Nov 30, 2009

What's eating me in Catemaco

That wonderful chef  Zarela has done it again! Sitting there in ugly downtown New York, she serves the best Catemaco food most of which I have never eaten in beautiful downtown Catemaco.

This is a ripoff  of her webpage of her current offering:
Catemaco and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places in Mexico with some of the best food in all of Veracruz and maybe Mexico. No wonder that ancient Mexicans thought that this was the paradise where all good souls went to rest and play for all eternity.

This weekend we are featuring a menu of specialties from the Catemaco-Los Tuxtlas area and following is one of my favorite recipes from the region: Picadillo de Pobre


Soup - Tatabiguiyayo
Beef stew flavored with achiote, tomato, mint, parsley and oregano

Corn masa and green plantain made into a thick ‘pinched’ tortilla, topped with lime and chile sauce and crumbled queso fresco

Chile Relleno de Picadillo de Pobre
Roasted poblano chile filled with shaved beef, potatoes, and carrots, flavored with achiote

Tamal de Champinones
Corn masa filled with cheese and button mushrooms sautéed with tomato, chile, herbs and spices, steamed in corn husk

Pescado al Mojo de Ajo
Fish fillet sautéed with whole unpeeled garlic cloves, lime and parsley

Costillas Ahumadas
Smoked baby back ribs served with salsa macha verde

Vegetable - Tortitas de Berros
Watercress and cheese ‘cakes’ served with ranchero sauce

Nov 29, 2009

Catemaco Potpourri

Just catching up on some things that catch my fancy in beautiful downtown Catemaco.

28 percent
That is what the Mexican IRS will charge you on the profit of a sale of unoccupied property. This is not what you have to pay with your  Mexican tax return, instead, it is directly collected  in the notary/escritura process.
Catemaco asses
Their products reach one of the most beautiful areas to the west of  Catemaco City.
Still working on the link.
Good Food & Drinks
My personal best La Sol y La Luna bit the dust.
Current runnerup is a tiny Swiss flavored restaurant in Dos Amates, on the way to the coast.
A new Spanish food restaurant is supposed to open.
And the best available restaurant on the Montepio coast, Las Casitas, is closed till the next highroller tourists arrive in April.
A new stripjoint opened, after the old one lacked well endowed clients.
You can still expect to be deadlined because of floods, wash-outs or political protest road closings anywhere in southern Veracruz, or probably anywhere in Mexico.
Sex is now illegal in Veracruz unless it is for procreational purposes. The state recently enacted a rabid anti-abortion law.
Cheap Women.
The state of Veracruz is still on the top of the list of tolerating the sale of minor and young women in indigenous communities.
Round Trips.
Mexico has hundreds of destinations that are only accessible one way for usually more than dozens of miles.
Yesterday I discovered  a new local Catemaco roundtrip along a gorgeous river and scenery  almost suitable for any car. And that is saying a lot in Los Tuxtlas.
Check for the link mañana, of course.

Nov 26, 2009

Dos Amates, Catemaco

Dos Amates is one of the nicer villages in the 500 to 1000 population range in Los Tuxtlas. I had the benefit of  having my Popoluca's daughter spending a year of social service in the community to atone for her medical school education. Naturally we visited often and took lots of photos.

I recommend reading the page because it is a microcosm of the social development of  a non native community in Los Tuxtlas. The village is also a beautiful place to visit with an attractive waterfall and a great little Swiss restaurant.

Nov 24, 2009

San Martin Pajapan

On my list of adventures to get away from beautiful downtown Catemaco is a climb up the San Martin Pajapan volcano. This trip is now 5 years in procrastination so I think it is time to make room for someone who actually did it.

Trip report from Coen Driessen:

Last Saturday I went to climb relatively unknown San Martin Pajapan Volcano and because there is not much information and/or pictures on the internet about this volcano, I have added some pictures so you might want to post it on your website for general use.

