The first stop on our whirlwind blitz through Mexico was Achotal, Veracruz--home of Octaviano Saure, Mario's 102-year-old grandfather (plus various aunts and uncles). This town is so tiny that it's not on the map. But for reference's sake, it's roughly an hour west of Coatzacoalcos, on the southern "tip" of the Gulf of Mexico.
The first thing that I noticed about this town that sets itself apart from other towns in Mexico is that all the houses have porches--a feature that is missing from most Mexican houses. But, due to the heat, thank goodness these porches exist. All we did for the two days we were in Achotal was porch-sit. And really, it was great.
For years, I've been told about the river that runs near the house. Given the heat, I was nearly delirious for a chance to swim in it. However, when Mario and I went to investigate it, it had risen higher than Mario had ever seen it and swallowed up the beaches that we could use to safely enter it. Therefore, swimming was ruled a bad idea. Nuts.
I entertained myself with the flora and fauna. Chickens strolled freely through the yard (and streets), and iguanas hopped from tree to tree. Having never seen an iguana in its natural habitat before, I was fascinated (and took way too many pictures).
Mario's grandfather was a cattle rancher and Mario's cousin runs the ranch now. Mario's grandfather and his aunt Evelia live in the wood house that Mario's mom grew up in, while his uncle, cousin and family live next door. Although they've always done well financially, the house is as simple as can be--particularly recently, as the running water is temporarily out of order. (Causing Mario to once again grumble that the country is regressing, instead of progressing.) For me, the lack of running water reminded me of camping, so, needless to say, I loved it.
While their living condition is very, very simple, Mario's grandpa and aunt receive abundant help from their immediate relatives. (More than they feel necessary, I believe.) With exception of the running water problem (I don't know exactly why it was shut off or what it will take to get it back on), they lack for nothing. Would that I could say the same for so many other senior citizens here and everywhere.