Departing and Arriving
Leaving was not too hard. I had been waiting for so long, in a way it was a relief to go. I knew that Alyssa and her husband Carlos would meet me in Houston, so that was something to look forward too. The three legs of my journey were easy.
I found Alyssa and Carlos right away eating ice cream cones. We talked non-stop until we boarded yet another tiny tiny plane with a lot of big people in it. I sat next to an adorable minus one boy who bounced and drooled on his mother's lap for the entire hour and a half flight. The minute I stepped foot in Tampico, I knew that my Pimsleur language tapes were not going to get me far. The most important thing that I need to learn is "how do you say?".
We got a free ride to my hotel with Carlo's taxi driver/ friend, and they took off to get their cars at the school. An hour later they returned to take me to dinner at La Palma -- a dimly lit informal affair with plastic plates and thin napkins. The first thing Carlos had me do was taste the red sauce -- I took a tiny dot, and my mouth was on fire. Marcos ordered for us. When I walked into the place there was a shank of pink meat twirling around outside -- chapas, I think -- so we ordered that on a corn tortilla. We had a plate of greasy onions, cauliflower, and cooked carrots. Carlos poured red sauce and lime on his and chowed it down. I dabbed on a dot of green sauce and lime. Delicious. Once we finished the meal, Alyssa told me that everyone gets sick here in the beginning, and to let her know when that happens. I reflected on one of the first questions that Carlos asked me: do you have a strong stomach?
So now I am sitting in my hotel room waiting for my stomach to make a choice.
My first impression? The food is great. The people are kind. What little I have seen of the city is chaotic, loud, dirty and dingy. My challenge is to find the beauty in myself and the people here so that when I describe this place to you in December it will be beautiful.