Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Visions from above

The Houston morning was crisp and clear and the sky was cloudless as I stepped out of the airport building for a smoke. Spring has certainly come to this part of America.

Although spring has also arrived in the Bluegrass, well sort of, the weather is not yet that warm. As a matter of fact, a few snow flurries were even predicted. Luckily they never came. Disgusting! I am tired of winter. And I am delighted that the earth is once again starting to tilt, moving the northern hemisphere closer to the sun. Not only is spring a renewing of nature, but is also such a lifting-of-the-spirits experience.

After lift off from Houston we flew my favorite route to Monterrey. Because I usually sit on the left-hand side of the airplane I could see the expanse of the Gulf of Mexico as we flew all along the coast line. We flew over several rivers that spill their brown silt into the Gulf, causing little brown “island” in the blue expanse. Over the lagoons that go on and on and near Corpus Christi we turn out over the Gulf proper.

Here and there oil platforms or some structures that look like oilrigs to me stand like solitary beacons in the vastness of the waters. We never drifted too far from land, but after about 20 minutes of flying we turned back over land again, heading for the border town of Nuevo Laredo. Here and there the beaches are narrow strips of white and brown sand and at other places they are wide strips between sea and lagoon.

Now the landscape changed. Neatly cultivated squares, circles, rectangular, and triangles, cross-crossed by many snaky rivers that curls and turn through the land, while arrow-straight roads separated the patterned farms of southern Texas. Near Nuevo Laredo we turned south and gradually the green earth turned to light-brown with dark grey patches as we entered deeper into Mexico’s rugged arid north. White dirt roads linked small communities every few miles. Soon a more mountainous terrain appeared in my airplane window. At one point I could clearly see where the folds and peaks of the mountain end or starts, depending how you look at it. Just like a land of a peninsula strutting into the sea, the mountain stood out, surrounded at its point by flat lands. As we got closer to Monterrey the high peaks of the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains appeared in the hazy sky. Hazy as always.

After a sharp turn from west to south-east we descended, lower and lower and I could see lazy cows grazing the land, a farmer plowing his land with a tractor, trucks moving earth and stone near a quarry, and a narrow dirty-red river that has gorged a deep trough through the dry land.

Touch down! The many peaks of the surrounding mountains flew pass in the distance as we taxied down the runway towards the airport buildings.

Another week of careful listening, translations, slowly learning of Spanish and hot weather is lying ahead. I don’t have any plans for cultural education this week except going to the “famous” El Gaucho Argentinean-style restaurant which is supposed to provide excellent service and grill the best steaks in Monterrey.

Pictures: Spring blossoms from my garden.

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