Veracruz and Beyond

by spaghettipirate

Have you ever been fully immersed under a 35 meter waterfall which is found in a grotto of more than 145 meters? No? Well pleased I am to say that I have not only done this once – but four times! Before we get to this part, let me backtrack the last few days.

But first let me say that this whole not having a computer situation really stinks, and while I have manged to get my aunt’s picapiedra computer behaving for the time being, suffice it to say that I would like my Lenovo back where it doesn’t take 20 minutes to load a web page. (Honestly, this computer I am on could do with a good reformatting).

Back to more interesting things, lest I forget to write them down and they fade from memory.

Last that we spoke I had just arrived in Veracruz and was sitting under a torrent of rain.

When I woke up the next morning, I was treated to a Veracruzian (with Cuban influence) style breakfast, and I even was able to get my smoothie in the morning. Enchiladas in Veracruz are not the same as enchiladas here in Mexico but they are very tasty nonetheless.

Instead f them being doubled overe and stuffed with chicken or cheese, these lay flat and are smothered in a tomato and onion sauce and topped with some queso fresco. Very tasty even if the tortrillas are a bit thicker than what I am accostmed to.

This is because they are made by hand and now with the awesome tortilla pressing machine that leaves the masa oh-so-very thin.

Then the fried bananas! And if there ever was a food of the gods, then this might be their dessert because wow. The banana is a special kind, and one that matures on the tree so the falvour burst on your tongue leaving you happy. I know I have had grilled bananas before, but not like this. If you ever find yourself in a tropical place with macho bananas see if they cant fry them up for you because it is a joy.

So leaving Dinah’s house feeling happy and fed, we went to Tecolutla which is about 15km from where we were staying.

The beach there is an entirely different animal. This is gulf water and if the Caribbean water is a turqouise blue like you’ve never seen, this water is a deep green when the sun comes out.

But more interestingly than that – is the sand. What you have a hard time believing and I would not beleive it myself had I not seen it with my very own eyes is the color of the sand.

For those that know of chocolate Abuelita – this is the color that I am referring to. To others, the color is a chocolate/black that also sparkles at time from the tiny bits of broken shell. Black/brown sand! And very fine too, or at least the beaches – on the Emerald Coast – that we visited. This makes the color of the water look somewhat dirty up close, but the water is as clean and clear as it is in Cancun.

What makes the ocean so very nice is that the water is warm and there are hardly any waves or currant to thrash you about in. Even my aunt came in for a good spell and she likened it to swimming in a pool.

She’s not too far off the mark.

So after our half day at the beach, we went in search of some ice for our ice box full of beers – which to date have not even one has been opened – and some lunch.

We headed into the downtown bit, and a man with a bicycle took us exactly where we needed to be, because after lunch we would go take a tour of the mangroves that line the shores of Tecolutla another fish filet (what can I say? I like them a lot) and another fish that had a stronger taste, but not unplesant. I still dream of that place in Playa del Carmen with their fish, and one day I will go back.

Then a man named Kuko took us out for a 1hr 45min tour of the mangrove swamp and where the river meets the ocean – much like in Xel Ha.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a mangrove swamp in the United States but this swamp is absolutely beautiful. (I feel that I have seen many magical and beautiful things). To make it better, indigenous people with their boats came up to us selling us Maracuya sorbet that I have no idea what it looks like but it was just right to wash down the filet.

I also held and took a picture of a crocodile that they had fished from the swamp, and his belly was soft and tail was muscular. Even my aunt took a picture with Peter, and we’re now all friends.

The mangrove roots soak up water and become swollen with water when the water is good, and what makes it more interesting is that there are roots that hang from the air, and they go about growing growing until even these roots that stem from the branches touch the water.

The mangroves grow so tightly together that they sometimes meet overhead and when we entered the Pirate’s cove of magroves, the noise of the chicharas was almost deafening. We also saw turtles and tiny “frog crabs” which if you’re not sure what they lok like look exactly like the bark of the tree. They’re so many of them that until the eye adjusts to them, you’d never look twice.

There was also a row of pelicans that were perched out in the middle of the water because their nest was destroyed when the river rose, and it’s funny to see all these birds perched lined up one next to the other, something straight out of a book as they watch the fishermen and tourboats go by.

By the time we were through with out tour the sun was already setting and we were off to the land where my grandfather was born – in Tlapacoyan – and if these names don’t make your head spin a litle, you’re doing far better than I am.

I only remember this one off the top of my head because there is a mexican dish that is called “tlacoyos” and somehow it makes sense in my head.

Well we lodged in a hotel room that had a bed that was worth it’s price – or about 250 mexican pesos – if I thought the beds in Cancun were bad, they were plush by comparison to this. But we were so tired, that we fell like chanos viejos and I was able to sleep through most of the night.

The problem began when I woke up. I had goten water in my ear the day before, and with the sun and heat and perhaps not getting rid of it quickly – or so the theory goes – I woke up with enflammed tonsils and an ache in my ear.

So the tour of Tlanepantla began in the morning going to no less than four different pharmacies trying to find some sort of medicine that would help me feel better. (In the end what I feel helped the most was the day’s adventures).

Yesterday was all about the rapids of Filobobos. While they say they can get must bigger and faster come September I have zero qualms about what we enjoyed yesterday.

Because we arrived to the sales place by 10.00 (which is some sort of miracle, I think) after a heavy lunch – I really only like my smoothie for breakfast and also not eggs – we opted to wait for the people to arrive because the trip down the rapids was too expensive for two people to take.

