Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gulf Coast II

After spending our day in Veracruz, we headed about 30 kilometers to the north to a beach frequented by Mexican families from other parts of the country. The most unusual features were the sand dunes, which Nicole, having gone and "read" a "book", knew were five kilometers away. Five kilometers, said I? No way. Five kilometers later, we arrived, a bit footsore but happy to be there.

There were pieces of sand dollar strewn up and down the beach. When I went to the beach as a child, I always used to wonder how one particular uncle always managed to find whole sand dollars. I had never in my life found one, but I found one this weekend. I think I discovered the trick to the process: just walk far enough that no one else has picked them up first. Having found it, I became curious about what the animals is like when alive. As it happens, when swimming later on, I stepped on one out in the ocean. I picked it up, and then, having pulled it out of the water, discovered it was brown and covered with little spines. Having found this, I quickly threw it back. It's a strange animal: it seems like the "dollar" must make up 95+% of the mass, with a very tiny fleshy part inside.

The other area attraction were the ruins of Cempoala, the center of a local empire that Cortes encountered when he landed in this area. The buildings here are relatively modest, but 500 years ago, they were apparently covered in plaster, and one of Cortes' footmen mistook them for silver. Today, they are surrounded by farmland, mostly sugarcane, and indeed some of the buildings are fenced off, inaccessible, in the middle of people's fields.


Nicole said...

I will maintain that I did actually read a real book ... and I don't know what those quotation marks are attempting to insinuate.

It was a wonderful trip. Thanks for taking me to the beach, honey.

P said...

They are trying to insinuate that I didn't believe you when you said that they were 5km away, not that you hadn't read it. Just such a sensible thing to do, you know. "Reading."

Mary said...

Thanks for always teaching me something while I read your blog. I had 2 6 year olds over today and we looked at my shell collection, among many other activities like bead stringing, a makeshift musical ensemble, tinker toys, lincoln logs, etc. But, as I was dusting off the sand dollars on my bathroom ledge, I was wondering what more about them. Thanks for explaining the spines, and including the link.
---Good for Nicole for calling you on the quotation marks. I also was trying to figure out their implications. Was it that since it was possibly a tour book, she didn't have to actually read the whole thing? I suspect you weren't really doubting Nicole, but were doubting the info in the book. Beware ambiguous quotations. ;-)

P said...

Duly chastened! Sometimes the humor in a sentence that would be clear in conversation doesn't come through in print. It's something I should think about more.