En mi Lindo Veracruz...

Trip Start Jun 26, 2004
Trip End Aug 08, 2004

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Monday, July 19, 2004

Hello All! We just left the state of Veracruz on the Mexican Gulf Coast. We spent two days in the city of Xalapa (sometimes spelled Jalapa) and little over two days in the port city of Veracruz (same name as the state).

Xalapa is a gem of a town surrounded by lush sub-tropical vegetation. It has the best climate of any city we've visited thus far. It's like the San Diego of the Mexican Gulf Coast, but with the mountain views of Santa Barbara and the scenic beauty of a tropical garden. Aside from being the capital of this state it's also the base for a range of outdoor activities such as white water rafting, rock climbing, hikes through mist enshrouded mountains, etc. It's also a coffee and tobacco growers (and afficionados) paradise. We unfortunately were not able to partake in any of the aforementioned activites (for a couple of reasons).

Still we were able to walk through several of the cities parks, visit a nearby Hacienda with its own lake (which Susie says a telenovela was recently filmed at - anyone heard of Mariana de la Noche?). We also visited the best archeological museum to date which focused on the main indigenous groups of the region/state. They had the coolest HUGE Olmec heads on display.

Our first night in Xalapa we broke down as our "ugly american" side took over and we ordered Domino's to our room!! I know...I should be ashamed to admit this, but it's the truth. The thing is it was late, we were tired after the 3 hour bus ride from Puebla, etc., you buying this? ; )

We finally decided to head to the port city of Veracruz. This is the main city on the Mexican Gulf Coast (of historical and cultural value) and the place where Hernan Cortes and his merry men began their assault into the Mexican heartland. During the Spanish Colonial era it was also the only port in Nueva España (Mexico) that was authorized to trade with the La Madre Patria (Spain) via Sevilla.

As soon as we got off the bus we knew we were in a steamy, hot port city. Since it is on the Gulf Coast, the beaches are nowhere near as nice as the Carribean or even the Pacific for that matter. Notwithstanding, they were much cleaner and attractive than any beaches I've seen in a large working port. Can you imagine any remotely attractive beach near the Port of Los Angeles of Long Beach? I didn't think so. The festive atmosphere and friendliness of the Jarochos (people from Veracruz) more than made up for the lack of scenic beauty. And just our luck, the weekend we are here happens to coincide with the annual Afro-Carribean festival! The city has by far the most domestic tourism I've seen thus far. It seems half the city is down from El D.F. for the weekend. This all contributes to the lively and festive atmospehre pervasive in the city. Along with the sweltering heat during the day!! We were melting anytime the sun came in contact with our weak little bodies.

They have the BEST coffee I've had in Mexico thus far and people (inlcuding yours truly) drink it reagrdless of the time of day and temperature outside (I even bought half a kilo of beans to grind and attempt to replicate at home). If ever in the city you HAVE to try the Lechero Cafe in the Gran Cafe de la Parroquia.

The first night we caught a couple performances including one in the main Zocalo by a local group of folklorick dance troups. The music, like most things from this region, are where you will find the strongest afro-carribean influence in Mexico. This might have something to do with all the black slaves that where brought here...Regardless of the reasons, the music is all the better for it as is the cuisine and overall "life is a carnival" atttitude of its people. The music is one of my favorites from all the regions in the country. Later that night and during the remaining nights we caught performances by several groups at the main concert area on the Malecon (boardwalk). This city rocks! Oh and they have the best ice cream ever! I think over the course of the weekend, I tried just about every flavor. I never did understand why as you walk by their shops they yell "güero" and "güera" in rapid succession. It literally means "blondie" which has no connection to the ice cream...those crazy Mexicans...go figure. ; )

We also found out that to get to our next destination, San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, we would have to take an overnight bus. I can only imagine how comfortable that will be. We are not looking fwd to that but we must move south...

BTW, the computer I am on right now is running Windows 2000 and unable to detect my digital cam, so pics for this entry will come at a later date.
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