Fruitgasms and Virgin Mary Chargers

Trip Start Sep 07, 2011
Trip End Dec 22, 2011

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Friday, September 30, 2011

Two of the biggest draws here in southern Chiapas are Chiflon Falls and Lagos de Mirabella National Park.   Apart from a private car, tours offered by any agency or hotel in San Cristobal are the only way in.  The price was right at 230 pesos ($16.50), and I had high hopes for a day of scenic beauty.   I took off at 9am with two of my new friends with high hopes.  Within minutes of boarding the van, we discovered that this tour was going to be en espanol only.  True enough we are in Mexico, but I didn't expect to be the only foreigners on a tour marketed to the backpacker crowd.

Not even 20 minutes out of town we stopped at some cave and at risk of sounding jaded, a cave is a cave…dark, wet and nothing to see at all.   Since seeing all that the cave had to offer in ten minutes left 40 more to kill, I decided to find an electrical outlet to charge my camera.  An extension cord lighting up a Virgin Mary display in a wood shed was all I could find so I plugged in and watched the lights twinkle around Mary and all the rosary beads as my camera got some breakfast.   Evidently her holy duties do not extend to battery charging because no fewer than four people came over and excitedly unplugged my cord.  Oh well, I tried.

With those 50 minutes of my life lost forever we moved on towards Chiflon which is 3 hours outside of San Cristobal.   Of course enroute we had to make the obligatory stop at some tourist market with natively dressed women selling the same pottery crap overflowing out of every other tourist trap and airport gift shop.  What is it about vacations that makes people exchange their cash for objects d’art that will end up forgotten in a box never to be touched again?

I didn’t even bother getting out of the van but no worries, the pottery will find even those who hide from it.   If I have chosen not to exit the van, is that not clue enough that a sale on my part is not imminent?   Trust me, pottery sales people, the more crap you shake five inches from my eyes, the even less likely I am to buy it.

Already three hours into this trip, I hadn’t seen anything I signed up for, and I was wondering if this was going to be a 230 peso dud.   At least I got some entertainment at the pottery casa watching some elderly European looking travelers having what appeared to be a fruitgasm over some apples.   Yes ladies, that piece of fruit upon which you have inquisitively honed in is a freaking red apple, the same exact red apple at the grocery store back home.  As they carefully posed for pictures with the red apples, I couldn’t help but notice they passed up the prickly pear fruit, mangos and other tropical delights for the more familiar.   These prickly pear fruits were practically screaming Amigos, su attencion por favor.   Now don’t you think something truly exotic would have been infinitely more interesting than red apples for their captive audiences back home forced to look at their pics?

Their multiple fruitgasms got me to thinking that tourists are typically frigid and always seem to gravitate to the familiar.   No wonder even the most remote tourist attractions have hamburgueses and sandwiches on the menu.  Why would someone raised on such a rich and varied diet of McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell want to try something new in a faraway land?  They’ve experienced it aleady…cuisines of the world delivered right into their car windows, sometimes even with the fried chicken, Italian and Mexican components fried up under the same roof!  Even in Mexico someone seeking the a taste of home can aim their hooptie right through the AutoMac or AutoKing and get their fix of "comidas familiar."  But that’s ok, their lack of adventure leaves the local foodstands and “comidas typicas” unspoiled for the rest of us.

What does any of this have to do with driving to waterfalls and lakes?  Hell if I know, but finally underway to Chiflon one can’t help notice what a laborious process parts of Mexico have made of driving.  Speedbumps in a series of 5-6 in a row, sometimes with the next series a scant 500 feet away, turn the journey into one slow motion siesta.   The back tires are barely clearing the first hump when the front tires are making their 2mph climb over the next.  Trust me, your hurry is apparently no one’s worry down here in these parts when the DOT lays asphalt.   The scenery actually is amazingly green, lush and mountainous, but I really am ok watching it zip by at 60 miles per hour sans  speedbumps every couple of minutes.  In case you care, "tope" is the word for speedbump...I should know after seeing it a thousand times.

Around 1:30pm we finally cleared our last topes and arrived at Chiflon.  The heavy rains have left it flowing pretty good for its initial 400 foot plunge, and the mountainside was covered in mist.   A path up the mountain leads anyone with moderate stamina to a thundering display of water and spray.  This was one of the better waterfalls I have seen recently so two thumbs up.

An hour and a half later we were underway yet again for two hours over speed bump infested back roads bound for the Mirabella lakes.  Some family decided to drag along two grandmas and a two year child on this 12 hour adventure and all I can say is what the hell are people thinking?   All that child did was scream and have tantrums and all grandma and mamasita could muster up was a feeble “silencio.”  Yeah, like that is going to shut a kid up

Hours later we arrived at the lakes and what I saw was unfortunately a letdown.   Dozens of these deep blue clear lakes dot the park and evidently the best are only accessible by hiking or horseback.  Yes indeed, a van trip on a tight schedule limits the options for those of us looking for a little more.  I would have gladly traded the fruitgasm stop and caves for several hours of kayaking and hiking here. 

Wanting to at least get out on the water somehow, we did pay a couple of bucks to have some guy row us out on a raft made of tree trunks lashed together and this actually proved to be the 30 minute excursion that salvaged the lakes.   Several women from Querataro state were on this wobbly wet thing, and each spoke perfect English.  They were delighted we chose to come to Mexico and I got to talking in depth to one of them.  She asked me what the perception of her country is back home in the states, and I explained it seems like a warzone since all we see in the news is the border violence.

She asked me to put out word that the country is quite safe and scenic from Querataro State southward and I can attest to this after a week here.   This part of Mexico is a far cry from Juarez, Matamoros and Monterrey, and I hope one day everyone can experience places like Chiapas first hand.   Mexican people are very friendly, the food is awesome, and the scenery is amazing.

All in all we spent about right hours driving for four hours of looking around and of those four hours only the one at the falls was truly worth it.  Oh well, at least I got to see some pretty countryside and the interaction with those women on the raft was priceless.

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