Jun 24, 2006

Catemaco Darien Gap

The continent of America does not exist. The Darien Gap, an impassable wilderness on the border between Columbia and Panama separates the continent into a northern and southern half.

And despite years of Gringo economic colonization of anything south of the US borders, that gap has persisted, allegededly to prevent South American cattle illnesses, and probably South American emigration to the US fatherland.

Catemaco has its own Darien Gap. Laguna Catemaco is an almost 50 kilometer circle, primarily surrounded by cattle ranches, rich vacation home owners from San Andres Tuxtla and PEMEX colonies, a gringo eploiter of the local fauna, various ram shackle communities and the shores of beautiful downtown Catemaco. To circumnavigate those 50 kilometers is now a 90 kilometer trip because of a gap between the villages of Las Margaritas and Bajos de Mimiahua/El Porvenir. The gap effectively blocks off convenient access to the southern interior Los Tuxtlas and its potential economic impact of visitors/buyers/traders from the municipios of Soteapan and Hueyapan, almost 1/4 of Catemaco´s surface area, and a pottential short cut to the Minatitlan airport. A bridging road of the Gap has been frequently proposed but has been affected by the mañana syndrome.

Despite recent proposals and announcements, the gap road again is in abeyance, possibly because of local misguided ecologists' attempts to divert the road in order to protect a scraggly area of second growth trees.

The potentials of a Laguna Catemaco circumnavigation road are huge. Cattle growers and agriculturists would have better access. Tourists would be enthralled by a road that does not require two hours to get there and 2 hours back on the same road. Merchants would be thrilled with new markets and the Mexican environmental protection agency, PROFEPA, might actually use the road to see what´s really going on in the backyards of beautiful Catemaco. Sports fans by the hundreds would probably scramble to do 50 KM runs, bike rides or walks. And local inhabitants would be pleased to take a Sunday drive around THEIR laguna.

Jun 23, 2006

Catemaco Coxcoapan

My Popoluca partner recently talked me into buying some cheap cattle acreage along the Rio Coxcoapan, down hill from beautiful downtown Catemaco. She forgot to tell me that half of the 200 acres are innundated most of the year. So now I am studying Vietnamese rice plantations, growing fish in shallow ditches, water fowl hunting and drowned cattle resuscitation.

Meanwhile I chopped her land buying Visa card into tiny little shards. Coxcoapan sits along Rio Coxcoapan, off the Catemaco to Sontecomapan road, passing by Catemaco's "famous" hot spring "Agua Caliente" and potentially the town is the gateway to the part of Catemaco that the Catemaco government apparently does not even know exists.

Several dirt roads, impassable during the rainy season ford several rivers to cross into the Santa Marta foot hills and the isolated Gulf beaches near El Carrizal. Cattle ranchers happily use the isolated area to grow hamburgers and there are even rumors of wild cannabis.

The pueblo of Coxcoapan is the usual collection of tin roofed shacks and concrete government edifices. A riverside restaurant serves fresh fish if you honk loud enough about 3 miles before entering the village. A special treat are the giant shimps (Mayacates) allegedly caught in the river waters surrounding the village and priced at New York City fair market values.

If you bring your kayak, the Coxcoapan river will placidly flow you through cattle ranches and mangrove forests to the edge of Sontecomapan city. If you are really courageous, you can enter the river much higher up, near Peninsula de Moreno, and experience one of those death defying shallow river rides to hell.

Catemaco monkeys

More than 30 years ago some, probably illegal immigrants, started inhabiting some of the islands off the shores of beautiful downtown Catemaco. And just like immigrants elsewhere they multiplied.

Visiting Catemaco´s Monkey Islands in Veraruz, Mexico is a well described voyage on numerous international web sites.For some unknown reason, the University of Veracruz, Mexico stocked one of the islands in Laguna Catemaco with imported Macaque monkeys from Thailand to do a research study in 1974.

Before the study was concluded, Catemaco fishermen discovered the profitability of motoring tourists to the island to view monkeys in a natural habitat. Over the years this monkey visiting trip has turned into a hard cash earner for much of the Catemaco population, obviously noticeable by the many shrieking shills along the Laguna shore inviting tourists to take a boat ride.

Despite the shills, the boat ride is a wonderful experience to see parts of Laguna Catemaco, the shore view of Catemaco City and the absolutely marvelous view of the Laguna´s neighboring volcancic hills. As for the monkeys, they are officially maintained by a research station of the University on the shores of the Laguna and in addition receive the equivalent of food stamps (bananas) from the Catemaco government and boat operators. Essentially these monkeys are abandoned, but seem to be content in their island environment.

