Sometimes the boundaries between states are just arbitrary lines on a map. If you weren't paying attention, one state can look a lot like another. But as we drove from the banana belt where we have been enjoying the lush greenery the last few weeks to the state of Oxaca, the change in scenery was dramatic. You could easily film a cowboy western around here. The land is arid and vegetation sparse, revealing large groves of plastic bag forests. From a distance it looked like some odd plants blooming a variety of pale tints. Garbage collection is an iffy thing here, and the plastic bags we all get at the grocery store are immortal. They are light and catch the wind and in this thin vegetation, their final landing places are easy to spot. While people in the last few states didn't live the way we do, they looked clean and comfortable for the most part. Here we saw folks living in "homes" made out of a combination of pieces of plastic attached to pieces of cardboard. Shacks made out of sticks and pieces of concrete were also sad to see. Farmers were tilling fields with oxen, something we have not seen on this trip thus far. The city of Oaxaca has been in the news a lot lately because of the massive protests its citizens have made against the government. I really don't know enough about it, but as I looked at how these folks live, I could imagine that this province feels isolated and ignored by the central government.
The first part of our drive was on excellent tollway which we paid for royally. Then we came to a section badly in need of repair. The job had been begun by removing all the shoulders and we were left with two tiny strips and four feet drop offs. We were joined in this section by a multitude of trucks, many towing double trailers, and a few vehicles moving extra wide loads. It was hair raising to get through.
We are camped tonight under some trees next to another caravan from a rival company. This means that we are wedged in like sardines again. We have no utilities so everyone is running a generator. The big rigs have A/C, but we only have fans in the 95º temps. They suck in the hot air being given off those A/C's as well as the fumes from the generators. It's going to be a long night...
The owner of this plot of land gave a dinner under massive 175 year old trees. He knows this for a fact because he is the fifth generation of his family to live here. The tables were covered with table cloths and decorated with flower petals. One of his children sprinkled confetti on all of our heads to begin the evening. Two marimba players serenaded us while we ate. His family served us and prepared the complete meal which included soup, fish, dessert and coffee. Considering the fact that they served two caravan groups at once, I was impressed by how quickly and efficiently they went from course to course. We've eaten at many restaurants as a group where the service was not nearly so good. I would have enjoyed this meal more if I had not been so hot. After dinner local villagers arrived in colorful coustumes and reenacted a local wedding. Two of our caravaners who are about to celebrate an anniversary, were the bride and groom. They sat in front of pots and we were to put pesos in the pot of the bridal party member we felt should be the boss of the about to be new family. We were warned to wear long pants and socks because the no-see-ums are bad here, but I just couldn't do it. Perhaps I'll be sorry tomorrow.