Aug 16, 2003, 6:12 AM
To me Xalapa (Jalapa) really sucks and I now have a problem with anyone that tries to persuade others to visit the place. I can't believe after 25 years of never visiting the place and not knowing one person that had I was lured to going there by an ex-pat American that is promoting the wretched place. Misery does like company.
When visiting Veracruz remember that it doesn't get cranking until after 10 PM and "Güero" is the word for white people. The aquarium is a bust and only will get you mad at the Mexican attitude toward creatures without souls.
North of Veracruz is the city of Villa Rica (The first city named Vera Cruz), just past the nuclear plant. It is where Cortez started his incursion into Mexico. If you can’t get a room at the local B&B the next town north has hotels. Across the highway from Villa Rica are the most fascinating ruins I have ever visited. Quiahuitzlan “The place where it always rains” was a Totonac burial ground made up of crypts laid out to form a miniature Zempoala, the Totonac capital. It is at the base of a basalt column where the lines that are formed by the backdrop resemble a rainstorm.
On your way back, just before the tollbooth north of Veracruz, two Km west, is the village of La Antigua (The second city named Vera Cruz). It was the hometown of Cortez when he lived there. The ruin of his house still stands. The people live in some kind of dream like state there and the pace is slower than anywhere I have ever visited.
To the south of Veracruz, on your way to Catemaco, just past Alvarado, 15 km west, is the city of Tlacotalpan. The most beautiful place in Mexico that is not in the mountains I have visited. After seeing all the trash strewn roads and villages, it is nice to go where littering is a major offense. The streets are wide, clean, well maintained, and the buildings are as colorful as those in Guanajuato. This town is used as a filming location for the Mexican soap operas because of its beauty and the reputation it has for being the place to take your mistress to for a getaway. It is also the place in Mexico where they run the bulls once a year like in Pamplona Spain.
Stop and visit Santiago Tuxtla, 20 km before Catemaco, and visit their small museum. This colonial city is quite unique for the region and you may find the stares from the indigenous residents a bit intense but worth the experience.
Catemaco is a place to relax and the center of one of the most bio-diverse places in the world, but the locals are really low class, rude, noisy, and incredibly lazy. Ignore all the many street hustlers. Visit Nancyaga, a private nature reserve, where you can see how it was before the cattlemen of Mexico raped the rain forest. You can visit it without going on one of those boats that take you there via the island of the monkeys. They are typical of the Mexican tradition of making a disgrace a tourist attraction (like the mummies of Guanajuato). They were abandon there by a movie company and are Asian types and quite obese from the boat operators throwing food to them to show their passengers. Take a colectivo, know as a pirata to Nancyaga.
The other fabulous things to visit are on the road to Monte Pio and the piratas will take you there. If you like isolation and rustic nature, this is the place. See the following for more info: http://www.mexconnected.com/mex_/travel/wdevlin/wdlakecatemacoveracruz.html
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
(This post was edited by Guapo Gabacho on Aug 16, 2003, 6:19 AM)