To climb the mountain you'll have to go to the town Pajapan. There aren't many locals who know the way all up to the top, but after asking around for about an hour we met a man named Roberto Martinez Martinez (Adolfo Ruiz Cortines # 45, Pajapan, no phone) who works in the 'biosfera' on the mountain and has an excellent knowledge of the area. It is strongly recommended to use a guide because of the vast jungle and very few trails.

The hike to the top takes about 3-4 hours and is mainly dense jungle. There is not too much of a trail to the top, so mostly you'll have to use a machete to cut your way through. There are many monkeys living on the moutain (mainly on the upper part ) which makes it quite interesting. From the top of the mountain you will have an excellent view of the sea and the city of Coatzacoalcos.

Roberto, the guide (54-years old), told me that several months ago a scientist stayed at the top for about a month, documenting all flora and fauna existing on the volcano. Probably he has much more information about the volcano.

There is just one steep part where you have to pass through some sort of a canyon which is quite steep and slippery (because of loose sand, leaves, tree branches etc), but that is the only difficult part.

The spot where the Pajapan statue was found is, as far as I understood from the guide, between 2 outcroppings somewhere on the top. We did not pass by that spot on the route we took. I do think however that Roberto, the guide, knows exactly where the statue was located.

All in all it is a great trek and definitely worth a visit.

If you need more info, you can mail me at
Thanks Coen, when I make it to the top, I'll be toasting you.

Cerro Pipiapan, Catemaco

Beautiful Catemaco unfortunately is afflicted by mayors who are graduates of the school for the deaf, dumb and blind.

While neighboring San Andres is remodeling its downtown to impress tourists, and creating natural parks like El Parque Ecologico del Cerro de Venado and the Luis Bianchi Botanical Gardens, the Catemaco government promotes the opening of more cantinas and strip clubs.

There is a magnificent hill in Catemaco, which would put to shame the multimillion peso investment of Cerro Venado.

Cerro Pipiapan, on the dirt road to Vista Hermosa, just north of Laguna Catemaco, is already furnished with volcanic rock steps to its summit with fantastic views of the Gulf of Mexico, Laguna Catemaco and Laguna Sontecomapan. Heck, you can even see San Andres in the distance.

The property is for sale- cheap!, because parts of it have been invaded by the usual politically motivated land grabbers of Los Tuxtlas.

Nov 22, 2009

Beautiful downtown Catemaco is a hotbed of internet manipulations. One would think that this godforsaken paradise in Los Tuxtlas would not generate enough interest to internet warriors.

The usual domains: - owned by an internet domain trader, refused a US 1000 dollar offer. - I own it, whoopeedo! - owned by a shoestring resort operator, against  all .org domain rules. - owned by someone in Xalapa, Veracruz without  a website.

The Mexican Domains - now owned by a domain trader. The original Catemaco owner was too mad at me for starting a competing page and rejected my $ 1000 for the domain name, and when he was too broke to pay for the renewal, I missed out on the new registration. - became available in October  09 and is now owned by a domain trader. - the official Catemaco government site. The page is dead, of course!

Other names in use - Hotel Catemaco

I also own and, and - I registered it because I was and am disenchated with them, to put it mildly. 

Google lately has been changinging its search algorithms and  seems to be very much preferential to searches in Spanish for sites with any latin country domain suffix instead of  the language used on the web site.

So I looked to register a few quicky .mx or names.
It turns out Mexico is the most expensive place in the world to register a domain name! Instead of the usual $7.99 cost to register most international domains, I am now quoted US $ 50.00 by the Mexican registration agency. (They are so backward that they still do not publicize the increased .mx costs).

Nov 11, 2009

Nanciyaga, Catemaco

A drive to Nanciyaga was my first venture out of beautiful downtown Catemaco many years ago. I paid my entrance fee and thought I would take a nice solitary walk around the park and therefore rejected the entreaties of guides to accompany me. Trying to cross the hanging bridge, the owner dressed in a suit, chased me down and forbade me to go any further without a guide. I turned around and left.

Four years later, I mellowed down and actually took a guided tour. A few more years later I discovered the owner was actually a nice human being. So now, after a few more years and a few hundred pages about most anything in existence in Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas, I finally devoted a page to: