Veracruz Chronicles

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Smiths go to Papantla

Just got word that the Smiths arrived safely at the border. They drove to the US-Mexican border from Oklahoma and made the 12 hour bus ride to Papantla last week and returned to the border on the same bus. What an adventure! We had a fun-filled week, packed with trips: first to the center of town, where we bought one of each fruit available in the market, then we visited the ecological park for an introduction to the local ecological and cultural scene. We made a trip to the beach, where everyone was a kid and we all came home with five hour sunburns. Opps. Next time one of us monitors exposure. The family visited Tajin and Martine and James visited the countryside with me. The family put together some impressions before they left, so I'll post them below with photos.

Smith visit 162

Jonathon says: The food was nothing like the Mexican food in Oklahoma. The bananas were the best and I don't even like bananas in Oklahoma. They tasted different. I ate five each day. We would buy twenty-eight bananas in the market and in two hours they were gone. My favorite thing was the pyramids. There were altars and places to sacrifice people or things and they killed themselves in the ballgame. You couldn't go into the pyramids.

Winston adds: My trip to Mexico was very interesting. First, the food. The bananas were totally different. They were sweeter and not as hard. I think another thing is, it's hot in Mexico. The oranges were much better. They were not as sour as Oklahoma oranges and they were not bitter. When I tasted an orange here, I thought, "You know what, this is a real orange." the places I went were El Tajin. There were many pyramids, just a mystery, it seems like it will never end. You think to yourself, "Did people live in these pyramids? Were there really humans that lived here?" Another thing, there was a statue, I couldn't figure out why they made it. Probably because of the Voladores. A Voladore is a tall pole with men on top that spin around. They climb up, wrap the rope around and the drummer climbs up last. Sometimes he stands up and sometimes not. The other men jumped off and spun around in the cardinal directions. They did certain tricks. Each one had a different trick. They would land on their feet. What I couldn't understand was how they could tell when to flip. That's all.

Tecolutla, five hours later
The crew at the beach. Life is good.

Mimsy has definite opinions about Mexico too: What I didn't like about Mexico was having to speak the language. The best thing about Mexico was the Totonac dancing around the square. Each one's feet dancing were the same. Go to Mexico with me!

Did someone eat a bug?
At the ecological park.

James says: My own hospitality has become suspect. I will not soon forget my wife cooking tortillas over an open fire in a dirt floor kitchen. That was a trip. Truely beautiful, remarkable people. (James visited out in the countryside with me). I met a barefoot Indian with more sophistication than most people I meet daily: more understanding of how similar humans are, how valuable humans are. I'm already scamming on how to get back.

Martine where she should be...

Martine wrote: Mi pasion por Mexico
I'm glad I didn't have much time to think about our trip here, or I would've spent way too much time measuring whether reality was matching up with what I'd read. As it turned out, I got to experience Mexico on its own terms, not mine. The garlic is stronger here, the music more varied, the flora more brilliant, the kindness more intimate than my imagination would've allowed me to venture.
For the cuisine, I was prepared to go hungry a lot, thinking I would be faced with lots of deep-fried food devoid of any vegetables. What I was served was low-fat, vegetable laden, highly flavored fare, that was surprisingly complex in its flavors, yet simple in its preparation.
As for the heat, it was about as hot during the hottest part of the day as it was in the Florida panhandle in June or July. So, it was fine for me as long as we were in shade or inside during that time.
Watching the children has been warmly fulfilling. They have tried all the different foods, they have gamely trekked all over the city and beyond and they seem to be really soaking up the sights and sounds and smells all around them. I hope their memories stay strong, and that this experience moves them to think deeply about their American life.

Smith visit 164

That about says it all. To travel to someplace completely different to learn more about the place we live. To see other photos, click on a photo above.


At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Grandma Griffin said...

Thank you, Smiths five, for letting us experience Mexico through your five senses. We've lived here 45 years and it's always refreshing to meet Mexico again through people who are discovering it for the first time.

At 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joy, Mark, Austin, Willa, Ansel!
I love keeping track of all your adventures! Gavin and I can't wait to see you in June. I am Student teaching at Norman High right now and hopefully a position will be opening up for me here so I can stay in Norman and hang out with you. Every time I walk or ride past McKinley I can't help but think of all of you. I have been walking alot lately choosing to walk over riding my bike. Its been nice to feel my body continue to get stronger. I am so proud of all your running! Gotta work now - Besos y abrazos - kim


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