Carnaval time in Veracruz

Trip Start Dec 20, 2009
Trip End Mar 27, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We found our hotel by chance (the GPS had never heard of the street it was on) but couldn't get to it because the street was closed. And so was the one that we could have used from the other direction.  Turns out they close some streets on Sundays for bicycles (note: I did not see one bicycle my whole time in Veracruz!)  So we went to the beach to come back later.

By the time we got back to our hotel, the hoards of bicycles must have come and gone, because the street was open again.  Our hotel is directly on the Zocalo (main square) and has a rooftop terrace which looks directly down onto it.  We could watch all the Carnaval preparations going up.  Veracruz has the world’s largest temporary stadium for its Carnaval.

All the waiters treat you as though, not only have they been expecting you, but they have your table waiting.  We had dinner in the Zocalo while the Marimba bands played – very Veracruz.  We would have loved to have tipped them but we had no cambio (change).  One of the strangest things we have discovered about Mexico is, they like their exact change – nobody has cambio.  So despite everybody paying with exact change, they don’t have change!.. except the banks and toll booths.  We found ourselves on a Sunday with only the large bills dispensed by the ATM.  Another strange thing we discovered, but so far, only in Veracruz, is that the peddlers and even beggars are allowed to approach you right at your table.  While we waited for our food, we were offered: clothes, blankets, toys, watches, sunglasses, bread, baked goods, nuts, candy, flowers, and I forget what else.  It was a steady stream and nobody was discouraging it.

We visited the impressive Acuario (Aquarium).  Then we paid the equivalent of $9 (a lot of money) to go to a water park on the beach.  But it turns out their slide was not working and the pool was freezing.  So it was pretty much a bust except that it had great parking and our admission included washrooms and showers which you were allowed to use even if you’d been to the beach.  So we went to the beach, where the kids built sandcastles and played in the waves… again.  Then the cute lifeguard came over to ask us if our kids wanted to practice their surfing.  At least, that’s what we think he asked us; he only spoke Spanish.  And that is how it came to be the kids got spontaneous surfing lessons – in Spanish – on a Monday afternoon in Veracruz.

The next day was laundry day.  What this meant was driving around looking for a lavanderia that would get our stuff back to us in time for us to watch the Children’s Parade (which officially starts Carnaval).  It was beginning to look desperate when Adam spotted one.  Jeff went in and negotiated an ’urgente’ service under the name: Jaff Gringo.

The Children’s Parade (which I mistakenly thought was FOR children) is actually ALL the kindergarten children of Veracruz on parade with their class.  The parents follow along the sides and all the rest of the citizens wait for the candy that is thrown.  It is for this reason that our kids’ attention was held for the entire parade.

That night is was time to kick start the party with the Burning of Bad Humor which took place in the Zocalo.   The Bad Humor in this case was a paper mache monster (in South America, they use dummies of local politicians.) We had a perfect view from our rooftop terrace (6th FLOOR) where, with all sorts of room, we could wrap in blankets and keep cozy in the gusty wind.  And we were even spared the blistering  heat and flying/burning debris that was thrown around by the wind.  I’m pretty sure no one was actually hurt but I was glad to be where I was all the same.
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Heidi on

Jaff Gringo... I love it!

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