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Tonina ruins, via Ocosingo

Written on: Wednesday January 23rd, 2008

A journal entry from: Central America 2007

Woke up to another cloudless day in San Cristobal. Emaya and I split up for the day. She wanted to see some lake and some waterfall, I wanted to see the Tonina ruins. LP had me sold on Tonina, even though they aren't a main sight on the ¨Ruta Maya¨, mentioning the inhabitants' ferocity and bloodlust i.e. lots of artefacts depicting captive slaves with hands bound awaiting or in the process of being decapitated, a sacrificial altar, and the kings and queens had cool names like "Jaguar Claw the 2nd"!

So, I caught a bus to Ocosingo first. The bus ride was the roughest of my trip, as the road was very windy, going through the hills. A few people had to rush to the bathroom to vomit. In one case, the woman didn´t make and threw up on the aisle. I never get motion sickness, but even I could only read a paragraph of my book before I had to stop from knowing I would make myself sick if I kept reading. So, I spent 2 hours looking out the window. I saw lots of farmland, and cool things like Mayan women washing their clothes in a stream and road signs riddled with bulletholes. On a lot of the signs, the holes were in patterns or grids, so someone's a very good shot in them there hills.

Then, in Ocosingo, I had to get from the bus terminal to the market to catch a colectivo (combi van, $1 a ride, equivalent of our BCC buses, but run in a co-op system). LP didn't have a map for Ocosingo as no one really goes there, but said it was up one road then down 4 blocks, it was more like up one then down TEN blocks. But, I mastered the phrases "¿Donde queda colectivo para Tonina Ruinas, por favor?" and "¿Donde queda mercado, por favor?" in the process. Got on my combi fine, my first go a riding this super-local downbeat form of transport, and got dropped off at the ruins. Along the way, I saw one of the Zapastia's autonomous zones, across the road was a Mexican army base, coincidence?

Tonina was great, for the overall experience, up there in the top 3 I think. Because it's a minor sight, I had the whole place to myself, except for 1 other family group. Saw the sacrificial altar (that's HUMAN sacrifice too, in case anyone was thinking otherwise), walked along the secret passageways (in the dark, by myself!), climbed up the 8 levels as far as I was allowed to, and looked at the gory mural. I was under a bit of time pressure, because I had to get back to Ocosingo by the 16:55pm bus, but I got through everything. As soon as I got back to the gate, a colectivo pulled up, so hopped in that back to Ocosingo. On the way back, the driver let me sit shotgun and SLOWED DOWN to let me takes photos (not that I wanted him to, I was fine with blurry shots).

Got the bus back to San Cristobal, the guy sitting across the aisle gave me a biscuit (no rohypnol). The ride back was way better, no vomiting passengers.

That night, I managed to have anchovie pizza (nothing but cheese and anchovies!) for dinner. Then Emaya and I went to Bar Revolucion, the bar had really cool music, like Marvin Gaye, other GOOD R&B from the 60s, Beatles, other counterculture "hits" and a live band that beat everything I heard in Cuba. But, the night ended in sort of a fight between Emaya and I, because she got hassled by a creepy guy and I didn't notice it.

But today was really cool, except for the evening. It was the first time I went to a totally different place (albeit 3 hrs away) without Emaya. And, it was kind of tricky to get there, e.g. needed a bus and a colectivo there and back, which I pulled off without a hitch, with very little Spanish. It proved to me I didn't have to rely on Emaya and her Spanish, I could get out to semi-remote places with no dramas. And, the more remote you go, the nicer the people are, along the way everyone helped me out with directions and sometimes gave me biscuits!


From fee on Feb 16th, 2008

gee, that bus sounds terrible, blargh! and I totally agree I really don't think you need language to get you places! Well like a little helps, but I still stand by sign language! and nice friendly people :)