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Down in a hole

Much of the rest of this day was spent battling with hawkers. Roaming hawkers with fibs about special prices, only one dollar, I’m only here for half a day, better price for Australian than Americans (I like that one), hand made, and the like, hunted you down everywhere, until you developed skills of evasion, up and over pyramids and ledges. The art of haggling here, the cut and thrust, was (with only one exception) enjoyable and cheeky, with a sly understanding on both sided about the tactics and bluffs of the other. It was reminiscent of the attitude in Moscow, and thankfully unlike the unfriendly bloodsport of Beijing. Naomi showed canny skills in this arena during our first bout, as we were accosted by a silver smith when alighting the Pyramid of the Moon. She had just enough in her wallet, and knew what was in mine, so as to support her final bid with no more money to display (the rest safely secreted away) she cut the fellow down to half his initial bid (as one should), and although both parties left feeling they could have done better (evidence was found the next day to confirm this), both parties left happy. Also, the tale of the gift will delight her mother, and she insists her father felt a tremor in the universe and nodded. “Ah yes, one of my children has made a good deal”.

Just after the clock held eleven, we headed (and were misdirected by a dodgy guide book map) to La Gruta, a restaurant in a voluminous cave. In a cave! The brightly coloured furniture and Christmas decorations compliment the gray rock exquisitely, and the food is worth the elevated tourist prices. It was here that I added to my culinary experiences by eating nopal, a staple of local cooking. Amongst the decorations were the seasonal Noche Buena plants, known as Poinsettia to the world, owing to the US ambassador to Mexico who decided to take the plant home named after himself. Humble. And, at about 12pm in La Gruta, the tide of the day turned and his equally humble contemporary countrymen swarmed from their buses through the cave mouth with their lack of internal monologue and volume control. Every inane thought must be vocalised with high decibels; “I don't wanna sit there”, “this place is grrrreat”, “Heya cowboy” and on. And on. And on. But, fight fire with fire and speak to your companion a little too loudly the incantation “You need to get a better hat before we go to Cuba” and whole groups can be stunned into silence. I do mourn for their intelligent and calmly spoken countrymen who must suffer both the behavior and the reputation of it.

The sun now pouring its wrath upon a site teeming with mid-50s loudmouths, we headed out, en route investigated the other wing of the souvenir traders, the several dozen stores (imagine self-storage sheds filled with crystals, and t-shirts, and idols to lost gods) lining the roads to each gate. Each store has merchandise subtly different to each other, though the commerce is fierce.

This lunar cycle

April 2015
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