Spit Soup and Poop Crackers in the Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp
Mexico North America Yucatan Trips

Spit Soup and Poop Crackers in the Yucatan — By Jennifer Shipp

Yaxachen family house that burned down while the community was out doing posadas during the Christmas season.

On Wednesday we were robbed. We had to rent a car to cart around our things while we were getting new passports and of course the car we ended up with was the same P.O.S. Chevy that we had stuffed ourselves into over the weekend to go visit the family that had lost everything in a fire in Yaxachen. As we sat in a traffic jam in downtown Merida, stuffed into that tiny car again while trying in vain to find the United States Consulate, the three of us considered the possibility that we had actually been killed in the robbery and ended up in some level of hell where the air conditioning still works.

But eventually we found the consulate and discovered that our passports would likely arrive on time before our departure flight. We weren’t in hell after all.

After reluctantly forking over $500 to the U.S. Consulate we decided it would be best to make the next set of decisions at Starbucks over pound cake and coffee. Starbucks is like an emotional consulate in foreign countries. When we’ve capped out in a foreign country, Starbucks is our sanctuary.

John needed a computer to continue working for the next 8 days. Computers in Mexico cost approximately twice as much as in the United States and their operating systems are configured in Spanish. They also have an enyay key instead of a semi-colon and a totally different keyboard configuration.

Our passports would hopefully arrive in Merida by Tuesday. Our flight would be going out on Thursday early in the morning. Should we stay in Merida? Go back to Progreso? Or should we head toward Cancun?

The pound cake and coffee helped bring things into focus.

John would borrow a computer from Marta. She had offered to let us take a computer to the house. We would stay in a hotel in Merida, which would make it possible for us to continue our Spanish classes. And we would rent the car for another day and take the items directly to the Yaxachen family rather than waiting another week.

So Thursday morning, we got up early and folded ourselves back into the Chevy for a day of driving. We got the computer from Marta in Progreso and picked up the remaining items at the house. We talked with the neighbors again about the robbery. Elsiamira assured me that God had been watching and that the ladrones would pay for their deeds six times over. She gave me the requisite kisses and hugs and I thanked her profusely. The other neighbors, accused and implicated…probably guilty, slowly dispersed in various directions after our arrival. As we drove away, Jose was standing outside. I rolled down the window and thanked him as well for his ayuda.

We left Progreso around 12:00 PM for Yaxachen.

As usual, the trip to Muna was relatively straightforward. We were optimistic about getting to Yaxachen in only about 2 hours. But the last stretch of the journey into the less civilized areas of the state slowed us down. Again, we had to drive over the topes and navigate the cavernous pot holes down to Yaxachen. In Oxkutzcab, the townspeople were building a giant coliseum out of sticks and thatch. Some men were boxing in the street. The sun was high in the sky. We were concerned about being stuck in the middle-of-nowhere-Yucatan in the middle of the night.

“I hope we don’t have to stay long.” I told John as we rolled into Yaxachen at around 3:30 PM. The sun would go down by around 6:00 PM.

“I’ll be blunt. We have to get going right away.” He said.

When we arrived with the things, the family wasn’t there. Maria Cauich’s mother or sister (I couldn’t understand anything the woman said except something she told her husband about how we spoke only Spanish.) ran down the road (in bare feet…they all had bare feet) to find the oldest daughter who returned to accept our gift. A new house was in the process of being built. There were sticks and logs on the ground and a new structure partially erected. We carefully stepped over the sticks, which had clearly been whittled by hand to a sharp point at the ends.

We didn’t linger. Townspeople gathered in groups at both ends of the street and waved to us as though they knew us. We hoped that the gifts wouldn’t be obsolete to them. Do the indigenous people of the Yucatan have a use for pillows? The daughter seemed a little confused by the pillows, but we figured the kids in the family would find a way to play with them until they became infested with ants and other bugs. We left yoga mats too. We have fifteen of them at home from when I taught yoga classes. Surely these people could find some creative use for yoga mats. We left clothes, hammocks, and a variety of other kitchen utensils.

As we drove away, John and I breathed a sigh of relief.

“That went exactly the way I wanted it to go.” John said.

“I know.” I said,”I was afraid that they would offer us something to eat…or invite us to stay with them or something like that.”

“Spit soup and poop crackers.”

“What?”

“Spit soup and poop crackers…that’s what poor people have to offer in exchange for charitable gifts.”

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