I posted last Friday that I had been invited to visit Playa Vincente in Southern Veracruz, very near to Oaxaca. Actually the visit was to Arroyo Zacate and Avasolo del Valle, small pueblos near Playa Vincente, the size of which rates a spot on the map while the pueblos do not.
A week ago Monday I was in a zapateria to buy a pair of sandals. The shop did not have the sandals I had selected in my size so the woman attending me made a phone call and soon Abbi arrived, laden with a few pairs of various colored sandals. Abbi, whom may be seen in the photo at right, asked me where I was from, where I lived, and would I like to visit her “rancho” and attend her niece’s birthday party. It was indeed a serendipitous occurrence.
I was taken aback by the invitation from an attractive young woman I had met only thirty seconds earlier and didn’t know quite to make of it. I still don’t.
Abbi couldn’t know that I relish opportunities to visit new places and meet the folks who live there. Likewise, she didn’t know I have a pickup so was not seeking a ride for a trip that normally takes her eight hours and four bus transfers. She wasn’t seeking someone to finance her trip as during the trip she insisted that she should pay for the gas and tolls, though I refused her insistence to pay the tolls and snuck off to the gas station without her in Avasolo del Valle. Abbi’s response, when I asked the purpose of her invitation, was that she wanted to get to know me.
I accepted her invitation, after a few moments of consideration, and asked what I should bring. She responded that I should bring clothes and laughed when I indicated my disappointment that the party wasn’t to be a nude affair. She made it clear that beer and/or rum were not welcome, indicating that her evangelical faith, shared by most of her huge family, does not permit drinking, smoking, or even dancing.
So early last Saturday morning, after a stop at Chedraui for provisions, we set off. Abbi had invited along a friend, Estel, who, shall I say, was less than svelte, so it was a bit cramped during the five hour drive in my two seat camioneta. Estel, as it turned out, continuously directed me to be careful of the dangerous curve ahead and where to turn, despite the fact, as it soon became clear, she really had no idea how to get to where we were going. My polite attempts to inform Estel that listening to two people giving different directions was a problem for me and that Abbi was the designated navigator were ineffective.
Accustomed to eating breakfast early and not yet having eaten, about 9:30 we stopped along highway 150 at a roadside stand where we each selected a quart sized container of mixed fruit. The sanitary standards of the fellow cutting and serving the fruit would probably dissuade most gringos; but, believing that a reasonable intake of foreign microbes helps maintain healthy gastro-intestinal and immune systems, I didn’t hesitate. Later, in fact, I was able to help myself to a bit of smugness when Estel developed a bit of gastro-intestinal distress, apparently from the fruit, while my gut remained firm.
Hanging around the pickup, eating our fruit in front of a rather decrepit home, we were approached by an elderly woman who insisted we step into her front yard to view her flower garden. One of the stars of her garden may be seen in the photo at left. Look closely and you can see a tiny purple flower of five petals growing on the tip of, what I think is, the stamen of the large pink flower.
A bit further along, just outside of Tierra Blanco, we stopped for empanadas and sodas at one the typical roadside restaurants folks operate out of their homes. In this particular case the tables were set up on the graveled area in front of the home. The ground was so uneven that a two inch thick rock was necessary to shim the table so the sodas didn’t go tumbling.
The nearer we traveled to the pueblos the more I was reminded of the rolling hills of Virginia and North Carolina, where the hilly rural terrain is most suited to pasturing livestock. Along each side of the rising and falling roadway stretched living fences of wire strung on trees planted as posts. The branches growing from the tops of the fence trees are periodically lopped, with the trimmings used for fire wood. This time of year the trees not recently lopped are in full bloom, as may be seen in the photo at right.
The lush, green hills and endless rows of blossoming fences, illuminated brilliantly by the bright sunshine, rolling off to the horizon in every direction made for some spectacular vistas.
I will post photos in the next day or so of the pueblos we visited.