My 9th state in Mexico was the state of Veracruz. It’s capital has the same name, but is also called Heroica Veracruz. This state is a little bigger with different interesting places. One of them is “El Tajin”, a UNESCO heritage site. I am very happy, that it is so easy to reach.
31st March 2018
I was hitchhiking from Tampico and arrived in Poza Rica early afternoon. I tried to walk to my host from the place, where my driver had let me out. Unfortunately he had already driven to far into town, though it was a walk of more than one hour. I thought, that it will not be a problem, because my host will work until 10pm. He had asked his girlfriend to open for me, but I thought, I first have to send him a message, that I am close or in front of his house. I was hungry and at a corner, where I had to change my direction, there were an Oxxo. I bought a sandwich and a juice. The shop did not have a possibility to sit down and eat, though I sat outside on the side of the stairs.
I walked further. Once I stopped and looked around, to get a picture of the town. I saw a building, which looked like a jail. Suddenly I remembered the revolt of the Mexican prisoners, which started just in that jail. The reason for the revolt had been the very bad conditions in the jail, as was: Too many people in one cell and very bad food. I have heard that in the news many years ago. Furthermore I have seen working pumps for oil. I would have wondered, what that are for things, if I had not get to know them in Canada. Here the pumps were in the suburbs of the city, interspersed between the residential homes.
I continued walking, but got tired to roll my backpack all the time, therefore I anyway took a taxi. The first taxi driver I showed on Google maps, where I want to go, could not read it. He told me, that the carretera (highway) was a special address and I had to pay more for the ride. I told him, that it is not the carretera and that I will look for another taxi instead. The next taxi, which stopped, was better. The driver looked at Google maps on my smartphone and told me, the price will be 45 MXN. I agreed with him and he put my backpack in the trunk, which is quite unusual for Mexico. He found the street easily. When he asked me for the number, I had to pass. I had not got it, but by the maps, it should be att the corner. There was a mini-market at the corner, though I asked, if they know a guy called Eduardo (Edu) and if they know, where he is living. I was told, that he lives behind the white door (of the same house). There were no bell, though I knocked that door. After a while, I already had sent Edu a Whatsapp message, came a young couple downstairs and opened for me. They understood directly, whom I am and let me in. The guy was so kind and carried my big backpack upstairs. Then was this couple leaving. There I was welcomed by Edu’s girlfriend Adna. She was interested in me and my travels, though we chatted about it for a while. She also told me, that she has a little son and would like to have a daughter as well. She thinks, it is easier with girls and added, that her son is so complicated. I told her, that girls can be complicated, too. During our conversation she told me, that she loves the way I am. As usual she also compared me with her mother. She is not the only one, who got so excited, when she talks with me. I hear that very often. I do not name it, because I am proud of it, I name it, because I am just happy about, that I can encourage others to live their dreams.
The young man of the other couple came back with a family pizza and offered all of us. I had a small slice. When I was wondering about, if he is livIng there as well, because there were only two bedrooms, he told me, that it is his apartment and Edu rents the other room. I would not have been wondering, if Edu had not written on the couchsurfing-site, that there is a private room for the couch surfer. I do not choose my hosts for the private rooms. As long as I not have to share the bed with them, I am OK with it. Anyway I think, the description of the situation should be correct.
Soon Adna had to spend her time with her homework for college and apologised, that she could not continue with our conversation. She gave me the Wi-Fi password, though I could continue with my blog. After 10pm Eduardo came home and started a conversation with me. He is very charming, but was speaking Spanish. I asked him “How about English”? He told me, that he is learning and he will go to Canada at the end of the year to improve the language. Unfortunately he has chosen Montreal. Therefore I told him, that it was a wrong destination, because most of the people, living there, only speaks French. He answered me, that he will be with a family. I anyway replied, that he may think over it and added, why not to choose Vancouver, where he also easily can visit the Rockies. Adna explained, that she also had recommended Edu to go to Vancouver instead.
I was going to bed, when they asked me for the second time, if I am not tired. I had got one of the twin beds in Edu’s room. Adna helped Edu with his homework, before they also were going to sleep. It was quite hot in the apartment, because of the lack of AC’s. There were fans, but that did not help very well. I do not write this, because I was unsatisfied. I was not. I only name it, because the young people have to cope with it every day and be able to study. There were also a curiosity: On the door was a poster with the rules for the apartment, signed by the landlady. The last rule was, that it is not allowed to have guests staying overnight, because the apartment is not a hostel.
1st April 2018
Shortly after midnight (DST) I sent an email to my son Samuel for my grandson Leon, because it was his birthday. He became five years old.
I was up between 7am and 8am and left the apartment, while Edu and Adna still were sleeping. I left a note on the kitchen table. I tried to hitchhike to El Tajin and hoped to find a shop or stall, where I could get breakfast. Actually there was an Oxxo not far away, though I bought a coffee, a sandwich and a bottle of water. There has been stalls before the Oxxo, but none dit sell coffee or “porridge” (avena). I had to walk a lot before I have got a hitch. It was a family with two small children. The father was the driver and he explained, that he will take me to a bus stop for Tajin – I also could take a taxi from there. He let me out close to that bus stop, where I was waiting for the right bus. El Tajin is a very well-known archeological site, though it has its own bus stop and the driver calls for it. For the ride I had to pay 16 MXN.
