Send As SMS

We are beginning a new life in a very rural, mountainous, and little known area of Veracruz, Mexico. We are the only Norte Americanos in our beautiful little adopted town of Teocelo...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


You may recall a recent Arco de Flores blog and a picture of the remarkable clown figure who headed the procession through the streets of Teocelo...

Perhaps you wondered who might be the person behind that mask.

Well... yes, that is Mindy all right wearing the clown mask but I guess you probably won't swallow a lot of malarkey about the clown getting sick at the last minute and Mindy getting roped in to play the clown in the procession.

The real skinny: We went back the next day after the procession and took more pictures of the completed Arco. As I was sitting on a bench on the sidewalk across the street from the little chapel taking pictures, a big, burly fellow sat down beside me, said hello and introduced himself in pretty good English, and shook my hand vigorously. Mindy recognized his voice immediately as the clown who had hollered and bellowed for over two hours the day before. He in fact only lived four doors down and wanted us to come over and meet his family and have a coke and some sandwiches. Wow.

He shared much about himself and proudly showed us the clown mask which a friend had carved for him from one solid piece of wood and hand painted. A work of art we think.

While he told us his real name, he asked us to call him "Chido" as his friends do. Chido means "cool" in Spanish, and indeed our new friend was a very cool guy.

Chido's dad as it turns out lives in Los Angeles permanently, and Chido has a green card to work in the United States. When the budget sags at home he goes to L.A. for extended periods and makes good money as a house painter. He proudly showed us photographs of his work. He has five lovely children, three girls and two boys. His wife was very shy and came out usually only briefly into the living room to serve us food.

And so... the clown unmasked -- a mighty swell fellow named Chido.

- jim and mindy

Saturday, June 03, 2006


The road which takes us from Teocelo out to Rancho San Gabriel where we live in our travel trailer (caravana) is narrow and very winding and goes either very steeply uphill or very steeply downhill - nothing else. It is barely two lanes wide without any shoulder. Cliffs and gorges and dense dense trees and undergrowth (technically known as "cloud forest") practically swallow up the road and dwarf it to insignificance. While the road is "paved", the number of pot holes and bumps about equals the "smooth" parts. There are almost no places to pass but if you drive slow as we do you can count on many cars and busses giving it a go anyway. It is just three and half miles out to our place but it's an awesome three and a half miles and can only be described as one of the more spectacular stretches of road on our little planet through absolutely breathtaking landscape.

Yet, as we drive, we keep spotting tiny little single track roads going off into the forest from this "main" road which certainly by any standards would have to already be described as a "back road". We don't know what to call these roads, and they aren't on any maps we have been able to obtain. They beckon us on like the sirens of old, and it has been impossible for us not to turn off onto them to find out what world awaits us and who lives there.

The other day Mindy turned onto one such road which for once actually had a small sign at it's beginning. It read Xixtlan (not a Spanish name but Indian). Yes, we feel it safe for a woman to explore this land alone but that is the subject of another blog. The road was rough cobblestone, very narrow, and steep for awhile. Then an absolute treasure met her eye...

- click to enlarge -

There were no more than about 20 houses in the little community surrounding this exquisite little church. We later learned it is too small to be called a Colonia but rather a Rancharita. The chapel had its own beautiful Arco de Flores made to honor its patron saint, San Marcos.

- click to enlarge -

Mindy decided she wanted to go hiking from this point so she parked the truck at the church, donned her rucksack and signature white wester hat with a flower in it and headed out. As she walked down the street of this magical little place, she could see people peeking out from porches and from behind posts, trying to get a glimpse of what have much have seemed like an apparition, certainly nothing they had ever seen in their little town -- a gringa lady with lug soled boots, rucksack, and white hat hiking along by herself.

- click to enlarge -

From our personal standpoint, this place seems an idyllic and almost perfect place to live. The turkey was showing off for Mindy but by the time she dug the camera out of her pack, he decided she wasn't interested.

- click to enlarge -

She walked a couple of miles along a dirt road through pristine farm land.

- click to enlarge -

At one point she looked back and saw the church in the distance and realized the rugged and awesome setting of Xixlan.

- click to enlarge -

After awhile she was joined by an older man and a young fellow named Jose. Jose knew an amazing amount about the flora of the area, and Mindy was treated to an excellent lecture on the names of many of the trees and plants she did not know.

She was also being followed by others curious to meet the new stranger in their land.

- click to enlarge -

Oh, how we love these back roads. There will be more!

- jim and mindy