Tamaulipas

26th March 2018

Coming from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, I was on my way to Ciudad Victoria. Actually I should already had made this trip the day before, but my host had his day off the 25th and was eager to show me the surroundings of Monterrey, what hard is possible without a car. In addition to that I had neither got a host nor booked a bed in Cd. Victoria.

I cannot remember, that the bus stopped in the state of Tamaulipas before the Cd. Victoria, but he might have done. Totally new in the city, I took a taxi to the hostel I had chosen by the Internet. I had not booked yet and hoped, there will be a bed available. I asked the taxi driver for the fee and he answered 60 MXN, an amount I was used to from bus stations to the centre of a city. Though I agreed, but we were very quick at the hostel. I think it should have been cheaper. The taxi driver had not change enough for my 500 MXN-note. I try to have smaller notes, but this day it was not possible. Therefore I told him, I will change at the hostel.

I was lucky, there were still available beds. I asked the clerk for change of my 500 MXN-note, but he did go trough the whole process, but did not check my passport. First when I paid for the bed, I could pay the taxi. The driver had already come in. He might have been afraid, that I won’t pay or simply the waiting time was too long – time is money! At the hostel I could choose a bed in a room with air condition or with fan. The rooms with fans only were 75 MXN cheaper than the other ones. Therefore I chose a room with fan only and I had actually no problem with that.

The hostel looks like a former jail or maybe boarding school. There were left overs from the kitchen: A stove, a fridge, dish basins and a food desk, but all was in bad conditions. There were no glasses, mugs, plates or cutlery. Luckily I am travelling with my own. During the check-in I had asked, if the hostel serves breakfast. The answer was no, but the next street there is a restaurant, which does. The room had a queen size bunk bed and a small window with curtains. Outside the window was a wall very close, though I did not open the curtains. There were no lockers and even I had got a key for the room, it was not possible to lock it from the outside. On the inside was a chain to lock with, which would have been difficult, when two or more  people, not related to each other, would share the room. Anyway, the room had an en-suite shower – I chose the bottom bed, of course. By the way, the name of the hostel was Escandon.

 

Hostel “Hostal de Escandon” – Room 108

 

I was really hungry, because I had not eaten since breakfast. Though I was looking for that restaurant, which also serves breakfasts. I had a snack there, because the meals were quite expensive. I also decided not to eat breakfast there. It was offered for 90 MXN, but no explanation, what it was. The meal I ordered was a cheese fondue with Chorizo, but the Chorizo was not added in slices. It looked more like minced beef. The meal was for 82 MXN, I gave 90 MXN (tips included).

It was time for walking the city. I soon realised, that this city was really small. I was already at the Cathedral and the town house. Here were a lot of stalls, even it was not Sunday. I walked through the streets and came to another plaza with another government building and another church. Even the kiosk was there. Close to this place was the cultural palace. En exhibition with photographs from former times in Mexico was advertised. I had not thought about, which time it is, but was reminded by the assistant of the exhibition, when he told me, that it will be closed at 6pm. I watched the clock on my smartphone. There were only 10 minutes left. I did a fast visit. Actually there were not so many photos, though I could see them all and even take a closer look at some of them.

 

Old Photos of Mexico

 

I continued throughout the city to find a supermarket, but now in the direction to the hostel. I did only find an Oxxo, where I bought a sandwich and something for breakfast as well as an ice cream and walked then straight back to the hostel. Well at the hostel I was on twitter before I updated my blog somewhat.

 

27th March 2018

I awoke already at 4:45am and could not fall asleep again. Around 6am I started to update my blog. I continued with it until 8:30am, took then my medicine as well as a shower and had breakfast using my foldable mug. Juan had sent me a message, though I answered him. Afterwards I checked out.

Because the town is small, I walked with all my belongings to the Central bus station. I tried to find a bus to El Sabinito, an archeological site, which I had found on the Internet and was not very far away from the city. Unfortunately it was only possible to go there, if I then would take the night bus to Tampico. Though I skipped the historic site. I bought a ticket for the Transpais bus. That company runs some routes with double-decker busses. One of them was the route to Tampico. The assistant at the counter told me, that the seats on the upper deck were cheaper than the seats on the first deck, thought I bought a ticket for the upper deck. It was for 369 MXN. I hade to wait around two hours for the bus.

