Tag Archives: Live a great story and share

Mexico Log – Day 3

We had a lazy morning of just hanging out in the hotel room, talking and laughing and enjoying the view.

I kept saying we are on Ragutzo time to Beth’s hilarity. Lalo’s family name is Ragazzo, but for some reason, I butcher it every time I say it.

Lalo’s mom had given up her car for us to use. It was a Kia that she had won at one of the casinos of Veracruz, so we called it our Luckia.

It seemed hotter and muggier than the previous day, and soon our motto was: “Walk like normal, Sweat like you’re running”

We went thru the coffee shop drive thru that had the same type of coffee lechero like we had enjoyed the previous morning, so we ordered that along with molletes (bread with beans and manchego cheese). I have promised to try all the local cuisine and according to Lalo, this is a fairly standard breakfast. It actually was nice and went well with the coffee.

Our destination of the day was to get to Lalo’s home town of Tecalutla, but there were some stops that we wanted to make along the way. We first drove to La Antiqua which is an ancient town.

A little history first: In prehispanic times, La Antigua was populated by a totonac settlement called Huitzilapan, which in Nahuatl means “in the river of the hummingbirds.”

The town of La Antigua was first known as Vera Cruz Vieja (Old “Vera Cruz”), as it was the settlement for the city of Veracruz from 1525 to 1599, when the settlement moved to the actual place where the port stands. The place was chosen due to its better protection from the north winds and the inhospitable sandy areas of the area of San Juan de Ulúa. The oldest church in the Americas was founded here by Hernán Cortés in the early 16th century.

The majority of the commercial traffic of the Iberian Peninsula and New Spain arrived through La Antigua for approximately 75 years. At the end of the 16th Century, when the Spanish returned to the settlement in San Juan de Ulúa, the town entered into decline and was renamed to “La Antigua” to avoid confusion with the new city.

I definitely felt like I had gone back in time as we walked the cobblestone streets and past the ruins of Cortez’s home and the main cathedral as we made our way to the river that was once the center of it all.

Along our walk, we encountered the Kapok/Ceiba tree that was in the main area – and where it might be that Cortez tied his boat up to – the river once came farther into the town than it does in current times. This was truly an amazing tree – doubtful that it was the exact tree, but lovely just the same.

We went across the walking bridge (puente – our word for the day-once more – or at least until I could remember this bit of Spanish vocabulary ).

On the other side, I was looking for a spot that I could take a photo of the bridge, and beneath the bridge was a young man with a beautiful smile that matched the sparkle of his eyes. Lalo began a conversation with him and he had a boat and could give a tour of the river. We had already scheduled a tour in Tecalutla, so we said no. He then offered Lalo a cold coconut water to which Lalo said yes to. We followed him to a spot outside a home that had a few chairs set out. We sat while he took a coconut out of the old fridge on the porch and cut a hole in the top, stuck in a straw, and handed it to Lalo. We all of coarse wanted something cold and delicious, so he cracked open three more. We then met his twin sister who, once we had finished the coconut water inside, would pull out the coconut meat and put it in a togo plastic bag seasoned with lime or chili powder or combination. Their names were Victor and Victoria – definite twin names. Their Mama was there as well. She had a cast on her arm and they joked that she liked to spend time on the floor. (Poor gal had fallen more than once I guess)

I got to see what my beloved guanabana tree looked like as there was one just across the street from Victors family home. It was past it’s fruiting time, but good to say hello to it just the same.

We made our way back across the bridge and to the main square and toured the remnants of the house of Cortez. We had a guide to take us through and tell us of the times and remnants of the structures. Some walls were just still standing due to all the roots of the trees growing up and around the deteriorating walls. The original walls still had the coral that was used in the making of the walls. Amazing how preserved it was. Cape fig and Florida strangler Figtree are some of the species growing there with their roots so predominate.

Also in Antiqua, we visited the aforementioned first church ever built in Latin America. It was not open, but it felt significant and had so many beautiful plants and flowers in the surrounding area of it.

We tried to go to Quiahuiztlan, Veracruz – The spot where the natives first saw the Spanish ships coming into Veracruz, but the entrance to this was closed. Something for next time.

So we instead went to villa Rica Playa which is the beach area where those first Spanish ships had been seen. It was pretty deserted on the day of our visit, so we got to play around with a panoramic picture where we end up being in both ends of the photo.

