Sunday I drove with Tere, the woman from whose store I buy produce, for about two and a half hours to a huge market near the city of Puebla. Tere wanted to check the prices at the market to see if it would make economic sense for here to buy a pickup truck to drive to the market to buy produce for here store. She discovered prices about 40% less than she pays at the market in Xalapa.
I was amazed at how rapidly the terrain and climate changed as we climbed the mountains to Perote, which is the first town one comes to when entering a broad, semi-arid plateau. When we left Xalapa it was raining fairly forcibly; at around Las Vigas, not far from Xalap, we entered dense clouds; climbing further the sun began to shine through the clouds; and when we emerged onto the plateau the sky was blue. Between Las Vigas and Perote the mountains are covered with Pine, Cedar, and other trees of which I am unfamiliar. At Perote the trees thinned and cactus began appearing. A bit further along the trees were completely gone from the mountains and vast irrigated corn fields of sandy volcanic soils spread across the plateau, and the roadside vegetation was withered, quite unlike the green that predominates the Xalapa side of the mountains.
Tere bought two large bags of onions, 4 boxes of tomatoes, a large bag of chile peppers, and some hibiscus flowers, from which a sweet drink, popular hereabouts and in Merida, is concocted and I went for the truck.
I backed out of the parking space, facing the wrong way at the end of a one way street and turned to head for the bounty. A private security guard thought I had driven the wrong way all along the one way street and waved me over. I realized he was not a real policeman and politely explained to him that I had not driven the wrong way down the street but was merely backing out of a parking space. He certainly overplayed his hand when he told me that the infraction carried a $300 pesos fine. I politely told him I wasn’t paying him anything, asked him todo bien, shook his hand, wished him a nice day, and went on my way to load vegetables.
During the return trip we stopped at a roadside chicken restaurant where they roasted probably 50 chickens at a time on long wooden spits over wood fires. The chicken was very good and bill was even better. We paid $100 pesos for two Negra Modelos, two soda pops, half a chicken, rice, shredded cabbage, salsa and tortillas.