Tag Archives: Tecalutla

Mexico Log – Day 4

Day 4 was a a restful and beautiful river boat ride day.

Lalo had showed us how to use the coffee grinder in the hotel so that if we were the first ones up, we could go ahead and make coffee. This is the hotel that has been in the family for a few generations and they only use the kitchen for family and some staff meals. Lalo actually grew up in this hotel in one of the rooms with his parents. His Aunt and Uncle currently live in a few of the rooms. Rosaura (Chagua) , Lalo’s Tia (aunt) and younger sister of Luzma, was up and made traditional Veracruz style enchiladas with eggs and beans, salsa, and queso. Enchiladas Veracruz style are the ever present home made corn tortillas but instead of being filled and rolled and covered, they just fold them over, the sauce on top, then whatever fillings and cheese are thrown on top or off to the side. It was delicious.

We walked down the beach for a quick morning look and ended up walking all the way down to the breaker where the river meets the ocean. Not thinking that we were going to be out so long, we of coarse forgot to put on sunscreen and since this was not tourist season, there were none of the carts trolling the beach with all kinds of inflatable toys, sand buckets or sunscreen. We walked on beach and out on the first sandbar – there are generally three sandbars along each portion of this beach. We found some shells and three complete sand dollars.

We ended up leaving the sand dollars at the end of the beach for someone else to find. We then walked up the river side of town and saw hurricane destruction that was more prevalent or just hadn’t had the time to be completely repaired or cleaned up. Most buildings are concrete, so it is in the roofs, windows and downed trees that you notice the damage. I can see why some of the poorer sections of town have makeshift roofs and do without windows. It must be hard to try to replace them after every bad storm.

We Walked back thru town, stopping to see a few of Lalo’s friends along the way. Walking through town with Lalo feels like you are walking with the mayor. He stops to shake hands/fist bump or just greet just about everyone. Even when he isn’t stopping on his own, someone will see him and pull over their car to talk, or run out from nowhere and greet him.

Lalo’s cousin had been in town with his girlfriend, so we headed back to spend a bit more time with them before they were to leave that day.

To cool off, we sat with our feet in pool for a bit. I had been watching the kids nanny braiding and caring for Meranda’s hair every day, so I asked if she wouldn’t mind braiding mine for something different and to keep it out of the gulf breeze as we took the river boat ride later. Breeza (sp?) who is just sixteen or so and lives with the family, made quick work with my hair and had it complete in no time. Paola’s husband died a few years back and so live in help became a must so that she could continue to work. Anyone would want Breeza in their home though as she is a lovely hard working young lady who, much like most people I met on this trip, would brighten any room.

After saying goodbye to Lalo’s cousin and his lovely girlfriend, we then walked to the malecon on the river side. This is where we met Lalo’s friend Luis Eduardo (el gordo) and took a boat ride on the river with Ricky (Rickytin). We learned about the three types of mangroves (manglares) – red (roots anchored from top to bottom, closest to the water), white (roots from bottom to top, middle) and black (roots from bottom to top, farthest from water) and the conservation efforts of certain groups in the area. We saw a spotted turtle (tortuga pinta), five crocodiles (cocodrilos), spider crabs, red crabs, black crowned/white crowned/yellow-bellied egrets, vultures, an eagle and a royal duck. We got 32 oz micheladas from the party boat and would troll up to the tourist boats to provide refreshments and treats.

We came back to the hotel and ate pozole and talked with Luis Eduardo. I took a nap while the others talked politics, then came back and we played Unstable Unicorns which is a card style game that is a fun way to end any day.

Mexico Log Day 7

Beth, Syd and I arrose for sunrise on the roof of the hotel. It was a beautiful spot and just seeing the town as it was waking up and the small fisherman boats coming and going was serene and lovely. Very few seemed to be up in the town except for the roosters we could hear in the quiet of the dawn.

We then went on a walk thru town thinking we might find the coffee and bake shops open. Neither were open, but wanting to walk some of the side streets, we traversed down to the river side and back up other streets to the ocean side and back to the hotel. We saw more beautiful flowers, boats parked in and out of the water – and what happens when someone has seen English language use contraction of n’t and didn’t get it right, shouldn’t have tried, and now I don’t know if you actually eat there or it’s not really a restaurant since it is spelled restauran’t.