Well close to the site I had to force lots of stalls with hats, clothes, you name it, as well as restaurants. On a place in front of the entrance, a group of indigenous people showed acrobatics and ask for money afterwards.
Finally at the site I had to pay en admission fee of 70 MXN, because I am not living in Mexico. Though we tourists do not only pay taxes for all we buy, including the meals, we also have to pay entrance fees, where Mexicans do not need. Sometimes only 60+ or 65+ people has free admission, but you also need a special card for it, which I as a foreigner not have and pay and pay and pay. OK it is my own decision, if I will see all the Mexican culture and history. Would I have to pay more often for hospitality, I could not afford to visit all the museums.
The site itself is amazing. There are so many buildings and it was built, when they did not have machines. In some buildings, they had beautiful decorations as well. I was not expecting such a big area with so many different buildings. They even already had a kind of cement. The area was not even and the stairs we hade to force had sometimes different highs. On one point, when I had to go down two high stairs (the following had normal size) and there were no handle of any kind, I was thinking about Juan from Monterrey. I would have needed him by my site, but a woman in her 40s with a teenage daughter dit offer me her hand instead. I had not asked her for the favour. I was very thankful to her. When I had come further there were low, green hills. Children were rolling down sideways and had fun. That reminded me of my childhood and I had to smile recognising, that children of today can have the same fun as we have had 60 years ago.
For more photos of El Tajin click here.
I was hungry, when I had visited the site, but had not been into the museum. I took the closest restaurant and had a fried chicken with enchiladas, salad, rice and a glass “agua de horchata”. The fried chicken, was two small parts of a chicken and was more baked than fried. All was for 85 MXN, together with the tip it was a 100 pesos note. Afterwards I first visited the museum and strolled then among the stalls with blouses and dresses, decorated with embroideries. I found interesting clothes, but they were not in my size. Finally I found something I thought was perfect. It was a dress in the colour coral with nice embroidered flowers. It came in the size X and seemed to fit. Unfortunately there were no possibility to try it on. I bought it and was happy about it. The price was 260 MXN (12 EUR). Soon thereafter I took a bus back to Poza Rica. This time directly to the centre. I paid with a 20 peso note, expecting that I had to pay almost the same amount as in the other direction, but the driver gave me 10 pesos back and the relating bus ticket.
Poza Rica has no real centre: No cathedral or church with a square and the local government building (the government palace is in Veracruz, of course). The local bus station is at the end of a shopping area with a couple of streets. I tried to find the cathedral respectively church by gps, but it sent me elsewhere. Fortunately not so far away from the shopping area, though I went back there. A young seller of a stall offering extras for smartphones, did sit and sleep. First I bought 500 g strawberries. The kg was for 20 MXN, but that would have been too much for me, of course. Later on I dried to buy papaya – ready to eat, but the seller had no change for my 500 MXN-note and did not try to get it changed either. I had only 11.50 MXN in coins and had to pay 20 MXN. I went away without papaya. Now I crossed the streets looking for an ice cream shop. I finally found one and there they also could give me back to the 500 MXN. Though I went back to the stall with the papayas and bought them. The seller was not friendly!
I walked all the way to Edu’s apartment. Without my big backpack it was easy. Edu was still working again. I sent him a message, that he could contact his girlfriend to open for me. There was no door bell. It took not a long time before she let me in. Adna had a girlfriend staying with her. This girlfriend was so amazed to get to know me. She did not stay for a longer while. Before she left, she asked for a picture with me, explaining that her friends otherwise would not believe, that she met me.
The evening I spent on the Internet. I had got emails from both my elder brothers with wishes for happy Easter holidays. I answered them. I also got the address of my upcoming host. I had been a little nervous already about it and thought, I anyway will have to look for a hotel in Veracruz. My evening meal was papaya, strawberry with cream and cheese cubs. I had bought the cream and the cheese the day before. I offered Adna of my meal as well and later also Edu. There was no sugar on the strawberries, though they did not like them. I told them, they could add sugar, but they did not do that either. The rest of the evening until late we were all on the Internet, which went down, though it had to be restarted. The young couple also was surprised, that I did not get tired. I went to bed, when they went to bed, because I won’t disturb them then. By the way, they did not have warm water in the pipes at all, not even in the shower. I hate to shower cold, though I washed my whole body instead in front of the sink..
For more photos of Poza Rica click here.
