December 12th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1

We both showered, + then Val went out to buy our breakfast.  When she returned, she also had a box to pack up her Sun God + all the other things to go home, + a bamboo flute, that we’d seen before.  Spent some time collecting all the maps, leaflets, photos, + then went out to try to post them… except they didn’t accept parcels on Saturday mornings.  Left our bags at the hotel, then to the market, + then the bus station for the bus to Mitla.  However, a shocking discovery – by experimenting in my mouth with my tongue – I’d been plagued with toothache during the night – I found that it hadn’t been a piece of taco that had pierced my gum.  My tooth had shattered, + a piece of that had done the damage.  Straight to a dentist, who fortunately was a) unoccupied b) kind and c) cheap – he said as I had already feared – the tooth must go.  It really wasn’t too painful, but it was disturbing – great “cracks” coming from inside one’s mouth, + much pulling + pushing, but in the end, it was out.  Of course, when we left, my back was soaked.

As it was so late, we decided to take our bags to Mitla, + camp.  Not a long bus journey, + a short walk up the hill to the ruins.  A different sort of impressiveness, of detail rather than scale, like Monte Alban.  Also met a friendly English couple, who were heading down thro’ Central America, + planning to walk across the Darien Gap, Panama to Colombia.  Rather makes our fears appear silly.  Asked around a good deal about somewhere to camp, + eventually were directed to an area outside the village.  There some friendly locals showed us a good site, near a primary school.  We pitched the tent, then strolled back to town to eat a frugal but tasty meal in a small café – spinach soup, coke, + coffee.  Then a stroll back thro’ the dark.

Problems with bureaucracy… Nothing too major on this occasion, but whenever we ran up against such things, it always seemed to either end in disappointment or serious delay.  As for the dentist, it was just as well that we seemed to be in a country that regarded dentistry as a major industry, judging by the number.  I do recall that he asked if I was in much pain – “Mucho dolores?” – but as I misunderstood his enquiry to ask if I had lots of money, I assured him fervently that there was very little.

The mention of the Darien Gap may well be the first time, but we had debated what we should do if and when we reached it.  My impression is that, by this time, we had moved away from our plan to fly to Australia, as there seemed to be too much to see and do in Central America.  Mexico had not proved to be very cheap at all, for we had the misfortune to be there when the mexican peso was very strong, giving us a very poor exchange rate, but from what we had heard, Guatemala was both cheaper and more picturesque, so we were now determined to push on at least to there.

  1. Pamela Blair

    I remember those beautiful carved rock designs at Mitla. Very impressive! I laughed out loud at the mistake you made with the dentist–thinking dolores meant dollars. I hope he numbed it anyway.
    It’s so familar to me, how meeting other travelers can result in changing one’s plans–they know about a place you hadn’t heard of and suddenly you go there instead of where you’d planned to go. I’ll be interested to learn where you go once you leave Mexico.

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