I missed buying some cinnamon bread from one of the street vendors, so when we saw a dude selling bread, we stopped him to see what he had. He didn’t have my cinnamon bread, but he did have rolls that were like our Hawaiian bread we get. We purchased one of his rolls and walked in the surf back toward the hotel’s street.

As we got back to the hotel, the night shift guy was just receiving a delivery from someone. It turned out that it was zacahuil for us for breakfast. It is like a tamale stew in a banana leaf. It included a bag of the pickled onions, japs and carrots. We had some of that with our Hawaiian roll and coffee.

It was getting hot again, so we then headed with our coffees to the pool to hang out with out feet in the cool water.

I went in search of a post card in the shops in Tecalutla. None were to be found. It would seem that no one sends post cards or letters much in Mexico these days. Not sure if that is due to instant communication through phones or what.

We went into Gutirriez Zamora looking for the cueritos tortas (pig skin sandwich) that Lalo loves and wanted me to try. This is again a city built with hills and countryside to one side and the river to the other. Some hills were so steep that the photos we took make us look gravity defying.

The places he knew that sold the sought after sandwich, were all closed, so we went back home. As we passed through another street in the town, I recognized that it was where the cemetery was, so they stopped so that I could have a visit. I find the history in cemeteries fascinating in any town. We also visited another of the family hotels and some fun spots around the town.

We got home in time for the family big meal. Today it was tortilla soup. Followed by plain and adobo thin pork chops with beans and rice with carrots and potatoes. One of my favorite meals. So good, I forgot to take any photos.

We were heading back to the city of Veracruz for the night and everyone was anxious to get us on the road so the we wouldn’t be driving on the “scary highway” at night. We said goodbye and gave hugs to the Aunties and Willie with promises to return to see them again sometime.

This highway is the one with all the little towns/stands/little farmers markets along the road. This highway also has long stretches of countryside where people speed along as fast as they can. It also has it’s share of potholes and it is a route for seemingly every double tandem tractor trailer rig in the state. So, picture a two lane highway curving up and down the countryside, people going at various speeds along the way and everyone passing even when the views of oncoming traffic cannot be seen. It was a bit like a roller coaster ride that sounds and feels unsafe and you wonder if you should have gotten on that ride. Actually, I always felt safe with Lalo driving. It was seeing the acts of the other drivers that was astounding. I mean. I might have held my breath a few times when we were overtaking a tandom trailered semi that was weaving all over the road ahead of us. It was definitely not the all day site seeing non-hurried drive that characterized our drive to Tecalutla.

It was dark by the time we made it into the city. We checked into our hotel and dropped off our bags and headed over to the family house there.

It was Mexican Independence Day. We watched the speech and toasted with a lovely tequila. I had looked up a bit about their Independence Day and unlike ours, where we celebrate when we signed the documents as a done deal, in Mexico, the day is the beginning of the struggle for independence. It is the day of determination, hope, and togetherness.

Miranda went and put on her Independence Day dress she wore to school that day. So cute.

The Plans for the next day is onto some of the Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns)

Mexico Log Day 6

Lalo went out first thing and brought back Atole morado (it was a purple drink) and mixed it with a horchata he also brought -the mixture called campechana. I prefer the straight horchata, but I do always appreciate his desire to show and share the tastes that he grew up with.

Today for breakfast, we were fixed Infladetas (inflated tortillas) mole. Onions, Queso fresco, and eggs with chorizo. Delicious as always.

We sat around the family table and talked. Lalo went and got out family photo albums. It was fun to see the aunts and his mom chiming in on some of the pics. Lalo’s other aunt showed up today. She is other sister to Luzma, Chagua and Willie. She is Estela. Watching and listening to them all recalling certain photos and talking about the locations, antics, making fun of some and seeing the closed eyed remembrance of being in a time and place of others was so fun. There are no cultural differences when sitting with families as they look at family albums.

We sat by the pool and talked there for a while and threw in a load of laundry. Once the load was complete, we hung the clothes on the line on the roof of the house to dry.

Beth and I were headed up to the room to chill out for a bit as it was hot and humid again and we thought we could rest and make notes of our travels in the comfort of the air conditioned room, but the hotel staff was cleaning our room. Beth headed back downstairs and I headed up the stairs to see what the other floors were like and to see if I could find the roof access – as Lalo and Sys had said it had a great 360 view of the town. I found the access and indeed you can see the ocean to one side and the river to the other side.

