Whackala | Days 18 & 19: New Year’s
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Whackala, Animation, Ireland, Documentary,
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Days 18 & 19: New Year’s

Paul with Juanita with her fruit trees

Their chicken-turkey-duck coop

We decided not to stay for the celebrations when we arranged the visit, partly because we didn’t want to compromise these people into inviting us, since when we come here, they put us up and feed us, etc, so we didn’t want to be an extra imposition, but we spent a lovely morning and breakfast first with Martha, who we couldn’t see yesterday and whose family we got very close to. Juanita and one of the other kids, now 18 join us in the middle of breakfast; now we’re back on track, we’ve all relaxed and we’re joking and telling each other all our stories over these years. After leaving their neighbourhood we go by the market to say goodbye to Maria, another sister who has a little stall selling fruit and vegetables. She gets very emotional, she doesn’t have it as good as the others in her own family life, her husband is the only one we never properly met. We steal some more minutes with Martha and Esteban who give us a ride into Comitan. We combi our way back and are exhausted from the trip and socialising when we get “home”. Alicia has been cooking some gorgeous food for dinner tonight, which we’ll celebrate with an ex-soap opera actress who came down to Chiapas in love with Zapatismo and Sub-Commander Marcos, and her partner, a musician from an indigenous community, all very San Cristobal indeed!

Some of the lovely food

We knew to expect a lively and mostly one-sided conversation from the ex-actress but we also get some strong and prejudiced opinions on varied, and sometimes odd, subjects. Paul has been ill on and off the last few days, and after hearing that a meteorite is going to hit the earth soon and the Mexican government seems to be doing a lot of electrical work lately maybe to prepare for a complete switch off, he says his goodbyes and retires. We stay chatting, now about the horrendous quality of life that energy saving bulbs and LEDs bring compared to traditional ones, and then laugh it off and drink more wine once the guests leave. This light-weight Irish-Spanish is going to feel it in the morning.

Alicia waiting for the guests

Ilhui waiting for the guests

There’s no rest for the wicked, and foggy head an’ all we go out to film what we had planned for today: the patron’s celebrations in the neighbourhood square behind us; yep plenty of bangers and two different bands competing against each other outside the church, and then into town for an interview and street shots, far too many for our condition, walking up and down San Cristobal.

It’s off to Simojovel again tomorrow for more shooting in the mines and to look for a couple of elusive characters: “the Chinese” and one of the providers to the big shops in San Cristobal as well as an interview with Jorge Balcazar, who is the community amber museum director in Simojovel and having great knowledge in the subject and the circumstances in the area, is the most objective view we have, since he’s neither selling nor buying amber.