(Posted Jan 30, Piste)-->
It was only 94 miles to our next overnight stop. Tepetapan RV Park in Catemaco, which is located on the Isla Aguada (an island). We were still not very far into the trip and John had some bad luck. John “claims” that the sun blinded him momentarily and caused him not to see the humongous tope that he hit at 30 mph! Needless to say, it shook both him and his coach up pretty good. Most of his cabinets flew open and, as John described it, the contents just exploded from the cabinets. The lighting fixtures were jarred so badly that they fell from the ceilings. He managed to limp to the next Pemex station where the rest of us were waiting. Once again the Green Angels came to the rescue. I can’t say enough about them. They have been so helpful. They managed to locate a mechanic who came out and took a look at the coach. Both rear shocks were broken and the tow-bar for his jeep was bent. The mechanic said it would have to be taken to his shop. The way John described it; the shop left a lot to be desired. John had to back down a steep hill from the street and park the motorhome over a large hole in the ground. The mechanic waited in the hole so that he could stand under the motorhome while working. I suppose it was his version of a “grease pit”. After parking over the hole, John had to join him in the hole in order to identify some of the parts and their functions. After all, most Mexican mechanics have never worked on an RV. Eventually some shocks where found that fit and were installed. The ride-height was “sort of” adjusted and a friend of the mechanic straightened the tow-bar. This required John to remain overnight. The Green Angels stayed with him and they all managed to rejoin us at Isla Aguada before noon the next day.
The town of Catemaco is situated on Lake Catemaco in the state of Veracruz. The lake water is brackish, which may make it more of a lagoon than a lake. Whether a lake or a lagoon, however, it is a very picturesque body of water. There are small islands in it, virgin jungle along part of it with mountains in the background. The water wasn’t very pretty up close. It was a dirty-brownish color. Of course, the Suwannee River in Florida has water as black as the Ace of Spades but is not necessarily dirty. The color is from tannins that leach out of dead cypress trees. Maybe Lake Catemaco is brown from something dead in it!
We hired three boats with “Captains”, each boat about 24-feet long with an outboard motor. There were about ten or twelve plastic seats along each side with a walkway down the middle of the boat. There was also a canopy to help shield us from the sun. We were taken on a two-hour tour of what was probably a relatively small portion of the lake (I believe the “Captain” said there were 52 km of shoreline). We saw a lot of birds such as egrets, kingfishers, pelicans, large black birds, a funny-looking bird that walked around on the lily pads, and a hawk. We also cruised (do you really “cruise” in a rather small converted fishing boat?) along the shorelines of two small islands that were inhabited with two or three kinds of monkeys. On one of the islands the monkeys were all from Thailand and were left over from some kind of research we were told. I asked if the research had been conducted by a Dr. Moreau and was assured that this was not the case. We tossed bananas to them and they would gesticulate wildly in an effort to gain our attention in hopes that the next banana would be thrown their way.
Our boat was trailing behind the other two boats on the return leg and we were enjoying a beautiful sunset when all of a sudden the motor coughed a couple of times and died. The “Captain” picked up the gasoline tank, shook it, and shrugged his shoulders. This is Spanish for “we are up shit creek without a paddle.” At first I thought he was making a joke or planning on passing the tip jar to see how badly we wanted to return to the dock. By the time we realized that the man was not joking the other two boats were quite some distance from us. As luck would have it, Betty had a walkie-talkie with her and was able to contact Tom (Tail Gunner) on one of the other boats, which turned around and came to our rescue by towing us back to the dock.
Located right on the dock was a wonderful restaurant in which we had dinner and some good conversation. After dinner it was back to the RV park to prepare for the next day’s leg of the tour.