Max stands out – undeniably and literally – he is inches taller than his fellow three years olds, blond, blue-eyed, skinny and knobby-kneed compared to all the dark-haired, dark-eyed stocky little Mayan warriors. And he enjoys being different every minute of the day: for the teachers at school he was “mi amor” within seconds and when he gets there in the morning it’s all about “Maxi” as they call him. He gets to study with the older kids and has more than his fair share of attention lavished on him, he gets fancy hairdos with lots of gel, “sopa” for lunch because that’s what he likes to eat. When we walk around the city every other person smiles at him, many pat his head, some give him chocolate and even small coins. At the Zocolo, the main plaza and preferred pigeon chasing territory, he makes friends in an instant and he can afford to be picky – everybody wants to chase pigeons with him.
His parents stand out, too, literally. Most men and all women I have seen so far are a lot shorter than my 5’10” and Uli towers over everybody but the occasional tourist from the Netherlands or Sweden. Nobody has given us money yet, or chocolate, I guess they don’t pat our heads because they can’t reach them, and just like every other tourist we are targeted by the sombrero sellers, the hammock sellers, the Cuban cigar sellers, the “real wooden toys” sellers and a host of others hoping to make a living. Sometimes being different isn’t that much fun.
The End of the Diet Coke Moratorium
On a different note: I weaned myself off of Diet Coke, slowly, painfully, relapses and all. Not quite a 12-step program but pretty close. I fell off the wagon hardly two days into our sabbatical. What’s a girl to do? One can’t drink the water from the faucet which makes it impossible to drink pretty much any form of open beverage (juices, etc. ) as they are served with ice. I hate coffee (I know I am an outsider, but I do hate coffee), and a Margharita for lunch would have been a good choice 10 years and a child ago but now it would only guarantee a midday nap that lasts until the evening with a three-year old hopping around on the bed next to me like a madman. So seriously: “What’s a girl to do?” So the Diet Coke moratorium has been vacated until further notice. Oh, the perils of travling to hot, foreign places – it’s not the poisonous snakes, lurking thiefs, strange spices, the occassional rat under the sink (we had that, too), or foreign languages that make it hard to say things like “I wish I could buy the wonderful products you are offering, honestly do, but unfortunately I am in no position to fit them in my limited suitcases space. Why don’t you try your luck with the British people on the table over there?” – it is the imminent danger of falling back into a really bad Diet Coke habit.
Mayan wedding rituals
Today we are talking modern, current Mayans and I have heard this story now from a couple of people – so it absolutely must be true. A part of a Mayan wedding ceremony involves the following: The groom takes of his nice, new super-soft Panama hat, flattens it out, folds it over , rolls it up until it is so small that it will fit – lengthwise, of course – through the wedding ring (his or hers, I forgot to ask). After that, the groom will pour champagne into the hat and offer it to his bride. Now why that should prove eternal love rather than just the good quality of the hat (soft and strong) escaped me but I guess at the very least it proves that the groom has the financial means to treat himself to a little extravagance. Whether that bodes well for the marriage I honestly doubt.