The year was 1979. My brother and I were taking an Autransportes Lacandonia bus from Palenque to San Cristóbal de las Casas. Today, the trip can be done in five hours. Back then, we boarded the reconverted North American school bus at 5:00 AM and got into San Cristóbal eleven hours later.

Enroute, we saw another Lacandonia bus that was run off the road into a ditch. It was surrounded by the passengers who were milling around. Luckily none of them seemed to be hurt. Then, about an hour or so later, as we neared Ocosingo, we were pulled over by the Mexican Army, who searched our luggage for weapons. We were not far from the Guatemalan border, and many Mexicans and even some foreigners were involved in gun-running to the rural Maya combatants across the border.

When we pulled into Ocosingo, a young boy boarded the bus selling something that was wrapped in straw. The boy didn’t understand my Spanish, and I didn’t understand his Tzotzil or Tzeltal Maya, but it didn’t cost much. Apparently, Ocosingo is famous for its queso amarillo (yellow cheese), which actually was pretty good—especially on a bus ride that seemed to take forever.

I wouldn’t mind returning to Ocosingo some day, having some more queso amarillo and visiting the Maya ruins at nearby Toniná. This relatively small Maya site bested the much larger Palenque in battle and got to sacrifice the royal family to their gods.

Every place I have ever visited in Mexico has left an indelible mark on my memory. Faced with a map of the country, I can follow my itinerary from city to city. These included places like Los Mochis, the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), Mazatlan, Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Querétaro, Mexico City, Patzcuaro, Uruapan, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Puebla, Cholula, Xalapa, Veracruz, Papantla, Oaxaca, and points south too numerous to mention.