Saturday, September 19, 2009
What to Eat
I woke up early in the morning to walk around and take pictures around Papantla before heading to Veracruz. I was a little hungover from the night before, but these were my last hours in Papantla and I was going to make the best of it. I started walking around and bought a cup of fresh sliced mango to start the day. It was already hot, so I needed a drink after the mango. I walked into the mercado and had a papaya shake. I had a conversation with the owner about typewriters and their future (he fixed old typewriters).
Still feeling hungry, I went to a different mercado and bought some fruit and a tamal. The man I talked to the previous night told me where to get good pork tamales. I took the tamal back to the zocalo and planned to eat it. It was intricately wrapped in banana leaves and very slippery. I struggled for a few minutes and decided I was going to have to eat it with my hands. Just then a man sitting on the shoe shine chair approached me and handed me a spoon wrapped in a napkin. He said a customer had left it with him and he hadn't used it. He noticed I was struggling so he wanted me to have it. I was so touched and thanked him with a huge smile. I ate my tamal, which was delicious, and put the spoon in my bag. I thanked the man again as I left the zocalo, feeling good all over.
I walked around for the next couple of hours, taking pictures and enjoying my last moments in the city. I wanted to eat something before the bus ride, so I went to the taco place I had been to the day before. I had seven tacos (the are tiny) and a soda. I wasn't sure were this hunger was coming from, but I was enjoying every single thing I ate that morning. A man sat next to me and started talking as if he knew me. I thought maybe I had talked to him the previous day. I really could not understand most of what he was telling me, but soon realized he wanted me to give him money. It made for a very uncomfortable meal, but he left pretty quickly.
I walk to the bus station and bought my ticket for Veracruz. The station was very small, so I waited outside for the bus. I leaned against the wall and noticed a spider eating a fly in a little hole in the wall. I fixated on the scene for a while, remembering that poor dog that had been run over. I felt very alive and a lot closer to nature than I normally am.
I get on the bus and start my trip to Veracruz. There's some ridiculous movie full of warlocks and horses playing on the screens, full volume of course. I wonder if I'm the only one who thinks a movie about warlocks is the furthest thing from reality for the people on the bus. Once that movie is over, it's on to Flubber. Thankfully, there were plenty of interesting things to see outside the window. The bus was riding along the coast, so I was looking at the endless line of businesses (hotels and restaurants of all types) and houses by the ocean.
After a number of hours, I start noticing the city approaching by the increased occurrence in graffiti. Soon enough we were in the bus station. I didn't have a hotel reservation, just the name of a hotel. I call to make sure they have rooms and then take a cab to downtown. It was hot, just like Papantla, but this time I felt the sun burning my skin. I get in a cab and am welcome by the AC, something that would be very important in this city, I would notice later.