2nd April 2018
I was up at 7:30am and left my host an hour later. My new destination was Heroica Veracruz. I tried to hitchhike again, but first I took a short rest at the Oxxo for a coffee and a croissant. I also bought a bottle of water. I walked all the way out of town and got a hitch after a while, but only near Pantala, the next town. I rounded the round about and placed me on carretera 180, very close to a bump, because cars have to drive very slow there. It took a while until a car stopped, but he was not driving in my direction. After a while another car stopped and the driver said something like “huevo” (egg). I did not understand, what he tried to say to me, though he continued. The police – both the state and the local – came driving several times. I think they were all different ones. No police car stopped, none of them talked to me. Therefore I was sure to be allowed to stand on that place with my thumb up. After another while a car came from the direction of the next village or town. He told me, he could take me to the next gas station, where I also could get refreshments. I took the ride. I placed me close to the gas station, behind a junction. One of the streets was going to the town/village and in the other direction to the beach. The other road was the carretera (highway) 180. I stood there until 1pm. A man had told me, I would have a better chance from a supermarket, but I had to walk up a hill, though I did not move. There were not very many cars coming, but off and on there came some. No car stopped. At 1pm I went to the Oxxo – where a gas station is, is usually also an Oxxo. I bought a lunch – a cold double burgare with ham and cheese as well as mango juice. I ate half of the burger – the other half I saved for later, on a bench with table outside, before I was going back to the place, where I had stood for hours. I was willing to stop a taxi for the next bus station, but even the taxis did not stop. They were all occupied. Another man told me, that I was in the middle of the little town and should go further to find the cars, which are going out of town. I walked for a while and hold my thumb up, when a car came and it was possible for the car to stop. Nobody stopped! When I finally reached the last street of the town, a free taxi was coming, which I stopped and asked for the price to the next bus station for busses to Veracruz. He told me: 50 MXN and added, that it is a collective price. To get that price, I had to accept other passengers, too. I agreed (of course). In nowhere, where stalls were selling vegetables, a woman with lots of bags shared the ride with me. She was not going far. After a while, a young man joined the taxi – he was going further than me. Finally in Gutierrez Zamora the driver stopped close to the bus station. I paid 50 MXN and bought than my ticket to Heroica Veracruz. It was for 320 MXN and I was happy, that I have got a window seat.
During the ride it became dark. Well in the city of Veracruz it was only a 20-minutes-walk to my host’s home, but the streets were quite dark, though I took a taxi anyway. Arturo was very welcoming. He made quesadillas with ham for us and even he told me, he has to go to Mexico City at 2am to fetch his female partner and her children, he owed me a couple of hours, talking about families, the rules for the apartment, showed me the room, where I could sleep and fixed a key card for me, though I could leave and come back to the house the other day, when he will not be at home. Afterwards he was going to work, spending the time before he had to drive to Mexico city. He has his office in the same house, where he lives. In that house are also other offices, which he lets. His apartment is on the upper floor. Arturo reminds me of an actor in an American TV series. He looks like him and has the same respectively similar voice. It was a series with a couple around 60 years of age. One of the sons was still living at home. Two other sons were joining often. Unfortunately I am bad in names – I did not see that series often as well, though I do not remember the title. When Arturo was going to work again, I was going to bed.
3rd April 2018
I awoke around 7:30am. For breakfast I had the saved Hamburger with an egg. I had bottled water as well. I could neither find coffee nor a coffeemaker or a little pot to boil water, though I left around 10am for an Oxxo. Well there I bought even a bottle of water and a croissant. Then I walked the beach. It was not so famous as the beach in Tampico, but clean. There were no chairs with sun umbrellas, but party tents with chairs under. There were not many people at the beach. I took off after a while for going to the Historic city. I did not find it directly, but after a while. I could see, that I had reached it by the street signs.
The style of the buildings told me as well, that I was in the right area.
This day was hot and humid again. The climate at the cost is humid and the temperature this time of the year always +30°C to +35°C. Though I only will talk about the weather during the upcoming weeks if it is extremely hot or degrees respectively if there happens unusual changes.
When I had walked a while in the city, I bought an ice cream of medium size and was surprised, that I only had to pay 20 MXN. While looking for a bigger backpack (size daypack) I passed a shop selling face clothes. I already had been thinking about, that it would be good to have one to dry my face and neck from time to time, when walking around. I had remembered the Asian couch surfer, who visited me in Hamburg and had such one. The face clothes were cheaper in pairs, though I bought two of them. Soon I also found a place, selling useful backpacks. I asked for the price. They were not expensive, but I had run out of cash (I had some, but not as much as necessary), therefore I told the female seller, that I will go to an ATM, but be back soon. I found an HSBC ATM not far away and even the way back to this shop. I had three types of backpacks to choose. I was interested in to get my cooler bag inside the backpack and some more stuff, but I want to have one I need to pay extra for on the flight home. I decided to take the medium one and paid 280 MXN (!) only for it. It has different compartments. The biggest one is big enough for my cooler bag. It has a chest belt as well as a waist belt. I am not sure it will hold my things try, when it is raining, but I pack anyway my belongings in plastic bags, because my other backpacks do not stand the rain either. I have got the backpack in a plastic bag, but changed it soon, because I did not have my small backpack with me. Finally I had an “agua de horchata”.
The afternoon I spent at the “Museo de la Ciudad” (Museum of the city). It had free admission, which I did not know before I was there. I had to leave my backpack at the entrance and, when leaving, I was asked to sign the guest book. The museum was about the history of the city and all explanations were exclusively in Spanish, as it is usual in Mexico at local museums. Though I read through all the Spanish text and did understand enough to get to know the history of the city. It had an important role in the Mexican war of Independence. Therefore also the additive “Heroica”.
