December 24th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
San Cristobal market

Such a wonderful bed – I slept like an over-exhausted log.  So that by the time we all emerged – I’ll confess, I was the last – + then found somewhere for coffee, it was already quite late.  We then made some enquiries as to where it might be possible to phone from, + after quite a lot of effort, eventually discovered the Dulceria Santo Domingo, a very strange place. Which as well as serving as long-distance phone centre, also sold clothes, pastries, shoes + Indian crafts.  I couldn’t get thro’ to Mum – there was no reply in England – but Lisabeth rang Switzerland.  It cost $1500 – a severe shock.  It seemed as tho’ Val would be out of luck with her only chance to call home – the only time everyone would be phonable would be Christmas Day, + the shop was shut then.

We all moved on to the market, + had fun wandering round buying goodies for tomorrow, mostly fruit, + then back to the Casa for an hour or two’s rest.  At about 4 or so, out once more.  While the others did some shopping somewhere, I called again, to Bob this time.  Just about took enough time to wish everyone Merry Christmas + find out that Mum had gone to a hotel… + it still cost $700.  Ah well.  Comes but once a year, they say.

The next task was to find a restaurant, + this proved no easy matter since most were shut.  However, eventually found a hotel restaurant which was open, + they seemed to be able to offer a good menu.  In fact, it was pretty good – a Margarita, followed by soup, then salad, then meat, , with a glass of wine, plus a sort of fish salad, then dessert + coffee.  Unfortunately, there was some confusion about whose meal was whose, + what it was, that spoiled things a little.  However, we discovered that Val would be able to phone from there tomorrow.

Then we went to look for the evening’s entertainment.  The only trouble is, there didn’t seem to be any, apart from kids throwing fireworks, + we walked around for ages.  Eventually, we heard the festivities would start later, so Val + I took a nap, and then went out at 11… still nothing.  So we strolled back, + collapsed.  Christmas in Mexico not all it might be.

And so we come to another huge change between those times and now, with the difficulty of making a phone call.  Taken for granted nowadays, of course, though actually the thing a phone seems least valuable for nowadays is as a phone.  Anyway, neither of us had phoned home at all since we had left.  And in Val’s case, the problem was made all the more acute for her family home not having a line.  The only opportunity wold be Christmas Day itself, when all the family would be congregating at her Aunty Mary’s house.  And even then, this had to be sorted in advance, via a hotel or the like.

And Christmas itself was proving extraordinarily dull.  We had envisaged life, colour, energy… but that just reflected our misplaced assumptions about latin culture.  In fact, they seemed to celebrate the same way we did, in our homes, with our families.  Which left itinerants like us out in the cold.

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