AN INNER JOURNEY
If you access Google Earth you can go to 21 56′ 40″ N Latitude 105 12′ 17″ W Longitude, you may not be impressed at all, it show you a small patch of greenery made out of deciduous forest along the bed of the San Pedro river that at this point runs parallel to the Carretera Panoamericana that skirts the Hill of Coamiles which rise like a landmark, sort of like the more famous Ayers Rock in the Australian Continent, in the middle of a flat plain with an elevation about 1225 feet. At the bottom of the hill the small town of Penitas, better known between the locals as El Crucero (Crossroads) an obligated stop for truck, and car drivers where they stop for fuel, a quick but usually delicious meal, and where you shop for dry bananas, and other delicacies of the region, like coconut with it’s refreshing and cool water ideal to placate the countless of thirsty travelers in a hot day, Penitas with an average temperature of 85F, and summer temperatures that can soar to close to 100F and high humidity, you are always ready for a cold coconut!
Travelers shopping at Penitas
With 50″ average annual rainfall specially in the summer season, it covers the hill and the surroundings with a display of Emerald green and the look of a sort of jungle forest, well at least during my infancy in the late fifties, and early sixties you could drive for twenty miles or more without a break in the forest, seeing a single house by the side of the road was the proverbial exemption to the rule… Today locals who have sprouted everywhere had cleared the land for small agrarian communities, and a patch of forest in the middle of cleared land for agriculture or farming it is a rarity, a thing of the past.
As a child we traveled frequently to the town of Santiago Ixcuintla my Father’s birthplace just a few more miles down the road where my Grandmother and my aunts resided for many years. The look of the hill represented several things on my mind, the near end of a tedious five hour trip, the thrill of getting a treat at Penitas, and above all to see the magical, beautiful view of a river in the middle of a jungle forest!
The view on top of Coamiles Hill
With the rains the river a small stream of water swelled in to the banks covering the surroundings and making the small stream in to a real river, with numerous white herons, green parrots, and all kind of exotic birds, and always the unlikely prospect of catching a sight of an alligator, during the long trip at certain time of the year you could see the forest covered with all kind of colors from the Amapa Trees, we crossed rivers, and creeks where sometimes we would stop and explore, one of my most happy memories was swimming in these rivers.
After an obligated stop at el Crucero as we drove our last miles to Santiago, and for the brief moment, in the small stretch where the road runs parallel, and about 60ft above the river before turning right, and away from the view of the river and it’s magical, natural beauty my eyes didn’t look at it, but drunk this wide river and the surrounding Tropical Paradise as far as the eye could see…