Before I entered the bus, I was to the bathroom and luckily bought afterwards a sandwich, because this bus company did not provide any meal. The bus left 12:55pm. When I was entering the bus I could see, why the seats on the first floor were more expensive. They were bigger and much more comfortable as the usual on the upper floor. In addition to that they were placed one and one. When I reached my seat, it was occupied. A family including the grandfather had booked seats and did not care about, that they did not have booked mine. I told the girl, which sat on my seat, that it was mine, but she told her grandfather on the seat behind, that he had to move. He did, but I told the girl that it was “her” seat, which I booked. Finally she moved, but also took the girl on the side of her with her. Finally the mother took the seat on the site of me, showing me the ticket, that she had booked that seat.

I had a window seat on the left side of the bus, though I mainly saw that side of the landscape. From time to time I tried to get a glance of the right side, too. Between Ciudad Victoria and Tampico it was mostly flat, but some lower mountains were there as well during the first hour of the trip. Off and on some areas seemed to be dry. I left at the bus station “Tampico Norte” as my new host had messaged me before. Most of the passengers left there, too. It was now around 4pm.

I had to sent my location by Whatsapp to my host, though he could find me. I think it was, because the bus station actually was on the other side of the road. I had to wait some minutes, before Ivan arrived with a little truck. We were directly going home to his and his wife’s house, where he showed me the room, they had prepared for me and where he left my backpack. Afterwards we were going to his parents. His mother offered me a soup as well as rice with minced meat. We stayed at his parents house for a long while, picked than his wife up at her work. She is working at a bank, which has its branch at a Walmart supermarket. Ivan has his own business. He is an engineer and sells and maintains security systems. Therefore it was possible for him to pick me up that time of the day as well as they can have one car only and he can pick up his wife at her job.

At home they started the TV immediately. Ivan told me, that I was invited to the party on “Good Friday” at his parents’. Late that night (9 or 10pm) they offered a kebab sandwich, which Ivan had bought somewhere close to his home. Afterwards we were going to sleep. By the way, Ivan speaks Spanish only, but knows a few words in English. Sofia, his wife speaks a little English, but is not talk active. In Tampico people has a dialect, which I have to get used to, though I did not really understand the Mexicans here, but after a while.

 

28th March 2018

Sofia leaves for work at 7am, though I do not see her in the morning. Ivan leaves around 8am, often he first visit his parents. This day I awoke at 6am and was up around 7am, though I was downstairs before 8am. It was raining a little and I asked, if that is usual in this part of the country. He answered “no”. Ivan drove to his parents, where we shared breakfast with his family. I also met his 80-year-old grandmother. I had to think about a cousin and her husband. Both are 80+ but seems to be much younger than this old lady. It might be the different kind of life they have lived. The breakfast was coffee, milk and different kinds of biscuits as well as a kind of homemade gorditas, served without filling.

After breakfast Ivan had to go to Madero, which is another city, but very close to Tampico. Nowadays Madero begins where Tampico ends. The family have a shop there, they try to let and a person was interested in it. It was fast done and we were going to the historic city centre. First he was looking for a smartphone, but it was for more than 2,000 MXN (maybe more), which Ivan told me, was very expensive. He did not buy anything. There was a supermarket close there and I looked for tissues. Fortunately they had pocket packs, but unfortunately only Kleenex. I do not really like them, but needed tissues, though I bought an 8×10pack anyway. Now it was time for the sightseeing. There was the Cathedral, a kiosk – different to the others I have seen in the other cities, because it was totally made of stone, the government building was also there. Not far from there, is the harbour and a museum. I took some photos and Ivan showed me especially the statue of “Pepito”. He was a very tall and very strong man, born in Tampico. By the way there was a route we were driving, which had a “green wave” at the speed of 50km/h. Ivan also explained to me, what a “Torta de la Barda” is. It is a kind of sandwich, which formerly could be bought at a stall with an owner called Barda. There is only one original, but many stalls and even restaurants now sell that kind of sandwich. To explain even better, the family bought this sandwiches for lunch.

