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PEOPLE & VOICES - La Huerita

Desde Tijuana Hasta Chetumal
by La Huerita

In Mexico the phrase "From Tijuana to Chetumal" is a way of saying "From one extreme to another." Taken literally it refers to the diversity of Mexico's geography: Tijuana, in the extreme northwest, inhabits a desert environment abutting California along the Pacific Ocean; Chetumal, to the extreme southeast, is in a tropical climate on the Atlantic Ocean, abutting Belize. In between is a vast country of multiple climates and cultural diversity, a veritable smorgasbord of delight for the serious traveler.

Lucky me to have had the opportunity to be greeted as "Huera" ("blondie"—"huerita" being an affectionate diminutive of that) from the extremes of the country through that smorgasbord in between! It's been a privilege, a joy and a great learning experience even when comfort was not exactly part of the adventure.

In the "White City" of Merida I've enoyed the typical Sunday afternoon party in the Plaza, with the streets roped off and its people, dressed in their Sunday best, eating, talking, laughing, singing, holding hands, bargaining with vendors for hand crafted items . . .

In Playa del Carmen, before it got famous, I laughed with children along dusty streets, followed as we walked by earnest little black piglets, and one stormy night I was entertained by lightning flashes illuminating a squirming mass of scorpions crawling up the window screen to escape the flooding on the ground.

In a dusty little town along some coast I spent two nights in a tiny hotel where the shower curtain doubled as a bathroom door, there was no hot water and fireflies lit up the room in the evening. The sound of the waves just feet away lulled me night and day; I could have stayed longer and been happy.

In old Cabo I experienced the great solar eclipse, ate myself into oblivion at El Pollo de Oro and got a ticket for "wild parking" when I pulled over to talk to a friend who was crossing the street.

During Dia de los Muertos I celebrated the life of a friend who was buried in a local cemetery. I've been terminally sunburned on the beaches of Cancun; puffed my way up the steep cobbled streets of Puerto Vallarta next to a donkey with a load of firewood; mellowed out in Manzanillo; watched summer thunderstorms roll in over the mountains behind Mazatlan and ridden in a pulmonia through the rain, grinning as if I had good sense; shopped till I dropped in Guadalajara; ridden both "chicken" buses and luxury buses; whale watched at Magdalena Bay; partied at the Rosarito Beach Hotel; kicked back in San Felipe; tidepooled in Rocky Point . . . Ah, where does the time go? I've hardly begun!

Mark Twain once said, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness . . ." I'd like to believe I wouldn't have those traits, regardless; but, if any of them were lingering within, traveling and living in Mexico helped remove them. Just one more reason to be grateful.

Thank you, Mexico. Muchisimas gracias!

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