Archive for the ‘Xalapa’ Category

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Last Day in Xalapa

This is my last day in Xalapa. I’ll be getting on the ADO bus around noon to head back to Veracruz, as my plane for Mexico City leaves midmorning tomorrow.

Miscellaneous Observations

I don’t think anyone has ever exaggerated about the climate in el puerto de Veracruz. Veracruz can be uncomfortably warm and humid at times, and this is still winter! However, it does have nice breezes and did cool off nicely in the evenings, although I did need to turn on the AC in my room for comfortable sleeping after a couple of days. Didn’t get any bug bites while I was there, but Eric confirmed it was partly because of the time of year. It’s got lots to see and do and is close to a number of interesting little towns to visit. It’s flat, so I was able to do a lot of walking without problems. In the warm weather, I seemed to have fewer aches and pains.

Xalapa wasn’t too hot and had a much more comfortable level of humidity. Pat got quite a few bug bites. She wore capri pants sometimes; I always had long pants and shoes with socks. I only got a few near my elbows and a couple on my hands. I’m assuming these must be the no-see-ums. The bite is pretty small, very red and leaves a tiny blister. Hers itched quite a bit, but mine didn’t. They’re taking a long time to heal and go away.

I liked Xalapa very much, especially the people, who are wonderfully kind and friendly. What I didn’t like so much are the hills. Coupled with the altitude, it may be a big issue for me ten years from now when I retire. The city is very charming, with lots going on. Coatepec is even more charming, and much flatter, but Dennis told me there isn’t much going on in the way of cultural activities or nightlife.

I’ve really enjoyed my first taste of Mexico and am now looking forward to exploring other areas on my next trip, whenever that may be. There are a couple of trips to Europe I want to make first, and I ought to do them while I still live on the East Coast. But I will be back!

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A Rainy Day in Xalapa

Today it’s cool, breezy and rainy. Weather Underground showed Xalapa at 49 degrees F at around 8:00 this morning, but it seemed colder.

Steve and Pat went to Coatepec today with Dennis and Ellen, but I stayed behind, feeling a little under the weather.  In Mexico it’s not unusual for smaller pharmacies to have a doctor available for consulations, so I went off to find one.  The first one didn’t have one, at the second he hadn’t arrived yet, but the third time was a charm.

The pharmacy doctor was a nice young man who didn’t speak English. With my limited Spanish I was able to describe my symptoms. He took my blood pressure, checked my pulse, listened to my lungs. He asked me a number of questions, about half of which I understood right away. A couple of times we didn’t understand each other at all, but we managed. I wrote down a couple of things in English, like bronchitis, and he looked them up on his computer.

I think he told me that there are things in this environment that irritate the throat and lungs, which accounted for my cough, and that I might have a bladder infection, which accounted for the need for way too many trips to el bano the last couple of days.

What I thought he was telling me at one point was that to help the cough go away faster, I should stop taking lactose. I told him in Spanish that I don’t drink milk, and he looked at me funny, so I said “hay lactose en leche, no?” (There’s lactose in milk, isn’t there?) Turns out the Spanish word for the noun “cough” is “la tos.”

Total cost for my visit to the pharmacy doctor, including two prescriptions, was about $18.  No wonder retirees love it here.

Walked around for a bit after that but started to get tired fairly quickly, so I headed back to la casita to take my meds and rest up. I suppose if I have to be sick, it’s better to have it happen at the end of my trip. It’s much better than the time I spent nearly three days in bed with a pretty good case of bronchitis on my first trip to Paris.

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Park Day and Asadero Cien

My record is intact. Since I was about 30 years old, I haven’t been able to fly anywhere without getting bronchitis. I’d been coughing a little since I got to Xalapa, and two days ago it started getting really bad. It’s not painful, mostly an inconvenience, but it kept me from getting a good night’s sleep a couple of times.

Today we visited a couple of parks. Parque Tecajate is somewhat small, maybe only a couple of acres, but it’s quite beautiful, like a mini-rain forest in the middle of the city.

Afterwards we visited the Jardin de las Esculpturas. The terrain was pretty hilly and I started getting warning signals from my feet and right knee, so I didn’t see it all.

The weather today was pretty warm, so we were all ready for a siesta after that. I managed to sleep a bit between coughing fits.

Went to Asadero Cien for dinner, a very nice steak house. Dinner was preceded by a really good bean soup. I had the house specialty, a marinated top sirloin steak, which was very tender and juicy. Steve and Pat had a sampler plate which was supposed to be for two, but when it arrived it could easily have fed three people. There were several varieties of steak and a little chorizo, all of which they said were wonderful. Pat and I had margaritas which we both agreed were the best we’d had in a long time.

Steve and Pat had chocolate marble cake for dessert. I was too full for dessert but sampled a little of what Pat couldn’t finish. It was not too sweet and very good. The service at the restaurant was also excellent, and we all would highly recommend it to anyone who needs a steak fix.

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Orizaba stayed mostly hidden in the haze

Had coffee with Dennis and Ellen midmorning at Cafe Italiano at the edge of Parque Juarez. The cafe terrace has a great view of Mt. Orizaba. Unfortunately, it was a little hazy for a good photo.

Dennis and Ellen are married, retired and have lived in Xalapa two years. They gave us their impressions of living in Xalapa, which they enjoy very much.

Oaxaca handicrafts at Parque Juarez

Mondays a lot of things are closed in Xalapa, so it seemed like it would be a good shopping day to pick up a few souvenirs. After coffee, we all parted company and I set off alone to prowl for trinkets. There was an exposition of Oaxaca handicrafts set up in Parque Juarez, so I started there. I found mostly clothing and some unremarkable jewelry, none of the brightly colored carved wooden animal figures that are practically Oaxaca’s signature.

