We got off the bus in Papantla, the town near the El Tajin ruins, at 1am. I think we were expecting to alight at the base of the pyramids, so we were a bit stuck on a place to camp when we realized we were in the middle of a small (modern day) city. Off in the distance, perhaps like a beacon of hope, was the Iglesia. We we wandered towards it through the maze of streets, and climbing the hill we reached the main plaza at its gates. Compermiso señor, my friend asked a passerby, do you know of a place we could camp? He replied that we mights as well set up in plaza, so we got to work pitching our tent on a patch of grass in the square's garden. It was certainly a comical picture. We slept soundly that night beneath the gaze of town drunks, and were awoken by the gardeners around 8am.
We packed up, snooped around the market for some breakfast, and were soon on our way to the ruins. It was a beautiful site. We spent most of the day there, watching the Danza de los voladores, exploring the pyramids, and napping in the shade. The most famous building of all is one with 365 niches, one for each day of the year.
Around 3pm we headed back into town to catch our bus to Nautla and the beach house. Well, the bus didn't exactly go to Nautla, but it went somewhere near there, and then you can transfer. By now I was used to this kind of route.
We ended up getting off at another windy, cold beach town. I ate a cheap fish plate while my friend scouted out the beach. After about a half an hour, as the sun neared the horizon, I was ready to get on our way again. Of course, the bus to Nautla didn't pass through here, so we had to retrace our route back to a town we had passed through earlier, and wait again at a miserable little bus station. At last, around 6pm, the Nautla bus arrived and we jumped on, afraid it would leave the station without us. I am pretty sure this is were I lost my camera, so sorry, no personal pics.
We arrived in Nautla as the sun set, and it seemed that tomorrow might be a little warmer. At least that's what we told ourselves. We waited for the friend of a friend whose friend owned the beach house--the beach house owner himself had yet to arrive--and watched the bus station children, who waited in the empty seats of the small terminal for new buses to arrive, selling their wares to the passengers.
After 20 minutes our friend arrived, and I soon understood the logic of our two-day detour throughout the region. Even if we had arrived as planned, our friend hadn't gotten into town until this morning--we would have been stuck anyway without a house. I was slowly easing in to the Mexican way of doing things. It wasn't even until the end of our trip that we would find out the real owner of the house would never arrive. But nevertheless, our new friend had a key--or at least new the neighbors who had one--and so we headed on our way. To get there we had to take yet another bus (despite the remote location of the town of Nautla the beach was even farther--not located in a town but by a lagoon off the highway).
By nightfall, however, we had finally arrived in La vigueta. The house lay on a bed of sand and weeds with palm trees, and making our way across the unkept yard we were on a sandy beach. After a night time swim we laid out a blanket and the five of us gazed up at the full moon. Tomorrow was totally free, and we were sure there would be sun.