Dec 28, 2010

Jolly Catemaco

It is not the season to be jolly in beautiful downtown Catemaco. At least for considerably more than half the municipal employees.

As of January 1st, a new mayor is in town and every one of them is at the whim of politics to either continue to be employed or to join the unemployed.

There is no functional civil service in Mexico. And the consequences are as can be expected: generally inefficient, corrupt, unfriendly, brow beaten and kowtowing to their superiors.

Mexican municipal governments separate their workers into three classes, base, confianza and elected.

"Elected workers" are the elected officials. In Catemaco there are 5, the presidente municipal (mayor), 4 regidores (councilmen) and 1 sindico (comptroller+/-). Effectively only the mayor is of importance. All are significantly over paid in relation to the median wages of their electorate. On the municipal level they are elected for three years, and cannot be reelected until 3 more years have passed.

"Confianza" employees are generally all the bosses and sub-bosses of departments, technicians and specialty workers. Their pay schedule is considerably below that of elected workers but way above the "base" employees. They are appointed by the mayor. Well substantiated rumors claim that  many contribute a percentage of their salaries to their political bosses. Although the mayor appoints most, significant interference is exerted by superior level politicians.

"Base" employees are generally the peons of the system, mostly near minimum wage workers, doing mostly menial jobs. Unless temporarily contracted, after 6 months they have lifetime tenure, and are damn hard and very expensive, to get rid off. They are entitled to form one, and only one, union.

Obviously the temporary nature of elected and confianza workers is problematic. Their only hope for future employment is related to their political connections.

Elected workers only continued employment rests with the next level government, which is the state, in case of municipal employees.

Obviously the best interest of elected and confianza workers lies in themselves instead of their community. The results are obvious to anyone familiar with Mexico.

Dec 23, 2010

Casa de los Tesoros, Catemaco

The daughter of the former owner, fondly known as Fool on the Hill, of the best handicrafts store in southern Veracruz, La Casa de los Tesoros, reopened her parent´s dream after 20 years, below the basilica, in an upstairs locale with a grand view of the plaza.

The store now includes a limited bistro menu featuring bagels, novel omelettes, great wines, desserts and Japanese tea.

Despite monthly buying trips to Oaxaca, Guatemala and other trinket centers, she now has a hard time keeping her shelves full.

Meanwhile, because of the convivial atmosphere, most Catemaco newcomers and foreign tourists have made the "Casa Lost" their favorite home away from home.

Mexico 30

The Santa Claus lookalike who had been kidnapped seven months ago, apparently paid a 30 million dollar ransom. This kidnap has to be the Mexican joke of the year.

Pemex plans to spend 30 million pesos to compensate the up to 30 deads of the recent gasline explosion which supposedly resulted from an illegal tap which supposedly costs Pemex 3 and a half billion pesos per year.

Mexico just handed out its first life sentence to an 18 year old. Up to now the maximum was 30 years.

And of course there are more than 30 thousand drug war related deaths.

Chedraui is keeping Walmart on its toes. The Veracruz based chain plans 30 more stores next year in Mexico, plus some in the US.
And on the world wide scene: 30 died near Christmas Island.
Merry Christmas

Dec 21, 2010

Catemaco Fire

Just the day before yesterday I walked onto the dock and noticed its deteriorating condition with missing and loose planks. As usual I was accosted by one of the resident winos for a handout. Today at 2 in the morning, the son of my Popoluca came racing into the house grabbing my fire extinguisher and  yelling "the dock is burning".

In 2006, a local Belgian quiropractor and sailing enthusiast promoted the idea of a Yacht Club in Catemaco, assuring that 200 sail boats would arrive and make the Laguna a sailing center. He found some support in government circles, and  a Veracruz  government agency approved plans to solicit construction of a marina at the end of the Malecón of Laguna Catemaco. And then the project died.

Apparently the Belgian and some unknown associates then went ahead and constructed a dock and a palapa, a little north of the Koniapan hotel. Sometime later ownership apparently changed hands, and the dock is now supposedly owned the by the son of the owner of  Nanciyaga, who also manages the sewage running down Catemaco streets.

For about a year, the Belgian, who owns the only sail boat anchored in the Laguna, stationed his boat next to the dock until it sank from the side effects of a tropical storm passing over the lake.

Meanwhile the vaunted dock found absolutely no use and became a favorite hangout for the dozens of winos that congregate in the area and the occasional kids who used it as a dangerous playground and diving platform.

In 2007 the surrounding are was again heavily promoted as the site of a 30 million peso marina project. That also died.

Apparently the fire was caused by firecracker, common this time of year, and dangerous because Catemaco has no fire department. Now, I presume, for the next few years, Catemaco will just have another eyesore encumbering the beauty of Laguna Catemaco.

Catemaco is for the birds

181 species of them in 3 days. See Robert Straub's trip report here.

Dec 20, 2010

No more beautiful downtown Catemaco

Because of the recent self imposed disappearance of Catemaco News readership (change of internet address) and also because I am bored stiff  when it is cold and rainy here, I now plan to extend my comments beyond beautiful downtown Catemaco to include Veracruz and the rest of Mexico.

Aside from entertaining the occasional gringo reader it will also provide some foreign insight into Mexico to those locals who use the Spanish translation feature.

My primary English sources, aside from Google are:;
Latin American Herald,
El Economista column of Roberto Mena
Mexico Feeds by
For Mexican sources, I use:
Catemaco Diario Enlaces

Guillain Barré.

34 cases of a form of the rare paralyzing disease of Guillain Barré were recently diagnosed in Cordoba, about 120 miles northwest of Catemaco.

Dec 19, 2010

Catemaco Prohibition

I am one of the dinosaurs who still smokes in beautiful downtown Catemaco and today I was hit with the price of 40 pesos per pack after a recent federally imposed  price increase. About 80 % of that price is federal Mexican taxes.

Where are the Narcos when I need them? Many of the older ones started as bootleggers during the alcohol prohibition days of the US. Tobacco should be a fertile ground for them.

I remember enjoying 10 bucks per carton days in Baja California when the San Diego price was US 25.

COME ON NARCOS, there is more money in tobacco than dope!

Catemaco "BOOM"

May all gods forgive me, but I chuckle about the regular explosions occurring around México. This has nothing to do with narco wars, just the incompetence of Mexico to regulate itself.

The recent news of 15 deaths involving a robbery of a Mexico oil pipeline is just a  minor figure in the statistics of gas pipeline and tanks explosions, petroleum explosions, fireworks explosions, and even car explosions.