Actually I get quite tired of reading all the Spanish explanations, though I would have liked some sweets. I found a stall and bought the sweet I thought about to try during weeks, but never had done yet. It looks like big balls of oats with butter, cacao and rolled in sugar, but it was not! They told me, it was with tamarind, though I had to try anyway, especially for such a low price of 10 MXN. Actually it tasted bitter. I did not eat much of it. The rest ended up in a litter bin.
Not long afterwards I had a dinner for 98 MXN at a restaurant, which was closing down, but served me anyway. It came with a soup with pasta. The main meal was chicken. Where fish and seafood is offered, chicken often is my only choice. I left 12 MXN as a tip, just because they still had served me. On the way back to Arturo’s house, it was already dark. He had told me the evening before, that the city is save, especially in the tourist areas. Though I was sure, there will not be any problem and there was none. Arriving at Arturo’s home, he just had arrived as well. The family did empty the car and carry their belongings into the house. We greeted, but I was directly going to “my room”, sure that the family needed to go to sleep, especially Arturo, who had driven the car. I relaxed a short while, took a shower and answered emails before I was going to sleep.
4th April 2018
This morning I had a breakfast with yogurt and toast at Arturo’s home. When I prepared my breakfast, his female partner was entering the kitchen. She prepared the breakfast for her kids and did ask me, if I want a tea. I thanked her for the offer, but declined. I had other plans for this day. In the afternoon before I had taken a look at the old coffee-house “Gran Café del Portal”, because Arturo told me the story of it the first evening at his house, I had decided to have a breakfast with coffee here, this morning.
This is the story of the “Gran Café del Portal” (as Arturo had told me):
The coffee-shop is situated on the other side of the street from the Cathedral. The first name of the coffee-shop has been “Café Catedral”. It became famous by its service, especially the service of one waiter, who did serve a cable car driver every day for forty years. This cable car had the function like a tram or trolley, but was moved by a cable. The cable car had no stop in front of the café, though the driver did every morning sign with his bell, that he was arriving by the cable car. When he was in front of the coffee shop, the waiter served the driver his coffee. After 40 years, the driver died unexpected. On the day of his burial all the guests of the coffee shop did knock there glasses (the coffee was always served in glasses at this place) at that time, the cable car driver would have used his bell. This continued in many years. After a while it changed, so the guests are knocking there glasses for the milk instead. Furthermore Artur told me, that the owner of the coffee-shop had two sons. When the owner died, the sons did get the café and worked each six month/year with it. Though one of them was on vacation for six month and the other managed the café. One of the brothers did invest in the café, the other one not at all. One day the diligent brother was tired to have to invest a lot of money everytime he took over the café and gave the coffee-shop to his brother. He opened another one instead. A friend of the father did buy the original coffee-shop and refurbished it in the old style, but changed the name to “El Portal”. The reason for it is not known.
I was interested in to hear, if the people nowadays would knock their glasses for the milk. Therefore I decided to take breakfast there, because I cannot drink coffee in the afternoon or evening. After entering the café I took a look around, where to sit and if I had to wait to be seated. I had not. I also saw a desk with cakes, though I was looking at the selection. There was not really much to choose, neither cakes with creams nor gateaux. I did take a seat and a waiter arrived with the menu. Offered were desayuno (breakfast) with eggs, pancakes etc. Luckily there were also a light choice. I ordered a cappuccino and a croissants with chocolate. I had seen them in the desk. They had really dark chocolate at the ends. When served I was surprised to get a fork and a knife as well. The croissant was warm, though it was easier to eat with the cutlery. In addition to that, it was even filled with chocolate – which was an even stronger reason for the cutlery. The cappuccino came with cinnamon on the top. I did order the cappuccino, because there was no need to ask for milk, though I could not make it wrong. The coffee as well as the cappuccino was still served in glasses, but it seemed no many people did know the story of the café. A young waiter was walking around with kettles with milk and served the guests, who asked for it. He even asked guests, who were served coffee (espresso), if they want milk. By the way, there were lots of waiters. They were dressed in black trousers and white shirts as well as white jackets, but the jackets hanged on the waiters, not making a good figure. None of the waiters, not even the younger ones, had a good attitude. Some of the waiters looked to be very close to their retirement. One of these actually limbed. The price for my breakfast was 70 MXN (25 MXN for the croissant and 45 MXN for the Cappuccino). Before I left I used the bathroom, which was really clean, but there was asked for a tip. There were two pesos in a bowl, though I put in another one, even I think with the prices of the coffee and the food, using the bathroom should be totally for free.
My next step this day was to visit the island San Juan de Ulúa. There were special busses going there. I thought, they looked like they would drive through (low) water, but they were driving on the road all the time. Already the drive was for 50 MXN, the admission fee to the fort was 60 MXN and the guide, who came with us at that special bus, was even asking for money. I never heard how much she was asking for, though I gave her 20 MXN – there were people, who gave much more. She did not complain about my tip. By the way Mexican people 60+ did not need to pay an admission fee.
