Saturday, January 03, 2015

blown by the wind

"Wow, you are traveling fast."  So said Barbara in yesterday's comments.

She is correct.  But we are not traveling as fast as we had intended when we left Acapulco yesterday. 

Our goal was Puerto Escondido.  But there were far too many interesting sights along the way for us to keep to that tentative schedule.

And that was just as well.  When Dan and Patty first discussed this trip with me, the idea was to be as spontaneous as possible.  We knew the general direction we wanted to travel, but getting tied up with meeting schedules was exactly what we wanted to avoid.  After all, we are driving an adventure, not a bus.

We decided to abandon the worldly pleasures of Acupulco with its traffic and KFC franchises for the bucolic offerings of Oaxaca.

Once we were outside of of the big city, we slowly made our way to the countryside.  As with most of the Pacific coast, once you live a big city, you are in farm and pasture land -- with a few villages scattered along the way.  It is not hard to forget that Highway 200 is the sole north-south artery on the west coast of Mexico.

Instead of being a major commercial route, it appears to be a lazy lane winding its way through the hills.  That is, until you notice a convoy of trucks heading your way.

Mexico's villages almost always offer up local food at road-side stands.  At one village, our snack mode kicked in.  And we stopped to see what was on offer. 

Even though I have seen these cauldrons before in several countries, they always remind me of stir-fried goldfish.

Instead, they are one of the tropical world's favorite snacks -- fried plantains.  I suppose most of you know what a raw plantain tastes like -- having been the butt of a practical joker's prank.  They look like a dessert banana, only much larger and without the sweetness.

These particular plantains -- called machos -- are sliced and fried to an almost potato chip crispness.  Drained and spiced with hot sauce, they are the perfect road snack food.

With my snack in hand, I wandered down to the river where several of the village women were washing clothes.  That is not a new sight for me.  But it is the first time, anywhere in my world travels, the washing women asked me to photograph them.

Somewhere around Acapulco, the feel of Mexico changes.  Our rivers in the Melaque area often remind me of other tropical places.  But this river had a feel unto itself.  Everything surrounding it was from an area of Mexico that was never effectively conquered by the Spanish -- and has never been administratively managed by the passing powers in Mexico City.

We decided to stop for the night in Pinotepa Nacional.  I mentioned earlier that we had encountered very few non-Mexican travelers on this trip.  There appear to be none here. 

What struck me as odd were the number of residents who obviously have some African heritage.  I had previously read about the Africans who lived in the area.  There origin is still a controversy.  But their appearance is striking.  Especially amongst the sea of Mixteco Indian faces. 

Dan and I commented that towns like this are what we have been looking for on the trip.  Places where people simply go about their lives as best they can.

There were only a few shots I could take before the sun went down.  Including this neo-classical church.  Its symmetrical design seems to be the architectural style of the region.  At least, I have seen several similar churches in villages driving into town.

The façade is not attached to the church.  Instead, it is a detached gateway.

When I entered, I started laughing.  If first impressions matter, I would conclude that I had stumbled upon the prop room of a community theater.  But I cannot imagine which play would have called for these pieces.

We will not need any of those props for the next act of this trip.  In the morning, we are off to Puerto Escondido -- where I will finally meet a yet-to-be-revealed blogger.  (And that may be the least mysterious sentence I have ever written.)

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