We drove over many more Puentes on our drive that day.

We stopped at a cheese farm that had horses, peacocks (pavo reales), and cows. We bought queso for later and and palates (popsicles) to enjoy now. They had many different exotic sounding fruit flavors, but I opted for the guanabana. We had to eat the popsicles in the yard under one of their many fruit trees as they began to melt the moment they hit the air. Just along the fence where we were, they had several orange and lime trees and many others that I forgot to document. It was a lovely farm.

On down the road, we stopped at a little cremeria and had tortes (sandwiches) and purchased plantain chips of different flavors. This was in the town of Carranza. All along the stretch of highway between Veracruz and Tecalutla, there are countless little towns that consist of a block or two of shops and roadside stands. Some would be prone to be fruit stands at one town and the next could be the town where everyone had a stand out front selling tamales. Some had regular storefront enclosed buildings, but many were simple roadside stands.

The road we were taking had toll booths along the way and as the traffic would slow, street vendors would walk up to the car with bags of home made goodies. We purchased some of the fried plantains and what Sydney called tostaditas – super thin round wafer like sugar confections – so good.

We passed thru Gutierrez Zamora on the way to Tecalutla. Gutierrez Zamora is the competition town to Tecalutla. GZ has the bigger stores, the banks, more services, but tourists only stop there and opt for the smaller tourist town of Tecalutla to the dismay of those in the bigger city.

On our way to the family home and adjoining hotel, we did a drive around to get the lay of the town and get the feel for it.

That evening, we ate traditional antojitos of Tecalutla. Molotes (football corn balls filled with chicken tinga),sopes (smaller, thicker version of picadas),empanadas de queso, Bocoles – chicken tinga corn sliders, and part of a chilies n nogales – stuffed relleno with cream sauce and pomegranate seeds on top. Also tried pastel de elote which was basically a corn cake with a milk custard bottom layer.(leche bottom)

We then walked to the beach to see the gulf and walk off some of the food. I was pretty sure that flour tortillas were sacrilegious in this part of the country and Nebraska has nothing on the state of Veracruz for their uses of corn.

We stayed at the beach until it began to get dark and then headed back to spend some time with the family and then headed to bed before they decided they wanted to feed us again.

It was another great day.

Mexico Log – Day 1

The trip: Ten days in Mexico

The travel companions: my friend Beth, one of her delightful daughters Sydney (also my friend and nearly six months pregnant), and her Husband Lalo who is born and raised in the main places we are to visit in Mexico.

The trip began with a trip down memory lane, as right there in the Denver airport concourse, there are photos and memorabilia of airlines and their staff over the years. We took a moment to stop and take a photo of three generations of Adam’s women as Beth’s mom is there in remembrance as large as life.

The plane ride to Mexico City was good. We flew AeroMexico airlines and like much of this trip, it was a mix of the past and ‘the now’ combined. All the seats reclined and there was free food and free full beverage service as well. Not that I often drink on a plane, but I can’t even remember the last time I was offered a beer on a plane and wouldn’t have to pay stadium prices for it. The plane was not full and I had entire row to myself. Everyone on the plane was good with masks (I have flown in the past year where people were taken off the plane for not abiding). They also unboard the plane by rows and everyone actually sat until their rows were called and it wasn’t the free for all that is always the case on domestic flights. Quite amazing.

Flying into Mexico City was jaw dropping at how big it was. I can only imagine that living in Mexico City is like living in your own small country. You could never explore each corner and area. It is a high plains city surrounded by mountains, so it is cooler there than the coastal regions. The view shown in the photo below would be the same no matter which direction you were viewing as you literally cannot see the entire city no matter what your viewpoint is.

We had a two hour layover in Mexico City and found a nice little bar and ordered Margaritas for Beth and I while Lalo had coffee and Syd had a little cheesecake. The flight from Mex Cty to Veracruz was only just short of an hour, but again there was a quick snack and beverage service.

Lalo’s parents picked us up and took us back to the house that Lalo’s sister Paola lives with her two delightful children Matias and Meranda. It was after 10:00pm, but They had procured many different meat tacos – pastor, different porks, some kidney and something else that I couldn’t identify and they couldn’t think of a translation for – but still delicious – and salsas and onions with cilantro and limes and fresh corn tortillas. It was fantastic.

