Monday, June 13, 2005

More Mexico

Wow, looking over my last several posts I noticed a very negative trend. That's not good and so I'll try and balance it out some.

The area around Poza Rica was quite beautiful. Low mountains covered in orange orchards and cut through with fast moving streams surround the town. Along these steams grew clumps of giant bamboo, each cane 4-6 inches in diameter. I would love to have a bunch of that bamboo to build a raft. The orange trees filled the air with the smell of citrus, though in some places banana, papayas and mangos ruled. Flowering trees called "naked coral trees" were everywhere. These are medium-sized trees with weird, alien-looking trunks/branches and coatings of bright red flowers. These trees go through interesting cycles where they start the year covered in green leaves, then the leaves drop off and the red flowers bloom, then these flowers fall and the leaves come back. They go through this cycle of green/red like giant traffic lights several times a year.

Flying in and out of Poza Rica I could see all sorts of footpaths winding around the mountians. I wish I had had time to explore these paths. One could walk for miles while plucking oranges and other fruit from the trees for nourishment. Water wells dotted the orchards. Hmmm, the funny thing was oil wells were pumping away all through the city, but I saw very few in the wilds. One oil well in the city really suprised me as it was on an elementary school's property wedged in between the main school building and the soccer field. There wasn't even a fence around it to keep a child out of the machinery. I guess Mexican kids are smarter than American kids.

Most of the building in the city were painted bright shades of yellow, blue, teal, red, etc... It made everything look gaily festive and rustic at the same time. I loved the drives to and from the worksite as there was so much to see. School kids in their uniforms, taxi drivers drinking orange juice from 1-liter plastic bags, tropical plants spilling down walls like coats of paint, funky little cars not available in the USA but still made by Ford, Volkswagon, and Toyota. Each morning we'd load up on Cokes and fruit juice from a vender on our way to the site. The "store" was just a iron cage about ten feet by ten feet stacked with merchandise and an old lady in sitting in the center. You passed her the money through a small window and she'd hand you back what you wanted. I think the Cokes were the only thing "American" that I ate or drank the whole week. My theory is when you are travelling why eat something you can get at home? Most of the time this led to all sorts of culinary delight, though the glass of beet juice remained untouched after the first sip. I also passed on the fresh cocconut milk after having a bad reaction to the stuff in Hawaii. Tastey, but it kicks the colon into overdrive. Maybe I should have warned my co-worker of that... Oh well, he learned.

The steaks, the fish, the shrimp, the soups, the fruit, and the pastries were all awesome. Normally I'm not a big fan of papyas or mangos, but like most other things they tasted hundreds of times better straight off the tree rather than shipped in to a grocery store. Same with refried beans. The stuff you get in cans is mucho bleho compared to beans made from scratch.

A note about the hotel, the Feista Inn. Wonderful, wonderful people work there. They bent over backwards to understand us crazy gringos and never lost their smiles. It was a two-star hotel with a five-star staff. It was the first place I've ever stayed where the waitress greeted me at supper with a hug and the maid neatly folded and packed my dirty laundry the night before I left!

Adventure! Excitement! Exploration!

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