After a rough afternoon yesterday when my Spanish failed me at every corner and my indecisiveness had me changing plans throughout the day casuing me to circle back about 250 miles, only to end up staying in Aquismon (8 km away from where I camped the night before). Shacked up in a crappy hotel and feeling a bit weary I decided it was time to head south to Puebla and meet back up with Hiram.
My laundry wouldn’t be ready until noon so I knew it would be a late start and decided to skip Xilitla which was to be my original destination before ending back in Aquismon. The town calls itself the pearl of Huasteca and it’s mostly famous for the Jardin de Edward James. While I was curious, the garden of some eccentric rich guy seemed like something I could skip.
About twenty Km south I came across a town with lots of shacks roasting and selling coffee (smelled great). I stop at one and asked if it came from around these parts and was told yes, Xilitla. Cool, now that’s something I can sink my teeth into so it looks like I’m taking a detour to Xilitla after all. I searched for, talked to some locals, asked at the information booth, even got a name and directions of a coffee roasting plant near by but just like in Nayarit, I couldn’t find it. It did however take me right by the Jardin de Edward James and I figured I better pay a visit. WOW! I had no idea what to expect but this wasn’t just a garden, this was some crazy Escher like architecture that made Gaudi’s garden in Barcelona look tame. It wasn’t as preserved by that made it cooler as you could walk around everywhere and climb up these stairs to nowhere and go through the crazy tunnels and mazes all in a kind of jungle. You could spend days there getting lost; I only gave it an hour and barely scratched the surface. While it was clearly a tourist attraction, it felt more like a park than a museum. Really cool place.
As for the coffee bust, it was still a very interesting day for food. I’ve been seeing a lot of people walking up the hills with burlap or plastic sacs filled with grain, nuts or beans and looking very heavy. After hearing about the coffee, it made sense and I started paying more attention. Some coffee for sure, others we’re harvesting other beans, nuts, and a few things harder to identify while riding. Also the bananas for the most part have already been harvested but now the banana leaves are being harvested and sold for the tamales. Tamales are a huge part of the local cuisine of this region and are wrapped and cooked in banana leaves instead of cornhusks. They’re considered the primary specialty of the region and they also make them as giant tamales that served 100+ people.
In addition, lots of Nopale, corn, sugar cane fields, and orange groves. The market in Xilitla was also really colorful with lots of exotic, local vegetables. I tried to take some pics but it was mostly indigenous woman who don’t like their pictures taken selling the goods …and making the place so colorful with there stylish outfits. I even asked one just to take pictures of some beans/seeds from the flower I had in the Tamale at Teno’s. She wanted 20 pesos for one picture. It would have been cheaper to buy everything in the bucket as the price was 15 pesos a kilo.