After a quick nap, we hung out in our room for a bit and then went downstairs to sit with the family as they had their main meal -3:45 pm lunch meal. We didn’t eat with them as we were going to a friends auntie’s restaurant for the shrimp and seafood cocktails.

I had the everything seafood cocktail with shrimp, conch, octopus, crab and oysters. Vuelve A La Vida (bring back to life) it was called. All very fresh and delicious but the sauce was on the sweet side for my tastes.

The place was not air conditioned, so I was sticking to the table and chair and feeling quite uncomfortable by the end of the meal.

Welcoming a walk and the gulf breeze through the streets, we went looking for some zero beer for Sydney to make a michelada for herself later. Watching us have those big ones from our river boat ride the prior day with the tamarind around the top had given her a craving for one.

We all went to the beach for an evening swim – super fun and refreshing. Syd, Beth and I went out to the first sand bar and bobbed in the waves. The first sand bar was about chest high today. The current would quickly transport us down the beach and we would fight the waves and current to try to stay near/even to where we had left our belongings on the beach. We were sucked under by a few waves and came up laughing and waiting for the next. Lalo was out on the second sand bar and body surfed like a pro out there for a while.

We then slogged back to the pool in the hotel and hung out there for a while before heading to bed. Luzma went with us to the beach and in the pool and it was great.

I showered in the shower by the pool with my suit on. Beth waited to shower in our room. When she got her suit off, she found that there were strategic pockets of sand plastered to her body like someone had slapped mud pies to her (sand pies in this case). I guess she had taken more tumbles and had gotten really blasted by the ocean waves earlier and the pool water only seemed to solidify it. It was pretty hilarious looking and left us giggling in our own beds as we said goodnight. I drifted off with another appreciation of a great day.

Give to others to improve your wellbeing | Mental health

Mexico Log – Day 3

We had a lazy morning of just hanging out in the hotel room, talking and laughing and enjoying the view.

I kept saying we are on Ragutzo time to Beth’s hilarity. Lalo’s family name is Ragazzo, but for some reason, I butcher it every time I say it.

Lalo’s mom had given up her car for us to use. It was a Kia that she had won at one of the casinos of Veracruz, so we called it our Luckia.

It seemed hotter and muggier than the previous day, and soon our motto was: “Walk like normal, Sweat like you’re running”

We went thru the coffee shop drive thru that had the same type of coffee lechero like we had enjoyed the previous morning, so we ordered that along with molletes (bread with beans and manchego cheese). I have promised to try all the local cuisine and according to Lalo, this is a fairly standard breakfast. It actually was nice and went well with the coffee.

Our destination of the day was to get to Lalo’s home town of Tecalutla, but there were some stops that we wanted to make along the way. We first drove to La Antiqua which is an ancient town.

A little history first: In prehispanic times, La Antigua was populated by a totonac settlement called Huitzilapan, which in Nahuatl means “in the river of the hummingbirds.”

The town of La Antigua was first known as Vera Cruz Vieja (Old “Vera Cruz”), as it was the settlement for the city of Veracruz from 1525 to 1599, when the settlement moved to the actual place where the port stands. The place was chosen due to its better protection from the north winds and the inhospitable sandy areas of the area of San Juan de Ulúa. The oldest church in the Americas was founded here by Hernán Cortés in the early 16th century.

The majority of the commercial traffic of the Iberian Peninsula and New Spain arrived through La Antigua for approximately 75 years. At the end of the 16th Century, when the Spanish returned to the settlement in San Juan de Ulúa, the town entered into decline and was renamed to “La Antigua” to avoid confusion with the new city.

I definitely felt like I had gone back in time as we walked the cobblestone streets and past the ruins of Cortez’s home and the main cathedral as we made our way to the river that was once the center of it all.

Along our walk, we encountered the Kapok/Ceiba tree that was in the main area – and where it might be that Cortez tied his boat up to – the river once came farther into the town than it does in current times. This was truly an amazing tree – doubtful that it was the exact tree, but lovely just the same.

We went across the walking bridge (puente – our word for the day-once more – or at least until I could remember this bit of Spanish vocabulary ).

