Thursday, May 4, 2017

Coatzacoalcos to Campeche

Journey from Coatzacoalcos to Campeche
At breakfast, Jesus packed up some pastries and fruit for the road for us and gave us a map and directions as well as reminding us that he would be available for work for us.  Wow, what service, we have never received attention like that before and we have made a friend already after only 1 month in Mexico.  We can only keep getting better from here.

A new autolavado (car wash) opened next to the hotel.  It was actually a basic automated car wash with hand finishing - this is the first ever automated car was that we have seen since arriving in Mexico and by the length of the queue on it's first day, I suspect that it is the first time than anyone else has seen anything like this here.  All other car washes are a couple of people under a makeshift awning hand washing cars using a bucket of water.  21st century has arrived in Coatzacoalcos.

Leaving Coatzacoalcos (Coatza) shortly after 8 am, it was so misty that we could barely see - we passed by massive refineries and there were lots of trucks on the road - there is a railway line right next to the edge of the road as we passed over a lift bridge.

It is a very bad road in spite of the 11 peso toll which we think must have been for the bridge.  The road stopped suddenly in a couple of places with no warning and we had to had to change to the other side of the road.

Point of interest: a lot of taxis and most trucks here have brake lights that flash blue and red - very noticeable and we often though that there was a police vehicle ahead or behind us.  Our security detail always seems to be nearby though.

The heavy mist was with us all the way the Villahermosa but the land was very lush with thick green grass and wild bananas (or were they plantains?)  all the way.  When we got on the toll road about 50 km after Agua Dulce, the road surface changed to concrete and it was much better.

Approaching Villahermosa there were clean-up crews alongside the road filling black bags - we had not seen that before.

As we were travelling this long road today, we started reflecting about the people of Mexico and what we have learned/experienced so far.  We have already come to love Mexico and it's people and culture.  Sure there are good and bad points about the country as in all countries but  the people here are so genuine and mostly very friendly.  There does not seem to be any pretense, no materialism and no begging for handouts - there is always something offered in return for cash whether it is just a windshield wash or filling in potholes with sand.  Life is lived and celebrated.  In spite of the fact that the Mexican people have been stereotyped as loving sugar, we have found that everything here is much less sweet than back in USA - we really enjoy the non-sugary pastries.

Asta is a very pretty little town between the sea and a huge lake - lots of fishing by way of throw nets here and we saw fishermen fixing nets in their front yards.

At Ciudad del Carmen, the road goes right next to the sea, onto a point  and on a long bridge across the bay, crossing occasional narrow little barrier islands.  The airport was on one of those islands and we had to drive around the airport to pick up the road to carry on crossing the other islands and bridges.  After we crossed the 2nd island, the coast turned in to blue waters and white beaches with a distinctly Caribbean look to it.  There were were lots of lapas built on individual lots leading down to those beautiful white beaches and it looked like something out of a travel magazine.

Champoten is another very pretty little place with fishing appearing to be the main source of income.

Who would have thought that we would be seeing temperatures of 104 at the beginning of May - it is really hot and humid already, what on earth is summer going to be like?

All the many tolls that we kept paying for today actually only amounted to 293 pesos (about $15) which is really very reasonable considering how much all those bridges across the bay etc. must cost to maintain.

We arrived in Campeche around 5 in the evening and was very pleasantly surprised when we booked into our hotel (another low cost special from one of our plans).  The Castelmar hotel is in the historical center of town and is an old colonial building.  Our room is on the ground floor next to the pool - it has huge old wood doors, very thick old walls with arches around the doors, a very pleasant bathroom and it also has air-conditioning (oh the relief from the oppressive heat and humidity that we have been trying to adjust to) and it has wi-fi (so yes, I have to work on the blog again) but a very solid (read hard) bed.

After settling in, we went out to explore this beautiful historic town and to find some supper.  After wandering along some of the lanes, we settled on a little hole in the wall salad place.  One of the troubles with travelling for any length of time without a kitchen, is my serious craving for salads and vegetables.  We shared a big bowl of a really nice green salad and a large green juice - the bill came in at 120 peso (about $6 US).  Then we went off to explore some more lanes, the information center and the beach.

We went into the Cathedral off the main plaza and quietly sat listening to the service in process until we realized that we had inadvertently gate-crashed a funeral.  The bringing in of the coffin and the procession including the priests was our first cue.

Walking along the Malecon we saw lots of people walking, cycling and running - there were exercise stations set up with work-out equipment and there was quite a big group having what appeared to be Zumba lessons but I could not stay and certainly could not work out because of the terrible stench from the beach - I think that it is rotting sea weed that had washed up on the rocks but whatever it was, it had a very high sulfur content and I had to control my gag reflex so we moved off to about a block away from the beach.

Our timing was right and we caught a water organ display in a little plaza, I was captivated by Fleur Elyse so we sat on a park bench and caught the rest of the display, about another 5 more pieces, then went back to the main Plaza.

While sitting in the plaza we were greeted by some people and it took a moment to realize that they were the expats from Russia (or that vicinity) that we had met in the hotel Salina Cruz 3 days ago.  What were the chances that we would meet up again like this?

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