 

Tamaulipas

 

Ivan had to work again and I stayed with his parents. We did not speak much, because of the problems with the understanding. His mother told me, to enjoy the garden, where I continued with my blog. Even Ivan’s parents left for a while and came home with fried chicken. They offered even Coca Cola and a fried cake. I still was drinking water, but eat of the chicken and a cake. There was another time in the garden, updating my blog, before I was asked to follow Ivan’s parents to the supermarket. Well there I watched their trolley and later I helped to carry the food into the house.

In the evening, on the way to pick up Sofia at her job, Ivan took a round at Miramar – the party zone close to the beach. Most of the restaurants and even some stalls played Mexican music. The melodies made me to act with the rhythm, which amused Ivan. He also told me, that he do not dance. I think we came a little late for picking up his wife. She did look unhappy. They bought some pan fried meat on the way home, which we then shared. During the meal they asked me, what I had got to eat in Monterrey. I answered healthy meals with vegetables, fruits, ham, egg and cheese. I was surprised, when they made fun of, that I had got eggs. I actually did like Juan’s kitchen better, than all the meat without vegetables. This evening I was early to bed. I already had slept a little in the car, even I had tried not to fall asleep. I think it was the warm air, which tired me.

 

29th March 2018

During the breakfast I was asking how I could come to the beach by bus. Ivan explained where the bus is leaving, but told me then, that he has to leave something to a friend in Madero, though he can take me with him and later leave me at a bus stop for buses to the beach. It would not be a need of a bus change. I was thankful, that he made it easier for me. It became really easy for me that way. The bus stop for the beach was close to an area of restaurants and bathrooms. I was not hungry, but was happy to find a bathroom. By the way I only had around 100 pesos with me, not my passport, no credit card and even not my smartphone. I hoped I could take a swim and was afraid, to get my belongings stolen. In addition to that I left my hearing aids at “home”, though they would not break.

From there I walked the whole beach in one direction until there was a pier. Halfway I bought tostitos. They are similar to nachos, but fried small things 😉.  You can get it with yellow cream (what I earlier thought was a kind of mustard), mayonnaise and chili sauce. I did not take the chili sauce, of course. It makes full for a while. I had taken a bottle with water with me, therefore all was OK.

It was very windy this day and warm enough, though I did not freeze. I took of my pants and walked in my tankini, but with a t-shirt as well. I hoped, my legs will get a little colour. I did not use the sun-blocker I had with me, because I did not really feel the sun and the first hours the sky was grey. I can already tell you, that they got colour. There were lots of bay watchers (life guards). At their towers were the red flags blowing, when I arrived and the black flags, when I left. I was not in the water, because I am not used to waves and the recommendations not to swim respectively that the water “is closed” because it is too dangerous to swim made me not to try at all, but Mexicans did not care – not even about the black flag.

On the way back I had put the towel on the sand. There were lots of chairs with parasols, but I was not interested in to pay money for it, especially not, because no price was announced, but it was clear, it was not for free. I lay on the towel for a little while, I thought – turning around quite often. When I lay on my back, I had my hat over my face to not get all the sand in my face. After a while I even got sand on my face through the hat, though I decided to leave. That was also, when I saw the black flags. I found loos, where I could dress. I  walked to leave the beach. Sometimes the waves wet my feet, because they came long up the beach. I did not find, where I was coming in earlier the day and walked further. There were an area, where lots of cars were on the beach, though I was looking for, where they could drive in and found my way out. It was far from the place I had entered the beach.

