As we approached Concá, the mission church stood out against the skyline, tall steeple, a
tower and a half-dome vault. Sometimes I wonder what I said in Spanish and what I think
I had an hour to see the mission and eat breakfast. There was plenty of time; the town's
main eatery was a block from the church. I walked the eight blocks to the small restaurant
where a sign read, "Gloria's Restaurant Secretary of Tourism."
Gloria turned out to be a bouncy, four-feet eight-inch charmer and cook. I asked about the
Secretary part. She said, "That's for tourists, they come in for advice and find a place to
The tortilla man, with loud, amplified sound coming from his truck, parked in front
without turning off the truck's engine or sound system. Gloria and I were talking, but he
interrupted. “Business must be good,” I thought, “when they bring in tortillas by truck.” I
thanked her for breakfast and left to see the mission church.
The church was adorned with wonderful iconographic sculptures. I took photos but kept
an eye on the time. Then I walked quickly to the terminal. When I reached into my pocket
to pay for my ticket, I realized I had stiffed Gloria.
I imagined my bill taped to the cash register for all tourists to see, "This gringo left without
paying!" Luckily, a taxi was at hand. I had five minutes. I said to the clerk at the bus
counter, "Please don't let the bus leave without me." The taxi driver drove straight to Glor-
ia's. She was smiling. I paid for breakfast and rushed back.
The next two missions, Jalpan and Landa, were easy stops along the way. Tilaco and Tan-
coyol were somewhat remote but easy taxi rides. They were well worth the economical
The only mission of the five that had any activity was in Jalpan, a city rather than a moun-
tain village, and it was Father Serra's administrative center for the missions. In remote
Tilaco, a local taxi driver was playing chess with a friend in the back seat of the cab. While
I was chatting with them, two curious young girls came close. I took out my Polaroid,
snapped their photos and instantly presented them with a gift.
I was concerned after a final side trip to Tancoyol when the taxi driver left me on a barren
stretch of the main highway to catch the next bus, and a rainsquall arrived with raindrops