©1996 by Lynn D. Troldahl Hershberger (Lynn@ColorJoy.com)
Driving from Coba to Valladolid
On the way from Coba to Valladolid, we passed by some very remote areas. The road is literally two lanes and no shoulder. The brush comes up all the way to the road, almost like two walls of green on either side.
Most of the people in this area live in traditional Maya homes, with walls made of upright sticks or stucco, and thatched roofs (or occasionally corrugated tin roofs). They sleep in hammocks, perfect for the climate. They get around locally by foot or bicycle. (Cars are prohibitively expensive for many people in Mexico.)
[Photo: A "Typical" (Traditional) Maya home with thatched roof and stucco.]
The inhabited areas in more rural parts of Mexico usually control traffic with traffic bumps, and we found plenty of these in small village areas along the road. At one village, we slowed down for these bumps.
As we slowed down, we were rushed by five or six children selling oranges. They put their arms, and bags of peeled fruit, in the open windows of the car. (Apparently the children add to the family income by selling oranges that grow wild in that area.) They were asking only one peso for 6 oranges with spices, less than $.20 US. Of course, our red car and pale faces screamed "RICH NORTH AMERICANS!" It was certainly worth their while to try.
We refused the oranges (having been caught off guard, and not knowing how the food had been prepared). However, the children would not take their hands out of the car. It was dangerous and upsetting. One child even grabbed an empty bag that appeared to have potato chips in it, hoping to get a snack from us. The bag was nearly empty but crumbs flew all over. We drove away very slowly until they gave up and took their arms out of the car. That image will haunt me for a long time.
The experience took us by total surprise; I expect I would handle it differently if it happened to me again. Perhaps I would give them all a peso and decline the treat. However, it all happened so very fast we didn't have time to develop a plan until the event had passed. It really bothered me that the children were so young and working already. They didn't look as if they were hungry, really. People in that area farm and don't starve. So this was probably one of several incomes available to the local families. However, the image of those children with their arms in our car haunts me still.
[Photo:- Colorful Maya home, stucco with tin roof.]
When we got to the main highway on the way to Valladolid, we were stopped by police again. This time it seemed different, but I had a very hard time understanding the officer. Finally he determined that I spoke English and pointed to a sign. They were searching us for pork products! The sign said that we were entering a "hog cholera zone" and there was a quarantine. When I was able to tell them that we did not have food, we were waved on our way.
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