Skip Hunt

Austin, United States

Skip Hunt, born on the wind-swept plains of Oklahoma, is a professional photographer in Austin, Texas. He picked up a 35mm camera in the...

On the Road... FOUR

One of the things I like about Mexico is that, especially when you’re in the smaller towns, you almost blend in. People just accept you as another human being who’s passing through. They don’t stare and they pretty much treat you like one of the community somewhat. But, it’s easy to get into the mindset that YOU are the tourist… and THEY are the locals that YOU’RE observing. Sort of a tendency to make the separation yourself between us and them.

The day I left San Jose del Pacifico high in the Oaxacan mountains, I heard some arguing. While I was carrying my bags out to the bike, I noticed the woman who ran the little restaurant and rented me my room was sitting on a metal drum. She had her head in her hands and was crying. It was early, so I’m sure she didn’t think anyone was around to see her crying quietly. She was such a nice, hard-working lady and I really felt for her. I wanted to help somehow, but she quickly put a big smile back on her face and tried her best to compose herself. Apparently, from what I overheard, either the husband or her oldest son had taken most of the money earned from the day before and spent it all on booze.

Watching her cry like that and feeling helpless to do something about it… really reminded me how similar we all are. How we all have our life’s problems and hurt when we see our fellow brother’s and sister’s hurting. At that moment I stopped feeling like a tourist observing “the locals” and saw just a woman hurting and it made me hurt as well.

I left early enough that the ride down the mountain towards Oaxaca City was pretty clear. It was pretty cold at first, but warmed up quickly with my decent to lower altitude.

I was really worried about going to Oaxaca City due to all the reports of possible violence, heavy military presence, protests, etc. The first an only military checkpoint started out to be somewhat intimidating. The soldiers demanded to see what was inside all of my bags. I was making such good time, it was really annoying to have to unpack everything off the bike, but I wasn’t going to argue with a machine gun and started to unpack. But, before I did… I stopped a second and looked at the military dude. I said, “Look, I’ll unpack all of this for you… no problem. But, I gotta tell you… it’s gonna take me a good 15 minutes or so to get all of this unpacked, and another 15 minutes to repack it.” He asked “15 minutes!?” …looked at my bags and patted them with his fist and them told me I didn’t have to unpack and could go. So, I figured it must not be as bad as I’d heard.

Sure enough, the entire Zocalo (main plaza) was filled with tents and teachers camping out in protest. There were hundreds, maybe more, of them all camped out occupying most of the central part of the city. But it didn’t seem very violent. Mostly looked like a festival with vendors selling all sorts of goodies and dancers performing. Who knows what’ll happen if they’re all still camped out in July with the biggest money-making festival of the year coming up, Guelaguetza, If the protestors are forced to leave in time to clean up for Guelaguetza, then I’m guessing there could be problems. But while I was there, it was very tame and just added more color. :-)

Most of the historic district was also covered with political grafitti. I figured it’d been there awhile, until I noticed some of it was covered up by fresh paint the day after it went up. Like the battle was beginning between the poor teachers and the wealthy property owners. As fast as the property owners could cover up the grafitti, the protestors would add even more. I would guess that tug-of-war could escalate as well.

One evening I was laying in my dilapidated pink concrete room. I had the windows open because it was pretty hot and I didn’t have a fan. I don’t know why, but I really started wondering what the hell it is that I’m doing here. Not just in Oaxaca, or the pink concrete room, or even Mexico. I was asking myself, why I keep going on these trips, taking photos, writing, etc. Over and over again. Why? What purpose did any of it serve? Where would it take me? Am I just wasting time? What does my life mean anyway? What does ANYTHING mean? Am I just an idiot who got stuck in some kind of meanlingless travel habit that will never amount to anything at all?

I started thinking about the fact that when you’re at home and “plugged in” to your circle of friends, etc… you get somewhat regular phone calls or emails. You feel part of the group for the most part. But, it doesn’t seem like it takes very long at all before you’re not getting emails anymore from your friends and family. Almost like you’ve been forgotten in just a few short weeks. What would happen if I just disappeared or never came home? Would I just be quickly forgotten and a faint memory at best?

Yep, I was felling a bit down. Happens sometimes when you travel alone like I do. I think that’s one of the reasons why I take these photos and post these dispatches online, etc. Sort of makes me feel a little less alone… like this group is traveling along with me… and, it eases the loneliness a little.

About that time, a baby started to cry. It was wailing too. Consider the fact the hotel is all tile and concrete, and you get a nice echo and amplification of the crying at well. It irritated me a little, but there was really nothing I could do about it besides get up and leave. So, I just listened to the crying for awhile and wondered why this little one was hurting. Was it sick? Hungry? Dirty? Or was this baby just expressing the same emotion I was…. overwhelmed with everything… all the mystery and not knowing what anything meant or what was to come. It’s not like I wanted to cry too, but it was like I understood the cry. And, that nothing had really changed all that much since I first squinted my own newborn eyes in the bright light, feared the dark, and the unease of not knowing … why?

For your pleasure, here is a new gallery of images:

New Gallery of Photos for Mexico 08 FOUR

Skip Hunt
Austin, Texas

Journal Comments

  • Nanmarie
  • Nanmarie
  • tuetano
  • Spiritinme