About 30 years ago, Sam and I took a cruise through Mexico as if we were on a ship moving through foreign waters only we were traveling on land on a train. An unforgettable trip. To explain a little. A man in San Francisco loved railroad cars and since he had a lot of money he bought a railroad car like you would buy a pound of sugar. Finally his mother said, you now have at least 10 fabulous railroad cars and from now instead of buying railroad cars you have to earn money with the cars you now have. And so he arranged the trip to Mexico.
He hired a famous chef from San Francisco and had a crew of well-known train people and he had made arrangements with the Mexican government to cruise on their tracks. We had American locomotive until El Paso. We crossed the border and from then on we had to have a Mexican locomotive or simply get attached to trains running regularly.
The train went from El Paso to the million dollar beaches on the west coast of Mexico where we stopped for one night. Then we went to Mexico City and stopped and checked into hotels and the train waited for us at the station. Then we continued to the east coast --the Yuccan and the north coast Vera Cruz and eventually back across the border. But… what happened on this trip was truly excited.
We had to get off the main track whenever we were in competition with a local scheduled Mexican train and we often sat on a spur for hours and hours and hours. Early on, when we were sitting on a spur, I decided I would I would see what I could find as an adventure. I got my sketch pad, sat on the steps of the train and waited. All of a sudden, a boy about 10 appeared whistling on his through a forest and in my broken Spanish, I asked him if he would like a portrait of himself. When I was finished I tore off the sketch and handed it to him to give to his mother. In about 5 minutes he retuned with his mother, his brothers and about ten more buddies his age.
Before we left there was a sea of people waiting their turn. One of the waiters from the train was behind me and if anyone got out of line, he would say one word I didn't understand and everyone waited patiently. I'll always remember the sea of black eyes waiting and hoping to have their faces sketched before the train left.