Driving around in a self contained camper means we can stay just about anywhere that feels safe and we don't think we'll get kicked out of. Here in Mexico, that's a lot of places. But the internet being what it is, we end up spending a lot of time chasing pictures. We'll see a fellow traveler's blog or Instagram post and think, “Whoa, that place looks amazing! Where is that?”
We were chasing a picture of a shady riverside campground perfect for laying in a hammock, jumping in a swimming hole and, we thought, avoiding the craziness of Easter weekend. After the better part of a day driving, and a bit of backtracking, we ended up at a spot on the Rio Ayotac, somewhere in the middle of Puebla, Mexico. We're still not sure if this was the place we were looking for but, it was a beautiful spot by a river, so...
The place was nearly abandoned when we arrived late on Friday evening and we thought we had found the perfect place to wait out the Easter celebrations. Our hopes, however, were dashed Saturday morning as a trickle of people turned into a stream, turned into a river (yes, pun intended). For all we've talked about our cultures being more similar than you might think, in Mexico, they have a very different view on personal space than we have in the States. We were soon hemmed in by cars, one family even asking if they could tie off their tarp to Chris and Jenn's van. When in Rome...we decided to go with the flow and just enjoy the festivities. The family with the tarp even brought a plate of food over for us to share. It wasn't the peaceful riverside retreat we were looking for, but we were enjoying ourselves none the less.
That is until the backhoe showed up. Not only do they have a different view of personal space here in Mexico, they also don't see lack of enough decent swimming holes as an obstacle to having a good time.
We saw the backhoe digging a few hundred yards upstream and were a little confused. As it moved slowly towards us leaving large piles of sandy gravel on the river bank, the picture started to become clearer. When it pulled up just feet from our camper, and the nice lady who had brought us a plate of food came over to ask (very apologetically) if we wouldn't mind moving our stuff back from the river bank, we finally realized what was happening. If there's only a couple of natural swimming holes on a river, and hundreds of people wanting to swim, why not pay the guy with the backhoe to dig one for you right where you want? This was all well and good until the first bucketful of river bottom just “happened” to land right on top of our cook fire. As the pile grew and eventually threatened to knock down our awning, it started to feel like a poke in the eye.
In the end we figured that this community has been doing this for a long time, and they probably look forward to this weekend all year long. As welcoming as they had been, we were the outsiders parking in the prime riverside spot screwing up their good time, so we just had to laugh and say, “Ahhhh, Mexico.”