I was hungry, but still had water. There was an Oxxo, where I bought two packed burritos. I sat outside on the curb and ate as well as drank. Meanwhile I have seen buses as well as a girl left one of them close to the Oxxo on the other side. I also thought that the bus on the other side was going in the right direction – it is right-hands traffic in Mexico! Therefore I tried to stop a bus there, even there is no sign. The driver also stopped. I told him, that I will go to Tampico centre as well as I showed him the note Ivan had written for me with his address and an explanation where to leave the bus. The driver did tell me, I have to change the bus, but first the bus was going back, where I came from, but then further. The bus driver also asked a passenger about my destination. They were sure I had to go to the area “Americas”. The asked passenger did leave the bus with me and both the driver and he told me, that I have to leave and change the bus at that stop. The passenger did then care about, that I enter the correct bus. The bus driver in the other bus did promise to tell me, where I have to leave and he did.

Close to Ivan’s home, I did not find the direction. I asked at an kebab restaurant and walked – first in the right direction and came very close, but did not find it. Though I asked another man, who sent me in the wrong direction. I remembered streets, but not how to go from them to Ivan’s place. I asked again and was sent back. I passed the kebab restaurant again. The owner stood there with his car and tried to help me. I tried it again in the first direction, but was walking further and asked another man. He told me, it was in the other area. Fortunately the owner from the kebab restaurant came driving and asked, if he could help me, if I maybe have a phone number. Even that I had got of Ivan. This kind man called my host. It was actually Sofia’s number. She tried to speak with me at the phone, but by the wind and without my hearing aids I could not understand her. Though the kind man did speak with her again and then drive me to my destination. The first time I had been so close, so close. He was happy, he could help me. I am so happy about these helpful Mexicans.

Sofia told me, that she will stay at home the evening – it was already 6pm and that all is well now. I took a shower to get rid of the sand, which still were everywhere, even in my mouth. There I saw, that I looked nearly pink as a pig, especially my legs! I hope, it will change to brown soon and the skin will not shed. I was happy, that I did not burn my back. I did not have any problems to sleep during the night. What I did before I felt asleep, I think you know. I only write one word: Internet! I did not have any evening meal.

 

30th March 2018

In the morning I told Ivan and Sofia, that I would like to go to the “Espacio Cultural Metropolitana” and asked for an explanation to go there. I have been told, that they have to go to the supermarket and can drive me there. Sofia was also following. I have not had any breakfast. The museum opened 10am, because it was “Good Friday”. We were half an hour early, though they drove around, where I easily could reach the museum by a bridge. Close there, but only close, where an Oxxo. I walked the bridge and was to the museum at 10:02am. It was open, but the part, which has free entrance, had an exhibition for children – all about Spaghetti. In the same building is a museum about the culture of the Huasteca. There I had to pay 60 MXN. The museum was not big, therefore it did not take long time to see all the artefacts. All explanations were in Spanish. When I was tired to read and try to understand the Spanish text, while I also looked for some words in Google translate, words I absolutely did not understand, I took photos and let Google translate the whole text. It worked very well. At the end the light was low and the black letters on a quite dark green background, that text I neither could read nor was it possible to take photos of it. I left the museum the same way I was coming.

I really needed something to eat now. I had already got a headache. An Oxxo was the only choice I had. I bought a medium Cappuccino, a sandwich, two biscuits and a bottle of water. At each of the three tables, people were sitting, but at one of them were two unoccupied chairs, though I asked the couple at the table if I may sit with them and they welcomed me. I got really full of the sandwich and the biscuits. Afterwards I took a walk around the Laguna and saw cocodriles.

 

Cocodriles

and iguanas.

 

Iguanas

 

I tried to walk back, but when I after a while understood, that I still was in Madero, I tried to catch a bus from the nearby Walmart. Unfortunately there was no bus to the Americas. I also felt a little stressed, because the gathering at Ivan’s parents home should start at two o’clock. I was awaited directly and took a taxi to their place. Actually I was among the early arriving guests. The garden did then fill more and more. There are actually three houses without a wall in between. There are fences, but with doors. It seems the fences are for the dogs. Most tables with chairs where in the garden of Ivan’s parents family. In another garden were one, where a brother to Ivan with his wife and small children were sitting – together with the other brother and friends or relatives.