I was back from the fort around 2pm. I actually had planned to see the Aquarium, but I would have needed an hour to there, though I decided to visit the Naval Museum of Mexico instead. It was close by. I was hungry and tried to find a restaurant with not too high prices. One offered lunch for 50 MXN, but they only had seafood. I continued to the museum, but thought, the entrance was on the other side of the building. Anyway I found a restaurant there, serving a comida (lunch) for 40 MXN and it was written, it was a stew. Finally served, it was chicken with sauce. I left the most of the dish and walked to the port of the museum, but it was closed. Anyway, when I tried to open the doors a man from the Navy opened and he told me, that the entrance is on the other side of the building (much closer to, where I came from). I was allowed to enter for free like the other 60+ people. The museum was really interesting and I was happy to get such a good insight in the Mexican history, even I did know some facts already. Unfortunately I cannot tell you all the details.
I left the museum, when it was closing at 5pm and was looking for downtown one more time, because I needed rubber bands and also more to eat. Before I found a shop, where I could buy rubber bands, I passed a Chinese restaurant offering buffet for 85 MXN after 6pm. It was not really 6pm, though I tried to remember the name of the street and continued my way for rubber bands. Actually I did not find the area, where I had bought the backpack, but a little shop selling rubber bands for the hair. I chose a pack in nice colours and walked than back to the Chinese restaurant. I actually chose that restaurant for three reasons:
- The Mexicans themselves are eating out at Chinese restaurants
- I had seen French fries at the buffet and they looked very good
- I just needed something else to eat than tacos, burritos and chicken
I have got a plate with cutlery when entering and chose a table. I ordered a bottle of water, because it was no sign, that water or similar is part of the buffet. I chose a plate and the dishes and went back to the table. Unfortunately the most of the dishes were not warm anymore, so were the French fries. Anyway I became full and had vegetables as well. I also ate of the desserts. First I took of a low cake with yogurt – another guest asked me, if it was good, before I had tasted it 😉. The piece was not big, though I even took papaya afterwards. While eating my food, I had enough time to look at the other guests. A couple with a little girl tried to eat, but the child made it impossible for them, though they asked for doggy bags, paid and left. I would not write about it, when they hade not taken very much of the dishes offered. They had chosen bigger plates as me and filled them as much as possible. There were a big “hill” on the plates.
At this point I would like to tell you, that the Mexican fathers care about their children almost as much as the mothers, when they are out together. Anyway you can see a lot of women shopping together with their children, without a father around. In addition to that, women who make their living by selling sweets and other things on the streets often have their children with them. As soon the children are old enough to sell as well (I guess the youngest are six years old), they have to do it, which is a sign for, that not all Mexicans have a good income.
After the buffet I walked back to my host. I did not see one of the family, when I entered the home, though I was going to “my room” updating my blog somewhat and asking my upcoming host for his address.
For more photos of Veracruz click here.
5th April 2018
I had a double toast with a fried egg in between for breakfast and asked Arturo’s female partner for the aquarium. She showed me, that I could see it from the window in the kitchen. I had passed it several times, but not recognised, that it is the aquarium. I think it was the building, I was wondering about, what it is. It seemed to be an attraction for children and was not especially big either. I decided to go to the bus station with all my belongings to buy a ticket for Coatzacoalcos, my next destination and maybe leave my luggage there and go to the aquarium. Arturo was neither at home nor in the office, when I said goodbye, but at the next corner we run in each other and took farewell. He also told me, that he will try to help me to get a host in Villahermosa, one of my next destinations. I had already sent two requests, but had not got any answer.
I walked to the bus station, which took around half an hour for me with my luggage. The next bus was already leaving at 11am, though I did not go to the aquarium at all. I chose to go by bus, because my bad luck to get a hitch from Pantala. The bus ticket was for 476 MXN – ADO bus, even it was not a “plus-ticket”. This bus company does not have the option. We left nearly in time and arrived at 4:30pm at our destination. The bus had two stops before, but neither the destinations were announced nor could I see a name at the bus stations, though when we arrived in Minatitlán I thought I was already in Coatzacoalcos. The worker, who leaves the luggage out, told me, that we were not and it was fortunately time enough to enter the bus again.
The landscape outside was green and there were trees as well. Most of the time the landscape was flat, one and another hill made a change to my view. It was the first time I did not have a window seat and I could not see very much. Later I have been told of my host Mauricio, that it all is wetland.
Finally in Coatzacoalcos, which is an indigenous name and means “site of the snakes” or “where the snake hides”, it was still daylight. I am always happy to make it before the dark. I was so hungry and had a headache, because I have not had a coffee this day, I went to a coffee shop at the bus station and ordered a coffee Americano. There was no milk, though I had it with sugar instead. In addition to that I had small cakes like donuts. It helped for the moment. My host had sent me two gps pictures. The one showed the area, the other one, exactly where to go. Unfortunately I did only show the first one for the taxi driver, though he drove to the wrong private homes area and asked there. At the end we came right and the taxi driver was allowed to drive all the way to the house of my host. I had asked the taxi driver about the fee before he started driving. He told me 50 MXN, but at the end he asked for 60 MXN, because he did not find the area and was therefore driving a little longer. I won’t have problems with the Mexicans, though I paid 60 MXN, even I think, he should know the area, because there is only one with the name “Privada Paraiso” in this town. I am still wondering, why the taxi drivers do not have gps in their cars – almost a smartphone with gps would be an option.
