Crossing into Chiapas – Wind, iguanas and fighting cocks

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Let’s start by saying Arriaga is a windy town. To be more accurate the 20km preceding Arriaga is windy and unfortunately for me windy in the wrong direction.

I started today’s run in Tepanatepec and managed to cover about 44km and reach Arriaga. Today was also the day I moved from Oaxaca to Chiapas, my last Mexican state! The first part of the run was amazingly beautiful. After about 10km the road curved to the left and began a long, straight and flat section. On my left mountains ran along the horizon with clouds hiding behind the peaks. On my right it was flat as far as the eyes could see. The left side of the road was mostly mango trees which an abundance of fruit being harvested and transported back to town. On my right was more scrub land with short bushes providing cover for the most amazing abundance of birdlife including egrets, pelicans, cormorants, vultures, hawks and osprey. If you ever need a running partner then the later provides amazing entertainment as it ducks and dives between the trees.

After about 15km I found a petrol station and stocked up with water. There was a usual group of truck drivers sitting around the food stand and it didn’t take long for the usual questions to come pouring out. These little run-ins are great opportunities to practice my Spanish and while I still feel rusty they are amazed I have only recently begun learning!

About half way through the day I crossed over a small hill and entered a new valley. This is where the wind started. It was so strong that if I let go of my Thule Cheetah 1 it would start rolling back towards me. This added a little extra work to the rest of the day.

After about 37km I spotted an Iguana hatchery and restaurant at the side of the road. After eating Iguana earlier in the trip I thought I would visit and pay the entrance fee as a way of helping the repopulation of iguanas. After a slightly ropey meal I was given a quick tour of the facilities.

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Through the first gate was a large pen with iguanas everywhere. I enquired how many there were and was informed that there were about 2000. My questioning continued with what was the purpose of the facility. It transpired that they were breeding iguanas for pets, conservation and “sacrifice”. I immediately thought people were buying iguanas for pagan ceremonies but it turned out sacrifice actually means eating! My plan to undo my naughtiness of eating iguanas had turned into financing the next meals on people’s plates.

The tour was actually quite informing. They collect the lady iguanas and put them in individual tubes with nests attached. Each lady iguana lays about 40 eggs which are left in the tubes for a couple of days before being transferred to an incubator. They then remain there for 2.5 months before they hatch. The success rate is about 90-95% which is must be pretty lucrative for the “farmers”.

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After I finished the iguana tour I was led to another incubator room and was shown a load of chicken eggs and chicks. These were not for eating or eggs but were in fact the next contingent of fighting cockerels. My guide showed me pens with different aged cockerels and their training ground! There was also a monkey chained to a tree… All the pointers were there that this place was run by some pretty unscrupulous people.

I made my exit and completed the last few km of running into an amazing headwind. When I arrived in Arriaga I met a group of men chilling next to the beer shop. We had some good conversations which I am sure left them thinking I was a complete nutter!!

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