So we split the difference – my medicine having taken effect by this point – and took a “safari” style truck ride down to the launching point where there is the cascada de los encantos is and the start of the river rapids.

The two of us were paired with Santiago – or el tiburon – and he took us on a “level 1” intro into the 200m trip into the cave of the waterfall. Because the cliffs are so high, the water is icy at first to the touch but it didn’t much matter after what we were about to do.

Santiago took us not once, but twice into the mouth of the waterfall, and I have never been so doused in my life. My lips and fingers turned blue, but it was worth it for the pleasure of the water splashing you until you can’t see straight whooping in pure delight of the waterfall. I think Santiago was taken by how we wanted to go back in again to get soaked because it is realy just so much fun.

And we were lucky: by the time we got out, a family of four had shown up to take the rapids tour, and we were able to start the whole tour again, which meant another 2 times being doused under this huge and wonderful waterfall.

We were all handed paddles and helmets and lifejackets, and we worked as a team going downstream finding many rapids and getting soaked in the process. The drop of the water over the rocks and the ensring waves leaves everyone soaked, and it filled me up with childlike enthusiam and joy – again! again! – of the white water rafting.

There was a halfway point, where there was a 2.5m rock where we could jump off of, and I jumped twice off that rock – even my aunt did – for the thrill of it. I say after the Xel Ha cliff of courage, this one was easy. But every good turn deserves another, no?

There was mud pulled from the banks where the two rivers meet – and the best rapids are at – and we all plastered it on our faces and arms and legs because according to legend its good for the skin. So team “intrepidos” became team “mapaches“. We got into a water war with another boat going downstream, and there was a grotto, that had it not been for the newy born snakes hanging out in there, led to another cliff in which to jump.

A girl in our group did jump, and the guys whom we waged war with, all jumped in. I have a general aversion to snakes, so I contented myself with swimming nearby letting the current roll me about, even if getting there barefoot was difficult with al the rocks.

The tour concluded with all of us jumping out of the boat and letting the current take us near the end, the water shallow enough to allow you to stand if you wanted it. Getting back into the boat was a spectacle and a half because it looked like beached whales as we struggled against the cordon and being hauled up by our lifejackets. Swinging one leg over butts trailing in the water, one after another.

If you ever find yourself near Tlanepantla – go to the rapids.

We had dinne in Tlanepantla, and then before it would get too dark – see 17.00 – we started the trip back home.

This time the winding mountains were not nearly as bad – and I’m not sure if it was the medicine I took against the nausea or what – but I managed to snap a few stellar photos of the greenery and the mountains and fog.

The interesting moment happened when we got lost just as we were arriving into the eastenmost part of the city.

In a blink and you’ll miss it moment – and really there were no signs – we went left when we should have stayed right. And we exited into Ixtapalapa which is not the best neighborhood to be lost in when it’s getting dark – according to my aunt. But my tonsils had flared up and we had a full tank of gas so I wasn’t – or couldn’t be too fussed about it. My por aunt was super tense the entire time.

So we churned and churned in that part of town – asking about nine different people for help; but they all gave us good directions and eventually we found our way back to where we should have been. It did cost us about an hour of travel time however. I just say that I got to learn a new part of the city.

When we got home I had more of those horrible drops put in my ear and quartz ying yang placed on my tonsils. the quartz wasnt bad; the liquid was. I shudder because I am facing another round tonight. (send help)

Which finally brings us to today.

Today Lucha, Arturo, his grandson Pablo who is visiting here from Germany, Ale, Jorge, Pilar, and I all loaded up into a mini van and went to visit the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

These made the 5th areceological site I have been to, and I am not getting tired of them.

People think theyre Aztec, but the truth is that these pramids were built 200 b.c and the Aztec’s weren’t around until 1500 a.d. So it definitely was not the Aztecs. And neither did Cortez find it because there is zero Spanish influence at the site. Furthermore, it marks one of the last sites where you can sill climb up the pyramids of the sun and the moon.

But what is endleslly fascinating to me is how these people too knew of Queztacoatl and Tlaloc in the same way that all the other cultures have come to know them. And bringing the stone to a site that is 25km long where there is no quarry nearby, and a 3m stone at this site weighs 6 tons is beyond me.

It could be aliens. (Maybe).

The walk to the sun and moon pyramids is 2km from the entrance, and in the heat of the high sun, the road called avenida de los muertos seems aptly named.

We didn’t climb the 241 stairs (out of an estimated 365 stairs) to the top of the sun pyramid, but this had to do with the fact that the line to get to the top was over three hours long.

No thank you.

(besides I have already climed it once, so I feel I have not lost too much)

we were able to climb to the top of the moon pyramid and my aunt, Pablo, and myself all did sun salutations in the direction on the sun pyramid (people were looking at us funny, oh well)

We got out just in the nick of time, as the weather turned on a dime (Tlaloc is busy these days) and just as the heavens opened up we made it to the car.

We were also treated to a much nicer version of the fliers of Papantla, and they came down amongst fat rain drops.

Lunch was an abundance of tacos with spicy saucy that I have not had yet – and the storm pounded overhead.

I fell asleep on the way back from the sun, and my throat acting up again.

I’m not sure what tomorrow brings, but I know with a little luck we’re off again (this time with Jorge) to Oaxaca to see more ocean.

I have an ocean fever that just won’t quit. Mexico is beautiful with a little bit of everything and I wish there were more time for everything.

Alas my time is whittling down, but it doesn’t mean the adventure stops!