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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

We just checked into a hostel in San Cristobal, Ashley is taking a hot shower with a clean towel so I’ve lost her for the moment.  We rode in from Palenque, after six hours of jungle switchbacks that was only about 150 kilometers.  We slept last night in the rainforest in El Panchan, a network of hostel cabañas at the edge of the national park that preserves the Mayan ruins of Palenqe.  When I say we slept in the rainforest, we slept in the rainforest.  I dreamt of temples and pyramids protruding from foggy jungles as the howler monkeys echoed all night.  This morning there were seven of them climbing over our hostel-village, with such eery screams (howls) that you swear there has to a cougar somewhere.

San Cristobal is the best place to people watch that there may be, actually anywhere.  It’s a colonial Spanish city high in the mountains of Chiapas, and geographically centered as to be some sort of backpacking gateway to the North American continent.  The best coffee, most accommodating hostels, and night life most likely to include a funk band with a Rasta singer next to a Mariachi Cantina, a Marimba band in the square, and a guy with dreads playing “Autumn Leaves” on a classical guitar, sitting on the sidewalk accompanied by indigenous beggar children hitting hands drums.

If your Spanish is weak, someone will likely try French or Portugese before English: no one can assume.  If you’re not wearing nylon or spandex and your backpack isn’t unpronounceably German, you become a little bit intimidated.

The nomadic wanderer in me, probably like most, is not entirely true.  We consider our peso carefully and know where the last bus stop will be.  Night fell as we wound through the jungle; I gazed out at the simple huts strung together by a wire of naked light bulbs stretching off into the fog.  Hand planted corn, random as grass, draped over the cleared mountainsides.  Somewhere is my fluorescent UT orange, bluegrass music, and a big bronze Sunsphere standing beside the Tennessee, poking past the deciduous foothills of Appalachia.  What a strange sight it is, and how difficult to explain.

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