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Dengue woman, stay away from me

Ladies and gentlemen, a cautionary tale about proper trip planning, and one whose telling will get me in more strife than that in which I am already immersed for not informing certain folks adequately of my movements.

Villahermosa. Supposed to be pronounced 'vee-ja-her-mo-sa', it is always spat out as 'vee-a-mo-sa'. It means 'handsome town'. But it is not. But neither is it quite Viafea. Maybe it is better named Villanadaespecial or Viameh. Parts of it look like a reactor went off. Villaprypiat.

Villahermosa. Capital of Tabasco state. Crap, that's the edge of a malaria zone. And, like everywhere outside of the highlands, a dengue zone. Did I have mosquito repellant? Had I taken antimalarials for the one to two weeks before hand? I'm afraid not. Finding out I had a week of for Easter only a few days before, I more or less threw a dart at the map and headed off, and thus leaped from informed traveller to dumbarse tourist in one step. The repellent was easily found at a bus terminal en route, but antimalarials are more difficult, as the bulk of pharmacies in Villahermosa seem to be all about the natural remedies, as though I can drive off sweet and innocent parasite-carrying, diseased blood-thieves with lemon peel and happy thoughts. Villaestupida. Doctor Simi turned out to be the only carrier of chloroquine, and the package recommends dosage as advised by your doctor. I was the only doctor about, and not being that kind of doctor, my advice to myself was to follow the advice of Dr. Guidebook. So, I'll be on those pills for a month, make G and T my regular, and hope for the best.

The main drawcards of Villahermosa are north of the centre, and a brisk walk brought me to the cathedral. After the Mexican Revolution, the new PRI government was quite anti-church and Catholisicm was repressed (which is hard to believe today). Thus, this church was left in disrepair, and when my boss Peter visited in the 1980s there were houses built without break around the perimeter, with access only by kindly asking to cross someone's property, and only the steeples and spires were remaining. The nave and etcetera have since been rebuilt, and the houses removed (probably manditorily requisitioned from the nice people there) and the result is a church will a very large front yard, and an interesting interior blend of gothic stonework and art-deco-esque rendered concrete, pastels and all. It's the architectural style of dark ages brutality meeting that of crazy Southern Baptist. And, it saw it without risk to health.

Further north, one comes to a large and beautiful lake, its banks home to a mix of palm trees and other tropical vegetation. It is ringed by a path, separated from the water by a small retaining wall, and along one side I saw a five metre tall statue of a comely woman emerging naked from a tree stump. I may not know art but I know what I like. Well, maybe I do know art but I still like art of naked chicks most of all. The perfect angle to get a photo was hard to find, but I saw that, the water being low, I could jump down from the retaining wall and so I did. I went down to the waterline. I lingered down by the waterline, noticing an iguana lazing on the statue.

Returning to the path and walking further around, I saw from the corner of my eye something in the water. Something looking back at me. Something with reptilian eyes and many, many teeth. For you see, this lake, whose waterline I went down to, is home to a large number of Morelet's crocodiles. One might fittingly say teeming with them. Knowing it's not the one you see but the one you don't, I inquired of a vendor if these are large enough to eat, say, a six-foot pale-skin. He seemed to think not, but this species does grow to 3.5 metres. In my defense, one does not expect the main lake of a state capital to play host to dozens of left-over dinosaurs. Furthermore, it can't be overly hazardous: further around there is a bridge section that goes across the lake at water level, replete with basking crocodile and Mexicans coming close to take photos, and in one case stepping over the thing, and in another, parents coming up to within striking distance with a small child. Yeah, I'm not so sure that was safe, quality parenting.


This lunar cycle

April 2015
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