Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tizimín, Yucatan Cowboy Meets Victoria, Texas Cowboy

Our week of company has come and gone and I will just say for now it was awesome. In retrospect, the week has become even more special to Terry and me as we have experienced the death of Terry's dad and the hospitalization of my mom. Having time with special friends is precious. I will post a chronological list of events with photos at a later date but there is a snapshot in my mind that I keep going over and over in my mind and that's what I'm writing about today. It was inconsequential in many respects but says so much when it comes to people and places. It epitomizes why we love our friends and why we love to travel. Here's the story -

Seis Slugs in Rio Lagartos
We all visited Rio Lagartos and actually ended up staying there for two nights. Last Friday morning (was it really only 4 days ago?) we got up and meandered to the bus station, passing the tortilleria where James bought a big stack of fresh tortillas for the bus trip. David ended up buying a mango at a fruit stand for the trip back to Merida. When we got to the bus station, it was closed. But, we knew the bus would come around about 9am. Having a few extra minutes, we headed towards the malecon and all sat down with our backpacks in tow to wait the 10 minutes or so to go back to the bus station.
James, Terry, Cindi, David, Me and Robin at the malecon prior to boarding the bus...and up walks Charli...
That's when "Charli" showed up. She spotted David's TAMU cap and knew we were from "home". She just didn't know how close to her home we were. It seems she was a Texas girl that had married and moved to Ct. to live out a life and have a career. Four years ago she and her husband threw in the proverbial towels and moved to Rio Lagartos where they had the distinction of being the only full-time Gringos. When she found out most of the gang were from Victoria, TX she mentioned we may know her relatives the Leitas. Anybody that has spent any time in Victoria knows the Leitas. Right, my friends from Victoria? Names were thrown around and some of her cousins were friends and acquaintances of the gang. It is a small world indeed. Any Gringo that can live in Rio Lagartos full-time for four years is a friend of mine. So, here's to you Charli. My new friend I will probably never see again that has made a life she loves in Rio Lagartos!

We headed to the bus just in  time to board it and just pay the bus driver directly. By the time we got to the main road back to Tizimín the bus was almost full. All the visitors' guides skip right over Tizimín and describe it as not having much for tourists to see or do...nothing more than a place to transfer to another bus and move on. I beg to differ with the guides. Tizimín is smack dab in the middle of cowboy ranching country. The terrain is rocky and the cattle are mostly rangy Brahmas. Kinda' like Charli, any cowboy that has what it takes to ranch this country is a friend of mine. Cowboys wear Wrangler's (btw, they are manufactured right here in the Yucatan these days!), western shirts with fancy yokes and snaps, western boots, and cowboy hats. Tizimín, to me, is like finding a little piece of Texas. When we were on our way to Rio Lagartos, I had struck up a conversation with a young, attractive  Mexican woman in the bus station. I commented on the pretty color of her lipstick. When her husband joined her, he was just as handsome as she was attractive. He was a Tizimín cowboy. By the time they left for their bus to Merida, we were comfortable enough to embrace each other followed by a "Vaya bien". I like that and I like cowboys.

Headed into Tizimín, we picked up a cowboy alongside the road. His profile struck me in a way that I was compelled to snap his picture. Not the end of the story.
Tizimin cowboy boarding the bus

James, one of the Seis Slugs , traveled with his handsome Resistol western hat on his head the entire trip. There was the Texas cowboy and the Tizimín cowboy on this bus, baby. We arrived in Tizimín and had time to go grab a bite to eat. Having no idea where we were going, we struck out to be stopped by a city policeman asking if he could help us. When Terry explained we were looking for a place to grab a comida, he lead us a couple blocks to the Mercado. We walked by the spices in bulk, shoe booths, flower stalls, slabs of beef and pork hanging by hooks and begging to be bought, chickens and turkeys still alive, vegetable stands, and Mexican embroidered shirts directly into the middle of the bustling market where there were tables in the lined with food stands all around the edge. We headed in several different directions to get tortas and queso empanadas. While sitting there looking around, up walks the cowboy from the bus. I have to admit I was scouting the whole market scene out by this time, and am re-telling second-hand from Terry. He became the interpreter in this exchange between two cowboys. The Tizimín cowboy said in English "Me like your hat. How much?" James, thinking he meant how much he paid for it told him how much he paid for it, but not saying dollars. It seems the Tizimín cowboy was asking how much James would take to part with the hat. He was pretty excited to think he could get the nice cowboy hat from the Texan at such a low price. This was a misinterpretation of pesos and USD. He thought James was giving him the price in pesos. James thought he was just wanting to know how much he had paid for his hat. Terry intervened to let James know he needed to tell him the hat wasn't for sale. It seems the Tizimín cowboy was looking for a nice western hat for his brother. The exchange ended on a positive note with laughs and hand-shaking. It was all very respectful and he told us we were welcome in Tizimín any time. Cowboys are pretty much the same whether from Tizimín or Texas! There was a table of four elderly gentlemen sitting at the table next to us. I saw them watching us and could tell they were curious about us. I had mentioned to David that disregarding the color of their skin, these four gentlemen sitting enjoying each other's company was a scene that could be observed anywhere. I couldn't stand it and I went over to the table and explained where we were from, where we were going, and that we like Tizimín. One of them proudly pointed up to his cap which had "King Ranch" embroidered across it. Yep, he was quite familiar with cowboys in Texas, South Texas and Corpus Christi. It was cool stuff. James ended up buying a nice leather belt from one of the vendors that us girls visited. When we pointed James out to him, he strolled over to James anxious to show him his leather western belts and anxious to make a sell. It paid off for him and James walked away with an awesome belt. One of the four gentlemen whispered to me and asked how much James had paid for the belt. When I told him, he approved. James, the cowboy, had made a fair deal. Again, mutual respect and admiration.
James making the deal on his leather belt

Leaving, we said Hasta Luego to several of the distinguished gentlemen that surrounded us here in cattle country. And just prior to leaving, who should walk in? Ramon, our boat captain from the day before boat outing we took in Rio Lagartos. Again, there were hugs and air kisses exchanged with Ramon. 
Pic of Terry and Capitan Ramon from the day before boat ride

We were starting to look like celebrities. But, unlike celebrities we walked back to the bus station and boarded a not-so-shiny Noreste bus bound for Merida - the cowboy and the other five Texans.   

More out-of-order antics to follow on our week of the Seis Slugs!

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