Last Tuesday night at nearly 11 p.m. we received a call from Samuel that Aurora’s father Ruben passed away. The news was not unexpected, but such tidings are never received without sadness. Death never becomes normal, nor should it. The family would be leaving at 5 a.m. the next morning for Veracruz. I was invited. Samuel and Aurora are good friends. In spite of the knowledge that my next two days would be very different that what I had planned, I called Ismael and asked to borrow the Astro Van. Don Ruben was a good man. He reminded me a lot of my grandfather, Warren. Simple, down-to-earth, generous, with a fine sense of humor. It would be an honor to be present at his final goodbye, to sing and maybe even preach.
At 5 a.m. I was pulling up to the Valtierra’s house. What I didn’t know at 11 p.m. on Tuesday is that my night would be nearly sleepless, and that when I finally crawled out of bed at 4 a.m., I would need to bow to the porcelain god repeatedly. Tina brought us some really good chocolate covered egg candy, as well as some Cheez-its, and apparently my stomach didn’t appreciate the combination! After hurling in the early morning (rhymes nicely, doesn’t it), to say I felt weak would be an understatement! I decided to curl up on one of the van seats when the rest of the group ate breakfast near the Necaxa dam, past Tulancingo.
The total trip was about 200 miles, which took nearly 6 hours to drive. A significant portion of the trip winded up and down the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains before descending down to the Gulf Coastal Plain. Driving anywhere in Mexico is challenging. If you don’t believe me, look up a topographical map of this country. Up and down. Up and down. In the process we were also descending over 7200 feet, off of the central plateau the whole way to sea level. During our trip, the temperature and humidity climbed considerably. By the time we arrived in Tuxpan, Veracruz, it was downright unbearable.
Our last natural obstacle before arriving at the small town of Alamo is the Pantepec River. I was pleasantly surprised to see that much of the road had been paved, but still no bridge. A ferry, called a “balsa” in Spanish, transports up to eight vehicles across the expanse quickly and for a modest ($3) fee.
Alamo is a unique town, with two fairly large evangelical churches, and a tiny Catholic representation. Usually in Mexic that is exactly reversed. But the gospel had taken hold of this community, and not let go. The Guitian Marín family had quite a lot to do with that, giving faithful testimony of their Lord for decades. I was impressed with the fact that Ruben´s home, his church, his kids’ elementary and jr. high schools and the cemetery all were within perhaps a mile and a half of each other.
So much more to say about life in Mexico´s small towns. Check back tomorrow.
Part 2, click HERE.