Friday, 8 March 2013

Trolley Bus? Trolebus? Tomayto, Tomahto.

What is this business about trolley busses and so forth?   Below the OROG finds a bit of an explanation.   As brief as El Gringo Viejo can make it.

Catedral de Tampico
also known as the Cathedral of the Diocese of Tampico.
 One can note the famous "piso de swastikas", which
long pre-dates the National Socialist movement
in Germany.  This emblem, known both in Europe
and pre-Colombian MesoAmerica is associated
with mystical concepts of cosmic harmony
and such things.  It was employed by
Christian denominations in medieval
Europe, among Buddhist monks
and their monasteries, and
even among the Southwest
Nations of Indians in
America, such as the
Zuni, Navajo,and
Pueblo nations.
Several hundred years ago, El Gringo Viejo was running very nice excursions into various destinations in Mexico.   Every area had its many strong points and various drawbacks.  It is a marvelous theatre for life, and it must be confessed that my experiences were essentially 99.9% positive and the rest, forgettable.  There were cutesy, quirky things that will remain with me through the rest of my shortening days.

Adolf Schicklegruber
Another in a long line of socialist
utopian engineers who passed for
"sane people" until the wheels fell
off the volks  wagen.
The rather elegant Palacio
Municipal de Tampco
Serves as the City/County
Administration and Judicial
     Among those things was an outdoor juice bar on the main plaza of Tampico....a tropically worn, heavily-trafficked cornucopia of sociology in the centre of a metroplex that now, with the cities of Tampico, Madero, and Altamira all being adjacent,  totals about 1,500,000 souls.   Back in the good old days, it was about two-thirds that number.   To be more precise, there were two juice bars; one on the northwest corner of the Plaza de Armas facing the huge, Greek Revival Palacio Municipal and Courts building to the west side and then the Catedral Metropolitana, a very nice church on the north angle.   The Cathedral was famous for having the "tiled swaztika floor", which always fascinated my tourists....but the floor had been lain even before Adolf Schicklegruber had been born.   So that gave people something to talk about during the very pleasant welcome cocktail and happy hour at the Hotel Inglaterra, also on the Plaza de Armas but on the opposite side.    We spent many marvelous evenings there talking to ships' captains from around the world, and enjoying really excellent seafood in various venues, both at the hotel and any number of restaurants of varying degrees of poshness, elegance, or basic functionality.

Gazebo of the Plaza de Armas
Tampico, Tamaulipas
     In any regard, El Gringo Viejo would try to go over to the juice bar...actually it was more like a sidewalk restaurant...after checking everyone in, moving luggage, sending the Touring Coach to the showers, arranging breakfast for the morning (always included), wake-up calls, and so forth.  Normally, the stay would be until the Touring Coach would come back, and park in the very front of the Hotel the space provided ....because the owner liked to have the fancy busses from our group especially...glistening clean and showing off that his establishment was the place of preference for the foreign visitors.   It really was a splendid place and time.
     The little, open air, but "entechado" (covered or roofed), place was always busy.  Young lovers, pretty girls, little old ladies, businessmen, school children and collegiates, harbour workers and oil refinery workers, and Gringoes, when visiting, would find comfort and good eats there.   One of the main things that the little place specialised in was the "trolebus, coktel de frutas"  or the "trolebus, coktel de mariscos".   The word "trolebus, of course, the equivalent of trolleybus.   As an edible it meant, that like the trolleybus, it came with a generous serving of everything.   So the trolebus de frutas would be a big scoop of vanilla ice cream (unless another flavour was specified), along with cantaloupe, grapes, dates, papaya, watermelon, freshly squeezed orange juice, strawberries, and anything else that might fit into a one-liter parfait glass.   The saucer under the glass would usually be mounted up with jicama slices (look like uncooked french fries), sprinkled with chile powder and/or paprika.  Jicama is a peculiar root plant that has bright white "meat" and tastes like a very, very mild radish.    For vegetablistic people it was a meal.   For carnivors it was a delightful way to start an evening of serious eating.

     The trolebus de mariscos was similar but different, of course.   It would have the little platter of jicama basing the parfait glass, but it would be filled with a tart catsup, lime, and cilantro sauce, and then filled with oysters, medium shrimp, crab, and at times anemone or whatever else wasn't moving anymore  in the kitchen....such as boiled perch filet.  These "cocktails" were actually very large meals, and for the equivalent of 2.00 USD, they were a bargain, even back then. 

Jicama, whole above, and
in "french fry" form below.
Normally eaten raw, but
can be used in salads, grilled
a bit with paprika, or in any
number ...scores....of excellent
deployments.  Use imagination!
      The show was everything, the meal was everything, the paper-boys with the afternoon edition, the shoeshine by the official "union label" shoeshiner (excellent, serious work), the the two obviously wealthy, well-presented older ladies coming by, and one of them leaving her purse with one of the several usual "shoe-shine men" with some instructions.  She took her wallet, leaving considerable values behind, and the shoeshine man stitched a repair where the shoulder strap has separated from the body of the purse, saddle-soaped, and then polished the Leon quality leather purse up to new lustre.   That was five pesos  (about $0.40 USD back then).  In short, everything was everything.   A pleasant unorganised jumble of free will, co-ordinating with itself....and making a bit of progress each day.

      There was also the "changing of the guard", so named because of the manner by which the traffick police and foot patrol police would deploy for the late afternoon rush-hour and evening downtown gathering.   They would march out in two by two columns, about 100 strong with ten or twelve buglers and drummers, very military, and the new shift would drop off, while the old shift would join the column, until after about 15 minutes all had been deployed and all had been relieved throughout about twelve square blocks.   It held up traffick a bit, but no one ever seemed to mind.

     Ooops...there are some of my people;  I can see them getting off the elevator in the lobby.   They're coming down for the happy hour- welcome cocktail, I'd better get back to the lobby.
Thanks for listening to the explanation about Trolleybus = named because it is always overstuffed and has quite a bit of everything inside.
El Gringo Viejo