Here in beautiful downtown Catemaco, events are relatively quiet this year, with only the occasional  similacrum of an Afghanistan bomb sounding fire cracker being exploded.
For several  previous years, I seriously wanted to buy ear muffs to protect myself and my dog, except of course for the occasional touristic fireworks that sometimes are superlative when some governmental tinhead decides to sponsor one.

Meanwhile everyone is anxiously awaing the burning of the "viejo" at the end of the year in Catemaco.
That is when hundreds of houses in Catermaco plant a manequin of an old man in front of their homes, stuffed with junk and fireworks to explode on New Years eve.

Just make sure your car is a block away, if you can find one that's not occupied by a manequin.


Dec 18, 2010

Catemaco Volcanoes

For being a little hick town in the middle of nowhere, Catemaco has a plethora of natural beauty almost unequaled anywhere in the word within a 30 mile diameter.

Rocky coves hidden on the desolate Gulf coast, sand dunes harboring endangered turtles and plants, fresh water lakes teeming with fish, a coastal lagoon, pine and mangrove forests, orchid riddled jungle, majestic waterfalls, kayakable rapids, raging rivers in the rainy season, and mostly overlooked although hitting you in the eye, a series of majestic volcanoes.

They are actually my favorite spots in Los Tuxtlas, mostly bereft of tourists but welcoming any lover of nature. But an article I wrote about them was well hidden in the pages which are only read by connoisseurs. Now it's in the touristic section:

Dec 13, 2010

Catemaco Movies

The last movie theater in Catemaco closed 10 or more years ago. San Andrés hung on a little longer until about 6 years ago.

This weekend San Andrés reopened with 2 screens and Harry Potter, a block north of city hall.

Meanwhile Cafe de Nadie above the bank in Catemaco features a Tuesday movie night with mostly "artsy" choices.

Dec 11, 2010

Catemaco Blurp

There is no news from beautiful downtown Catemaco, unless you want to include some 9 foot stick figures walking around neighboring San Andrés, a few patches of the side walk of the Malecón offering to swallow tourists, some outrageous promises from the in-coming mayor, the up-count of snowbirds passing through the nearby gringo haven, or a few thousand pilgrims running around to bless the local Virgin.

On the crime scene, everything is quiet. The usual 'hubby slashed a wife or friend with a machete story' is going strong and the not so usual, young woman "hanged herself"  nearby is still  going on. That actually seems to be becoming a minor habit here.

Gas prices went up again, but they are still substantially below the US 8.76 pesos per liter in Mexico versus 9.74 pesos on average per liter in the US. Do your own gallon configurations (3.74 per liter).

Veracruz has a new governor, and he thoughtfully decided to change all public announcements to be of a rainbow colored hue, instead of the freaking RED of the PRI party that had dominated Veracruz for the past 6 or 71  years. So now there are worriers that the rainbows may be saying that  Veracruz is gay. It sure is! During the annual carnival you can´t walk around the port of Veracruz without getting goosed. (if you have something to goose).

While on the subject of gays in Mexico, Mexico City apparently has now gone all out to declare itself a gay destination, possibly to take advantage of their disposable income which seems to be around twice that of straight travelers.

I can see it now:

Sheeeett, Catemaco has all the attributes of a potential gay city, noisy discos on the Malecon, artsy crafts shops, hairdressers, hindful government officials, blossoming business owners and 101 or more marvelous attractions to stick a nose into.

It also has a whole strip of bars on the main highway running through the town, that attracts vendors with Victoria Secrets catalogs for all the guys that love guys along the strip. Plus it has a natural aphrodisiac made from slimy local water snails, Tegogolos.

Anyway, anything would be better than a bunch of ancient gringos sucking up the little disposable air in Catemaco.

Honorable mention of the month goes to the Los Tuxtlas inhabitants who on at least 4 occasions in the last month blocked both the federal toll road and the federal highway leading south from Veracruz. You have to take pity on the people that do that, because they know that it is the only way to get attention from anything above a local political level. Viva la democracia in Mexico.

Nepotism is another one of those words that is little understood in Mexico. The current elect mayor appointed his wife, to run the county´s welfare agency. If he hads sons he would probably declare them sherriffs a la (what's the name of that movie).

When the boardwalk of Catemaco was constructed, the Mexican federal agency "Comision de Aguas Naturales" took control of  the area that the Malecon was built on. Naturally, a few existing restaurants were grandfathered in.
Over the years, little by little, that terrain was nibbled on and allowed various hotels to monopolize parking areas, and other property owners to increase their front yard.  More damaging though was the profusion of shanty gift shops along the Laguna side of the Malecón.

This last year has seen the addition of a dozen more chintzty stalls along the Malecon, along with the clandestine sale or right of possession of most of the inward side of the Malecón. If the trend continues, there will be no more vision of the potentially most beautiful boardwalk in Mexico.

Oh yeah, before I forget, hit and run accidents killed a few more people in Los Tuxtlas. A few monts ago an  involved driver left his wife and dying baby to avoid facing Mexican justice, same as most involved drivers do. Please, have insurance or lots of money while driving in Mexico unless you want to experience Mexican "justice".

A new restaurant recently opened on the site of a famous local swamp and is not worth commenting, another, a small chain from San Andrés is more promising, but right now it is only hearsay, along with another super market and international chain hotel looking for space to build.

Also, I have been told, that I am planning a seaplane harbor next to the Malecón.

Excluding the local intermittent gringo haven, the local gringo count is remaining at 7 residents plus a few part timers, plus a bunch of non gringos but not Mexicans.

Dec 7, 2010

Catemaco Marsupilami

The French are making a monkey out of Catemaco, or maybe it's a leopard, or a dog.

They recently started shooting the film "Marsupilami" in the jungle of  the "La Jungla" campground and other choice locations around Los Tuxtlas. The main character is a popular French cartoon animal, and I presume the scenes shot here will be backdrops to its antics.

Update: This is one of my more stupid posts on Catemaco News, so I really do not understand its popularity.

Anyway, the movie crowd was here,  and barely anyone noticed them. They bought a mess of potted plants to create stage sets, and upon use, tried to sell them locally for inflated prices. Some of their plaster casts are still adorning local dives.

As of 5 nov 2011 I still do not know if that flick ever hit a screen anywhere.

Dec 2, 2010

Catemaco Kind Soul

I've consolidated all the attractions of Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas from a dozen different chapters into one compact segment.

If there is a kind soul out there who knows how to spell or even better who knows Los Tuxtlas, will it please proofread the segment and alert me to errors and omissions.

Thanks, I'll owe you a cup of homegrown coffee or imported Mezcal.

Catemaco Press

Old Folks Alert!
Nice plug about Catemaco in MexicoConnect
Scouting Mexico retirement scenes

Nov 27, 2010

The Corn Trail from Catemaco to Soteapan

There is almost no functional access to the Sierra Santa Marta from Catemaco. The Brecha del Maiz, corn trail, is supposed to fix that.

