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Wandering Mexico

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wanderer's epilogue

We came to New Orleans to pick up the dogs at daughter Kate's house. It was Pat's birthday when we arrived. Today a Saint Patrick's Day block party in Kate's Irish Channel neighborhood took place. A few shots to express the love of the Irish, and the effects of Green beer on tired travelers...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Crossing Over

Ciudad Mante was the spot to put things together for our sprint to a border and crossing over. We took in some shopping for our friends and family back home and had our last meal at Marsiscos Mante. I had shrimp & rice with a side of ceviche and a pitcher of lemonade. Pat had a fried freshwater fish filet. It was a pleasant meal, with exceptional people serving it in crisp white blouses ... and what does this have to do with the border? Going home is complicated. There are memories of what you taste.

Yesterday we left Mante and drove Hwy 85 north toward Ciudad Victoria I was reminded of my home many times. The roadside stands selling sugar cane syrup and oranges began to look like ones of my youth along old Hwy 41 to visit family in Tennessee, or along Hwy 60 thru Hawesville, Kentucky at sorguhm time. Everything kept increasing in size. The orange groves and the corn fields got bigger and bigger resembeling our agricultural practices. The signs in English increased. The size of cars and trucks also increased.

Gloria Kerouac traversed Mexico from one end to the other and back again. She is fearful of no borders. We were stopped by members of the Mexican military nearly every day we traveled at makeshift roadblocks where they were searching for weapons. The soldiers with the big guns were for the most part just kids. It was not intimidating. It was annoying on occasion. They enjoyed getting a look at the inside of Gloria with her bells & Whistles and they treated our property with respect and were courteous. With our experience, intimidation was not a part of the process.
If intimidation is the effect you desire, then wait for the crossing. Today, America’s communal psyche is visable at our front door and it is one driven by fear. Poor Gloria was X-rayed last night and searched from one end to the other.
Awoke at a Holiday Inn Express in Harlingen, Texas to the sound of Spanish voices in the hall ... busy housekeepers. I slept under sheets that had been washed and tucked over my bed by folks recently residing somewhere the other side of this border ... Is the border under that bridge with the big fence? ... or is the border an illusion? I don’t think I have crossed over ... maybe I will tomorrow.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Drop

Today we drove off the Mexican Plateau. Our starting point was San Luis Potosi. Pats interests of the day was getting a photo of a "pretty" cow. Maybe you can see some resemblance to Elsie Borden when you look at her photo. I wanted to get off the beaten path. I was very successful in achieving that. It took many hours to get down the mountains to Mante on the edge of the state of Tamaulipas.

We drove thru a few remote colonial towns that would have made a nice backdrop for early Eastwood westerns. One was named Alaquines. We had a great time walking about the square enjoying a dry breeze, and the crumbling texture of the facades. The land around this place was so remote and desolate that it was hard to imagine people would be there as we drove down a steep narrow entry.

Gloria Kerouac did just fine and was passed by a few surly looking compadres without incident. I have included one shot of "Senor Dodge" who smoked and barely missed touching her backside!
Tonight we are in the tropics again. On our way down the mountains the temperature changed.

The air was filled with smoke as the sugarcane fields burned in the distance. The huge truck loads of cane kept rolling past us as we snaked down the narrow road. Tonight black dust and cane particles cover Gloria and the ground around her.

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Dulces, Dulces, Dulces

We took a stroll down the Avienda of Dulces in Puebla this morning, and stopped at the convent to pay homage to Santa Clara. She is credited with bringing sweets to the people of Mexico. The street next to the Convent is filled with candy shops. Our box of goodies will keep us happy along the road.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Paying attention to the signs of the Road.

Paying attention to the signs of the Road.

The road from Tehuantepec to Oaxaca travels up the Sierra Madre. It is not a bad road. In fact we drove 2.5 hours south to get on this road going north. The mountains yield little and demand much attention. If you are a driver, you find the wheel becomes an extension of your arms and shoulders as you move back and forth with the continuous turns and your feet skip to rest on different pedals.
You must give attention to the road--pay attention to the signs.
The road is the primary concern. The beautiful mountain vistas are a peripheral element. No time for eyes to wander. No time to research the many bible verses painted on boulders. No time to drink the Mezcal at roadside stills that line the way.
We send these photos of the signs from a mountainous Mexican road ...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

On the road to Shambhala

Zipolite Beach, Oaxaca
This location boils, and memories seep out of me in the heat of the sun. Zipolite is the spot I trekked furthest to on my first sojourn to Mexico 32 years ago. I was 23 and Zipolite was a destination for those seeking a perfect beach at the end of a mexican road ... a place to hang a hammock, and maybe something more. As best as I can recall, John and I on our limited budget, spent $6 bucks a day for a place with a shower in the hamlet of Puerto Angel. We walked a sand road out of town and across a rocky point. Zipolite lay before us. It seemed a long expanse for the walker, but I doubt it is quite a mile in length. At the end of the beach you had another rocky point. Along the beach you had a few dilapidated palapas that seemed public property of a sort. Just off the beach was a woman with an adobe oven that made small breads filled with pina. One could not forget them. At the far end of the beach carved out of the rocky point was a magical village of open Palapas. It was a final destination... A place called Shambhala. This was a haven of wanderers from all corners of the globe who had also heard of Zipolite.
I have lived, and traveled widely to discover that the journey has as much to do with what resides inside, as what physically lies in front of me. This is the only reason to sojourn. On occasion a moment comes when the place delivers you to a feeling of what it means to be human in the fullest sense.
So, 32 years later I return. The beach has seen change... and so have I. Many places to eat, sleep and buy things line Zipolite from one end to another. Still it is comforting to see Shambhala still there and filled with sojourners now both young, and old.

I had to Wiki Shambhala for a clearer understanding.

Shambhala (Tib. bde 'byung) is a Sanskrit term meaning "place of peace/tranquility/happiness".... Shambhala is believed to be a society where all the inhabitants are enlightened, actually a Buddhist "Pure Land"

The Dali Lama says;
Shambhala is not an ordinary country:
Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.

And last but by no means least ... Three Dog Night said:
Everyone is helpful, everyone is kind
On the road to Shambala
Everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind
On the road to Shambala

Friday, March 5, 2010

Turning a Pemex gas Station into Heaven on Earth.

How, you may ask? Drive all day. Make sure the roads are full of trucks, pot holes, and Topes. (a mound across the road to reduce speed) When you fall 2 hours behind schedule with every glimmer of daylight gone, and the road ceases to have shoulder or center line. Then snake down a steep incline from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec toward the Pacific Coast with winds gusting 60+ mph. You see a green and white glow and concrete gleaming in the distance You know their will be a lit parking space for Gloria Kerouac and her passengers to seek shelter. We buy gas, eat in the little restaurant and bunker down in Ms. Gloria. The winds rock us back and forth like being at sea. At first light when the famous winds of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec die down we will make a run to Puerto Angel, Oaxaca.

Need to sign off ... feeling a bit seasick at the keyboard.
Good night from the finest Pemex in all of Mexico!