Yum, snails!

Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Friday, December 15, 2006

We left the small, laid back beach town of Anton Lizardo and headed for Lake Catemaco, one of the "ecotourist" spots in Mexico near the San Martin volcano.  Lake Catemaco is a beautiful lake, one of the largest bodies of water in Mexico.  Since we had such a good experience camping in Anton Lizardo we decided to check out the local camp site in Catemaco.  After getting lost on the way in, we paid a kid on a moped to lead us to the campsite.  It is run by an American guy and his Mexican wife, so Paul finally got a chance to do all the talking!  The camp site was great, actually had a pool, nice showers and a big patio area.  We took off into town wondering what this center of ecotourism and the home of the country´s annual witch (brujos) convention would bring us.  Supposedly it is the center of natural healing and other interesting powers.  We thought we would start our healing with a beer at the lake.
We went to Oja´s a great place with seats right on the lake.  We had a little bit of trouble deciphering the menu, so we called the waiter over.  We asked him specifically about the tegogolos to which he answered, "Un momento..."  We thought he was going to bring someone over who could explain the menu a bit for us...but instead he showed up with this very nice plate of what looked like clams in a freshly made pico de gallo.  My mouth started watering...since the night before we were talking about making some pasta with clam sauce, but we couldn´t find any clams.  Before digging in, I decided to look up the word tegogolos and discovered that it is actually a local specialty...snails.  Having tried escargot once before, and not really liking it too much, I hesitated before digging into our little antojito.  However...when in Rome...so I slapped some on a cracker and shoved it in my mouth before I had a chance to change my mind (...and I´m the adventurous eater!)  I have to say, it wasn´t bad.  I did not, however, like the texture and decided the first taste would be my last.  Paul, being a trooper, gave them a go as well - and agreed that the taste was not bad, but the texture was a bit...disconcerting.  So, in an effort to not offend the restaurant staff I did my best to slowly chuck the rest of the snails in the lake when nobody was looking.  (Good bait for the crocodiles and turtles...) I did not want to look like we did not appreciate the local specialty!   We washed it all down with a number of cervezas and headed back to the camp site.  (Note: While eating snails may not be a pleasant story, we got no response when we talked about eating grasshoppers in Monterrey.  I have to say, I thought those were delicious!  Seriously!)
Lake Catemaco has a number of locals ready (and asking you about every three minutes) to take you on a boat ride around the lake.  We found one the second day we were there and took off.  It was a great day, and we stopped on the far end of the lake and got off in what is the most northern rain forest in the world (the "Nanciyaga Ecological Park"), a small, beautiful jungle area with a ready made tour.  I have to admit, the tour was a bit hokey.  We went by a number of Olmec (prehispanic culture) remains, all of which were replicas.  I got a facial with the mud that is from the island, along with the natural mineral water, which we both tried.  Apparently, they filmed some Sean Connery film here (the Medicine Man).  Yet again, there was Hollywood hype.  We also got to see a few crocodiles, some turtles, and saw our first hint of local coffee beans.  It was a good day, followed by a pleasant night at the camp sites.  (The camp site, by the way, included fire flys in the evening and a chorus of animals to wake up to in the morning, including I don´t know how many different bird species, goats, donkeys, roosters and dogs.  I wasn´t sure if I was camping or an some random farm.)  We left Lake Catemaco and headed for Villahermosa.
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