Still under construction after 4 years, the road was heavily damaged by the weather events of late 2010. Right now the road is passable.

I recommend the trip for any adventurous soul in Catemaco who wants to see and know more about an area of Los Tuxtlas that holds most of its indigenous history, is totally impoverished, out of the mainstream, and ignored by Veracruz and Mexican politicians.

Travel the Corn Trail

Nov 26, 2010

Catemaco Gas

Along with gasoline, the behemoth PEMEX also controls the LPG supply (liquid petroleum gas) of Mexico. Distribution, though, is in private hands, and is alleged to be controlled by Mexico’s famous handful of family oligarchs.

Mexico is not self sufficient in butane and propane, the two major ingredients of LPG gas. More than 5% of Mexican gas stocks are flared, (burned), instead of being captured. Any shortage in stocks is covered by imports from the US. Piped natural gas installations, although considerably more cost effective, are still a rarity in Mexico. The great majority of Mexican homes depend on gas cylinders or residential stationary tanks, for both cooking and water heating. Mexico is the world’s largest consumer of residential LPG gas.

Catemaco, Veracruz is served by 2 gas companies, which maintain irregular route service to exchange tanks. The system is inconvenient, wasteful, incompetent, corrupt and expensive.

1. - To initiate gas service, the user must first buy his own tank, which can then be exchanged for a gas company tank. (600+/- pesos for a 20 kg tank)
2. - If you exchange that shiny new tank, you will receive a banged up, rusty cylinder.
3. - At any time, if there is a problem with a tank, the company will exchange it free. If there is a problem with the valve, the user is charged.  Guess the percentage of tanks versus valves!
4. - This is cash country. If nobody is at home to pay for the exchange, no tank is delivered.
5. - If you carry your own tank to the gas company and it is still 1/3 full, you will be charged for filling the whole tank.
6. - As with gasoline, you may be charged for 20 kg and only receive 18.
7. - There is no delivery or pickup service on Sunday, and both companies take long lunch hours, open late and close early.
8. - There is no delivery service by appointment, except for stationary tanks.
9. - The LPG price is fixed by the government once every month, and is roughly based on international pricing. 201 pesos per 20 kg (Nov 2010)
10. - Caloric content of Mexican LPG (BTU, the actual heat potential) is kept a secret from Mexican consumers, so price comparison with electricity is not functional, but it definitely is cheaper.

Gas Tanks come in 3 basic sizes, plus some smaller portable tanks, 10, 20 and 30 Kg. Theres is also a 45 Kg tank  which weighs almost as much as a Volkswagen. Catemaco’s most popular tank is the 20 Kg version which weighs as much as a skinny muchacha. (100 lbs+/-)

The 20 Kg tank is recommendable for consumers filling their own tanks. A typical installation of 2 x 20 Kg tanks plus a two way valve will cost almost 2000 pesos, including a handtruck and a wrench. Filling your own tanks saves the aggravation of messing with abused valve systems and often having to pay for them. (Incidentally I have yet to locally find a slip valve system to install on my tanks instead of the cumbersome left turn wrench system).

LPG gas is odorless. Methanethiol is added to create a noticeable foul smell in case of leakage. Mexico had a very major LPG gas explosion about 20 years ago and minor ones every week.
At present (Nov 2010) the cost of LPG gas is roughly 10 pesos per kilogram. That is approximately 20 pesos per gallon. Current US price averages US $ 2.50+ per gallon. In my experience a 20 Kg tank costing 200+ pesos (Nov 2010), lasts 2 people about a month, using a stove, but no oven, a hot water heater and an electric washing machine. One important observation is that the tank(s) will only be empty when whoever changes them is taking a shower!

LPG gas is also popular as an alternative fuel for many trucks in Los Tuxtlas, and supported by 2 filling stations with short hours. The fuel LPG is cheaper than the home LPG because it is not taxed as much.

Note: Repeated from 2006 after editing.

Nov 24, 2010

Laguna Encantada, near Catemaco

A short drive from beautiful downtown Catemaco lies a picture perfect lake in which an Indian princess supposedly sacrificed herself to assure fresh water for her people.

Nowadays brujos (witches) use a cave near the lake's edge to hold satanic masses, sacrifice whatever is available and other bewitching stuff.

Nov 20, 2010

Catemaco business for sale

The local gringo haven is for sale. Please hurry up and take the owner out of his misery before the price goes up again.

For 2 million bucks you get 2 gorgeous acres on  330 feet of the Catemaco river, studded with pimienta and bougainvillae trees, 7 rental casitas and apartments plus lots of spaces to park trailers, all enclosed by huge walls.

The rental units are usually fully rented to non-Mexicans, and the compound is the only functional campground and RV park within 100 miles north or south, making it almost an obligatory stop for anyone traveling the torturous Los Tuxtlas highways.

The facility also includes a huge restaurant setup, 2 luscious pools, restrooms and laundry facilities. With the addition of a few more rental units this could be a real money maker.

See the link in:

Nov 13, 2010

Blackballed in Catemaco

Getting blackballed in beautiful downtown Catemaco is actually good for you. That is if you are a Mexican of conscription age.

Since 1944, Mexico has required national military service of any male between the ages of 18 and 40. Females were not wanted until 2006 when voluntary enlistment became available.

Males must register at age 18, and during the following year are obligated to attend a lottery where their military service is decided. The lottery is administered by SEDENA, the Mexican Defense Force, and consists of drawing balls from an urn.

A black ball gives the lucky winner a free ride from military service except being on standby until age 40.

A white ball compells the lucky winner to perform military service, generally described by young men as "marching" on weekends, with almost no military training. (A blue ball, sometimes used in Veracruz, lands the winner in the Navy.)

Failure to have a valid "cartilla" (draft card) may obstruct foreign travel, enrollment in some schools and unavailability of some jobs. Since some legal changes in 2002, that likelihood has diminished.

All of the fighting ranks of the Mexican army and navy are filled by voluntary enrollment with a minimum of 3 years for privates.

Remarkably only 189 Mexican military have died among the supposed 28000 war dead in the current Mexican War on Drugs
Probably more Mexican Americans soldiers (based on casualties with Hispanic surnames who must have valid US citizenship or residence and also includes non Mexican Hispanics), are being killed in the Mideast wars than Mexican soldiers in the Mexican Drug War. Total Iraq+ so far: 489.

Nov 9, 2010

Catemaco Hummer

Have you seen a blue Hummer lately? If you have, call the equivalent of 911 in Mexico.