On the other side, I was looking for a spot that I could take a photo of the bridge, and beneath the bridge was a young man with a beautiful smile that matched the sparkle of his eyes. Lalo began a conversation with him and he had a boat and could give a tour of the river. We had already scheduled a tour in Tecalutla, so we said no. He then offered Lalo a cold coconut water to which Lalo said yes to. We followed him to a spot outside a home that had a few chairs set out. We sat while he took a coconut out of the old fridge on the porch and cut a hole in the top, stuck in a straw, and handed it to Lalo. We all of coarse wanted something cold and delicious, so he cracked open three more. We then met his twin sister who, once we had finished the coconut water inside, would pull out the coconut meat and put it in a togo plastic bag seasoned with lime or chili powder or combination. Their names were Victor and Victoria – definite twin names. Their Mama was there as well. She had a cast on her arm and they joked that she liked to spend time on the floor. (Poor gal had fallen more than once I guess)

I got to see what my beloved guanabana tree looked like as there was one just across the street from Victors family home. It was past it’s fruiting time, but good to say hello to it just the same.

We made our way back across the bridge and to the main square and toured the remnants of the house of Cortez. We had a guide to take us through and tell us of the times and remnants of the structures. Some walls were just still standing due to all the roots of the trees growing up and around the deteriorating walls. The original walls still had the coral that was used in the making of the walls. Amazing how preserved it was. Cape fig and Florida strangler Figtree are some of the species growing there with their roots so predominate.

Also in Antiqua, we visited the aforementioned first church ever built in Latin America. It was not open, but it felt significant and had so many beautiful plants and flowers in the surrounding area of it.

We tried to go to Quiahuiztlan, Veracruz – The spot where the natives first saw the Spanish ships coming into Veracruz, but the entrance to this was closed. Something for next time.

So we instead went to villa Rica Playa which is the beach area where those first Spanish ships had been seen. It was pretty deserted on the day of our visit, so we got to play around with a panoramic picture where we end up being in both ends of the photo.

We drove over many more Puentes on our drive that day.

We stopped at a cheese farm that had horses, peacocks (pavo reales), and cows. We bought queso for later and and palates (popsicles) to enjoy now. They had many different exotic sounding fruit flavors, but I opted for the guanabana. We had to eat the popsicles in the yard under one of their many fruit trees as they began to melt the moment they hit the air. Just along the fence where we were, they had several orange and lime trees and many others that I forgot to document. It was a lovely farm.

On down the road, we stopped at a little cremeria and had tortes (sandwiches) and purchased plantain chips of different flavors. This was in the town of Carranza. All along the stretch of highway between Veracruz and Tecalutla, there are countless little towns that consist of a block or two of shops and roadside stands. Some would be prone to be fruit stands at one town and the next could be the town where everyone had a stand out front selling tamales. Some had regular storefront enclosed buildings, but many were simple roadside stands.

The road we were taking had toll booths along the way and as the traffic would slow, street vendors would walk up to the car with bags of home made goodies. We purchased some of the fried plantains and what Sydney called tostaditas – super thin round wafer like sugar confections – so good.

We passed thru Gutierrez Zamora on the way to Tecalutla. Gutierrez Zamora is the competition town to Tecalutla. GZ has the bigger stores, the banks, more services, but tourists only stop there and opt for the smaller tourist town of Tecalutla to the dismay of those in the bigger city.

On our way to the family home and adjoining hotel, we did a drive around to get the lay of the town and get the feel for it.

That evening, we ate traditional antojitos of Tecalutla. Molotes (football corn balls filled with chicken tinga),sopes (smaller, thicker version of picadas),empanadas de queso, Bocoles – chicken tinga corn sliders, and part of a chilies n nogales – stuffed relleno with cream sauce and pomegranate seeds on top. Also tried pastel de elote which was basically a corn cake with a milk custard bottom layer.(leche bottom)

We then walked to the beach to see the gulf and walk off some of the food. I was pretty sure that flour tortillas were sacrilegious in this part of the country and Nebraska has nothing on the state of Veracruz for their uses of corn.

We stayed at the beach until it began to get dark and then headed back to spend some time with the family and then headed to bed before they decided they wanted to feed us again.

It was another great day.