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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

coffee roasting in San Cristobal de las Casas

I skipped out early on Salsa classes Friday night, and Edwin and I grabbed coffee where it is known locally to be the best.  The cafe setup is simple; one machine roasting coffee beans and an espresso machine making Americanos.  Old men sit and drink from the humming and the burning and the smelling.  The front of the cafe and the sidewalk are the same, making a popular vantage point to the shoe stores and purse stores across the narrow street.  The walls and floor are dirty, white and unmemorable with only a static television overhead.  A worker feeds the revolving roaster from a canvas sack behind him in a chair.  He scoops finished beans into brown paper bags that he staples and piles on the counter facing the street.  I imagine the bags are still warm, and recall precisely where I tucked the rows of Mexican Bold at my Manhattan Starbucks on 85th and Lexington Ave.

Interlink English School

Saturday and this week, Ashley and I are substitute teaching at an English School.  We teach the advanced class, which is good, because the students can talk to us in English.  It’s bad because we have lessons like changing Active Voice to Passive Voice, and other grammatical wonderments that the architects of English devised in their trickiness.  For a while, I was finishing my examples with “Does that make sense?”  Then I would get blank faces and re explain.  “Now, does that make sense?”  Nope.  Again.  We tried a few examples out loud and every student was getting it.  Then I got it. “Does that make sense?” does not make sense to someone who has never heard the phrase.  Okay, “Now do you understand?”  “Yes, it’s no problem.”


It was in the nineties so we drove to Chiapa de Corzo and drank some indigenous Pozol.  Cold, water-based chocolate with ground corn on the bottom.  It is said to be the best here in Chiapa de Corzo because it is where the “armpit of Pozol” is found.  The bowl is so deep that the lady serving it must dip her entire arm to grab the sunk corn mash on the bottom.  This effect is crucial and I found it delicious.

Municipio of Chiapa de Corzo

We toured a monastery that is now a museum and art gallery that overlooks the Grijalva River.  Chiapa de Corzo is the Colonial Spanish name given to the city, which was the original indigenous capital of the land that is now Chiapas.

In the highlands outside of Tuxtla Gutierrez is a waterfall spilling from a cavern filled mountain.  Steps are cut into the rocks and swimming holes are collected at different elevations all down the mountainside.

Cascada el Chorreadero

The cave recedes until there is blackness, the sound of rushing water, the meeting of hot and cold air, the lingering smell of marijuana, and bat droppings everywhere you put your hands.

There is a safety cable tied to the rock for precaution.

And party chairs.

Shortly after this my camera died, but I don’t need it to describe the next part.  Edwin has gotten me into the habit of biting a garlic clove along with a swig of good, strong, black coffee.  I would imagine that in these moments one becomes the most unkissable human on the planet.  In addition, my love for hot sauces has grown into a love for peppers as if they were some of gateway drug.  My courage gets me in trouble and there is an untranslatable phrase in Mexico, “me enchile,” which means roughly that “my face is on fire and I can’t breathe easily.”

Ashley got a movie ready while I made popcorn in the kitchen.  As it was popping, I had a delicious garlic clove with a coffee chaser because I couldn’t help myself.  Realizing I needed a breath coverup,  I quickly sliced a tomato with some sort of pepper and enchiled myself severely.  She was not very happy with me.

My heart was beating thunderously and I was sucking on a tomato when Edwin came down and asked if I wanted to go to a casino to play Bingo.  When his Edwin’s father feels lucky, he calls Edwin to take him.  He had just received the call, and although it meant I would have to leave Ashley she said that it would be fine.

I address Edwin’s father as Don Pepe.  As we neared his house, Edwin taught me how to say “do you feel lucky” in Spanish because Don Pepe doesn’t speak English.  He was correct in feeling his hunch because within minutes he had won $450.  Of course they use “$” for pesos too, and there are 12 pesos to the dollar, but nonetheless it was a good take.  I lost $50 in about 5 minutes on a game I couldn’t figure out or read because it was in Spanish.  That’s 4 bucks, but they had free cokes and Mexico uses cane sugar not corn syrup.

Coca Cola de Chiapa de Corzo

We needed a night cap on the way home so we drove through the streets and wound up at a hamburger stand on random corner with a crowd of people sitting around on plastic stools.  Food venders are everywhere in Mexico, but Edwin said this one was famous.

A Mexican hamburger is a completely different idea.  The burger is as thin and large as an iHop pancake, then covered with a piece of ham the same size.  They are fried in butter on a hot plate.  The buns are exactly like pancakes, only enriched white bread, and toasted in butter on one side and brushed with it on the other.  Diced pineapples and onions, also fried in butter, are piled over a layer of cheese and some sort of salsa with freshly diced tomatoes are on top of that.  Finally this monstrosity is pressed together and into 4ths to make it possible to eat.  It is served with coke.


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