I imagine blue Hummers are as obsequious as Nissan Taxis in Mexico. That's is why probably this particular Hummer will never be found.

Its occupants wacked a local newly elected mayor and his entourage of 2 a day ago in an agricultural town about 50 miles northwest of Catemaco. (See the dead ones and the crime history). That area of the municipalities of Rodriguez Clara, Isla and Tuxtepec probably has not seen a tourist since Hernan Cortes, unless a tourist had to drive through there when detoured during the recent flooding.

The area is famous for killings, kidnappings, shootouts on the streets and just general mayhem. It has nothing to do with the northern drug wars going on in the rest of Mexico. It is its own Oaxaca influenced political and narco killing fields, and  is just one of the areas that has maintained the murder rate in Mexico at almost triple the US rate, even before the "drug war".

To partially see why, read

Anyway, if you´re ever in the area, between Isla and Rodriguez, there is possibly one of the best steak restaurants in Mexico. A little expensive, between 300 and 400 pesos per dish, but definitely worth visiting, especially if you drive a blue Hummer.

Correction: STOP LOOKING - the dead were found inside the blue Hummer.

Update: Certain local bozos go ballistic everytime I mention local crime. Here is some insight from one of my favorite bloggers: Gancho.
(Over?)Attention to Crime
"Out of curiosity, I tallied the number of news stories (excluding op-ed columns) in the front section of Monday's Excélsior that were related to crime, and those that were not. The final tally: 17 were crime-related, 14 not. That strikes me as a high proportion; Excélsior is a bit more sensational than El Universal, but it's not a yellow rag. I'll check El Universal and Milenio's content if I can online, but I imagine that their proportions are not grossly dissimilar."

But apparently the Mexican ambassador to the US does not read Mexican newspapers, as reported by the BBC.
Foreign media 'focus too much on Mexico drug violence'
Mexico's ambassador to the US has criticised the international media for paying excessive attention to the drug-related violence in his country.  Arturo Sarukhan said news organisations gave the impression the whole of Mexico was ablaze with violence.

Nov 6, 2010

Getting out of Catemaco

Don´t get your hopes up, Bozos!

The two young Scandinavian women who lived 4 months in beautiful downtown Catemaco and who studied spider monkeys in the Tropical Fauna and Flora Park left here during the nadir of the Veracruz weather mess.

While here one woman published a few wonderful anecdotes about the area in her blog. Apparently it took her a month to recover, but she finally reminisced about her last day here. A good read!

Nov 5, 2010

The North Shore of Laguna Catemaco

and see Nanciyaga, Amayaga, Coyame, Tebanca, Cuetzalapan, Ahuacapan and Las Margaritas

Nov 4, 2010

Catemaco Brujo Stuff

Seems like the chief exorcist of  the catholic Archdiocese of Xalapa has decided that beautiful downtown Catemaco needs a professional exorcism because of its prevailing malignant spirits.

The chief, who is also famous for whitwashing narco amulets, has invited 10 of his colleagues to clean up the supposed "cradle of witchcraft". Apparently though, he does know his limitations, and recognizes that he may drive out the evil spirts from the geography of Catemaco, but not from us many contaminated locals.
So there is hope.
Read the article in Spanish here.

And of course, a new explorer of "brujismo" has arrived in the pueblo and is adding his two cents:
Day 1 and 2 with the witches of Catemaco.

Incidentally the brujo pages are the individual most popular destinations of readers of, both in English and in Spanish. And they desperately need a rewrite. Maybe next year.

Oct 31, 2010

Catemaco LBFM

First time I heard "LBFM" was from a past middle aged Gringo, diabetes consumed, former "friend" who wanted to make Catemaco his home about 8 years ago.

Then through the years, I heard the expressions from weird Gringos hauling their junk from the US border through Catemaco on their way to the coasts of Honduras where supposedly "LBFM's" were dirt cheap.

About a week ago I met another gringo in Catemaco who wanted to know if I knew any "LBFM's".

Frankly, I do not know any "Little Brown Fucking Machines". 

But if you frequent the zona roja on the carretera in Catemaco you will probably find "FM's". Just make sure that they are of the gender that you were looking for.

Catemaco Work

Beautiful downtown Catemaco depends on tourism.

But in my heart I question whether some of that tourism deserves to exists.

This weekend, October 29 to November 3 again is one of those famous "puentes" when the entire government shuts down.  Anyone in Mexico worth their political soul, including every politician, occupants of any job above mid range political rungs, judges, notaries, teachers or most municipal employees, will abscond from their duties which by Mexican federal law should only include the 2nd of November.

Meanwhile all the "little people" of Mexico  work their usual 10 to 12 hour days, 6 days a week, without overtime, to make sure the above "pendejos" can return to their work and make sure that the rubber bands that hold Mexico together keep stretching.

Oct 22, 2010

Catemaco Sprinkles

Catemaco News has just about died which will probably thrill the Tepetapan tourism booster bozo and his in-crowd.

I changed this blog's address from to the original almost 3 months ago, because I listened to my survival instinct. And expectedly I dropped 100 or so average daily readers and feed subscribers. Today 240 of the 400 old posts of the News since 2006 are STILL listed by Google, but they sent you to never-never land.  And of course the change destroyed links from more than a dozen pages.

Now, presumably readers finding a Catemaco News post on Google or on a link, are conditioned to ignore the "News", because readership has dropped to about a dozen. (PS in the publishing "empire" of,  the "News" in the last few years was less than a 3% contributor.)

Things are heating up around Catemaco. Aside from the usual drunk machete wielding killers, there have been some worrisome presumed drug lord encounters in nearby Veracruz City and Coatzacoalcos. The last Zeta I talked to, just before he was killed, had told me, Don´t worry, be happy!, because supposedly they controlled the situation.
BTW: Ironically, The Latin American Tribune is the best English news feed for Mexico and Veracruz.

It would be a shame to start besmirching my opinion of Veracruz's reputation as the home of only peace loving inhabitants, and Catemaco as the home of retired Zetas.

Maybe the weather drove them nuts. Since the last fiasco of the aftermaths of Hurricane Karl and Matthew, two more potential hurricanes wiggled themselves into striking range. Fortunately, none of the 4 caused major damage in Catemaco, irregardless of the "DISASTER" screaming money hungry leader of the county's government.

The first cold waves of autumn have been arriving, and it became time to unpack those Alaskan down comforters for us of thin tropical blood.

The next few weeks should probably be some of the most gorgeous in Los Tuxtlas. - Everything lushly green, relatively cool, clear air, and no tourists. That's probably why I'll be heading north for a few days. I miss the tourists.

