Feb 26, 2006

Unfriendly neighbors

Most of my neighbors, on the left, on the right, in front, and in back, are very personable people whom I´m glad to have met.
But there are some creepy crawlies below my feet that I wish would take the midnight bus to the USA border.
Big black scorpions and tiny little brown scorpions abound, and are hunting for my toes or trying to make a home in my shoes. I really don´t know which ones are dangerously poisonous, I just indiscriminately terminate all without prejudice in beautiful downtown AND uptown Catemaco.

Feb 25, 2006

Sweet Lady Anne of Catemaco

Doña Ana is one of those jewels of beautiful downtown Catemaco, Veracruz, who help the pueblo survive the onslaught of dozens of buses, filled with tourists, bearing trash.

She and her compañeras, mostly women, begin the day before sunrise, sweeping the streets of the downtown touristic areas.

Her 50 gallon drum container and dilapidated hand truck carry upward of 300 pounds to a central collection point in front of the central market.

Her children bought a cellphone for this tough little lady. It gives her the strength to carry on.

Mexican emigration

Perhaps someone adept at crawling across 30 miles of Arizona or someone who previously lived in a tent in Southern Pakistan, would possibly consider this column righteous.

The Mexican Immigration authorities, content with millions of their compatriots escaping to the land of milk and honey, maintain a bureaucracy designed to keep US citizens out of beautiful downtown Catemaco and elsewhere in Mexico.

Unable to convince its own citizens to pay taxes, the Mexican government imposes US 125 to 250 yearly fees for legal non-Mexicans, who have proved that their income arrives from OUTSIDE Mexico, and do so only after at least 2 yearly trips to an immigration office with about a pound of paper work.

Whatever happened to neoliberal equality among nations? Why can an illegal immigrant to the US get free healthcare, and buy whatever he wants, while my buddy who wants to invest some money into a Mexican bank account to invest in Mexico, has to spend several hundred man hours into kissing inept bureaucrats behinds, before being permitted to do so?

As I explained to my mystified Gringo buddy: Actually, most everybody in Mexico does so. This is neither an ethnic nor personal nor anti-American insult.

Feb 23, 2006


This is the end of the world, at least for beautiful downtown Catemaco, Veracruz.

Almost one quarter of Catemaco county, between El Carrizal, La Barra and the foothills surrounding Lake Catemaco, are only fit for beasts and those that cater to them, or the politicians that decide where to build roads.

Access is by a one car, boat towed ferry (100 pesos each way, or a few pesos by highly irregular lanchas) to some wild and beautiful beaches. Shoot some pool, grab a beer or a soda at Don Yito´s before you head inland. That is the last outpost of civilization.

Feb 22, 2006

Great Sex in Catemaco

One of the beautiful downtown Catemaco, Veracruz best known delicacies are slimy fresh water snails (tegogolos) forcibly removed from their shells, washed in pure Laguna Catemaco waters, and cooked to the texture of shoe leather.

Mexican and international connoisseurs travel thousands of miles to gobble these small gastropods usually served in what passes for shrimp cocktail sauce in Mexico, (chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and ketchup).

Allegedly tegogolos are an aphrodisiac. That is hard to believe, especially after seeing a naked snail without its shell in person. Nevertheless the fable persists and may be the reason for the dozens of cantinas in Catemaco equipped with “slut” machines.

Of course, the French made snails edible just like other uneatables. The famous “escargot” is a cousin of these Catemaco snails who prefer to live in water instead of on land as their French relatives do.

Most escargot are served cooked in garlic butter with a little parsley, a miniature fork if served in the shell, and a loaf of French bread for dipping the delectable garlic snail sauce, and a pricetag of US 15.95 for a serving of 6.

Look for my next business venture in beautiful downtown Catemaco, serving cheap “Escargot a la catemaco”. And! you will get to take the polished snail shells home.

Feb 20, 2006

Haute cuisine in Catemaco

There comes a time in every man´s life when it is imperative to leave a warm hearth and hunt for something to eat. And in Catemaco, near the midnight hour, that becomes a little problematical on a weekday.

