Mexico City to Veracruz - Road Trip
This is a GREAT drive! I would highly recommend renting a vehicle and driving if you feel comfortable in foreign countries. We rented a suburban and took the autopista (toll road) via Puebla and Orizaba to Veracruz. It was about 6 hrs, and a beautiful drive through the mountains once you get past Puebla. The toll roads are in good condition and I wouldn't have any hesitation doing this drive DURING THE DAY even for two women. The goats, horses, and cows tied to the side of the road, the people occasionally darting across it, and the very slow moving vehicles in the right lane...all part of the atmosphere. These are curvy mountain roads past Puebla, so be sure to be well rested and at your best (don't drink and drive!) The roads are good and it's easy to get a sense of security, but keep in mind that if one of those goats gets loose, a person darts across at the last minute, or the 20 mph vehicle in the right lane decides to move in front of you... you'll need to react quickly. It's not like driving in the US in that respect,, so watch your speed. But if you have a sense of adventure and want to really see the country, go for it! A fond memory of the drive back from Veracruz was stopping at this Pemex station and going into the restaurant / store next to it. They had traditional candy and it was all very rustic. I checked to see if they had coffee, and lo and behold there was a high end commercial expresso maker! I had one of the best capuccino's ever in this little place, where I'd never expect to find one.
"Line up the lamppost, lighter!"
Walking along the Malecon at night is so cool! Teens and families and lovers all come to hang out until late into the night, drinking sodas and enjoying the moon and the stars. It's still hot then, but more pleasant without the sunrays. Everybody is pretty quiet. It's the safest place to be, along the wide Promenade of the Boulevard, even alone at 1 a.m., there's always quiet activity, you're not alone!
"The beach from a palapa"
"Strong Northern Wind"
El Norte blew hard all day, it was even difficult to walk straight. The landlord told me that usually, after a day of this strong Northern wind, the temperature goes down dramatically. That'll be a first for me here! I look forward to tomorrow, 20 September :)
I tried to get the kid in red from the front but he was camera-shy and I'm shy of taking people's pics. Beautiful face he had!
This is on the Muelle (wharf?) beside the Merchant Marine School. The island in the background is where Cortés first landed, it's called Isla de los Sacrificios, because of the remains of human sacrifices that he found there.
Small inlet full of lanchas between the Muelle and the Escuela Nautica. I think the lancha owners can take you on a boat trip to Isla de los Sacrificios from here but not sure. I know for sure that the lanchas by the Aquarium nearby take passengers out to sea (and back.)
In the background, part of Boca del Río where all the luxury hotels and shopping malls are. Not seen here is the village of Boca, a very small and now poor pueblo of fishermen without any fishing to do. The waters are contaminated in the Port of Veracruz now and the fish have migrated south. The fish we eat here now is imported by the once famous Fish Market, from Tabasco.
"My palm tree"
I met this palm tree during my first visit to Veracruz last year. It's still reaching for the sky and I'm always amazed when I watch it sway. Today was a dark and windy day but I took the pic anyway. I'll get a better one sometime.
"Crosses, virgins and shells"
A typical stand by the Palapas restaurants along the Boulevard. Veracruz is not a place for local handicrafts but there's a lot of typical clothes, like beautiful shirts for men just like those in Cuba (guayabaras... something, I'll look it up). They have shallow front pockets that allow men to reach for some change without getting hotter than they already are. Temperatures here are killers, so is the humidity. Those beautiful shirts are pure white!
Handmade sombreros for men and women are sold by the Paseo del Malecon near the Port, in hundreds of souvenir stands. But I bought mine from an old man who made them all his life in his shop nearby. He's still there but his daughters run the shop now. I got my second one two weeks ago. It's great protection for head and eyes, with the sun always so strong here. The sombreros can be folded, they are supple and never fall apart.
This hotel is at the corner from my place, on the Boulevard (yes, this travelogue is devoted to the Boulevard.) It's attached to a larger one but I don't know the history of this, whether the two are linked or not. The large one has a huge bar above ground level, with windows on the Gulf. I walk by it every night and it's always filled with men and live Jarocha or Mariachi or Ranchera music. I'd like to go in but haven't worked up the nerve yet. And anyway, I'm almost home by then and usually totally beat.