Banks in Veracruz are having a field day. The government announced "fondos perdidos" (don't pay me back loans) for people having incurred damage during the last few disasters. Now anyone that got their feet wet is clamoring for a loan, and the processing of normal bank business is almost at a standstill. (I'm the victim of a client's repeatedly postponed closing of a mortgage.)

Hotels in Catemaco and the associated tourism providers are the real victim of this last mess. Business usually is lousy this time of year, but even a louse would feel lonely in the lobbies of most hotels.

The local newspaper business is a vanity affair. A few years ago the major news rag Diario Los Tuxtlas fell out of love with the local mayor and for almost 3 years now has consistenly only published bad news about Catemaco that would make Tepetapan residents cry.  And they still buy that crap in Catemaco.
Not to be outdone, every major newspaper in Los Tuxtlas, plus blogs, are now on the bandwagon.

I mentioned road blocks a few posts ago. More true than ever. During the darkest days of the recent weather disaster, political jerks across Veracruz blocked federal and state highways for hours at a time to protest delays in aid, electoral decisions, etc. As far as I know it is a federal crime to block highways. Just chalk one up for blind justice!

Another stick of chalk should be wacked at INEGI, the Mexican statistical agency. They used to report the crime rates in Mexico, but have now disappeared them, and are now only publishing convictions.
The murder rate was above 10 thousand before the drug wars. I keep wondering whether they should be added to the annual bloodbath reported for drug related killings.

Mexico is just as corrupt as ever, only its rating is getting worse. In the latest corruption rankings of 178 countries released recently by Transparency International, Mexicocame in at number 98, down 10 slots from last year.

Ok - what's new in Catemaco?
Nada - zip - zilch.
Oh yeah, they opened a bring one-take one book exchange at the Casa de Los Tesoros and they keep stocking bagels from who knows where; 
there is a rumor that the Walmart/Aurrera store is considering closing because the local Rodeo store keeps outselling them; (I think the Rodeo does so, but I don´t believe the rumor);
some guy from San Andrés now delivers several courses of  homecooked meals;
a few bars changed hands, reopened, got wasted or whatever and lost their volume controls.,
and trash pickup has become do it yourself service.

I have been on Facebook for a while now and have accumulated more than 500 "friends" mostly from the Catemaco area, many of whom are apparently unable to spell. They use a language call texting based on cell phone communication. That is usually not too difficult to decipher, but many use abbreviations or acrononyms only known to select groups. Aside from that they have a propensity for saying "jajaja" in every sentence. Fortunately Facebook has a function to shut them up. So now I am down to 103 "friends" that never said "jaja" or "jiji"; which is the equivalent of LOL in the good old AOL days.
Sample:  wENooOO PuueEZ MeE GUztA vivIR mi VIda MUi loK Y meE gUZTA paZaR La MAYOr partE De nMI tIEMpoooO koN mIS amiWooS

|Just struggling to survive!  Send or bring dollars!

Oct 20, 2010

Catemaco Loft

Here you may select a book or other reading material and - sipping your coffee, tea, wine or whatever - relax comfortably in a hammock or seat, reading peacefully.

We have a broad range of fiction and non-fiction in English and Spanish.

Our Book Exchange Plan is based on the principle of "bring a book - take a book". You may borrow as many books as you wish, replacing them with an equal number of books that you have brought. If you do not presently have a book to exchange, speak with us and we'll work something out.

(We will also gladly accept donations of used or new books. We are especially in need of Spanish language books at present.)

We plan on showing films every Wednesday evening at 7:30, free of charge to our customers. These films will include both documentaries and commercial films.

WiFi, of course, is available free to our customers in " the loft ".

We sincerely hope that " the loft " will be an added pleasure for our customers, and that it will promote reading, through our free book exchange plan, among the residents, our amigos, of Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas.
La Casa de Los Tesoros
Calle Aldama Altos #4
Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico

(Third floor, on the lake side of the Church of the Virgen del Carmen)
(294) 943 2910
" the loft " is available for meetings and presentations; including video and sound equipment.

Oct 14, 2010

Get rich quick in Catemaco

How would you like to lend money at 63% simple interest, secured by gold jewelry valued at 50% of its scrap metal value?

And you do not have to worry about government fiduciary laws and regulations. There are none.
If you like the idea, come to beautiful downtown Catemaco, and open a pawnshop that only accepts gold. No guitars, diamonds, TV's or chainsaws accepted.

Until four years ago, Catemaco had no pawnshop, and one itty bitty bank. Today the fourth pawn shop opened its doors.

Pawning is just about the only financial resource for people without access to bank or personal loans. That means poor people. They can obviously afford the interest and risk.

Oct 11, 2010

Catemaco Disaster

The Catemaco mayor, totally diregarding the sensibilities of the Hotel Tepetapan tourism promoters, instigated the declaration of a disaster or emergency zone on 6 or so occasions in the last few months. The federal government so far has complied for 3 dates, but is resting on its laurels about the recent flooding of the Malecon.

Personally, I have yet to see a real disaster striking beautiful downtown Catemaco, but I am eagerly waiting for the "BIG ONE".

Oct 8, 2010

Catemaco Tropical Flora and Wildlife Park

Catemaco what?

There really is such a park. Unfortunately it is closed to the public.

Oct 5, 2010

Catemaco health

it's bigger than it looks

Catemaco health care is something to die for.

My local family, who is not among the rich and famous of Mexico but does include 2 doctors, heads for Veracruz City specialists at the drop of a suspected problem. Need a new eyeglass prescripton? head for Veracruz. The kid is sick? head for Veracruz. Think you need an operation, head for Xalapa.

Apparently so far, I am the only one that has faith in the local doctors that have attended me, although I sympathize with serious trauma victims or those with serious problems who confront a voluntary or inadequate public ambulance trip to hospitals 3 hours away.

Veracruz classifies its public hospitals into 3 classes: 
Class 1 - a community hospital, with a few beds and a few specialists,
Class 2 - a regional "teaching" hospital with a few more beds and a few more specialists, but lacking major diagnostic tools, serious trauma care and a fully stocked pharmacy.  
Class 3 - a  full service hospital, but lacking a full pharmacy of branded drugs.

The closest class 3 hospitals are in Coatzacoalcos and Veracruz City. Nearby San Andrés Tuxtla has a class 2 hospital, Catemaco has a class 1.

In addition there are federal social security hospitals (IMSS), federal government employee hospitals (ISSTE), para governmental hospitals for PEMEX employees, military hospitals and private hospitals ranging from death traps to excellent. San Andrés has the equivalent of a class 2 IMSS hospitals and several small private hospitals. Catemaco has several private clinics with beds for operated patients.