Paola spoke some English with us, but Spanish was the main mode of communication. I had never taken any Spanish classes in school, so my immersion into Spanish had begun . Meranda, who is almost five and doesn’t speak any English, would come over and speak to me so earnestly. I would try to discern what she was conveying, but alas I always needed one of my interpreters. I decided that given time, I could likely learn Spanish much more quickly being with her – as those dark beautiful eyes conveyed so much on their own and well, she, being young, spoke much simpler than all the grown ups with their rapid fire conversations. Lalo and Sydney translated most everything that Beth and I couldn’t catch on our own. (which in my case was everything)

After catching up with the family, we headed over and checked into a nearby hotel that they had booked for us. We were told it was on the coast and facing the beach, but it was dark and cloudy and we couldn’t see anything as it was now 1:00am and the hotel did not light up the back of the space. Luzma, Lalo’s mom, had given us her car to use, so we said we would wake whenever it naturally happened and then go explore Veracruz in the morning and some of the afternoon. We would then meet up once more with the family for the main meal – 4:00 pm or so.

Slumber came easily after a full day of travel.

Looking at People’s Stories

I was listening to a book in the car on the way home from work this week, and there was a line in the prose where someone described the main character as, “he has a story, he just doesn’t know what it is”. I paused the book to contemplate that line and have been chewing on it ever since.

The character in the book wasn’t young, although I do believe that quote was from a coworker in his earlier days in life. Young or old, the truth of the statement was still holding true. He was moving through life, but he wasn’t living his story.

It got me to thinking about the people I have been meeting or know and about their stories.

There would be a few, I feel, that are living a good life, but waiting for their story to unfold. Like they are only in the prelude to their own storybook and waiting for the actual story to begin.

There are some I know of, that maintain an old story and can’t seem to move on from there. Think of the high school quarterback who felt those were the best days ever and still lives to replay those moments as much as possible. Or those with trauma that can’t move on from the constant reliving of their horrible moments. It always saddens me when we live through millions of hours and minutes, but let a few moments define oneself.

There are those that are limited by the stories they tell themselves – this is likely a truth in varying degrees for many of us. I know that I have that “unworthy” voice who sneaks in at random times for me.

There’s ones that are in a tough chapter of what is happening to them or their family, but it’s a chapter, and not their true story.

If coarse, everyone also sees a different story in people based upon their relationship and interactions with them. I can remember sitting with a friend in the hospital and having her family walk in and immediately seeing my friend change into the person that her family had categorized and logged her as the person they knew in their lives. It was like a box was immediately constructed that she was put into – and she morphed to fit into it. I remember leaving and wishing that her family could see the version that I saw – but then, I didn’t have the same years, events and family dynamics in my version that they did. I guess, she has the same story, but like any really complex book, people read and relate to it differently.

I’ve thought about how I see people living in a state of fear, and know that it is limiting their story – or quite possibly keeping it hidden from them. I haven’t listened to enough of the book to know if that is the case for the character in this novel.

It got me thinking of the people that I have struggled to connect to in life and why. If I thumb through that file, I think that almost universally, I can’t or don’t connect to them because they only ever show one story of themselves or a constant versions of the same story over and over. Or, they don’t share their stories at all.

That is the crux of it right there, I believe. You have to share the story for it to spark the thought, emotion, connection, for someone else to pick it up and hold.

Everyone’s story, is if coarse up for interpretation and is filtered through your experiences, knowledge and connection to the others narrative.

For me? I feel like everyday is a story. Shoot, I hear one line in a book, and I have to stop the book because in my head, that one statement is a story. Is it my story? No, it’s a line, on a page, in a book(which is me) filled with many stories of which many are ongoing and still evolving.

And so, this weeks distraction story would be a prime example of how my senses (ears this time), pick up in one little thing and it pulls at me to stop and mull it over and feel it out and figure out why it caused me pause. Pretty soon, I jot down the ideas and hit send before that other voice in my head says I shouldn’t.

Thanks for being a part of my story.

Love, Sally

Side note: books recommended to read from my three interviews this week, 1. Nothing, she hasn’t read in thirty years – Really? Really? I’m afraid to know what my face reaction was (thank goodness I was wearing my mask. 2. “A Yellow Raft in Blue Water” – about three generations of Native American women and their journey through life. 3. “The Secret” – according to number 3, it provides positive ways to look at everything in life.

Until the next post, I hope you hear, see, experience a good story.