The University in the meantime has established a large colony of Mexican endangered monkeys on Agaltepec Island in 1988, which is prominently visible on the boat trip. That island, though, is off limits to tourist visitors.

The going rate for voyages to the islands, which also includes Spanish commentaried visits to many other of the Laguna shores features, is usually 50 pesos per person, or 350 pesos per boat with a minimum of 6 passengers. Boats range from 12 -20 passengers, and during the off season the boats will make the trip for 250 pesos, distributable among as many people as want to pay for the trip. Wearing a life jacket is recommended for non-swimmers, although I have never heard of a mishap on the Laguna waters.

OOPS lady drowned in 2007

Jun 20, 2006

Air Catemaco

Until some pendejo in the 1960´s closed down the San Andres Tuxtla airport and converted it into a football field and the usual questionable "fraccionamiento", the beautiful downtown Catemaco, Veracruz area actually had air access.

A few planes had previously crashed around Cordoba and other places, but what the hell - during those times that was to be expected. Nowadays the only way to fly to Los Tuxtlas is on the governors or one of his cronies helicopter.

For years, flying into Veracruz from Mexico City was considered one of the most expensive flights in the world, except for maybe flying into Saigon or Baghdad. The cause was and is the usual stranglehold over Mexican business by dinosaured privileged national companies like the Mexicana/Aeronaves combination. Things are looking up. Several discount airlines are circling Veracruz and Coatzacoalcos, - the closest airports to Catemaco. It´s now possible to fly roundtrip to Toluca, next to Mexico City for less than 100 bucks.

They are even talking about building an airport in the San Andres Tuxtla area.That goes under the usual rubric "Mexico Talking", including highways to Montepio, around the Laguna, or across to Minatitlan.

I would just like to see an ultralight aircraft taking passengers to see the wonders of Los Tuxtlas. To hell with those thousands of tourists that want to spend their money here.

Jun 19, 2006

Ejido Santa Martha

Only about 40 miles from beautiful downtown Catemaco exists, (barely), the ejido Santa Martha, in the Municipio San Pedro Soteapan. The ejido was formed in the 1960´s primarily by Popoluca indians from the Soteapan City region.

For the past 50 years little has changed in the ejido except for galvanized roofing. Women still dress in the colorful Popoluca way and walk behind their men and their horses.

The pueblo controls the entrance to the upper Santa Marta region via a road that used to lead to El Bastonal above Miguel Hidalgo in Catemaco. The road previously had been used for access to an abandoned (1965?) mine near El Bastonal and also Catemaco and was ordered "non maintained" , apparently on orders from the Biosphere Resere of Los Tuxtlas, intent on stopping penetration of one of the few remaining natural vegetation regions in Los Tuxtlas. At present that road is only a paradise for 4x4 off track venturers.

The people of the village are extraordinarily uptight over outsider presence to the point of inhibiting their passing through the village to the upper parts of Santa Marta Volcano. They base their claim on loss of genetic material to international biological company researchers, thefts of plantations by casual visitors, a litany of broken promises to enhance their lifestyle by administrators of the Reserva de Los Tuxtlas and the government of its own municipio in Soteapan, and 4x4 off roaders.

Meanwhile the village rests at about 1,200 m (about 4,00o feet) above sea level, a few kilometers above the city of Soteapan, on a murderous hill climb, harboring most clandestine tree loggers in the western part of the Santa Marta´s and happily burning its surroundings for more milpas (maize growing fields) in order to survive.

Jun 14, 2006

Gringo Conspiracy

Caution: Reading this article may be a violation of The Mexican Constitution's prohibition of meddling by foreigners. You may face deportation!

Mexico probably has more political organizations, bands, blocs, bunches, cabals, camps, caucuses, cells, circles, clans, cliques, clubs, coalitions, combinations, combines, combos, concerns, conclaves, confederacies, conspiracies, contingents, coteries, crews, crowds, designs, divisions, ententes, gangs, guilds, insiders, intrigues, juntas, knots, lobbies, machines, minorities, mobs, networks, offshoots, outfits, partnerships, parties, pressure groups, rings, schisms, sects, sections, sectors, sets, sides, splinter groups, teams, units, unions or wings than any civilized place in the universe.

A tiny little "Gringos for Peje" lobby, dispensing single US dollar bills to prospective voters should be no problem here. After all the Mexican national side is promising and delivering lanchas, monuments, pensions, US citizenship and three chickens in every pot.