The recent disaster of flooding and road destruction has now produced a beneficial result for the Catemaco population. The class 2 IMSS hospital at Lerdo de Tejada, which sustained major damage during the recent flood, will be abandoned and supposedly converted to a class 1.  Salvageable items were supposedly moved to San Andrés Tuxtla.

Unannounced, but projected, is the conversion of San Andrés into a class 3 hospital, which will probably take a few years, but will be a giant step in the right direction of local healthcare with improved facilites, equipment and specialists for a service area of more than 350 thousand people.

Update: the Veracruz representative for IMSS denies changes in Lerdo and proposes opening a tent hospital.

Oct 2, 2010

Catemaco Food

There are several excellent English blogs about Mexican Food, and all dwell on recipes, flavors, looks, etc.

A current  visitor to beautiful downtown Catemaco has now added a new wrinkle by concentrating on only canned and packaged food available in Mexico. Plus he rates them on taste. Definitely food for thought.

Other good sites:

Sep 28, 2010

Catemaco Island

Catemaco is royally screwed.
Highways to the north, south and west are disrupted. Heavy rains and the incompetents that manage the dams holding Laguna Catemaco in check, have resulted in parts of downtown Catemaco being flooded:

Enjoy the views of beautiful downtown Catemaco:

Update: the flood of  less than 2 feet lasted less than 36 hours.

Update: Sep 30 - No passage south or north of Catemaco
Update: 1 Oct - Catemaco to Acayucan - open 1 lane, backed up a mile.
Update: 4 Oct - Catemaco to Veracruz - open with caution.
Update: 6 Oct - Catemaco  to Veracruz - closed again, probably only for a day
Update: 7 Oct - Catemaco - Veracruz, open again


Sep 26, 2010

Catemaco Crock

Allegedly Veracruz was recently wiped out, flooded and destroyed by a recent hurricane, leaving 1 million victims behind among a statewide population of 7 million plus. That is a bunch of crock.

Nevertheless, US newspapers barely picked up on the story probably because only about 14 died  during the week when 20 or more were getting killed every day elsewhere in Mexico.

What did make the international news services though, was the escape of  a crock of 400 or so crocodiles from a breeding farm.

Mexican news was not immune. Every major paper headlined the story. A day later the equivalent of the environmental protection agency supervising the farm trumpeted that NO, the crocs DID NOT get out, and that they still are within the farm property.

Today the Veracruz governor announced that paying  hurricane victims for the capture of those crocodiles in their neighborhoods will be an economic boon to them.

I just love Mexico. It's almost as funny as Florida.

Pissed off in Catemaco

Republished from 2008
She did it again, and this time I hope my truck makes it in the rain.

My Popoluca had pissed me off and I ran away.

I crossed Laguna Catemaco to climb into the Santa Marta volcanic hills, said hello to an old guy in Tatahuicapan who had previously been friendly to me and asked him if the road was clear to El Paraiso, where I wanted to see some local parrots. Three hours later in 4x4 I am still climbing cattle trails until finally I stall out with a presumable transmission problem.

The village was not far away and I walked. And all stared and gave me the evil eye which is a sort of a double crossing of an index finger. And they said possibly tomorrow a car will arrive to take me back to the nearest other village. And I asked for hospice and was invited to sleep in the bed slatterns of a son who had emigrated to the US.

And they fed me something of cactus mixed with chicken and I avoided choking until the old man invited me to his personal stash and we sat and drank it and watched a million stars and talked about televison which he had seen in the low lying villages and wanted to have for his village.

None of this Jorge Castaneda stuff for me. By that time I was making google eyes at one of his resident daughters, but that rotgut finally kicked in and I passed out, I think.

And absolutely nothing mystical happened.

At 5:30 am, on a gorgeous cloudless but full moon sky filled with zillions of points of lights, the promised pickup truck arrived.

And hundreds of mini parrots screamed while we hauled down the mountain.

Forget it - That was some really bad rain, and I prefer my Popoluca.

Pajapan: 13 communities isolated.
Mecayapan: access to the coast wiped out.
Tatahuicapan: 23 communities stuck in the high sierra.
Soteapan: 2500 people isolated.
Hueyapan: totally inundated.
All roads south temporarily destroyed.

Sep 21, 2010

Isla Tepetapan, Catemaco

One of the totally unknown wonders of beautiful downtown Catemaco requires you to find a your  way among dilapitated housing in the suburb of Tepetapan to the entrance of the trail leading along the Rio de Catemaco.
Unknown to most, there is a large river island just south of Catemaco within the Rio de Catemaco, which runs from below the sluice gates  of the bridge near the main highway to just below Hotel Tepetapan.
Technically, the island is a federal zone. Practically it seems to be used by someone grazing cattle.
It is one of the very few areas immediate to Catemaco, that might give you an idea of what the city was like before it was pulled into the third millenium by the construction of a road to Catemaco in the 1950's.

Sep 17, 2010

Catemaco Bubbles

I'm back to picking on the moss growing between my toes in beautiful downtown Catemaco because of the recent abnormally heavy rainfall. So I'll blow some bubbles.

Just read an absolutely horrid website about Mexico, and thought to myself, if I were a US father, would I let my kid visit Mexico? And then I thought, if I were a Mexican father, how would I feel about the US?

Judging by my website counters, people interested in Catemaco have fallen into a pit. The last four weeks have seen the worst performance in 4 years of keeping track. Unnecessarily declaring Catemaco a disaster zone several times during that period certainly did not help.

Declarations of disaster are often political gimmicks in Mexico to free federal funds (FONDEN) which too often wind up in the hands of those with fraudulent claims. Apparently the local mayor filed for a declaration every time it rained a little hard.

Anyone that has ever seen the haphazard spider webs and connections of electrical lines crossing all Catemaco streets will be amazed at the superb performance that those rats nests deliver. Black and brown outs really are a rarity.

Ok, back to the rain.
Catemaco had 2 minor bridges washed out, just like they do every year, the coastal road also had the same problems. The link to the toll road from Santiago was and is flooded just like it does every 3 or four years. The major rain affectation was the heavy news coverage of southern Veracruz being flooded, and being evacuated. The only true bottlenecks was and is at Lerdo de Tejada which at one point had up to 3 feet of water covering a few vados of its carretera. At no time though, did that stop bus traffic or even itty bit cars making it through there. (900 peso tow trucks also helped).

After a multimillion peso campaign, including 20 thousand free chickens, Catemaco has a new mayor elect. Unbelievably, the election was forced by state mandate to be July 4th for an office to be occupied January 1st of the next year. I hope he saved enough chickens to live on.

I did a recent spot check on pricing in hotel lobbies and discovered that local hotels have apparently raised their tariffs to make up for the absence of visitors. True third world thinking!

