Veracruz

by spaghettipirate

Tonight as I am writing this, there is a huge downpour coming down in Gutiérrez Zamora Veracruz even as the mosquitos are trying to eat me alive and it’s the sort of stick hot that leaves you feeling semi uncomfortable all through the evening. But I woúld’nt change it for anything. Except maybe the mosquitoes lets be honest here. The downpour just opened up like a knob on a faucet and I am endlessly fascinated by it because it stops just as suddenly as it started, and the roads look now more like small rivers.

But I am getting ahead of myself. 

Yes today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and maybe even the day after that if I can convince my aunt to stay a little longer we are in Veracruz and the surrounding áreas so that i can get the whole tour of the country. (well as much as time and money will allow anyways)

Lets start with yesterday then:

Did I write about Luchá’s birthday breakfast? I had some tortilla dish with chicken and smothered in green sauce – chilaquiles –  which was totally spicy in a nice way for breakfast because Lucha’s month of birthday has now finished. I much prefer green sauce generally to red sauce but the enchiladas in red sauce were another kind of good.

This is a joke about how for years her birthdate was written inccorectly on her birth certificate so now she gets a month of celebration. The usual crowd was there – or I should say the crowd that I have seen the most of – and Lucha tells me we will go visit Mexico City when her Nephew who is German comes into town this coming Monday.

So then yesterday we woke up early (early being the operative word here) where we again took the metro into the city proper so that I could visit the Templo Mayor. I had already once visited before, but this time I took better pictures – grown up pictures! – and actually read what is on the sign outside the displays. It was the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the monolith of coyolxautly (something like that) the legend that while I am not sure what part it plays is a huge stone tablet.

More interestingly tan the giant temple is that the church that is spitting distance from the site reclaimed much of the stone found at the site and that it was even built ontop of the site. The whole archaeological site is far bigger than the slice offered. Which is big enough in and of itself, for the giant temple – which was expanded 7 times, every 52 years (this collective fascination with the number 52 I don’t get but it amazes me) for over 200 years of history in one monument. I also learnt that yes, the frog was the rain bringer, so I am pleased at my free souvenier from Chichen.

Also Tláloc – who hello is the best god out there that I have learnt of – again this collective knowledge and worshipping of Tláloc and such archaeological marvels that are so similar in so many ways. So many more questions than answers. 

We ate molletes – the first of this trip – at VIPS, and I think my mother makes better ones, where the bread is more crunchy. Either way we were starved from walking around in the sun all day.

Then we high tailed it to the Sumaya Musuem, which is the second one in the city and free to all people regardless of the day of the week – usually the museums are only free on Sunday – which was built in large part by Carlos Slim’s daughter and even had some of her private collection of Rodin sculptures.

The museum is shaped like a wine cup is the closest comparison, spherical and splays outwards near the extremities and thins out in the middle. A really interesting and beautiful piece of architecture.

We arrived at 1600 thinking we would only have an hour to view the museum, but they didnt close until 1900, so we were able to see everything at our leisure and pleasure.

The museum has a little bit of everything, from Mexican artwork, to religious motifs, to impressionism, to an expose of Asia told through ivory – which the intricate carving of the ivory would blow your mind. My fvourite of course were the impressionist paintings, and the likes of Rodin, Pissaro, Monet, and even Van Gogh – although they were far from his best works. The Slim’s private collection of Rodin’s is also mind blowing as it took up the entire space of the 6th floor.

Also noteworthy was that there was a bronze casting of Michealangelo’s La Pieta – of which only 12 are in exsistence. It’s as close to the marble one as it can be, but it definitely is missing something.

Which now brings us to today: And our Veracruz trip.

Again we woke up “early” – in my defense I was ready to leave by 0800. But okay we had to pay the pone bill and charge the mobile minutes. And buy beer and water and chips for the road trip. (The beer was never opened)

So really by just after 1000 we were on the road and to face our 4 hour drive into Verazruz.

Which was fine until we got to the mountains. While the greenery is absolutely beautiful and lines all the highway with rich greens and lots of trees, it gets worse. Way way worse. In the lose your lunch sort of way that made me pale and closing my eyes wishing it were over.

You know those rickety mouintain roads that twist and turn and it’s one lane with a Cliff on one side of you that makes your heart drop into your stomach? That’s what about one hour of this trip was.