Callejon Diamante

Next stop was Callejon Diamante, Xalapa’s well known tourist shopping mecca. Again I was disappointed. Most of what was available seemed to be either from China or India. I suspect because the highest percentage of tourists who visit Xalapa are from other parts of Mexico, it stands to reason that they wouldn’t be interested in Mexican handicrafts, unlike Guadalajara or numerous other cities in Mexico which are visited by large numbers of Americans and Canadians. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

La Fonda Restaurante

Lunchtime came around, and since La Fonda’s entrace was on the Callejon and had been recommended by someone from the Visit Xalapa group, I thought I’d give it a try. It’s a charming place. The food was well prepared, the service was good, and I’ll just let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Food prep area at La Fonda

On the way back to the casita, I passed by the marimba players downtown.

Today was the hottest day in Xalapa since I got here but still not bad at all. The casita that Steve and Pat are renting from Roy doesn’t have air conditioning, but we’re not suffering. All that’s needed is a fan.

Xalapa Expats Dinner

This evening was the date of the Xalapa expats meeting at Tavola Trattoria. In addition to Steve, Pat and I, Rich Collins and John Spence were there, who I met the first night I arrived. Butch and his wife were there. They had moved to Xalapa about eight months ago from New Mexico. Butch’s wife, whose name escapes me at the moment, was born in Xalapa. Last, but far from least, Roy Dudley was there, too. It was another fun evening!

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We didn’t do much today. Decided to take the ATB bus to Naolinco, a little town an hour away known for their leather making expertise.

Walked through a little fast food restaurant to get to the ticket window.

As we waited for our bus,

I noticed the pasta tile floors.

Here are some scenes taken from the bus along the way.

Pineapples: 2 for 15 (pesos, about US$1.50),
1 for 10 (pesos, or about US$1.00)

The route wound through some hills and was very pretty.

We passed through quite a few small villages.

Arriving in Naolinco an hour later, we saw lots of leather goods for sale.

Some kids thought we were pretty funny looking.

Wound our way through the market.

This restaurant looked inviting,

so we stopped in to have lunch.

We talked with the owner a bit, who jokingly asked if it would break my camera when I asked to take his picture.

Then we walked by the church

which had beautiful stencilled decorations on the walls and ceiling

and even little doggies were permitted inside.

Then we walked to the mirador to see the waterfall.

Now we’re resting up before dinner. Oh, and it might have been in the mid-80s at Naolinco, but right now its 70 at Xalapa.

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Scenes from Coetzala

Watching Steve wield his camera over the last few days, I was in awe. He took tons of photos. I was a slacker and didn’t take nearly as many photos as Steve, aka the Genuine Tourist, but here’s what I captured in Coetzala.


This suspension bridge is the one and only way into this community. Everything that comes into Coetzala comes over that one suspension bridge on the back of man or beast: every sack of cement, every cinderblock, every bit of food, everything. I did see some road apples on the bridge, so burros apparently traverse the span as well as pedestrians and bicyclists. (For those of you who didn’t grow up with horses, “road apples” are. . . burro byproducts.)


From the village side of the river, a view of the road’s end, where all vehicular traffic gets left behind.


I’m normally rather shy about taking photos of people. I’m always afraid of offending. But I enjoy Steve’s people pictures so much, hanging around him encouraged me to try to get over that a little.


Even though they are isolated, the people of Coetzala do have electricity and running water in their homes. Here you can see the electric lines and a tinaco (the black container on the roof; it stores water).


A shed or possibly a barn, built the old fashioned way.


As a 30 year resident of Xalapa, Roy speaks Spanish like a native. He’s a people person and would talk to people here and there, paving the way for us all to take photos without causing offense. Roy started chatting with this woman and found out she is preparing to make a salad from this spiny cactus.


It is apparently a traditional salad that is eaten during Lent. I saw a number of this type of cactus plant growing in people’s yards.

The tireless Genuine Tourist, hard at work, performing community outreach.

Steve is also very outgoing and even though his Spanish is limited, he tries very hard to communicate with people. Despite his limited Spanish, he’s usually successful. He likes to call himself The Genuine Tourist.


The hills were alive, not so much with the sound of music but rather the braying of burros.


No worries! Not dead, Perrito is snoozing on the street where there is never any traffic. In the background, the salad cactus.


No cars or trucks can reach this town, but this man cheerfully carries a sack of cement to a construction site.

The people of Coetzala seemed very curious about us and were gracious about letting us take their photos. Several young boys shadowed us, smiling and laughing.


The villagers didn’t seem to mind that we were being typical tourists and taking pictures of everything. I get a return wave from a friendly resident.


Pat and I had a personal chaperone while we were walking through Coetzala.


A friendly family allowed me to take their picture.


It may be small, but there’s one bar/restaurant in town, right next to the suspension bridge.


Scratched into the concrete on the village side at the base of the suspension cable anchor, the commemorative bridge reconstruction plaque.


Coetzala’s “Golden Gate” Bridge.

We all had a great time walking through this town and would never have been able to do so were it not for Roy.  Roy had only a half day available this time, so after visiting Coetzala, we headed back home.

On the return trip, I captured a cemetery alongside the road

We capped off the day by going out for a filet mignon dinner. Steve and Pat didn’t think they were that hungry until we got there, but once we were there, they decided otherwise. The filet mignon was wonderful. Another great day with great company. Lucky me!

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