Where did my money go?
I invested a heavy chunk of US green when I first got here. So far, ignoring potential appreciation, I have lost 30% because the Mexican peso has lost that value over the last 8 years.  But I did try some small flyers in the equivalent of certificates of deposit paying 20% interest. Sounds good, yes? Unfortunately the institutions offering that kind of interest are not protected by something like a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Thousands of people in Catemaco depend on fishing for a living and government handouts to balance their diet. So I find it curious that the local mini Walmart offers the same fish that locals depend on for 2/3 the price. Of course the fish were "made in China".

O yes, before I forget, no body parts, mass graves, shot up vehicles or dead reporters have been seen within a 100 mile circumference in ages. Surprised, aren´t you?

I just got screwed on a TELCEL air time buy. A friend got the message from them that they were offering a 2 for 1 special, buy 100 pesos, get 200 pesos airtime. He bought and got his, I bought and got zilch! I  called the company and was advised that you only get the special if you received the same message. RATS!

Just installed the new Internet Explorer 9 BETA. It is super fast, cleaner and a pain to get used to for an old dog.  But it still has bugs! Wait to install it until the official version is issued.

Sep 16, 2010

Isla Agaltepec, Catemaco

85 years ago, a Danish archaeologist visited beautiful downtown Catemaco and noticed an island across from the city shores and said: "We went to the island and saw that in ancient times, the island had been transformed into a sacred center. We found terraces, staircases, mounds and plazas, and, thanks to the cattle, a tick paradise from hell".

85 years later, the island is still a mystery to Catemaco visitors and residents alike.

Sep 10, 2010

Catemaco´s Ghost Waterfall

This it what some crazy amigos do in beautiful uptown Catemaco while the rest of Veracruz was getting flooded:

Sep 9, 2010

Catemaco Roads

Caution: reading this blog entry is dangerous to the mental health of Tepetapan residents.
I'm getting lots of inquiries about road conditions in around Catemaco and southern Veracruz.

As of today "you can´t get there from here" unless driving in from the south.
Stretches of road around Lerdo de Tejado are under up to 3 feet of water. Buses are still passing, and if your car does not float, truck drivers will move you forward for 900 pesos. The access roads from the toll road at Isla and Cosomaloapan are totally flooded and bridges are destroyed.
Update: 12:55 10/11 - The water in Lerdo is down to 2 feet or less, and a friend just made it in a VW.

But, the tollroad from Veracruz to Villa Hermosa is still open, although that city could be flooding any hour, like the area around Minatitlan did a few days ago. So I guess we'll see you on the way back or next year.
Update: 12:55 10/11 - The rivers are descending!

There unfortunately is no national service to get road information. Status of federal toll roads and bridges can be gotten by dialing 074 in Mexico.

Federal highways have a website, which I know is NOT completely accurate about Veracruz.

Veracruz state highways have no information system.
Photo from El Universal.

Update: I just found a quick way to check road conditions. Check the "Ticketbus" bus schedule for two cities on your route. If they show service, you know the buses are rolling, if not, then you'll have your answer.

Sep 3, 2010

Good ol' Mexico

Old Mexico hands are finally getting a chance to relive the good old days. The murder statistics are now at the levels they were 10 years ago. The only change seems to be in victims and murder tools. Formerly it was a large percentage of politicians, nowadays it is largely drug dealers. And automatic weapon usage has skyrocketed, where simple pistols, knifes and machetes used to probably be the favorite tools.

Oh - for the good all days.

The statistic comes from an interesting article:
How the expiration of the assault weapon ban affected Mexico.
by Diego Valle Jones

You can also find your favorite Mexican crime statistic here.

Official Catemaco crime statistics are so low they are almost laughable. The last statistic from 2008 indicates 32 accidents, and 216 arrests, mostly of the drunk and disorderly variety.

Sep 2, 2010

Catemaco Menu Items

reprint from 2006 with corrections
I just returned to beautiful downtown Catemaco, from hectic, historic, vibrant Veracruz City with some frozen, gorgeous, apparently juicy marbled prime beef steaks.

The rest of my time here I have eat:

A small fresh water snail whose slug body occasionally looks black. It is native to Laguna Catemaco. Its meat is a little chewy, but it tastes good. It is usually prepared like a Mexican shrimp cocktail, with tomato, onion, coriander, Chile, much lime, bay leaf and catchup. It is a known aphrodisiac and that is why Catemaco is so sexy.

These are small silver plated fish, sort of like a guppy. Usually they are served fried with lime and chili, and taste like weird spicy french fries if you close your eyes. They are also available in soups, or even get served in tacos.

This used to be a Catemaco native fish. It has virtually been extinguished by an imported African perch which may or may not taste the same. Mexican visitors apparently do not taste the difference. This is a fairly small fish, (I rarely see one over 2 pounds) and is preferrably served whole and deep fried. It is also available stewed, in soups, a la Veracruzana, and possibly another hundred variations. Most of them are delicious.

I am not sure whether this is a real eel or a snake. They are 2 to 3 feet long and  frequently served after being hashed to shreds (Minilla de Anguila) and colored red. Usually they are served in empanadas, (stuffed tortillas) but also in many more creative versions. Try some, with chili, black beans and olive oil. They do not electrocute anyone.

A sweet and sour fruit, sized like a cherry, usually conserved in alcohol and used in a myriad of desserts. It is mostly grown in Veracruz and Tabasco and is a favorite item on Day of the Dead menus.

And then there are the virtually hundreds of different pastries. Because of them my fingers are now almost too fat to reach individual keys on my keyboard.

That is most of the usual stuff. I would hate to bore you with beans with chonegui or ochote, bexo leaf tamales, chagalapoli juice or wine, or other weird stuff which I have to live on until my steaks disappear, which is probably tomorrow.

See more of the stuff that I have to live with:

Aug 28, 2010

The South Shore of Laguna Catemaco

Personally, I know of more than 200 places that are worth visiting in Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas. The area to the south of Catemaco, along the Laguna is one of the most overlooked ones.

Features range from a luxury resort for Mexican juniors, a very cheap 2 room hotel with great food, a daytime resort that used to exhibit snakes, a backpacker's paradise complete with a dormitory and a great hill with magnificent views for trail walkers.

I assembled a slideshow to see some of the beauties worth visiting:

Aug 27, 2010

Catemaco 1,2,3

Because at present I have nothing better to do in beautiful downtown Catemaco aside from watching mold grow between my toes because of the persistance of an extraordinarily wet rainy season, I analyzed yesterday's visitor data to the pages, which was significant, because the number of page hits was one of the lower ones that I have recorded all year.