My new host Mauricio welcomed me and told me, he was coming home from Greece and Santorini the day before, where he has been with some of his students. He told me, that he makes such a trip once a year and everytime to another destination. I think you understand, that he is a teacher. They are actually over represented on CS for Mexico. Mauricio was painting some walls of his house in a nice blue colour. He told me, that he liked Santorini so much, that he will make a “little Santorini” out of his home. The house has been light beige and terracotta coloured so far. Now it will become white and blue. He also told me, that his mother has been in the area and told him, that he should switch back the colours, what he will not.
Mauricio has studied marketing, including design. He has a lot of sculptures in his home. He has a three bedroom house. In one of the bedrooms he also has an easel. He makes great paintings. It seems he is of the lucky kind, who is very handy at the same time as he is good in design and decorations. Furthermore it seems, that he has the money for it as well.
This evening, when he finished with the painting, he asked me, what I would like to eat, because there are all kinds of restaurants nearby, but first I had to try “esquites”. It actually is another word for “elotes” – just served in a mug. Here in Coatzacoalcos they do not use the yellow cream and only white cheese, which tastes more than it dit in Tampico. Anyway they always use white sweet corn. He drove along the seaside, which in the whole of the community is fourteen (14) km long, but he did not drive along all the fourteen kilometers. Where the pier is, there is a kind of roundabout. The most stalls you can find here. He stopped the car beside one, asked them for two esquites (one without chilly), than he had to drive further. We were coming back soon to this place, picking up the snacks. This was only the opening. He drove back in the direction of his home, but parked in front of a restaurant, where we took a seat – we had already finished the esquites. He ordered tacos, but asked me first, what kind of I would like. I just took a normal sized with beef in corn tortillas. He ordered a big one with two steaks inside. It came with guacamole. Mine came without guacamole, but there is always a mix of tomatoes and onion as well as sauces (mostly hot spicy) served. Mauricio had ordered guacamole for me too. It was almost of a whole avocado and too much for me, but I ate as much as possible of it. At the end he hade to pay around 300 MXN, if I remember right. For my feelings, it was very expensive. Back at his home we were soon to bed.
6th April 2018
This morning I already awoke at 5am, but was not up before 7am, when I tog my medicine and updated my blog somewhat. Around 8:30am I took a shower. Surprisingly there were no warm water, though I did not wash my hair and was very fast in and out again. Coming down to the kitchen I was looking for Mauricio, but did not find him. He was back around an hour later and explained, what there is for breakfast and where I can find the plates and the food. I was done including brushing my teeth around 11am and was just starting with my blog again, when Mauricio gave me a key to his house. He told me, he had to continue caring about his house and actually worked with his tiny garden. I had just got a sms, that I had run out of available MB at my account, though I went to a nearby Oxxo, topped up my account as well as bought a coffee and a cake.
Directly after I went to the beach. Actually my goal was the city centre, hoping there will be something more to see. My friend from Tijuana had already messaged me, that Coatzacoalcos is an industrial town and not much to see. I should go to Comalcalco instead. He did not write why, but I surfed the Internet for it and found out, that there are special Maya ruins. Anyway I was still in Coatzacoalcos, walking the beach and taking lots of photos, because there are many statues, some of them replicas. All of them with a connection to the area.
When I arrived at the end of the beach, I bought a kind of ice cream, called “Raspados”. Actually it is not creamy at all. It is grated of a big ice-cube. When it is done and got its shape by two mugs, it is served in one of the mugs with a fruit sauce of your choice. I chose strawberry. In addition to that you get a spoon and a straw. It is melting fast and the taste of the strawberry sauce is not really adopted by the ice, but when it is melted.
After the Raspado and some more photos I tried to find the city centre. I followed the gps and came to the area, where it should be. There were some shops, but I did not find the city centre. Though I continued in the direction back to Mauricio’s house. Luckily I found a supermarket, because I was running out of tissues and they only sell them at supermarkets. I also was happy, that they had the make I like best. I bought other items as well, e.g. minced beef and minced pork, buns and papaya. I checked, how far away I was now from home. It was still an hours walk. I took a taxi, because of the heat and the minced meat I had bought. It was for 30 MXN this time and I was lucky, that I could give the directions to the taxi driver. I left the taxi outside the private area and walked to Mauricio’s home. This evening I asked Mauricio where I should go after Villahermosa, which is my next destination. We checked it on my papers map as well as on Google maps. The result was, that it was a good decision to go further to Ciudad del Carmen, before going to Merida. The “must see” area of Palenque, which more than one Mexican told me, I have to visit, is anyway on my way, when I return from Belize. At this point my route fits well.
I was a little earlier to bed this evening, because of my plans the upcoming day. I did not update my blog at all. By the way my skin peels.
