October 24, 2009

Mining dejavu

Once again we are off to go traveling. On Tuesday we will drive to La Paz to catch the plane to Veracruz for the XXVIII International Mining Convention, a technical meeting of Mexico's mining elite and the only trade show covering Mexico's exploration and mining market (held every other year there). I have to start focusing on packing—ugh! Last time we went I took in a lot of the sights with some of the other wives while the men attended the convention. Evenings were spent out to dinner, or at a fun party sponsored by Caterpillar, or the last night a formal dinner with entertainment afterwards by a noted female singer whom the audience loved. I never found out her name but people were lined up all around taking her picture with their cell phones, or pulling flowers out of the the table arrangements to toss up on the stage or hand to her. She was a real honey, I think her clothes were painted on. The men all thought she was a winner. We were told variously by the Mexicans that she had been a stripper who performed at the racetrack, or that she was the up-and-coming new popstar, or that she was this or that. No one seemed to have the same story. Too bad she only sang cumbias, I hate cumbias. They have a pronounced annoying beat and if you've heard one you've heard them all; but probably they are the best music to strip to.

Veracruz has some interesting sights. During the day we drove to Antigua which was actually the original site of Veracruz, it is where Hernan Cortez landed and has a very interesting ruin of massive stone walls overgrown with strangler figs that was his first administration building. It is quite incredible and worthy of a James Bond movie. The pueblito itself is situated at the mouth of a deep river, with a bridge crossing to the other side. An open air market sells foodstuffs and shells. It is also the site of the oldest church in the Americas. The local Mexican families like to rent a boat, and row up the river with a picnic to be enjoyed on the beach.

In Veracruz proper we saw San Juan de Ulúa, the fortress/prison protecting Veracruz harbor established in 1519. You can take a tour; it’s pretty depressing to think of anyone being held prisoner in those horrid dungeons. This is the fortress with the alligators featured in Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (and that was supposedly set in Cartagena). Downtown by the zocalo is a fine old stone church with tiled dome, a nice leafy plaza lined with restaurants and bars for the evening’s entertainment provided by strolling musicians: mariachis, marimba bands, lone guitarists, and other combos all playing different songs simultaneously and creating a riot of music and good spirits. Veracruz was the home of Augustin Lara, the Cole Porter of Mexico, and his house can be toured. They also have a notable aquarium regarded as the finest in Latin America.

After the convention we are going to take a few days to see Puebla (noted for its fine food and mole sauces) and Cuernavaca before returning for a few days stay in La Paz so Esperando can go scuba diving. I wonder how much weight I will gain?

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