Alltogether 2495 pages were read by by 724 visitors, 94 of whom had previously read the pages.
The average page hits are more than 3700 per day, which does not include my YouTube videos, Picasa photos, ramblings on Facebook, or spouts on Twitter.

Google provided the totally overwhelming number of visitors, almost blanking out Yahoo and Bing. All of those search engines rank as their number 1 or 2, when searching for Catemaco.

My current CIA report for the pages is divided into 9 sections:

The home page of garnerned 228 pages of which 22% were English readers.

The Tourism section counted 453 clicks.
The Brujos pages accounted for 303.
Articles were read by 368.
184 visited the Gallery,
but only 109 were interested in Information.

The non-touristic section of Catemaco had 297 clicks,
Los Tuxtlas had 277,
and the Sitemap was read by 21.

A few hundred pages are not itemized in the above count because I track them individually, such as my Popoluca's Bienes Raices, visitors harvesting the Deforestation of Los Tuxtlas, Defendors of the Tuxtlas environment  and other weird stuff.

News, Noticias and the Catemaco Diaro were only read by 108 vistors, which is misleading  because of the recent change of internet addresses which killed all the links. Usually the pages rate about 500 reads.

The single most popular pages, as usual, were the  Brujos index page, followed by the home page and the description of the Eypantla waterfall.

The Gallery now shows a major drop, probably because its pages now includes links to about 50 Picasa photo albums which are not included in the counters.

Curiously, most of the in depth pages, such as references and other esoteric details, show a majority of English readers. And of the Spanish readers almost 20% still use the antiquated version of the 6.0 Microsoft browser.

Despite annoying reader emails that disparage my comments in Don Gringo Notas about the neighboring much larger county of San Andrés Tuxtla (ranked third on Google) which primarily sends its juniors to get drunk on the Catemaco Malecón, and generally controls most of the Catemaco financial affairs, more than 300 visitors clicked on the good things I have to say about that county. They should give me a medal, or a free pass from the next elected mayor who also owns the beer distributorship.

Abbreviated public data for a few of these statistics is available on Statcounter.

Aug 24, 2010

Catemaco Curp

Bureaucracy in beautiful downtown Catemaco can be as much a mind blower as anywhere in the world.

Those tiny blanks that have yet to be filled out cause nightmares in many business transaction. Even the last dimwit effort to register cellular phones needed a CURP. And promptly a few thousand people supposedly registered themselves with the CURP of the Mexican president.

So what is a CURP?  It is "Clave Única de Registro de Población"  which gruesomely translates to Unique Population Registration Code. It is used similar to a social security number, and everybody has one, except most gringos.

The RFC stands for "Registro Federal de Contribuyentes" and translates to Federal Taxpayer Registry. It is used primarily in business transactions involving taxes, or efforts to avoid them.

The biggy though is the so called "Credencial de Elector", that is actually the "Credencial para Votar". It is the equivalent of  a voter registration card, and is the most common ID for people that have no driver's licence. It uses the CURP.

All three documents come with assorted pretty documents and cards to carry around. The cards you can fake with photoshop.  The numbers, till now, were a little harder.

I am now an almost complete Mexican because I use my Mexican driver's license instead of a "Credencial"

Aug 23, 2010

Catemaco Chalchiuhtlicue

Reprint from 2006 - corrected links
According to Mexican mythology, beautiful downtown Catemaco, Veracruz lies in the fifth world.

In my simplified parthenon of Aztec mythology, Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl, the original pair of gods, had 4 sons, Tlaloc, Quetzalcóatl, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. Tlaloc, known as the rain god, divorced his first wife and then married Chalchiuhtlicue. Tlaloc was possibly one of the first spouse abuser gods, and his angry wife caused a giant flood, destroying the fourth world. Consequently we are in now in the fifth world.

Meanwhile Chalchiuhtlicue was converted into one of Mexico’s favorite goddesses, variously described as responsible for flowing waters, fertility, agriculture, etc. Numerous statues have been found and several portraits of her survive from post Spanish invasion manuscripts.
Catemaco today still has its share of Chalchiuhtlicue worshippers. Actually, the catholic church co-opted the goddess by allegedly having a Virgin Mary appear on Laguna Catemaco’s shore in the late 1600’s. So officially all those fishermen strewing flowers on the lake in an annual pilgrimage do so to please her instead of Chalchiuhtlicue.

The state of Veracruz, in the meantime is on a monument building binge. Giant heads of Olmecs now grace a toll road entrance, an oil exploration city and others. The newest huge statue is of Chalchiuhtlicue and was sunk in 2006 into the waters of the Mexican National Marine Park “Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano”, in front of the city of Veracruz.

Aug 19, 2010

Blom in Catemaco 1924

In 1924, the Danish explorer Frans Blom became the second European archaeology researcher to visit Catemaco. Naturally a German was here first.

And he writes: "There was a good reason for not going into the country. Constant revolutions had made that wild mountain region a hiding place for all kinds of bandits, rebels, and political refugees. These people had imposed brutally on the Indian tribes, who considered the forests their property and, therefore, turned hostile to all strangers."

Not much different from the perceptions of Mexico today.  And, just like any fortunate visitor in these times of bad press, he was royally welcome.

His book "Tribes and Temples - a record of the expedition to Middle America" is now available on the internet as a multi part pdf document, and has been one of my favorite reads about Los Tuxtlas since I found it, lent it out and lost it.

I highly recommend it, even to  rednecks who can't tell a cate from a maco, and especially to a fool that lives on a hill.

Aug 11, 2010

Wrong turn Catemaco

I never knew that one could find Catemaco by taking a wrong turn, but apparently this author did, and managed to write a great review of the neighboring cigar industry.

Tabacalera Alberto: What's smoking with Mexico's leading cigar maker?

Aug 10, 2010

Catemaco Publicity

I just ran a Google search on beautiful downtown Catemaco.

Google lists 628,000 (August 2010) references for Catemaco, of which 569,000 are in Spanish and a whopping 61,800 are in English - while the much bigger and economically more important city of San Andres Tuxtla rates 400,000 references but only about 34,200 in English.

But Catemaco is definitely moving up in the world. The same figures for 2006 were 161,000 references for Catemaco, of which 96,600 were in Spanish and a comparatively enormous 47,800 were in English.

One would think that Catemaco festers with English speakers. But far from it. All the non - Mexicans (gringos) in Catemaco would not even fill one of the smaller restaurants on the Malecon, and their touristy faces are almost invisible among the Mexican hordes.

Interestingly of those 628 thousand current Google  references, 190,000 include brujos but only about 700 mentioned brujo in 2006.

Excerpted from the draft section of - Business,