7th April 2018
Mauricio had to go to the airport of Villahermosa to pick up his brother and little family. Mauricio had become an uncle two weeks ago. To have space for all the items, they will carry with them, he rented a big car. Though he was early up this day again. He picked me up at 9am, I was up at 7:30am and now just in time. Together we picked up his mother. All of us were going to a shop, picking up preordered balloons, which then we’re placed in the house of the brother. Finally we were on the way to Villahermosa, but that was not my destination.
In Cárdenas I left the car. Mauricio was asking at a taco stall for the right bus not only to my destination Comalcalco, but also how to get back to Coatzacoalcos. Before he wished me good luck he even sponsored me with 250 MXN. I was very surprised and thankful for it and my thoughts were going back to that missionary on my way to Ensenada, Baja California.
All the way so far we had wetlands on the sides of the highway. This did not change either, when I was going by local bus from Cárdena to Comalcalco. It is always exciting to catch the right bus. Knowing, where it will stop makes it a little easier. I only had to check the destinations, which were as usual written on the left front window. The third bus was mine! The ride was for 25 MXN. Actually it was not hard to see, where I should leave. The bus was entering a little bus station and I already had read, that we were arriving in Comalcalco, Tabasco. You can read about my day there by following the link.
I was back in the state of Veracruz, city of Cárdenas at 6:30pm after a day trip to the Mayan Archeological Site in Comalcalco. The next bus back to Coatzacoalcos was an ADO bus at 7pm, which I bought a ticket for. I just bought a sandwich before I went out to the place for the bus. There were lots of buses to many directions coming, but not my bus. It was late for around half an hour. We were not coming far before dark. Around a quarter to nine Mauricio sent me a WhatsApp message, asking me, where I am and by my answer telling me to take a taxi from the bus station in Coatzacoalcos. He added, that he will give me the money for that ride, too – which I declined!
The taxi driver was a nice guy, who had a conversation in Spanish with me. At the gate to the “Privado Paraiso” the security guard started to tell the driver, how he will find Mauricio’s home. Though I interrupted him and told him, that I know it. My explanation for the driver, while he was driving was much easier, than the explanation of the guard. This time I paid 40 MXN for the ride, like the taxi driver had told me, when I entered. Mauricio told me about all the things his brother’s family had with them, even not in detail. I was soon to bed. It had been a hard day by the heat.
8th April 2018
I awoke around 7am, but had breakfast around 9am. I was ready to follow with Mauricio to his Eco park around 11am. We had agreed this time the evening before, but Mauricio was not at home. He arrived around 30 minutes later together with a girlfriend. I used my tablet, while I was waiting. I had to take place in the back, because of his girlfriend. They talked Spanish during the whole ride and dit not care about me.
The Eco park (a biotope) has Mauricio planned and constructed by himself. An installation was done by his pupils. The park is amazing even only eight of sixty-four islands are finished yet. The area is also wetland, though Mauricio digged canals and made the islands of the materia, he had digged up. Every island has a theme of a special country. He made Hawaii with a vulcan. There are lots of bridges. All are different. He owns a big area. There is a ranch as well. A Mexican family is living there and care about the animals and water the plants if necessary.
He drove back home first, but soon he told me, that he will drive to a supermarket and by plants for his house. He asked me, if I will follow. I did. At the supermarket he bought pots and chairs. First later he bought plants and soil. He will make his own little Santorini, he told us.
He invited his girlfriend and me for lunch in a restaurant close to the beach. It had two floors, we sat on the upper floor. The windows were open and it was windy. He ordered for us all. It was a “comida”, because it came with a soup. It was a soup with beans and bacon. I liked it. The main meal was two different kinds of steak (pork and beef). There was also a mixed salad with avocado, tortillas and all these hot sauces. Mauricio asked me then, if I have space for a dessert. I had not taken so very much of the meat, though I had. After his girlfriend and I had chosen, he chose a different one, though there came three different desserts. I was asked to try of all, but only a teaspoon of the other two. I had a sweet corn pudding, which Mauricio had recommended. His girlfriend had “Flan Napoleon” it was like creme caramel. He had a cake with pineapple, which was delicious. The whole meal was for a little more than 1,000 MXN!
After the meal he drove his girlfriend home. At his home, he started to put a flower and soil in one of the big pots. He put this on the terrace on the upper floor. Therefore it took a whole hour for him ( he had to carry up the soil in buckets).
He had just finished, when one of his friends arrived. I had started to cook Swedish meatballs. They guys had a long conversation. The meatballs where ready, but the guys were still talking. I won’t interrupt them. I did not know, what to prepare more and if the guy will share the meal with us. I did not do anything, but waiting for Mauricio. Finally the other guy left and Mauricio became aware, that I was waiting in the kitchen. He did cook pasta and opened a can of pasta sauce, which he warmed up. During the meal we talked about girlfriends, marriage and more. He told me, that he had been living together with his girlfriend for four years, but he did not like, that she always want to tell him, what to do. If she, e.g. would like to watch a movie, she did not accept, that he want to work with something, e.g. the Eco park. He also told me, he would like to become married, but not with a person like her. I told him, that it is hard to find a man in my age with the very interest in travelling, like I have. I cannot think, that out there is one, who likes my kind of travelling. He also should be that kind of gentleman, who Juan in Monterrey had been. In addition to that is my pension only save, if I live in Europe, even I worked for it my whole life. Mauricio was to bed soon after the dinner, because he has to work again, from 7am to 7pm, the following day.
