Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Veracruz - a three day weekend.

What a fun weekend! Living in the mountains, I miss the beach and the warmth of sea level.

We set off at 7:30 Saturday morning for the 4 1/2 hour drive to Veracruz. At first the drive was fine, and as we got within a few hours of our destination, the scenery filled with the lush greenery of banana and orange groves. The scenery remained lovely, but some of the children of the teachers began to tire of the van and became increasingly argumentative and loud.

When we arrived at 12:30 at the hotel, everyone piled out of the van in relief and lugged our baggage to our rooms. Soon most of the people began swimming in the ocean. Tired of people, I opted for a peaceful walk on the beach. I was also just plain tired, because I'd gotten very little sleep Friday night - an ATM machine malfunctioned and ate my card at 9:30pm, and taking care of the problem took a very long time.

After walking for awhile, I lazed in the sun by the hotel pool, revelling in being truly warm for almost the first time since moving to Puebla (yes, it's warm outside in Puebla these days, but the buildings never seem to warm up). A rowdy game of 500 in the pool kept me from sleeping there, so after I'd soaked up enough sun, I joined in the noisy chaos.

After awhile everyone tired of 500, so some of us decided to play Apples to Apples until dinner. There was serious hilarity over that game! The smell of grilled burgers called us back outside, and after we'd eaten, several of us started a game of keep-away soccer on the beach. We couldn't play on the sand for long, because the dark came, and we couldn't see the ball. Moving up to the hotel lawn didn't help much, because the grass had nasty burrs, and most of us were either bare-footed or wearing flip-flops. Still, a few of us with flip-flops kept playing, stopping periodically to remove burrs from our feet before resuming keep-away.

Sunday morning began with a breakfast of pancakes grilled outside and freshly squeezed orange juice. You can't get better than that! Veracruz oranges squeezed right there at the beach... Blueberry pancakes...Mmm. When we'd eaten, we gathered on the sand for a church service.

After service, ten of us who wanted to go on a swamp tour gathered. Our guide first stopped at his home where we had the option of buying baby crocodiles. For some reason none of us bought any. Can't think why. Anyway, each car picked up a guide, and we turned off onto the bumpy backroads that wound through cow pastures (and plenty of cow pies).

Walking from where we'd parked, we soon reached the swamp. There were boats that sat three, plus the guide. Each guide had a long forked pole that he thrust into the swamp bottom or the banks to propel us along through gnarly trees, piles of duck weed and lilies, and fallen logs. It wasn't very comforting to think of meeting full grown crocodiles as we sat low in the water in the slim boats. The only crocs we saw were babies, but our guide assured us that the mother was hiding under the tree as well, and that she was probably 2 meters long. Well, as far as I was concerned, she could stay hiding!

The tour ended early afternoon, and most of us returned to the hotel where we chose the refreshment of the chilly ocean and the fun of boogie boards in the decently large waves. Soon the group moved back to the pool and another game of 500 which I took zillions of pictures of rather than playing.

Following a dinner of grilled chicken fajitas, a few people chose to play Dutch Blitz rather than watch the Super Bowl. We played teams, and one of my second graders was my teammate. It was her first time playing, and she said she loved it. While some people played, others watched the Super Bowl, but once the football game ended, everyone quickly cleared out for bed. We were exhausted from so much vacationing.

Monday went much like Sunday except there was no service or swamp tour, just lots of swimming in both the pool and the ocean, and for me, some soccer. I dribbled the ball by the waves and tried to keep it from being caught in the water, then later one of the students kicked the ball back and forth with me for awhile before we had to pack up and leave.

The return trip went smoothly except that we got a bit misplaced which added an hour to the drive. We stopped and bought huge bags of Veracruz oranges and orange blossom honey as our souvenirs before leaving the state. In a little over a month we'll be back there, but this time with the whole junior high and high school.

No comments: