After breakfast at the Holiday Inn, we started to make our way out of the city. We stopped at a Sherwin-Williams store that we happened to pass, but they were busy and we did not have the opportunity to talk with them. There were some contractors waiting for their colleague outside the store, so we asked them for recommendations for the best route out of town, but it turns out they were contractors from Spain, and were not familiar with the area! One of them had a detailed city map, though, so we looked at it and found what we needed.
The main streets took us out of Veracruz and through a suburb called Boca del Rio. Once beyond there, the road became fairly quiet, although very narrow. About 50 miles in, we turned off of the main road onto a smaller road that was very flat and ran through a very marshy, swampy region. The villages all through this region were experiencing flooding problems, and it was very sad to see the conditions they were dealing with as the water surrounded their homes. There was one small city called Tlacotalpan along the way that looked like under more normal conditions, it was a very nice city and would be a nice place to spend the night.
As we approached the village of Carlos A. Carrillo, a pair of men in a red pickup truck flagged us down and asked if we would do a TV interview. One of the men held a small (not TV-grade) video camera, as the other held the microphone and asked me questions about our trip. I did my best (not very well) to answer in a combination of Spanish and English. When he concluded the interview, the man with the microphone recommended that we spend the evening at the hotel that he owned in Cosamaloapan. He did not tell us the name of the hotel, but said it was in the central area of the city.
When we got to town, we started looking around for the hotel. We passed a Construrama, a Mexican home-improvement store chain. They were having a big sale event, and to attract customers, they had about a half-dozen young women dressed in tight jeans and t-shirts dancing outside the store entrance. It was a strange sight, something you would not see in the US; kind of like a cross between a Home Depot and a Hooters!
A bit later, we passed the local middle school, and some of the kids were hanging around waiting for their rides home. When they saw us, they gathered around and wanted to talk to us and get our autographs. Even though they didn’t know us, I guess they figured since we were gringos on bikes, we must be doing something special, and might even be famous.
As we further explored the downtown area, we found a suitable nice but inexpensive hotel, but it was not the one owned by the “TV” interviewer from earlier. After we got showered and headed back out to find dinner, we did end up seeing the red pickup truck parked outside another hotel. We got pizza at a local joint right on the main public square.
As we ate our pizza, I noticed how the plaza, and all of the nearby streets, were filled with people out enjoying the evening, having food, coffee, or drinks, listening to music, and just having conversations. The children were running around playing, without having to be attached to their parents with a leash. This appeared to be a working-class, medium-sized city, probably the Mexican equivalent of something like Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. But it seemed like no matter where we went, whether it was a very affluent area or very depressed village, we saw this kind of activity every day. We commented how we in the US think that we have it so much better, but this kind of thing is what we don’t see enough of in our cities, because people are afraid to be out in the evenings, or they don’t think there is anything to do.
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