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Archive for March 7, 2017

Tuesday 7 March – Tuxtla to Coatzacoalos

There are some points from previous missives that need to be cleared up: on 2nd February I reported that we were not allowed to take ‘professional cameras’ into the Archeologica site at Tehuacan and it seems some people wondered about subsequent visits of similar kind – no problems. And on the 28th I reported that our (then) ‘new’ car had a warning light come on that the ladies at the next Pemex station tried to fix. The light goes out by it self, after some fuel has left the tank and then, hours later, comes bac on again for an hour or so. It seems to be an issue that affects the make and model of car that has kept owners awake the world over, but not us. Filed under ‘irritant’.

Back to today. We were picked up at nine – great punctuality, for our outing to a boat ride through the Canyon del Sumidera. At the embarkation point we were dressed up in orange life vests, but when we later saw the size of the crocodiles sunning themselves on the river beaches, I was glad that we did not have to rely on the life vests while bopping in the water, acting as crocodile bait! We also pulled up to the cliffs where a family of howler monkeys were said to be in the trees. El Capitan did a passable impression and in response, the leaves of the trees started to shake quite violently. As I am a cynic, I remain unconvinced. Could have been a Mexican with a range of ropes that he pulls to make the leaves move. Alain’s pictures were better and some of the blobs captured could indeed be the howlers.

I was excited to see hundreds of tall, cephalium bearing ceroids growing against the canyon wall. A quick look on the internet as to their ID was not helpful. It’d better rain a lot when I’m back in the UK to resolve all these little mysteries. There were also lots of bromeliads and Agave on the cliff walls and lot’s of trees with huge caudexes. Photographing them was tricky, as the boat was fast, views blocked by the other 20 passengers, and us moving from deep shade to bright sunlight and back to deep shade all in a matter of seconds. There was not one useable picture of a caudex between them.

We arrived back on shore by 11:30 and back at the hotel by noon, in time for the c. 300 km journey to Coatzacoalos, where we spent the night at the Best Western. The staff here make Basil Fawlty appear like a true professional. We ordered Fillet Mignon and when the first arrived, the waiter put it in front of me. Alain was left with an empty plate. I tucke3d in, not wanting my food to get cold, only to be told in rapid Spanish that I should have cut the steak in half, with the second half for Alain. He was quickly sent off with a flea in his ear for a second steak! He must have been from Barcelona!!! All those not familiar with the TV comedy series Fawlty Towers had better apply for an explanation.

I should mention that during the drive here we had used the toll road again and passed a number of security checks, with inspectors equipped with screw drivers ready to dismantle cars to see what was inside them. About half way to our destination, we stopped for a cola and a leg stretch. When we chatted about the drive, Alain asked if I had smelled the fumes of the fires near our pit stop. No, I answered innocently. Marijuana, being burned. I must tell you sometimes about my sheltered youth in the sixties and seventies! Clearly, the tropical conditions make excellent growing conditions!

Monday 6 March – Villa Hermosa to Tuxtla Gutiérrez

The battles between various SatNav’s and their ability to get things right has been reported on before. Usually, when we arrive, it is at the same spot. However, the ways of getting there differ tremendously. Alain’s mobile phone SatNav system speaks, a woman’s voice, and is as often wrong as mine, but mine is set to silent. The Aveo car comes with a very shiny dashboard. On the first day of our use of it, we bought a ‘dashboard carpet’ that stops the glare but introduces another irritant in that with the many Topez and potholes, the carpet frequently threatens to slip onto the floor of the car. We intend to buy double sticky tape at an Office Depot store before we return the car, but only if I can buy enough to stick the rest over the mouth of the lady inside the infuriating Dutch SatNav system. If not, she could go flying through an open window!………

Having seen enough in Villahermosa yesterday, we decided to move to another state and so are now in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of the State of Chiapas, another ‘first’ for us. We left the flatlands and drove into the mountains but made steady progress thanks to the use of the toll road – they have their uses and the cost converted to GBP are really not bad.

The attraction to come here was the Sumidero Canyon National Park. In the afternoon we visited the five miradors (viewpoints) that looked down on the river below us, offering some spectacular views. Along the road also grows an Agave, A. grijalva, named after the river. It seems that today the name A. kewensis is preferred. Whatever the name – we have its picture!

Tomorrow we are going on an organised outing to give Alain a break from driving. We’ll be picked up from the hotel, to join a party on a boat sailing through the canyon. It’s just a morning’s trip. By midday, we are back in our own car to drive back to Coalzacoalcos and fro there towards Tehuacan for the last few days and back to Mexico City. On paper and in images it looks to have been quite an epic journey! I’m sure it will take a while before we have digested it all, back in the UK!