Life on the road is always interesting. You never know what new sights, sounds, tastes and smells the day will bring. If you are a novelty junky, pedaling through the world is a great life, the cinema of life rolls by. With eyes roving, looking for interesting things, sometimes you are a passive observer, other times, you are uncontrollably swept up, as if unexpectedly hit by a wave in the ocean.
We stopped in the Villa de Tamazulapam del Progreso after a series of long steep climbs. We were concurrently enjoying the view of the church (Church of the Virgin Mary of the Nativity) from the park across the street, cooling in the shade provided by bountiful trees, and entertaining the waiting taxi drivers and passers-by with the quantity of snacks we were shoveling down our pie holes (a light refreshment consisting of a liter of ice cream and a big bag of potato chips all washed down with a 2 liter bottle of Fanta Orange).
Off in the distance we heard the clangor of drums and the bass of the tuba, with the rumpus growing louder. Moments later we were swept up in a moving fiesta of a massive bull, horse riders, and masked revelers. A character dressed as a catholic priest sprinkled us with “holy” water, a ghoul grabbed Sarah and gave her a whirl, while a deep-voiced “lady” started bumping and grinding on me. Additionally, cups of a dark, nut-brown liquid were thrust into our hands, after being scooped out of a bucket.
After looking around and noticing that even children were drinking the stuff, I figured it was most likely safe to drink. I figured in the best case, I was about to experience a new flavor or, in the worst case, going to experience some type of mass hallucination and be indoctrinated into a cult by being forced to ride the bull or the other way around. Either way I would be joining the throng of fun loving, mask wearing, street dancing revelers. So I took a gulp.
The drink was tamarind based, which I happen to like, but never really knew what a tamarind was other than yummy. I subsequently read that the tree produces an edible, pod-like fruit. Besides culinary delights, it is also used in traditional medicines and metal polishes.
With uses including medical and industrial polishes, my hallucination theory about the mystery drink was not completely unsubstantiated. Discovering the non-culinary uses of tamarind made me remember Mr. Yuk.
Growing up, I remember seeing public service announcements (alternate site) on the color television, that clearly covered the dangers of consuming pills from the medicine cabinet as well as household chemicals and cleaning products.
Lucky for us, a call to the poison center was not needed.