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.

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!


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.

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!

On to Jalcomulco

After the hacienda we went to Jalcomulco, a village which is well known among white water rafters. Roy said there was a suspension bridge there he wanted to show us. Roy told us that in a couple of weeks, the town would be full of tourists. But for the moment, it was calm.

We went across the bridge, which was somewhat terrifying. It didn’t look too bad until you got a few feet out onto it. Some of the boards on the bridge looked like they were going to crumble under my feet, and some were a bit too widely spaced, through which I could see the river rushing below.

Steve captures Pat and me coming across.

Roy had great fun, jumping up and down on the bridge so it would undulate, causing Pat and me to wobble across like we were drunk. But, as they say in Spanish, “no pasa nada” (nothing happened).

It wouldn’t have been far to the creek below, but it was pretty rocky down there.

Having made it across the bridge in one piece, we stopped for a snack.

I really liked the locally made bamboo chairs.

We head back to the vehicle.

A cute house.

Selling souvenirs.

Buying souvenirs.

Touring With Roy: Day 2

Roy was leaving for Mexico City in a few days and wouldn’t be back until after I had left Xalapa on my way home, so we arranged for another tour with him. We didn’t really have anyplace in mind, so when Roy suggested he take us to a few small villages that were hard to get to by bus, we thought that sounded great.

On our way out of Xalapa, however, our first stop was at a hacienda. Even though the house had seen better days, it was impressive. Slowly being restored, it is now used as artists’ workshops.

Our first encounter was with a batik artist. He was working on something really stunning on a huge piece of cloth.

These artist spaces were truly workshops and not salons for the display of finished works.

Pasta tiles served as hardscape rugs in most of the rooms.

Tool of the trade…

…for reproducing your work.

Perhaps one day this bathroom in the hacienda will be restored.

Tile detail near the tub.

The Texolo Waterfall

High on Steve’s wish list for today was to visit the Texolo waterfall, which was filmed in the movie Romancing the Stone. Leaving Xico, we headed in that direction.

Roy took us down another heavily touristed road, and we almost immediately ran into a traffic jam.

Finally, the traffic cleared and we were able to move along. 🙂

The waterfall was not far away, and soon we were parked and walking to the overlook to get our first glance.

Hey! I thought photographers walked slowly! Steve and Roy forge ahead to the overlook while I lollygag behind taking photos. Pat most often slowed down to my speed and made sure I didn’t get left behind.

The Texolo Waterfall

Roy mentioned there was another waterfall about a 20 minute hike away, so after Steve satisfied his waterfall photo quotient, off we went.

We crossed a suspension bridge to get to the trail that led to the second waterfall.

It was a beautiful trail.

As usual, I’m lagging behind.

No telling what this structure was. It seemed far too remote and small to have been a house. Whatever it was, I liked the way it looked and that its final destiny was to become a graffiti love wall in the jungle.

A short way from the second waterfall, there was a restaurant with a bougainvillea arbor at the entrance.

The second waterfall was not as high or dramatic as the Texolo waterfall. But it was more accessible, and there were many young people having loads of fun jumping off the rocks and swimming in the natural pool at the base.

After making our way back to the car, there was time to make a stop at a shop where three generations of family members sold sarsaparilla concentrate as part of their family business. This was the same sarsaparilla concentrate as we had had in our drinks at lunch. Roy and Steve stocked up, as this place was a bit out of the way and Roy doesn’t go by there often.

From Coatepec to the Texolo waterfall, that was all in one pretty terrific day, touring with Roy. We’re planning to take another tour with Roy tomorrow to Jalcomulco.

But for now, we’re resting our feet briefly before going out to dinner where there’s going to be live African music.