Another day of encounters and amusements complements of Mexico.
– Early in the day we passed by fields of strawberries. I thought it was going to be like California: You can look, but not eat! Fortunately we found a nice lady with a strawberry stand within a few feet of the fields. We bought 1 kilo (2.2lbs) of fresh strawberries for 20 pesos ($1.53). Later in the day we made peanut butter and strawberry sandwiches on freshly baked bread.
– We had second breakfast at a stand run by a father and his two daughters. We find there’s little distinction between breakfast food and food served at other times of the day. The same type of tacos we eat for dinner can usually be purchased for breakfast. Today, it was 9:30am, and we ate chili rellenos. It doesn’t matter, they were delicious, and the family gave us extra tortillas and a complementary taco. We must have looked particularly famished.
– We were passed by the Google car. How funny would it be if we were in Google Street View in Mexico! Our location: Route 120, south of Acambaro, at the border of Guanajuato and Michoacan.
– We had a security escort. He followed us for about 10 miles, the distance between two towns. We’ve seen these trucks on the road before but they’ve never escorted us. From what we gather, they’re a complementary service to assist folks who have broken down. We were appreciative of the escort but it does make resting and photo ops difficult. Wherever we stopped, he stopped, even though we waved him on, he indicated he would be escorting us to the next town. We tried to peddle quickly but we still created quite a big traffic jam at times because not only did traffic have to go around us, they had to go around the pick-up tailing us. Remarkably, everyone was really patient and we still received a bunch of friendly honks and thumbs up by passing drivers. I was fully expecting to see a different finger.
– We met our first deportee. A seemingly nice guy who had lived in Missouri for 30-something years before being deported back to Mexico. Interesting thing he said, he feels lost in Mexico. He’s lived the majority of his life in the USA and now feels like a foreigner in Mexico. Sadly, he is a man without a home.
– Mexico is decked out for Christmas. There’s no Thanksgiving holiday, so they go straight to Christmastime after the Dia de Los Muertos (Nov 1/2). I think we went through the poinsettia capitol of the world today. There were huge tents set up along the road with rows and rows of poinsettias. I think there were at least 1 million plants, no exaggeration. In this one town, everyone was selling poinsettias. Here’s a little info I’ve picked up: The poinsettia plant is native in Mexico. Here they’re called nochebuena (Christmas Eve). They grow as a shrub, up to 13ft high, I didn’t know this, my only encounters with poinsettias have been in a pot. They were introduced to the USA from Mexico in 1828 by a guy named Joel Roberts Poinsett (hence their name). The poinsettia has been associated with Christmas since the 16th century in Mexico. The story goes that a young girl did not have money to provide a gift for the celebration of Christmas so she gathered weeds into a bouquet and placed them at the church alter. Beautiful red poinsettias sprouted from the weeds, forever sealing their fate as the Christmas flower.
– We were again wowed by gorgeous mountain scenery. We’re on our way to see the Monarch Butterflies at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. They migrate to this mountainous area of Mexico every Winter.
I had a lot of love for Mexico today. It wasn’t anything in particular, just a case of the “I love you’s”. Maybe it is the beautiful landscape. Or the food, it’s abundantly clear the food sends us to our happy place. Or maybe it’s the people who are so nice and seem to have an endless supply of patience for our sometimes still embarrassingly bad Spanish. Or maybe it’s how everything seems to operate by a set of rules that we’re not yet privy to, but that this doesn’t seem to matter. It’s so relaxed here – tranquilo. Other things we’ve noted and appreciate: you are never given the check while eating out before you ask for it and check-out times at hotels are vague and loosely enforced. In both cases, you leave when you are ready.
We sprung for the fancy hotel in Zitácuaro, aptly named Hotel Mexico. Fancy gets you wi-fi and a toilet seat on the toilet, for about $23. After looking around we learned anything less than $23 you don’t get those two things. We’ve always been suckers for wi-fi, but we’ve added a toilet seat to our short list of hotel requirements.
No day is complete without tacos, so here we go…