Sunday, August 19, 2007

Driving the Jeep to Mexico - Part 19

Ciudad del Carmen is a large city situated at the northern end of a long, narrow island that forms part of the Gulf Coast. Behind the island is Laguna de Terminos which is so huge you can not see the other side. One enters onto the island by crossing a long, low flat bridge that, as I measured while crossing, is two miles long. It is a narrow cement structure with hardly any room for approaching vehicles to meet. It is also lined the entire distance with people fishing. The fishing must have been better in deeper water because as we got to the middle area I started to see piles of fish lying beside people. Jaimie said that it was probably how these people made their livings, or at least how they fed their families. I was just wishing that they had taken vacation that day so that I didn’t have to try to avoid them as well as oncoming traffic. Naturally, the crossing was accompanied by constant comments from Jaimie to not get too close to the edge or I would fall off, or he hoped that the cement was strong enough to hold us. He giggled like a school girl every time he made a comment that he thought was going to upset me. I ignored him and focused on the road, also trying to ignore the fact that I was over water and it was quickly getting dark.

the bridge!!!

Once again, M180 was the main street through town so it was fairly easy finding the city itself. By this time, it was dark and we were faced with trying to find a hotel and not get lost by headlight. Traffic was dense but nothing like Veracruz. A few false turns followed by turn arounds, and we found a safe hotel. And it actually had internet available so I was able to let B know where we were. I had been out of reach for two days.

Ciudad del Carmen was much larger than I had thought it would be. We were actually only on the outskirts of it and had to take a taxi downtown. I was really impressed with downtown here also. The taxi dropped us off at the large town square and we set off. The square was again very typical of Mexico. A central raised stage area covered by a pointed cement roof with tree and shrub lined pathways leading away from it like spokes. Surrounding all of this, and taking up the rest of the city block, was a paved area that was full of vendors hawking their goods. Leather goods, and refreshingly, books, seemed to be the featured item with most of them but there was no lack of tacky tourist crap either. Each had his or her own little wheeled cart that they operated from. Later on, we watched them as they closed them down and pulled them, like giant children’s wagons, to a central spot for parking overnight. It reminded me of wagon train. Surprisingly, there were no musicians in sight but plenty of jugglers and fire dancers. Those people who light balls of kerosene and swing them through the air on chains, thinking that they are God’s gift to choreography or something. All they really succeed in doing is distributing the smell of kerosene everywhere. We did a little shopping. I bought a new wallet and belt and Jaimie passed on everything he saw. He was greatly concentrating on finding baseball caps at this point but there did not seem to be any anywhere. (told ya!)

We parked ourselves at one of the little restaurants lining the square and ordered dinner. We were greatly surprised to find that this restaurant, along with every other one on the square, did not offer beer or alcohol for sale. This was not the Mexico that I know! I was in a good mood, forgetting the perils of the road that we had just passed. I ordered the Cordon Bleu and, surprise of surprises, Jaimie ordered a steak. I teased him that he was eating so much steak that he was in danger of turning into a cow. He very quickly assured me that this was not the case and, anyway, it would most definitely be a bull not a cow!

After dinner we wandered around a bit, hoping to find a place to sit, relax and have a Sol, preferably of the dark variety again. No such luck. We did come across a great fountain that was enjoyable to watch and totally fascinated Jaimie. It was a large circle, maybe 30 feet across, that was timed to “dance” with music that blared from loudspeakers hidden somewhere inside it. And it changed colors! It was quite the novelty and attracted quite a crowd. We soon discovered why there was so much space on the side where we stood. As soon as the breeze came up great hordes of mist were blown off the fountain and right onto us! It became part of the amusement to watch “fountain virgins” stand there and then scramble away as they were drenched with the spray!

Even though it was Saturday night, we gave up on the beer idea and decided to go back to the room, get to bed fairly early and arise at 6am. We were going to make one last, mad dash for home the next day. We were both sick of traveling and being in the Jeep. We just wanted to be back in the comfort and security of our island and homes.

My last impression of Ciudad del Carmen was a good one. We noticed that taxis did not stop around the square but instead dropped off and picked up people only at the cab stand. There, people waited patiently and orderly in line and did not try to jostle one another for the next cab. It quickly became evident why. There was a person in charge of filling the cabs. Nobody was allowed into a cab until he pulled you out of the line. He would walk along and ask people where they were going. He would then fill up the cab with people all going in the same general direction I thought this was an excellent and efficient way to run things.

1 comment:

Hollito said...

Wow, this was an interesting journey until now! :-)
Looking forward to read more stories.

Regards, Hollito