Table of Contents

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p. xi

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Preface

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pp. xiii-xiv

In January of 2003, I traveled for the first time to the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico. The blue waters, tropical forests, and rugged mountains overlooking the sea were as beautiful as any coastal landscape I had ever encountered. yet I had never seen a single photograph nor heard anyone describe this part of the Mexican coast. A few...

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PART 1. Sabine Pass to Galveston Bay

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pp. 1-41

IT’S EARLY IN THE MORNING, the middle of May, and rain showers are starting to fall from a bright sky of broken clouds. I am driving north in heavy traffic, inching along the freeway that skirts the western side of downtown Houston. To my right, sunlight flashes between the buildings of the city skyline. Plumes...

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PART 2. Galveston to Port Lavaca

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pp. 43-92

THE DECK of our six-hundred-ton ferry, the Gibb Gilchrist, is packed to the gills with a full load of cars, trucks, and mobile homes as it steams across Galveston Bay. Overhead, hundreds of noisy gulls soar, angle, and dive for the breadcrumbs and other tidbits tossed into the air by passengers. A crowd has gathered on the bow of the big ship to watch the school of dolphins that is swimming in front of us, leading our vessel through the choppy...

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PART 3. Indianola to Boca Chica

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pp. 93-147

TWELVE MILES SOUTH of Port Lavaca, a small sign on the side of highway 316 points the way to Indianola. The narrow road winds for several miles through grassy coastal plains before it arrives on the shore of Matagorda Bay. Then it turns south and parallels the beach, fifteen or twenty yards away from the lapping waves. A string of relatively new, well-kept trailers and beach homes, set among swaying palms and pastel-colored oleanders, lines the right side of the...

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PART 4. Matamoros to Tampico

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pp. 149-197

THE THREE southbound lanes of U.S. highway 77 end abruptly in a row of tollbooths and a maze of chain link fences. A few hundred yards ahead, the shallow, murky waters of the Rio Grande flow through a landscape covered in tall grass and scattered trash. I pay the two dollar twenty-five cent toll and drive across the International Bridge into Mexico. I have driven in...

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PART 5. Tampico Alto to La Antigua

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pp. 199-245

THE NEXT MORNING I am on my way out of tampico,elegant casinos and the finest resorts of Cuernavaca. the Calderóns headed south toward Veracruz. From the top of the Puente tampico, the new, modern bridge that arches over the río Pánuco, I catch a brief, dramatic view down the river and out to sea. I even spot the , malecón, where I photographed yesterday, a man-made, stone peninsula jutting out into the Gulf. the view is so grand and so intriguing I decide to park and return to the top of the bridge...

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PART 6: Veracruz to Playa Escondida

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pp. 248-334

THE SUN IS RISING over the sand dunes that line the new autopista from La Antigua into Veracruz city, or Puerto Veracruz, as the locals call it. the dunes along the road- side are mostly covered in grass, providing fenced pasture- land for a succession of ranches. Cattle graze among bill- boards that tempt the traveler with images of city pleasures that lie ahead. My mouth waters at the sight of a juicy, full-color, twenty-foot cheeseburger planted in the sand.the entry into the city from the north is surprisingly quick and easy. the autopista, passing through a zone of commercial warehouses and truck dealerships, is reduced to a four-lane boulevard. the entry road to the Port...

Acknowledgments

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p. 335

Bibliography

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pp. 339-342

Index

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pp. 356-361