Feb 27, 2009

Catemaco Road Signs

A curious aspect of road signage in Catemaco and possibly the rest of  Veracruz, Mexico is the proliferation of directional road signs. They are usually placed where noone would either need or heed them, and are apparently placed at the whim of a political contributor to the local governor, or often, by someone who believes in mind reading.

A left turn arrow will usually direct you to a dirt road  that in retrospect was not where you wanted to go. The sign you read, usually presumes that you know where there is an actual turnoff, usually a block or a road further on. If you have traveled in Mexico, I am sure that you took many right turns into corn patches before your intended road.

While traveling in the US, I frequently shot photos of my companions, usually my kds, crossing a state line.

Here in Los Tuxtlas, there are giant signs across the highway placed wherever someone decided to anounce something like:  "Bienvenidos a Catemaco".  The reverse side usually says something like "Thanks for visiting Catemaco"  in Spanish.

A few miles further on you will find the same sign for the next municipio (county/city). Apparently the area between these signs is a no man's land inhabited by illiterate savages.

The concept of county line, apparently, is a nonsequitur in  Spanish. Or more probably signage is a political award to fund some creative enterprises in doubling expenses..

Photo is of a neighboring county's sign after a rainstorm

Feb 26, 2009

The North Tuxtlas Coast

A little more than one hour from beautiful downtown Catemaco are some beaches that may never have been seen by a gringo, unless he was a shipwrecked sailor.

Feb 24, 2009

Catemaco Brujos 2009

The annual brujo conference in Catemaco, known worldwide as occuring on the first Friday in March, as usual will begin on the first Thursday.

More Info: Catemaco Brujos

Feb 18, 2009

Catemaco Monkeys

If you thought that monkeys only hang out in trees - You are wrong!
In beautiful uptown Catemaco the imported  macaques, supposedly sequestered on only one island, have managed to swim to a few other ones. They seem to enjoy their dips into the bordering Laguna.
Dogs love to, also. So do ducks. And the freshwater snail catchers have to. Most any other downtown local yokel prefers sponge baths. Bathtubs are priceless jewels in Los Tuxtlas.
Can you picture this monkey lathering up in a bathtub?

Feb 12, 2009

Brujo War

The internationally famous brujos of Catemaco are losing the publicity war. The dozens of local warlocks Catemaco are being outmaneuvered by hundreds of imitators as far as Europe and the US.

Classified ads in umpteen publications promise spells and limpias by a "brujo originally from Catemaco". There is now even a Google publicity campaign for an outfit calling itself brujodecatemaco with a Mexico City phone number. Another imitation brujo, actually from San Andrés Tuxtla is now promoting a site from Tabasco,accepting internet money transfers and of course, calling his site elbrujodecatemaco.
Aside from phony ads, foreign brujos are now even imitating the drug lords narcomantas (banners with drug dealer complaints), by painting their own Catemaco Brujo banners across federal highways.
So far only one Catemaco brujo has his own website.
Of course I could be judging this all wrong and the local brujos are sending all their offspring to foreign locales to spread the message.

Feb 8, 2009

24 American drug dealers killed in Mexico

That may be the next headline on the supercilious mexicophile mexfiles.net blog.
Thank the lord, Canadians don't read these headlines. They freak out after the count of 5.

Headline: Houston Chronicle: More than 200 Americans killed in Mexico since '04

Catemaco keyboards ¡¡¿

Aside from various political and ecological conditions in beautiful downtown Catemaco, the only real thing that drives me nuts is local computer keyboards.

I am probably well within my first dozen of local keyboards because either they lose the paint on the letters, or give up their last click because my coffee drowned them.
But, what really gets my goat is the variability of Spanish letters including the ubiquitous "at" sign. In the past, throughout Mexico I have pestered attendants to PLEASE tell me how to enter my email address. It seems every other keyboard has different ways to type Spanish letters,

I have no idea whether the fault lies with keyboard makers or Microsoft Windows. But here are the survival instructions that I have had to memorize in case the usual settings do not work:

ALT 160 = á
ALT 161 = í
ALT 162 = ó
ALT 163 = ú
ALT 164 = ñ
ALT 168 = ¿
ALT 130 = é
ALT 173 = ¡

and the biggy: ALT 64 for @

Catemaco Accident

A US tourist had a fender bender with a local car today. The accident was settled on the spot with 300 dollars in travelers checks.

That guy was lucky!

In provincial Mexico, most cars travel without insurance and the custom is to come to a financial arrangement on the spot between the concerned parties. If the traffic police become involved, a fender bender becomes a nightmare with or without insurance.

A sloppy driver recently bumped my parked car without damage. Within minutes he was surrounded by 20 police officers of different stripes. An hour later a tow truck arrived to take his car to the police impound, and the last I heard, it cost the poor unlicensed young driver 10,000 pesos to both get the car back and the police off his neck.

A few months earlier, another stupid driver backed into my property wall. He, too,  was towed, but unfortunately my Popoluca settled for monthly payments for the damage. Consequently, the driver defaulted without recourse for me.

A year or so before that I backed into a lamp post and am now having my reputation besmirched as a destroyer of "patrimonio nacional" (national treasure).

They should have towed the lamp post that hit me!

Feb 4, 2009

Catemaco Handicap

Beautiful downtown Catemaco, and probably the rest of Mexico, only pays lip service to the requirements of handicapped people.

Instead, regularly, like clock work, yearly articles show up portraying local political figures graciously handing out crutches, wheelchairs, etc. to some who need them. And they are all obligated to smile!
Generally, the funding for these "gifts" comes from state social services, but they are rarely around for photo opportunities unless it involves a few thousand marriage licenses.
Walking around here, or most anywhere, sooner or later requires crutches. Sidewalks, called "banquetas" in Spanish frequently are below the curb, decorated with fruit or shoe vendors and are very rarely clear to take a paseo (walk) without challenging vehicular traffic.

That's why Mexico streets are so picturesque!

Feb 2, 2009

Catemaco Amigos

Getting away from it all in Catemaco is easy. Just catch a boat to Rancho Los Amigos, a mini ecological resort, without road access, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and the narrows of Laguna Sontecomapan.

Several gringos and Europeans have built themselves hide-away cottages in the hills here.

Photo: Estampa Verde