We arose not as early as we had thought we might- at 8 am -to see that we were indeed just at the waters shore. There was a beautiful pool down below, gathering clouds above, and the ever present ocean breeze.
We headed into downtown Veracruz with our first stop at a famous coffee shop. Here, they serve a shot of espresso in a glass and then the waiter comes by and begins the pour of milk into the shot of espresso. A perfect froth is created by starting the pour of milk from a tea kettle like pitcher close to the glass, and then raising it several feet high from the glass as he performs a continuous pour. We had sweet buttery buns with the coffee along with the standard rolls and pickled carrots, onions and jalapeños that get served with many meals.
After coffee, we walked across the street to the downtown main cathedral. Lalo provided harrowing stories of how the town’s people had once all locked themselves into the church when the Spanish invaded and over the weeks that they endured in their self captivity, people became desperate and climbed to the highest windows and jumped to their death. The original verses of the song LaBamba depict this experience.
We then took in the main square of that part of town, enjoying the feel of the trees, fountain and the architecture of the buildings.
Lalo and Sydney then took us to a favorite spot of theirs to eat. It was an outdoor spot by where the Newspaper building use to be. It is an example of a business plan of “do that one thing that you excel at, and that will be enough”, as you don’t get a menu when you sit down. You only say how many you want. You see, everyone is eating the exact same dish. It is rolled soft tacos filled with chopped pork and placed in a bowl and covered in the juices of the pork and adorned with fresh red onion. It was delicious.
We then took a drive to the other side of the bay hoping we could get admittance into the old fortress that protected the entrance of the bay. It was closed due to Covid, so we headed back toward the town side of the bay. This portion of the bay is fenced off and secure as it is where cargo gets unloaded. We stopped and went thru an opening in a broken area of the fence for a quick look and got yelled at by the guards at a shack just down the road.
Not far from that spot, we saw a Pelican, who wasn’t as lucky as we were and was stuck in barbed wire fence that ran along the inner wall around the shipping area. So many of the birds in the area looked like they could have come out of Jurassic Park that our conversations went from cartoons to talk of Dino extinction, to ecosystems, to politics and back to the amazing plants and birds we were seeing. All the while, Lalo would point out spots of history and interest.
He took us over a Crazy bridge. It was so steep and wonky – it was as if it had been built during an earthquake and so was set in a twisted form one sees happen to big bridges when earthquakes happen. – sometimes you must just experience the craziness and not get photos.
We made it back to the town side and parked and walked the malecon for a bit. The Maritime buildings are all there.
As we walked, Lalo pointed at some boys horsing around by the edge of the water. He explained that if you throw coins into the water, they will dive in and get them – kinda like a street performer, but in the water. We tossed some Pesos into water for the divers and true to the story, they’d dive the 8 ft drop to the harbor water and locate the coins as they drifted down and come up with a smile and the coin. One time, they also brought up a couple of Sea urchins for us to hold. They prickled their way across our hands before we gave them back to the ocean.
At one point on our little walking tour. Lalo procured for us some Ice cream from a bike vendor: guayavana, coconut and mamaey were the flavors we tried. Guayavana was my favorite.
We then drove to a place called Anita’s for picadas. We had mole, salsa verde, salsa roja and gordita – all delicious. Lalo and Sydney wanted us to try all of the specialties of the region and it was becoming quickly apparent that corn Masa in various forms is the main delivery system for meats, cheeses and sauces that are served with the various forms.
We then headed back to hotel for some pool time that included hand stands and swimming the length of the pool underwater. I wasn’t sure it was something I could still do, but Lalo challenged me, and well, sometimes you can’t back down on a challenge. Thanks Lalo, for showing me I could still hold my breath longer than I had thought.
We showered and then over to Lalo’s sisters place to meet up with his parents and niece and nephew for a drive to the small coastal village of Mandinga for seafood served right on the lagoon. I had cazuela de mariscos which was a seafood stew of sorts. It was delicious, but very filling. (I forgot to take a photo of the food here – likely because it felt like we had been eating all day). I was so full at this point that I seriously thought I could burst.
There was a tiny bridge (puente) across the lagoon that we went on and saw a guy pulling up something out of the mud – mussels or oysters or something.
We stopped on the way back and got ice cream again – none for me. This time it was packaged in the rind of the fruit that the flavor was. The Orange was in the rind of the a frozen orange. We also had Mamae again and it is like a small papaya. We also were behind a truck loaded to the gills with watermelon. I personally think they could have gotten 4 or 5 more on top. LOL
Matias road back with us and kept us entertained and laughing with his antics. He would contemplate a question with a hmm and tilt of his head and grasp of his chin. Soon, he had us all doing it.
We then went back to the house and played with the kids and visited with the family some more.
Lalo Sr. Could not stop himself from continuously offering us more drinks and treats. We joked that he was like the people walking thru the restaurant all evening trying to sell us treats and play us tunes.
Just when the family was about ready to go out and eat the night time meal, – they eat a nightly meal at around 10:00 pm – we went back to the hotel.
We met out on the balcony to enjoy the wind and see the lights of the boats and as we turned to each go back into our neighboring rooms, Lalo and Syd realized that their slider door had locked behind them and they did not have the room key on them to hand across the balcony for us to let them in.
Beth went down to the main desk and tried to explain the situation in English to a Spanish only staff. They sent her back with a key card that did not work on their room, so she went once more. All the while, we laughed about it and enjoyed a bit more balcony time. The next key worked and so back into the air conditioning we went and slumber-time it was.