Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Aaaahhh...fresh seafood on the coast

Nothing of great importance to mention at the moment, actually I just forgot my notebook and therefore can’t complete an entry of cultural substance so I will engage in some toilet humor, literally.

Our last night in Puerto Escondido was considerably more mellow than the first, however it lingered with me long after I had left the coastal town. We dined at a seaside cafe/restaurant on Sunday evening and I decided to order shrimp. The little voice in the back of my head, or actually the voice in my stomach, was protesting this decision but I decided to dive in anyway! Well, the next morning I was diving to the restroom because the camarones had come back to haunt me. This would have been incovenient no matter where I was in Mexico, or the United States for that matter, but Monday morning was our scheduled departure and I would have to sit in a van for 5-7 hours on an extremely windy road. Windy does not in fact do this road justice. Highway 131 from the coast of Oaxaca to Oaxaca City is famous with locals and unsuspecting tourists alike for being intolerably curvy for most of its length. They sell Dramamine in individual tablets at the pharmacies in Puerto Escondido, apparently out of necessity as it is a popular item.

After throwing up my breakfast, I took two Dramamine and boarded our van. The pills and my rather weakened condition from frequent trips to the lavatory made me extremely tired and it would seem that this might be an ideal time to sleep. Oh, if only it were that simple. The road was literally so curvy that each turn had me lurching side to side in my seat. Without bracing myself on the armrest I would have surely tumbled into the aisle. Comparing notes with my fellow travelers revealed that they too found it difficult to stay seated much less sleep. Luckily my seat was far enough in the back of the van that I was unable to see the driver, who, according to my roomie, must have done 50 or more hail Mary’s (do I capitalize Hail? Hmmm...religious questions are not my forte) after the most dangerous of the curves.

To add to the pain of the ridiculously curvy road was of course my bad stomach and the fact that bathroom stops were a bit less frequent than I would have liked. The first stop we made I asked if I could go to the restroom and the driver grumpily obliged me. Now when I say bathroom I use this term loosely. Imagine the worst truck stop bathroom and then multiple the yuck factor by ten. I paid 3 pesos at the first stop to go into a dark hallway with a dirt floor with three toilets in the back, concealed from view by what must have once been white curtains. Squares of toilet paper in hand, the reward for paying 3 pesos, I was able to discern the bowl and able to see that, like oh so many toilets in Mexico, it did not have a seat. Apparently plastic seats have a tendency to break or come off the bowl because it can be hard to find a seating area in public bathrooms, and of course with the frequency I use the restroom I have become somewhat of an expert. Anyway, one of the children who handed me the toilet paper (also a bit abrasive) actually turned on a light in the bathroom/hallway which was actually a bare bulb dangling from the ceiling. At this point I pretty much wished it was dark again because this was just enough light to see exactly how dirty the place really was. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers so I did my best and got back in the van. This carried on for about 7 hours until we finally made it home only to be swindled out of some money by our cab driver. I didn’t much care at that point, I think I would have given him 100 U.S. dollars just to get me back to my bed and a toilet with a seat. I stayed home from school the next day, partly because I was sick but also because of post-traumatic/highway 131 stress disorder. You know it is bad when you tell the locals how you got home and they look at you incredulously. Even our instructor said something to the effect of “I didn’t even think anyone took that highway anymore!”. Great.

One of the other fascinating little facts I learned about my shrimp meal was passed along to me by my roomie. She was explaining to someone why I hadn’t attended school that day, the bad shrimp and all, and the man said “you aren’t supposed to eat the shrimp in the rainy season!”. Arizona girl wasn’t really aware of how shrimp feed and apparently during the rainy season, lots of pollution (read sewage) has a tendency to wash into the ocean. Imagine my pleasant surprise upon finding out this information! It is going to be a long while before I eat any shrimp.

P.S. Didn't go surfing. By the time we found our teacher I was three beers in and thought it might not be the best idea.

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