Friday, October 26, 2007

Car Trip 11

The rest of Saturday was spent driving to Veracruz. I was really looking forward to this stop. When Jaimie and I stayed there for one night, I promised myself to go back someday and really take a look at this colonial port town.

The drive was stupendous although difficult. The road was in excellent repair but it was torturous at times due to its’ taking us higher into the mountains that ring the gulf. At every turn we were greeted with breathtaking mountain vistas and panoramic views that seemed to stretch out forever to the horizon. But eventually we reached the other side and started the long, twisting descent back to sea level and Veracruz.

I did have a little trepidation about actually driving into Veracruz. The last time I was there it was horrible. I vividly remembered being caught in three lanes of traffic and not knowing how to merge to get over. Everybody ignoring my change blinker and Jaimie yelling at me to stop at this hotel or that one. What I forgot this time is that we were coming in from the other direction. There was still a lot of traffic, being a Saturday afternoon, but we breezed through the neighboring resort area of Boca del Rio on our way to downtown Veracruz. B had the map out and on the ready and he expertly directed us right to the doorstep of our chosen hotel! We had made a reservation in advance since we were to meet L here the next day and had to know where we would all meet up.

Again, we parked in the secure parking area, checked in and were shown to our room on the fourth floor. We were immediately aware that we may have chosen the wrong hotel. The room was small, cramped and only had two double beds. Even worse, the only window opened into an air shaft in the middle of the hotel! Absolutely no air at all and no ceiling fan either. We knew we were in for a long night. And we were staying here Saturday and Sunday night. Ok, when given lemons make lemonade. Since we really had no choice, we dug in and unpacked, knowing we were not going to have a great night.

The next surprise came in the bathroom when we went to shower. The shower head was on the end of a long pipe that came out of the wall and stretched to the middle of the room. No shower stall, just a shower head in the middle of the bathroom, high over your head, grinning down at you, just waiting to soak the entire room with water.

some building on the harbor. I think something to do with the Navy.

All clean and somewhere to go, we headed out to do some exploring. It was only about 4pm so we had plenty of daylight left. We walked along the malecon (seawall) and admired the garbage laden, dirty water that sat in the harbor here. We noticed a group of men (boys?) in bathing suits standing around on the edge of the seawall. We thought this a bit strange so strolled over to have a look. They were wet and it was clear that they had recently been in the water. But this water? Surely not. Unless they were total disease resistant or very, very stupid. There was garbage and pieces of lumber floating in the water here. As we discussed why and what may be going on, we got the answer. Suddenly three of them dove into the water and one came up with a ten peso coin in his mouth. They were diving for money! People would fling ten peso coins into the water and they would all dive in and compete like hell to be the first one to the money. The poverty these boys came from must be unimaginable to prompt them to come to this dirty harbor and dive into that water.

B wanted to throw some money in but I resisted. I did not want to promote this. B was successful in convincing me that we would not change it and if they used this method to make money, then so be it. With that, we started throwing ten pesos coins into the water. It didn’t matter if you threw one, or three, they dove in and got each one in the murky water before it hit the bottom. Only once did we see one of them on the seawall throw out a pair of goggles so one of them could search the bottom for a missed coin.

We left the boys behind and headed back to our room. It was time for a siesta. This is one custom down here that I have thoroughly acclimated to! We ended up napping until 9:30pm! Traveling and driving in Mexico does stress and tire one out quickly.

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