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Archive for March 4, 2017

Saturday 4 March – Coatzacoalcas to Villahermosa

We’ve reached Villahermosa, capital city of the Free and Sovereign State of Tabascoone of the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in the southeast of the country bordering the states of Campeche to the northeast, Veracruz to the west and Chiapas to the south, and the Petén department of Guatemala to the southeast. It has a coastline to the north with the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the state is covered in rainforest as, unlike most other areas of Mexico, it has plentiful rainfall year round. For this reason, it is also covered in small lakes, wetlands and rivers. The state is subject to major flooding events, with the last occurring in 2007, which affected eighty percent of the state. The state is also home to La Venta, the major site of the Olmec civilization, considered to be the origin of later Mesoamerican cultures. Even though it produces significant quantities of petroleum and natural gas, poverty is still a concern or so says Wikipedia, and they are right.

We reached our hotel at about 13:00 hrs after the usual testing time of driving through a major Mexican city. Rather than staying in the hotel that had been earmarked, but which was not where SatNav told us, we picked the nearest hotel to the spot that is perfectly adequate and a fraction of what we paid at the last hotel. We’re here for two nights.

This afternoon we walked into town to take some touristy shots, then found a terrace for the traditional margarita and a litre of cerveza oscura (for me, similar for Alain) followed by a Chinese buffet, cheap but adequate and the luxury of a taxi home to the hotel. According to the Marvin Gaye / Paul Young song, where ever I lay my hat is my home. Yes, I bought my third hat, more typical of the state of Tabasco, and perhaps more for special occasions than the two already bought earlier.

Tomorrow we are going to Comalcalco to see the pyramids and chocolate farms to which the Aztec civilisation owes much. I photographed one cactus, yet to be identified – an epiphyte doing its best to strangle a tree along the roadside in town. We’ve made some adjustments to the journey back to Mexico City, but you have to read the following episodes to learn  how we did it in the end.

Friday 3 March – around Coatzacoalcos

So what to do when the forecast is rain? We decided first to go to the bank, to enable Alain to do a bit of milking (of ATM machines) for himself. Wow, not only was it wet, but the wind was so strong that it nearly blew the doors off the car. A bit like Patagonia! Alain’s legs still look like a localised infestation of measels, but he is putting a brave face on things.

Alain suggested a drive to the west of town, to Las Barrillas, that at the peak of the tourist season must be heaving with visitors, but today, in the strong winds, we were the only visitors. I posed under a palm tree, hand covering my head, in case a coconut should come down. An optimistic skipper asked if we wanted to come out for a boat ride on the lagoon. We said no thanks, wondering when the men in white coats would come and take him away. Still, you have to admire his optimism!

I put my finger on the SatNav, on the hilly bit more to the west, across the lagoon. The name Pajapan lit up, so we decided to go and have a look. It seems that the people dig up the roads, leaving huge potholes to get the materials to build topez at much too frequent intervals. Fingers crossed that this does not catch on in England! I’m all in favour of Health & Safety, but imagine doctor’s surgeries full of people who have put their backs out. At Pajapan we followed the signs to the Playas (beaches) where we took a few pictures before being asked over to an empty restaurant for a cup of coffee (me) and a beer, surrounded by five of the owner’s turkeys and their chicks. Henceforth this place is known as Turkey Beach.

Alain had spotted a new building bearing the name Be Irish and suggested we’d have a beer, only a few hundred metres from the hotel. Two Margaritas please, we asked over the noise of the local sound system. Sorry, we don’t do cocktails. OK, two pints of Guinness please, and what ever Alain is having! Sorry, we don’t have Guinness – even though it was at the top of their beer menu. We ended up with two glasses of Blauwe Chimay, one of the best Belgian Trapisten beers! It’s what I called ‘Diesel’ at one of my first ELKs, years ago. Very nice.

A bit worrying – we only saw three cacti today, quite damaged Opuntia, too ugly to point a camera at. We leave tomorrow morning for the State of Tabasco.