in Veracruz, everything is Jarocho and Jarocha. It's the culture of this port city and encompasses the mix of ethnic groups, the Caribbean feel, the customs, the cuisine, and more than anything, the music and dance. El son jarocho, el danzon jarocho.
There was a show in Teatro Reforma in Veracruz all day Sunday, a marathon to help victims of Hurricane Stan which affected a million and a half persons in the State of Veracruz. It started with the youngest jarocho dancers and it was a scream to see the seductive game being played by 8 year-olds! The little girls took their role as coquettes very seriously, but the funniest was to see the chiquitos stomping their feet around their partner, waving their handkerchief -- and obviously all at sea as to why the girls were shaking their shoulders at them!
Cempoala was the site of a great Totonac city. When the conquistadors arrived in 1519, there were about 30,000 inhabitants. Approximately 60 years later, there were 9 people left. The Spaniards brought many things to the New World which were unknown to the indigenous people... horses, firearms, war dogs, christianity (of a sort), and smallpox.
This site is especially interesting because the Spaniards stayed there for several weeks while planning the march towards Mexico city. It was here that Cortes worked out how to persuade the Totonacs to march with him..... promising to beat their enemies so that they would never have to pay tribute again.
There are detailed descriptions in the contemporary accounts of how the city looked when the Spaniards arrived. There are now between 10 and 20 excavated buildings, but there are at least 100 which have not been investigated. Originally, they were coated with a type of render made from all sorts of shells, sea shells, plus shells from the eggs of birds, crocodiles and even snakes, and the result was a kind of plaster that glistened in the sun. From the distance, the Spaniards thought the temples were made of solid silver.
There is a small round enclosure in which there is a curious acoustic effect (like in the dome of St. Paul's, London). If you stand in the centre and speak, your voice is echoed back to you from all sides simultaneously. In the photo, we see a small Mexican person, relaxing on the walls constructed by his ancestors.
To get there, take a bus from either Xalapa or Veracruz to the town of Cardel. Then ask for the bus which takes you to the ruins of Cempoala. It takes about 20 minutes from Cardel, and the bus drops you 100 metres from the entrance to the archaeological zone.
On Sundays, Mexicans get in free. I had to pay 40 pesos. We had lunch in the restaurant right at the entrance to the site and it was very nice.