Having spent time in Santorini, I am familiar with the cobalt blue of the domes there. Here, in San Cristobal, they seem to have found another level of blue. It’s an intense, purple, acid-inspired shade that my descriptions don’t do justice. I’m going to buy a better camera to try to capture it.
“The streets are paved with octagonal paving stones rather than cobblestones, the sidewalks are paved with flagstones. The streets are narrower than is typical for Spanish-colonial cities but easier to navigate. There are Lebanese restaurants, Israeli cafes, and real Italian eateries.
“I finally found out why there is such a large contingency of Italians in this city. I met another real estate broker and put the question to him. It turns out, he himself is the reason. He married an Italian lady and brought her and her mother here to San Cristobal. Word spread in their northern Italian town that here were jobs here and a better way of life. One thing led to another, and a steady migration developed. If you like authentic Italian cuisine, it’s here.
“There are new cars on the streets, even though the nearest dealerships are 50 miles away, as are the nearest shopping malls. That is not to say there’s no shopping in San Cristobal. In fact, there are enough shoe stores, high-end dress shops (offering seriously drop-dead gowns), and boutiques for the horsy set (places to shop for saddles, whips, large belt buckles, and spurs) to keep even the most serious shopper satisfied.
“This is a very cosmopolitan city, but I’ve seen few international tourists. San Cristobal is off the beaten path. Access, as I’ve mentioned, is not the easiest. The nearest decent airport is in Tuxtla, 50 miles away.
“The art is superb, varied, and striking. Amber is their long suit.
“The shoeshine kids are tenacious, the Mayans won’t let you take their photos, and the coffee is industrial strength. Scotia and HSBC banks are here.
“The views are superb from everywhere. I took a taxi tour (US$10 an hour) to see the outlying barrios.
“On the menu in the restaurant where I had dinner last night was an offering of a Sacrificial Maya, 60 pesos. Too cheap, I figured, to be the usual virgin. In fact, it was a shot of tequila, coffee liqueur, and orange liqueur, set on fire. One was sufficient for my research purposes.
“There is prosperity here, for which I have yet to find any explanation. The local police carry pepper spray and not 9 mms. The bandstand in the central park plays American show tunes in the morning over loudspeakers. This place is quite unusual, a special find, really. I will be back.”