Not good. 0/10 do not reccomend, even if the view of the jungle and the mountains scraping against the clouds is a heaven and Paradise all of it’s own.

Im just glad that a) we got out of there alive b) drove in broad day light and no rain and c) I had nothing in my stomach to puke up. I hear there may be another way around this mountain pass and I will be the first to jump on it because once is enough for a lifetime, thank you.

But okay, finally after about another hour of passing cars against traffic to get around the bus and the truck piled high with miscellaneous objects, we arrived at the archeological site of Tajin.

These indians were not Maya and not Aztec – but were totonacos – and slaves/rules/subjected by the Aztecs. They were the ones who paired up with Cortez but the load of good that it did them in the end. Their language is also different because I can’t explain it unless you say it written but it’s alot more consonants laced together and more X’s I think than Nauhuatl which is the Aztec language.

What makes these ruins unique is that theyre niched! There are actual niches built into the pyramid – and yes we bought a guide book – that make it unique in mesoamerica. Also they had an understanding of concrete. The stone issue didnt bother me here as there was two rivers that provided the building materials for the pyramids.

What is interesting is that there are no reliefs of sculptures of their gods built into the pyramids nor are there any motifs of any sacred animals. They too had a preoccupation with the number 52 and you can see pyramids build upon pyramid because of the start and end of a new cycle.

The best part? Was that the people here had some love of the ball game – I think we saw no less than 4 courts there – and that there are carvings into the corners of the biggest field. Did you know it was the winner who was beheaded? To be the link to his family with the gods. Crazy times, man. and I think it explains the number of ball courts because if you lost in one, go the the next to play to win.

But ok this carving. There is a depiction of who they think is Tláloc holding a knife in one hand, and his penis in the other. and he is self-sacrificing some sort of semen or blood who knows as its gushing into the mouth of a fishheaded figure who is submereged into the water. It’s really grotesque and too much and non of the guides wanted to talk about it, talking instead about another slab and how they played ball with their hands here as well. I really want to know more about Tlaloc’s – ahem – gift. And why of all places there? Like wouldnt the hand suffice? Or the cheek?? And all the while Queztalquoatl is above the whole scene being like “whatzzzup?”

We ate mole in the museum’s cafetería and it was really good. Another plus? Was that there werent half as many crowds as it’s not advertized as much nor is it as much as a market place. It feels more real.

What really got my goat was the voladores de papantla. This is supossed to be a celebration of life and happiness right? But here comes this brute of a man with his hand extended basically demanding 20 pesos from each person who stood there more than 3 seconds looking at the men fly headfirst into the ground tied by their feet. And the manner in which he said it was just so self-righteous and downright rude.

It was like “pay me money because you are breathing my air, and I dont have another way to live” I have more colorful words on the matter – but if hes so desperate for money go peddle tin cups or dresses first, no? And what does your religious and spiritual celebration , what you should be doing for yourself have anything with earning money? Also try humbleness?

Otherwise – stick it in your ear.

Im miffed that my aunt forked over 40 pesos for basically nothing and for a rude idiot who absolutely did not in my opinión merit the money. There was a dwarf in the metro yesterday, no feet and only one hand politely begging/asking for some help yesterday, and I would sonner hand him 100 pesos because he really needs my help, or to a merchant who gave me a fair deal on an objet, than this self righteous jerk who stood there with his hand out for merely wanting to ~look.

It bothered me, even as the flying men were interesting to watch. They must have a hell of a bloodrush.

So we spur of the moment arrived after leaving Tajin to the house of my half-aunt, or something theyre all family, and we were invited to stay. I have a feeling my aunt wanted the place to stay for the night free of charge, but I can’t prove this of course. Dinah lives alone, so I think she’s glad for the company.

And if it weren’t for the humidity that brings out the mosquitos it might be perfect. The house is all open hallways and Windows and doors to the ourside and a huge garden with magnolias and all other sorts of trees I cannot name. It’s really nice and rustic and nothing like I have really spent time in.

Dinah is the daugther of Tina, who was the sister of Clara, who was the half-sister of my grandfather. If you can make heads of that kudos.

So we spent the evening having a frappe in a place where they all know Dinah by now and then we took the short drive to the beach – even as the sun was setting to see where where we will be spending tomorrow.  

Tecolutla is the name of the place – and I cannot wait to tell you more about it tomorrow.

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