Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Chiapas Story-part 2

I thought I’d test the waters on the Zapatista front. This was, after all, the heart of the guerrilla uprising. Who knows, maybe I could convince the shopkeeper into launching into a political rant of some sort.

We were discussing greetings, comparing the relative benefits of the English language “jelou” and the various Mayan greetings (which I have yet to figure out—it seems like every damn person says something different when they greet someone, and I have yet to nail down a simple all-purpose “hola”).

I casually mentioned in passing, “Is it true that some folks in this area greet each other with their left hand instead of the right?” Of course, this was a reference to something I had read about; this was a politically-charged habit of Marcos and some of the other guerrilla commanders.

“I don’t know about that,” the store owner said. He stared at the dirt floor. The Guatemalan singer continued to croon in the background on the TV set, accompanied by an electronic synthesizer. Every song had at least one moment of blatantly incorrect notes hit by the piano player. “Stuck pigs,” as they call them in show business.

“The only time I’ve seen someone greet with their right hand,” he continued, “is if they’re mad at their neighbor for some reason. It’s like a way of making it obvious that I’m not happy with you, by giving you the wrong hand when I greet you on the road.”

That’s all the left-handed shake was for this guy. Not a clever way for a revolutionary to show his preference for the Left wing of the political spectrum.

Just a big Mayan middle finger.

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