The meal started with shrimps mixed with onion and something more. Most people did not enjoy it. I was served chicken (with a for me unusual cutting) instead, because of my allergy against fish and seafood. There were beer, light beer and Coca Cola served. Someone of the family did buy a big bottle of water for me. I think it was anyway Ivan’s parents, who paid for it. The next fish dish was Mujarra from the barbecue. I did not find any translation for it, but a Spanish article, stating that it is the king of the fishes, but it is neither trout nor salmon.

 

Mujarra

 

The children at my table did not try to eat respectively only eat very little of it. It was served whole – with the head. Though they had to peel the fish from it’s bones.

There were also crab fish. Instead of potato or rice salt biscuits were offered. The dessert was fruit in sweet cream. At this stage I was placed by Sofia (who had arrived late together with Ivan adding salad to the dishes) with a sister to Ivan’s mother, who also speaks English. Her name is Maria Jesus as Christian names. On the other side sat Esther, also around my age. She did not speak English, but we did not leave her outside our conversation. Furthermore Maria’s partner was with us. He also speaks English. He organised a bottle of red wine for us. Around the time we had the wine, someone served us four Philadelphia cream cheese with a mango jam and crackers.

 

The Wine

 

People started dancing and involved me as well as Maria. It was Salsa and even I tried to learn on Ireland I have some problems with shaking my back.

When the mosquitos came and bit, I was going into the house. They were already a few other people, watching soccer on TV (Mon (?) vs Chile – it was 0:2, when I was interrupted. I did not see the result, because Ivan told me, he had to work until very late and that he will drive me home now, because it was hard to get a cup. Maria’s partner told me, that it would be the best to do so. I was not tired at all and even I told them, that I do not have a problem with late hours, they insisted to bring me “home”. I had no choice. When we came outside, there were already a car with Sofia’s parents and Sofia in the back and, I think, a brother of Ivan as driver. Ivan was going in the back, too. I was asked to sit in the front. On the way home, Sofia’s father asked about my colour. He told me, it was not Nordic. Though Sofia told me not to care about him, because he is a little drank. There were something about languages and Sofia told me, that drunk Mexicans speak every language. She was a little drunk as well, which made her talk active. She also was laughing a lot, what I have not seen her doing before. It was 8:50pm, when I have got left alone at Ivan’s and Sofia’s home. I was disappointed and wondering, if they do not want, that I see them drunk.

 

31st March 2018

I updated my blog a little more between 7am and 8:30am. I thought, my hosts will sleep a little longer after the festive night. When I came down to the living room, Ivan was already on the coach watching TV. I apologised if I interrupt his sleep, but he told me, that he was awake around six, but coming home around 2am. They have enjoyed the hours with music, karaoke and dancing. I thought, I would have liked to be there, but did not say it. Ivan cooked coffee for me and bought sweet bread for breakfast. Afterwards he drove me to a good place for hitchhiking. I had asked him and told him, that I can pay for the gasoline, but he told me, that it is not necessary. Close to the Tampico bridge he told me, that there is a fee to pay of 30 MXN for using the bridge. I told him, that I can walk, but I had not seen the bridge. He was driving to leave me close to it, by that I could see it. It was similar to the bridge between Malmö, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark – maybe not really so long, but the same construction and I changed my mind. I gave Ivan 100 MXN, to pay the fees (he had to come back as well). The rest was for the gasoline anyway, but I think, the gasoline was for more than 40 MXN. Ivan left me on the other side of the bridge behind the pay station. There was a parking space, a shop and bathrooms.

It took not a long time, before I have got a hitch, but not of people, who stopped at the shop. Most of these cars where already full. My driver drove on the second file and took over, when he saw me. He was in his 30s and driving very fast. He did overtake even, when it was not allowed. The road was badly maintained and had many potholes. He did drive around, though did the other cars, but in his speed it was less fun. Anyway we arrived save in Poza Rica, Veracruz.

Beside the road I could see green landscape. Even the hills are green. There were much agriculture. I have seen some low mountains off and on. We passed many stalls with bananas and oranges and even cocos. They have the coconut with their outer shell. Later on there were stalls with furniture, especially rocking chairs.

For my time in the state of Veracruz (Poza Rica, Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos) follow the link Veracruz.