This Peje group would be self financed, only being dependent on functioning ATM machines in beautiful downtown Catemaco. As has been previously explained, this is already being sabotaged!

The July 2nd election is near. This foreign conspiracy is probably looking for your support.

Catemaco ducks

Beautiful Laguna Cacemaco in central coastal Veracruz is hot spot vacation resort for Canadian & US ducks. For that matter, my native Popoluca partner tells me, there used to be so many ducks on the laguna that it was hard to see the laguna. And she says "they tasted very good".

Laguna Catemaco is a shallow lake, less than 24ft ( 7m) average depth, and that is a statistic from 8 years ago. The continuing depredation of the hills surrounding the ignored Mexican Laguna Catemaco preserve has probably produced another decrease of the average depth of the laguna by another foot (33 cm) or more through flushing of its hillside debris, communal defecation and perhaps abeyances to the local Chachiuhlicu goddess.

A new Canadian study now revals the real depth of the real duck doodoo. And considering the number of ducks hanging around Laguna Catemaco this is a serious concern. Statistically someone can probably project when Catemaco will be filled in by duck feces, unless, of course the Maxacapan laundries or the liria aquatica (water hyacinths) do it first.

The local gringo culinary expert Vandammed has suggested possibly renamed duck meat to be served as duck l'orange , to coordinate with the local carne de chango, which in its origin has mainly been eaten to the point of extermination, and now only exists as roast pork.

By the way, most of the wintering birds that look like ducks are actually grebes.

Jun 11, 2006

Catemaco food shortage

Mexican nutrionists and Los Tuxtlas health authorities are now on high alert to combat the nutritional deficiencies which the absence of pickles in Los Tuxtlas and beautiful downtown Catemaco have created.

Neither the neoliberal capitalistic abusers of culinary delights, Walmart or Soriana, now stock pickles on their shelves. The occasional orphan jars of sliced green things in other small tiendas have also disappeared. Desperate pickle eaters are now crowding the Tuxtlas highways in search of pickles.

A recently interviewed pickle user at Sam´s Club in Veracruz stated "I bought everything they had, sliced, cubed, dilled and freeze dried. To hell with those survivalists in Catemaco".

The Veracruz governor and the local municipal authorities have been advised, and according to informed sources, air drops of pickles will be accompanying the usual dump of sheet metal on deserving communities in Los Tuxtlas.

Anyone experiencing withdrawal symptoms should present him/herself at one of the local out clinics, easily identified by their color schemes of primarily yellow and spouting the words salto, brincon or poder on their exterior walls.

A local Popoluca indian recommended use of chayotes marinated in vinager as a temporary transfusion for those dependent on pickle juice. Local health authorities refused to comment and reiterated their recommendation of saline solution for extreme cases.

Catemaco Water

I am probably paranoid because I think the current water wars in beautiful downtown Catemaco occured after I moved next to the water company and embarrased them to clean up their act.

Or maybe not, because:
1. The water is not fit for human consumption
2. The water pressure is less than than a prostate´s inflamed outflow.
3. Water pressure in the uphill communities of beautiful uptown Catemaco is so low that holding tanks get filled maybe once or twice a week.
4. The flavor of the water is so obnoxious, even my dogs prefer to drink out of rain gutters.

Catemaco depends on deep water wells to provide municipal water. The city lost one of its major wells because the city permitted the still disfunctional sewage system to penetrate the well area. Aside from that, the city could probably drill a dozen wells to capture the aquifers of the surrounding hills.

A quirk in Mexican law allows people not to pay their water bills, (obviously Carlos Slim of Telmex never heard of this). Aside from that, the water lines are so broken that who knows what percentage actually dribbles out of the pipes after being pumped into them.

So to make up for all that, there are now 10 companies in Catemaco, racing around the city and competing to sell bottled water at 12-14 pesos per 5 gallon (19 l) jug. Meanwhile, someone in Xalapa promised to install a municipal water tower in the hills to provide pressured water.

Considering the rain quantities in Los Tuxtlas, it may seem to be ridiculous to complain about water shortages. Shortages actually exist in most communities surrounding Los Tuxtlas. Primarily because everyone shits in their water supply.

Meanwhile, I dug a 3.5 meter well and I get to sprinkle my neighborhood or anyone that walks along. That probably caused the rash of water abuse comments to Xalapa that obligated (4 inspectors, so far), to consider my water abuse, or maybe that goes under the rubric DWG (driving while Gringo).