My Trip to Zihua - Day 3 (part 1-long)

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Posted by Travis in Seattle from ( on miťrcoles, marzo 05, 2003 at 19:07:11 :

DAY 3 Ė FRIDAY 2/14 Ė Valentines Day Ė Part 1

I wake up at 6:15 a.m. This is the second day in a row Iíve awakened at an unusually early hour for me, all on the heels of not getting much sleep on ďtravel dayĒ. Even more unusual, I decide to get up. I could easily have gone back to sleep but I figure if Iím ever going to take in the early morning fish market, which I hear is something to see, this is the day. Itís still dark out but I manage to make some coffee. On the balcony I can hear the distant whine of pangas. A few are coming in, from night fishing I guess. And before long I see some going out, again presumably, with sportfishing clients.

After a quick shower, I walk to the fish market. The place is quite a sceneópeople buying, people selling, people toting, people chattingóstill, I get the sense that itís ebbed and is beginning to slowly wind down. I canít believe the number of fish I see for sale and all the different types. Piles and piles of them. I barely know a fish from a frijole but I ďEinstein ItĒ and decide the piles of red ones are red snapper. It doesnít seem to me that Zihua is very busy or crowded right now and I wonder who will eat them all.

There are a few scattered clouds this morning, and the sunrise coming up over the hills is really stunning.

After a light breakfast back at the Bungalow, I debate whether or not to try to get more sleep. As usual, my inner-sloth wins out and I lay down. But after trying for about 20 minutes I canít quite fall asleep. Or I donít want to. So I decide to take advantage of the cooler morning hours to head out to La Barra de Potosi. This will give me a chance to take a trial-run on the La Flecha y Pasajera transportation option to see if itís suitable for my traveling companions who arrive tomorrow and who Iíll be guiding to La Barra later in the week.

(Ö.I planned to do a whole lot of nothing, and I failedÖ.)

I am grateful for the bit of morning cloud cover as Iím schlepping a rather heavy bag through Zihua to the bus stand. I am also grateful for Jaredís miraculous maps which show me where I can catch the bus and indicate the shortest route to it. Iíd prepared myself to be a sweating mass of morning misery, but the maps and cloud cover get me to the bus stop area in relatively decent shape.

The ďbus stopĒ, of course, is entirely unmarked. Iíve just arrived and Iím looking for some kind of signage. Nothing. Almost immediately a bus comes trolling by. The bus driver looks me directly in the eye, with bag over my shoulder. In hindsight this was an obvious non-verbal inquiry on his part. I halfway expected to see ďPetatlanĒ soaped in the window, but it wasnít. The bus also looked a bit more impressive to me than I was expecting. In my morning fog and out of timidity, I let it pass.

Then I remember where I amÖ.. Mexico.

Just a few minutes later, another bus comes lurching toward me, door open. I signal to the driver, he slows down. I bark, ďLos Achotes?Ē. The driverís assistant says, ďSiĒ and Iím on my way. I ask the driverís assistant to aviseme when we are at Los Achotes as Iím guessing there wonít be much signage if any and I wonít be able to see it from my seat even if there is.

Once we get out of Zihua and onto the highway, musica Mexicana starts blaring from the speakers accompanied by a heavenly wind from the open windows. As many have described before me, the bus is filled with a delightful variety of people. All different ages, sizes and styles of dress represented. Iím also the only gringo on the bus. For whatever reason, probably ego-related, this pleases me.

The road along the highway to Los Achotes is like a million others in Mexico, which is to say, at least for me, a sensory overload delightful in countless ways. Still, I am usually more interested in people than scenery, so I find myself passing the time wondering who the people on the bus are, where they are headed, and what their lives are like.

After about 20 minutes, the driverís assistant indicates to me that weíre approaching Los Achotes, either because I gave him a few extra pesos when he collected the fare or out of kindness. I suspect it isnít the pesos. On getting off the bus, he even points me in the direction of the passajera/cattle truck, though I hadnít mentioned or asked for it. How did he know? Was it the bag? The pasty-white flesh in need of an afternoon on one of the worldís lovelier beaches? Anyway, for those of you wondering, it would have been impossible to miss the pasajera, as it was about 20 steps away and very visible. I notice that itís not entirely full yet so I slip into the tienda next door and buy a cerveza. (Okay, itís only 11 in the morning, but I had been up for hours and who are you to judge? Besides, I was anticipating a long wait and a hot, dusty ride. Rationalization done.) Neither of my expectations materialize and Iím dropped off in La Barra in about 15 minutes. Everything happens so BANG-BANG down here. Whatís the rush?

One good pasajera story: I end up sitting next to a little kid. A local. Iíll guess heís about 6. Anyway, heís bored out of his mind and Iím not. Iíve got my whiz-bang, brand new, donít-know-how-to-use, never-before-tried Nikon digital camera with me and Iím looking for photo ops.

And he looks VERY bored.

So as we bump and sway through the coconut groves, I decide Iíll be a good gringo and provide the kid in a coma with a little techno-diversion. I whip out my camera and show it to him. Itís pretty slick. I flip open the lens and scan around for him to see through the display. The frigginí thing looks like a motion picture to me. The kid? Mild interest at most. Probably just a courtesy. Actually, Iím exaggerating even that. The kidís face shows nothing. Heís a stone.

The good news is that as I pathetically try to impress/entertain him with my camera, I inadvertently take a really good shot of fellow passengers. Total happy accident. (Like I said, I donít know how to use it.) Regardless, after my proud demo, the boy still offers me nothing but his best Buster Keaton.

I feel small.

Either this kid has already seen a lot better equipment or somebody needs to teach him poker. Heíd do well.

(To be continuedÖ)

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