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Journal - 17-Mar-2001, Saturday, Comalcalco, Paraíso, Tabasco, Mexico
(Trip: Ruta Maya, Southeast Mexico)

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Click for larger image! Chocolate Wolter. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,tabasco,comalcalco,paraiso,beach,playa,villahermosa,sand,sea,gulf,oil
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Click for larger image! Cacao - mother of chocolate. Keywords: backpack,Mexico,travel,overland,camping,camp,bus,autobus,tabasco,comalcalco,paraiso,beach,playa,villahermosa,sand,sea,gulf,oil
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Chocolate Wolter
Cacao - mother of chocolate
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We wake just before dawn to the pleasant sound of tropical birdsong. By around 07:30, the birdsong has been replaced by loud music, and we decide to get up. The mosquito net appears to have done its job.

Bags are packed and left in the room as we walk off to the cacao farm. The 'farm' is a white house with about a hectare of cacao trees. The owners greet us at the door. There is no tour today but they invite us to look around. Although not in season, there are a number of trees with the large cacao pods hanging from them, and we wander around.

Returning to the house, the owner shows us around the processing area - one room to grind the beans and another to pack them. The family is obviously of relatively recent European descent. Both mother and daughter have blue-green eyes, and 'Wolter' is not your average Mexican name.

For breakfast we try to buy milk for our cornflakes. It seems that fresh milk is simply not sold in Comalcalco (even in the large super market) - in fact we get strange looks when we ask for it! So we settle for Hershey's chocolate milk.

After checking out, we catch a bus to a nearby beach, Paraíso (paradise), 20 minutes north. Unfortunately the beach isn't that nice - a place where nearby city-dwellers go to sun and swim. And drink. And eat. And leave garbage on the beach.

Monica goes for a swim while I watch our stuff. When she returns we order a sea-food lunch. A couple of local men in the next table start talking to us. By the end of our meal they insist on taking us back to the town center (a $5 taxi ride away) to catch our bus.

As we pile into the back of a VW beetle (the old style), I wonder if we're being wise. My uneasiness is hardly helped by the 'DIY' tinted windows and stereo that is played at ear throbbing volume! It turns out that my fears are completely unfounded and, after a quick tour of the local oil port (the main source of income in the state), we are dropped off safely with addresses exchanged.

We're not sure where to go next. The eco-tourism park 'Agua Selva' sounds interesting but we haven't been able to find out the slightest bit of information. The bus from Paraíso to Villahermosa, passes the 'crossroads' town of Cárdenas. From there we'll make a final decision about where to go next.

The sunset as we head out of Paraíso is beautiful - a bright, pastel orange disc, pasted against a neutral colored sky, partially obscured by palm tree silhouettes. Unfortunately a moving bus is not the best platform for taking artistic photographs.

Somehow, as night falls, we feel less optimistic about Agua Selva, and decide to head on to Palenque, a Mayan site, in the morning. In light of this new plan, we stay on the bus all the way back to Villahermosa.

At Villahermosa we make the trek to the city center on foot once again; saving a long wait for a $1.50 taxi ride (and, more importantly, burning a few excess calories).

We check into a $13 hotel. The room is at the back of the building and nary a sound can be heard - peace at last! The bed has the consistency of a sponge cake - lying down it feels a bit like a hammock, with the sides rising way above the center. It will do.

Despite rigging up the mosquito net, I receive a painful bite that wakes me up in the night. The mosquitoes here are pretty determined; despite taking precautions like using insect repellent, and the net, we've still managed to receive almost a dozen bites each - some of them visible from space.

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Cuba - Rotorua, New Zealand - Christ Church, Dublin - Monument Valley, Arizona - Monte Albán, Oaxaca, Mexico - Staffa, Scotland - Huamantla, Tlaxcala, Mexico - Costa Rica - Tule Tree, Oaxaca, Mexico - Fiesta, Mexico City - Making Lacquer, Olinalá, Mexico - Talavera Ceramics, Puebla, Mexico - Mata Ortiz Pottery, Mexico - Lebanon
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