We left the desert high lands of Puebla for the sea coast and Costa de Esmerelda. We left an altitude of almost 8,000 feet and ended up at sea level. We left bright blue skies with air so dry our hands cracked and our noses bled, and drove through the mist to the sea. Unfortunately, almost the entire altitude drop took place in about twenty miles of twisting, winding mountain road. The changes in scenery were as dramatic as the changes in elevation. In the morning we saw snow capped mountains and many varieties of cactus. The steep downslope area reminded us of Alpine elevations with similar dramatic inclines and the vegetation changed accordingly. Near sea level we were back to banana trees and huge pick up trucks heavily laden with oranges with the workers who picked them perched precariously at the top of the orange piles.
We were warned to drive in low gear and not burn out our brakes as we came down, down, down. Our group has suffered a variety of mechanical failures, especially recently, but all the brakes held until the end, no springs were broken even when we came through the road repairs, and the cracks in the windshields did not get any larger than they already were. Although driving in Mexico remains a challenge, we have learned a lot about how to make our way through this developing country.
We enjoyed camping at Costa de Esmerelda almost a month ago on our way south. It's nice to be back on familiar territory and have some sense of where things are located. It's amazing how much the campground owner has accomplished in our time away. He has laid down new asphalt which makes it more likely that we will be able to get out of here even if it rains. The concrete blocks that were being cemeted together have turned into an open air restaurant where we plan to enjoy a buffet tomorrow. The day ended with a huge bonfire on the beach. We contributed firewood specially imported from Illinois for the occasion. Our leaders provided the fixings for s'mores, but even this familiar treat had a Mexican twist. The marshmallows were pink as well as white, and tasted strongly of strawberries. How boring it will be when we are home again, and everything is as we expect it to be.