Mountain village scenes (Veracruz and Oaxaca)

Somewhere in the jungly mountains of Mexico lies the line between the states of Veracruz and  Oaxaca. I suppose there is a sign on a highway somewhere that marks that state-line. But we did not travel on a major highway. We drove smaller roads through villages clinging to hillsides and fighting back the growth of trees and vines.  Places where life is strenuous, muddy and traditional.

The scenes we see while passing through small villages and towns show glimpses of the lives being lived in these mountains. Here are a few photos with captions below each one.

village ox.jpg
This is an EARLY MORNING photo. In the background are the tarps and blankets draped over the various stalls of a closed mercado. Similar to a farmers market but permanent.  So when they close for the night, they just cover their goods and sleep inside or in their car.  In the foreground of the photo is a team of oxen that are yoked and headed to work the fields nearby.  They pass through town to get to work
village street goats.jpg
Here you see the corner of our truck (lower left) as we drive down the main street of a small village.  This couple is moving their herd of goats and family of donkeys to a new location to graze.  The animals are unaware of us, but the woman is watchful of our squeaking, creaking rig as we approach.  We eased forward slowly and the animals moved to the side to let us pass.  As did the man walking from the other direction.  In this particular village the streets were used more frequently by motorcycles and pedestrians than by passing vehicles.
village street donkey.JPG
In the deep mountain canyons the villagers use the wood for fires and construction.  This donkey is towing a long tree branch and hauling a few logs.  They are walking past a modern construction site with rebar and concrete.

Motorcycles are a major mode of transportation in all of Mexico. While animals are still used in smaller villages, they are gradually being replaced by cheap motorcycles.  Mexico News Daily recently released an article on this topic.  (click on this link to open article)  In addition to carrying one to five passengers, they also carry cargo. Here are a couple of motorcycles being used as cargo haulers.

carrying ice chest
This load includes an ice chest (likely filled with fish as we were near a small lake) a few pieces of firewood, a bag of mangos and on top of the ice chest is a large metal trailer hitch contraption. Notice the home-made mud flap, recycled from an advertising sign.
carrying propane
This motorcycle is hard at work.  This propane tank hauler would probably not pass safety standards in the USA.  But we are not in the USA and clearly this man needs to go get propane!

After long mountain drives (twisty, turning roads and steep grades are exhausting for the driver) we parked at a riverbank campsite near the town soccer field.  It was a beautiful evening as the rain picked up and serenaded us.  Through the night the rain increased in its intensity.  By morning the river was raging loudly, just steps from our back door. You can hear the river roaring in the movie below.

riverside campsite.JPG

riverside flooding view
That water is about 6 feet away. Surprise!

We also went geocaching in this region.  But of course, we found ourselves with no pen when we needed it.  So we glued a googly-eye just above someones stamp and left a name card.    You can order a sticker that says “It’s not a slow car, it’s a fast house” (looks just like this) from the home page of this website!  geocaching.JPG

The language continues to be a struggle for us.  We can get by through most of the general conversations.  But small talk, small details and ever-changing pronunciation is our stumbling block.  One of the unique features of Spanish is that a “B” is generally pronounced “V” and a “V” is pronounced “B”.  But that rule is not always true!  This sign at a hamburger stand illustrates that even a native speaker struggles with these two letters! graffitti P or B

In a larger town we parked the rig and tried to grab a taxi to go to the museum.  We climbed in the back of the taxi.  Just as the driver was pulling away, a police officer approached and climbed in the front seat. They exchanged a few harsh words and the driver told us to get out of the cab.  The policeman never looked at us or spoke to us.  We climbed out and they drove away together!  We stood on the sidewalk in shock at what just took place. A policeman stole our taxi.  Then we walked a short distance and hailed another taxi.  The next driver spoke enough English to explain to us what had happened.  Apparently in this town there is competition for taxi service.  The drivers have enlisted the help of the police to chase away the taxi’s from out of town.  The first cab we stopped was from elsewhere and the officer saw that.  He was escorting the man out of town! Once it was explained, we understood.  But initially it felt as though the officer had stolen our cab!

cop stole my taxi
That cop stole my cab!  He kicked me out and drove away.  Read the story above to understand what really took place!

This large town had a busy plaza in the center. And a small a small museum with an Olmec head on display. Another Olmec head is located in the center of the town plaza.  In the video below you can see and hear the busy plaza, and the stone head.  There are about 17 of these known to exist today.

olmec face off mike.JPG
Mike is facing off with an Olmec head. These weigh about 30 tons and are nearly 6 feet tall!


Finally, as we are traveling through a jungle area of Mexico, we must endure some jungle bugs.  I will leave you with a photo of the creature that passed over my toes while I was sipping my morning coffee.   It could stretch itself from 5 inches to 9 inches long! Yuck.bug on my toes..JPG


One thought on “Mountain village scenes (Veracruz and Oaxaca)

  1. I’m really enjoying your blog and vicariously seeing new parts of Mexico through your great photos. It’s one more inspiration to work towards an early retirement so we can move to Mexico earlier rather than later. My husband is Mexican and we already have a little house in Tepoztlán, Morelos. Every time I’m there I find it harder and harder to return to Toronto. After reading your blog, I’ve already told my husband I want to visit La Ermita del Silencio, only 2 hours from our house. Just a note on the pronunciation of “b” and “v”. The 2 letters are actually pronounced exactly the same in Spanish. The only way to distinguish is to ask how a word or name is spelled: “B” is “b grande” or “b de burro”. “V” is “v chica”, “v de vaca” or “uve”. “Uve” is now the official designation by the Real Academia Española, the official arbiter of Spanish language grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. (“Real” as in “Royal”, not as in real.) To pronounce the Spanish “b” or “v”, try making a “v” sound but without letting your lower teeth touch your lips. Make it with just your lips lightly touching (similar to English “b”) but then make the softer “v” sound. It really is a sound halfway between the English v and b. Good luck with your Spanish, and thank you for sharing your adventures with the rest of us!

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