Rio Actopan - El Descabezadero to Chicuasén

Trip Start Feb 05, 2010
Trip End Feb 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Pennycroft Pangbourne
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Mexico  , Veracruz-Llave,
Friday, February 12, 2010

This morning Rena and I got up a bit earlier to take a few pictures around town and shop before we had to leave Jalcomulco after breakfast. We took some pictures near the bridge, a few shots of locations around town and also the rides and games set up in the square for Valentine's Day. It seems like the Mexicans really get into Valentine's Day and have fairs, games and rides set up for the holiday on top of the usual candy and flowers that we do in the States.

We went into the shop next to Esprit to buy some baskets. I didn't get one on my last trip and really regretted it so I decided to get one this time. I found one I liked and bought it. Rena also bought a basket and a light. We returned to La Villa to pack our purchases before going to Esprit.

At 8:30 a.m. we had breakfast at Esprit. We had eggs and toast this morning with more burro tea because half the trip came down with montezuma and the chills overnight including me. It was unbelievable how many people got sick and even one of the instructors who rarely ever get sick because they are accustomed to the foreign bacteria from living there for months at a time.

After breakfast we finished packing and left Jalcomulco at 9:30 a.m. to make the 1.5 hour drive to the Rio Actopan. The day was overcast, slightly drizzly and much cooler. I was considering doing the run today but decided I would wait until we got there to make a final decision. We had the option of only running the waterfall and then hiking our kayaks back up to the top or doing the entire run.

When we got to the put in area it started to pour. I was feeling worse so I decided to sit this run out. Donna, Karen, Rena and Mil were also sitting out this run because of illness and injury. Marlo, Emily, Salli, Mary Frances, Joanne and Dawn decided to run the Actopan.We slept in the van at the take out by the restaurant while they did 1.5 hour run of the Actopan. Before their run the girls went into the Nace El Rio resort and saw exotic native plants and animals that are kept there. They ran from the put-in at El Descabezadero near the Nace El Rio ecological resort to the restaurant at Chicuasén, where we put in the other day. This section starts off with a 15-18 foot waterfall then takes off into class III-IV whitewater down river. The section is apparently very pretty with other waterfalls coming off cliffs and entering the river. I was disappointed to have missed it but knew I made the right decision. Dawn told me that she got sick while they were on the Actopan and had to pull over several times.They arrived at the take-out about 1:00 p.m. where lunch was set up at the restaurant. They served quesadillas, fruit, cookies, pasta salad and other dishes. I decided to try to eat a quesadilla since there wasn't any spicy sauce on it and I was hungry. It sat ok for the most part.
Once everyone was finished lunch we loaded into the vans and drove down to Palo Gacho where we stopped at the road-side fruit stand to purchase fruit. I decided to get some vanilla to take home since this area is known for vanilla production. I took some pictures of the exotic fruits. Once the kayak trailer was detached and left at the fruit stand we continued our one hour drive into Veracruz.Once we got away from Actopan the rain cleared up but the sky stayed overcast. The traffic in Veracruz was really bad because of Carnaval being in town. Tonight was the night that they crowned the Carnaval Queen and there were rides, game and stands set up all over the place.
We pulled into an underground parking lot and to my surprise we were staying in a different hotel. We were now in the Hotel Colonial which is in the zócalo. The hotel was really nice and their wi-fi connection was fantastic. The rooms were nice and spacious. We had about an hour and a half to rest up and get showered before we met for dinner.
We met in the lobby of the hotel at 6:00 p.m. and walked across the extremely crowded zócalo to the Gran Café del Portal. There were floats starting to go past the zócalo, dancers and street performers walking around and vendors everywhere selling all types of things. This was our last dinner together as a group before we had to depart for home tomorrow. I had chicken soup and french fries with a diet coke just to be kind to my upset stomach. The meal was good and we could hear musicians starting to tune up for the night's celebration. After dinner we returned to our hotel and went to Cailyn and Laura's room to watch our trip video. She did a fantastic job! All the fun, beauty and river carnage was caught on tape. Cailyn took orders for the dvd and photos and we settled our tabs with Esprit.
Once everyone was paid up we went out to the zócalo for drinks and to watch some of the spectacle. We ended up at La Tasca which is a bar that is connected to our hotel. We ordered margaritas and other drinks. We watched the locals dance and listened to the different strolling musicians. We bought carnaval masks and took pictures. We saw some fireworks and some of the floats go past. It was all quite interesting. We ordered another round of drinks and went to our hotel.Inside the hotel we went to the top floor and went outside to the balcony to watch them crown the Reina del Carnaval, the Carnaval Queen. And then the concert began. The guy's name was Emmanuel and apparently he is some famous romantic singer, he seemed very popular and all the locals were singing along with him. He reminded me of a flamboyant Mexican Tom Jones, and it surprised me that the young people there knew his music, I certainly don't know Tom Jones's music but I guess that's a cultural difference. Benjamin, Carlos and a few other guys from salsa night got a room at our hotel and joined us for Carnaval and provided us with entertainment, alcohol and information on what we were seeing. It was fascinating to watch so many locals in their own element celebrate Carnaval in their own way, it was also the bicentennial of Carnaval in Veracruz. It was a really fun night and a great way to close out our trip.
After a while we decided it was time for bed since we had to be up at 4:30 a.m. for our flight home. We went back to our room and changed and finished packing. The concert was still going on outside and made it hard to get any sleep in the 4.5 hours we had to do it. iPod saved the day again and I managed to get a little sleep.

Things Learned on Day 8:

1. Actopan:

2. Valentine's Day seems to be celebrated more in Mexico with games and local fairs.

3. Carnaval info:

4. Hotel Colonial has a great wi-fi connection.

5. Emmanuel:
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