Unfortunately, I found my prey on a downtown street corner cluttered with hot dog stands that usually are ashamed to show themselves during the day time. And I stuffed myself with mystery meat weiners atop stale buns, slothered with mayonaise, tomatoes, onions and chiles, and I even tolerated the chef´s robbery of a handful of pesos more than he charged his next Mexican customer, oblivious to having heard me order my dog food in Spanish.

I mean, NAFTA, neoliberalism, yankee imperialism and all the other good stuff aside, WHAT happened to Mexican culture and its knife wielding "tacos de carne asada" choppers?

Yes, I could possibly die for a Nathan´s foot long, or one of those kosher monsters with saurkraut and mustard in beautiful downtown Catemaco, but this derivative cultural ethnocide with hot dogs has got to stop.

As for now I am totally weaned off Catemaco weiners

Feb 12, 2006

Catemaco socks

As a single man, I always found it objectionable to wear socks. Who needs another item to wash?
Tomorrow, I am expecting the coldest day in Catemaco, Veracruz in the three plus years that I have been here. And my partner managed to borrow one of the only 2 pairs of socks that I guard for occasions when I want to impress people.
13 degrees Celsius, (55 f) is expected to be on the thermometer. My fair weather friend, who is in the process of buying a piece of beautiful Catemaco, is probably laughing hysterically over my predicament. His latest email included a weather report from Boston, USA, which showed something like 55 f degrees below O.
Nevertheless, all windows are closed, blankets, I did not even know existed, are piled on the beds, the dog is hiding in the closet, and my partner is going crazy. She boiled hot stuff 4 times so far today. They say, blood thins in the tropics and tolerates less cold. The corrective action, I understand, is to fortify the blood with a little tequila.
Now the question is, will I appear ridiculous walking to the local liquoreria wearing socks inside my flip-flops?

Feb 5, 2006

Rio Maquina Kayaking

Those suicide kayakers of the Himalayas should try some of those 50 centimeter (20 inch) rapids of Los Tuxtlas.
10 valiant souls on a gorgeous Sunday morning, set out to explore Rio Maquina near Montepio, about an hour from Catemaco, Veracruz, atop various shapes of rented sit-on-top kayaks. Only 7 survived.
Granted, most of us were novices, and we should first have practiced in a bathtub. This tiny little rio tumbled us from one rock to another, flushed us under trees, grabbed us with llianas and rammed us onto sand bars. Not one survivor arrived in Montepio scratch less, and many with at least one shoe missing. But, by god, we are all, well, most all, looking for the next river to explore.
The non-survivors found us again on the beach in Montepio where they kept restaurant seats warm for us and welcomed us with glum faces

Feb 4, 2006

Cerro Pipiapan in Catemaco

Just to get a little exercise, hundreds of joggers, walkers and bicyclers clutter the Malecon in Catemaco Veracruz, starting before sunrise. Even tourists join in the huffing and puffing, climbing the measly 144 steps of the Eyipantla waterfall.

But Catemaco has a hidden treasure for physical exercise aficinados.More than 500 hand fitted stone steps lead straight up the slopes of Cerro Pipiapan to a communication transmission tower. Remnant jungle foliage closes in on each step and in the early morning hours hundreds of rare birds chirp over the loud slither of various snakes and other creeping crawlers.

Locals claim it has been 5 months since they last saw the cub of one of the few remaining pairs of mountain lions (tigres) in Los Tuxtlas. The view on top is fantastic. Both Laguna Catemaco and Laguna Sontecomapan bare their distant hearts to the intrepid observer.

Unfortunately that is only true for the intrepid criminal jumping a fence, and climbing hand over hand a few meters up the transmission tower. Otherwise, after 500 or so steps, the cardiac workout gets a headache when realizing the tower platform is totally overgrown with impermeable bamboo and has no view.

The tower is reachable off the road to Sontecomapan, about a mile northeast after the Coyame turnoff, at the "RMO Pipiapan" sign then up about 2 miles on a poor dirt road towards the village of Vista Hermosa.