9th April 2018
I awoke twice during the night and felt still tired, when I took my medicine around 8:30am. Though I was to bed again, but could not sleep more. I wrote my notes about last night and was up at 9am. I started with the breakfast and took the shower and dressed afterwards, because Mauricio was not at home. I had decided the day before, that I will take my time and update my blog as much as possible instead for going north hundreds of kilometres to see a waterfall. Even I like waterfalls, I cannot see everyone. There is a waterfall close to my next destination and even further south as well. I hope, I can see one of them. By a car all would be easier of course, but I do not have the money for it as well as I cannot be with the same host for more than a week. It is already very kind, when someone hosts me for a week.
I took a short rest for lunch, eating left overs and continued directly afterwards again. In addition to that, I continued with my blog until 7:30pm. I was too tired to write more, even I had not come so far as I wished. It takes time to write, especially with the tablet. I eat the rest of my papaya and was then on twitter. Mauricio was back around 10pm. I asked him, who the day has been, when we eat sandwiches. He answered, that it had been a lot of parents, who has problems with their children regarding to the school. I was wondering about it, of course, because I have got the impression, that he teaches elder children. Therefore he explained to me, that he also is a principal for a primary school. He is happy, that he can teach at the college. Furthermore we came to talk about prices for rent of apartments and for buying houses. He told me, that he paid less than 3 million MXN (ca 120,000 EUR) for his house. He had bought it three years ago of an engineer, who lived there earlier. I think, the house has 200 to 250 square meters and even a little garden at the back.
I had also asked him, how it is possible to travel till Europe with his pupils and If he works at a private school. I could not imagine, that all his pupil’s parents can afford that. He answered, that it is not a private school and that there are only twenty pupils following each time. He plans and asks for offers. The flights are cheaper, because of the amount of persons flying together. In the month of December the pupils can sign up to follow. Then they pay every month an amount until they are going to Europe. It will be three or four month the pupils save money that way. If I understood it right, they use the holidays for these travels. He also added, that not all parents have the money for these travels. I was really surprised about, that there is no possibility for all the pupils of one class and told him about the short trip we had done with our pupils, when I was teaching German. We had one pupil, whose father could not effort the trip. We found a fond, which paid for him. Though we took all the pupils, we had in our German studying groups (another teacher with another – older – group was following as well).
It was quite late, when we went to bed, but before he told me, that the cleaning lady will come the next morning. He also told me, that she comes three times a week.
For more photos of Coatzacoalcos click here.
10th April 2018
I was up in time and had breakfast by myself. Mauricio was late. While finishing my breakfast, I thought Mauricio knocked my door and answered him, that I am downstairs. Soon he asked me to open for the cleaning lady. Before we left, he told her, that she should clean better, because in the shower I used, we’re long hair, though the water did not rinse off well. I had cleaned that, but told Mauricio. On my question, if she also has to clean the guest room, he answered me, as soon a guest has left, she has to do it.
Mauricio drove me to highway 180, close to the end of town. He also told me, that I may walk over the bridge if I cannot get a hitch at that place. He did not drive me further, because it would be too far, before he could come back into town. Where I stood were mostly buses and taxis coming, though I walked all the way out of town. On the bridge was a Mexican couple selling bottled water like agua de Jamaica and agua de Horchata. They did not have agua natural, though I bought a liter agua de Horchata. On my new place I did not have to wait for a very long time. A young doctor (30 to 35 years old) pulled over. He told me, he is a doctor, when I put my backpacks in his trunk, because he had a lot of medicine in the trunk as well as in the backseat. Soon he also told me, that he has had cancer and showed me his scar on his left chest. He asked me, where I come from , of course and what I so far have seen of Mexico, but most of the time he was talking. He was driving quiet slow and I was wondering about it for myself, when he short after told me, that he usually drives faster, but not, when he has passengers. He had told me, when I asked for a hitch to Villahermosa or in that direction, that he will not go all the way to Villahermosa. When he, after has told me, that he usual drives faster, saw buses, he was looking for the right one to Cárdenas, which is on the way to Villahermosa. When one of them stopped for a passenger to leave, he stopped with his car in front of the bus and told me, that I have to take that one. I tried to just go out of his car for another hitch, but he took not only my backpacks out of his trunk, he also hurried me to the bus and put my backpacks in the trunk of the bus. Unfortunately in that moment I did not think about my hat. Though it was left in his trunk 😭. This bus stop was called “El Burro” (the donkey), I could see on my ticket and it was just the way I felt in that moment.
The fee for the bus to Cárdenas was not high, but the bus stopped very often. The bus driver dit play Christian music all the time. It is usual here in Mexico, that bus drivers play the music of their choice while driving, but I cannot remember another bus driver, who played Christian music. Furthermore there came a controller, who checked our tickets as well, which tickets the bus driver had sold. He had an advanced ticket machine. The name of the bus company is “SUR”. Cárdenas is a town outside the state of Veracruz. For reading about my further trip you have to follow me to the state of Tabasco again.