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"This Zorro-Che Gueverra styled figure wears a black mask and seemingly can't be found or caught."
- Kirk Stephan

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Revolution and the jungle
by Kirk Stephan, Iowa, USA
Apr 18, 2000

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Staying a few weeks here this time I discovered (after a fruitless search on the "Mayan Riviera") that I could easily get fresh fish for dinner! Funny, to be in the rainforest and be able to do that. On the tourist coast of Quintana Roo, with a million mouths to feed every day, I found only frozen "fillets of something". I eat fresh "Mojarra" here nearly every day...(we're actually only 30 kilometers from the huge river, Usamacinta and the tourists aren't here looking for fish.)

I'd guess some 90 per cent of the population are full-blooded "Indian" and their friendly, chubby-faced smiles are a welcome relief from the tourist-exhausted ones of the Yucatecs on the coast. Most everyone I meet tries out a joke or two and eventually gets a chuckle or a guffaw from the effort.

If you're into "rainforests" this is where it's at. Gorgeous and lush, we're at the edge of what WAS a huge jungle stretching for hundreds of kilometers in 3 directions. Of course, like on most of the planet, this resource has been mutated into timber and boards for ticky-tacky houses in California and Rhode-Island. The tourist areas are protected though, so this pyramid-rich area is almost the pristine region of old. But I watch through my window the Indian with machete and hatchet cutting the 300-ft. high mahogany tree back for his boss. A doll-sized figure amidst the giant, body-sized branches of this 200 hundred year old beauty, he brings down the whole gorgeous monster in 5 days; he loves his job and the hotel will be able to expand..

Chiapas is a veritable mystery all right; revolution and mysticism rolled into one of the most popular tourist packages in the world.

Many have read of the charismatic Commandante Marcos who leads the dozen-year old rebellion here (he even has a web site and allegedly carries a sattelite-connected laptop aboard his horse!) This Zorro-Che Gueverra styled figure wears a black mask and seemingly can't be found or caught. Mexican newspapers engage in endless chat over how to end this "conflict". Foreign reporters ruminate endlessly but aren't allowed to spend time in the area. For locals and we lingering tourists the only evidence of this "movie" is the military. Supposedly some 60 percent of the Mexican army is here and minutes never go by without seeing trucks full of special troops pass.

Last weekend we spent the day in fiesta with a local landowner. His friend, the general of all the armies in Chiapas was there with his attache-colonel and their driver-bodyguard, a huge, dark Indian corporal who drove their "desert-storm" jeep through the small stream right up to our camp-site. Later in the evening I ventured to pry some tidbit from the general about the rebellion. "Do you think Commandante Marcos might be a Cuban?" I ask in my naive Iowa drawl.

Who really is Commandente Marcos?

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