Mar 30, 2010

Catemaco notes

Right now beautiful downtown Catemaco is doing its best to to present the worst of Mexican tourism. The week of semana santa (easter week) fills the town to the gills with innocent tourists ready to be fleeced by hundreds of stands selling anything from plastic sandals to portrayals of crucifixion dinners. For a first time visitor, the havoc may be of interest but if you live here, you become ready to go postal.

Meanwhile, some relevant items.
Mexico now requires cellphone registration. To do so you need a CURP (Clave Única de Registro de Población), sort of like a social security number. Since  foreigners usually obviously do not have one, their phones may become useless after May. RENAUT

If you are a Mexican news hound, there is a new way to read the junk published by the US press:
Google Fast Flip:
For News  in English published within Mexico, try my site It´s always good for a few laughs or some serious introspection.

Of course  I have to mention the weather.
Possibly the last cold front (66F) hit Catemaco yesterday. Now we are entering the hottest season of the year and wishing we would have just another little cold front.

My planned aerial flight over Los Tuxtlas has crashed and I am now researching model radio controlled aircraft (sort of what they use in Afghanistan to target wedding parties). If you you know a shortcut to fly one with a cheap digital camera, please contact me.

The local gringo (or foreigner) count has substantially increased lately.
Or maybe I've just be counting Mexicans with gray or no hair.  It just seems so.

The roads
Usually the local governments use pomp and circumstance to inaugurate each local elementary school bathroom. Somehow they skipped celebrations for  the 150th tope (speed bump) on the road between Veracruz City and Catemaco. Actually, the roads this year are surprisingly good. (fair in some parts.)  If you are coming from the north, in anything but a behemoth motor home, taking the turnoff at El Tropico to Catemaco would be a really worthwhile experience.

Mar 27, 2010

Catemaco Dishes

Comparing notes with my friend the "fool on the hill" who obviously lives outside of beautiful downtown Catemaco, we discovered a serious mutual and probably widespread problem in Mexico.

Our glassware disappears faster than you can say "crack".

Personally I have spent oodles of pesos on delicate glassware over the last years. Of maybe a hundred of these glasses, I now occassionally carefully enjoy one of the few remaining "on the rocks"  glasses to rue the good old days.

The rest of the time I and  the "fool" use candle jars, whose wall thickness is just below that of my exterior walls. But they are an absolute necessity to purchase by the dozen to keep the spirits of Mexican wifes in tune. Of course we try to buy the ones that do not have images of the Virgin or bearded saints. But occasionally one slips through and is responsible for the next hangover.

We atrribute the demise of our glassware to our fortunate acquisition of housekeepers to assist our incapacitated wifes. These ladies obviously lack the desire to meticulously clean, wash and maintain that component of our glassware that we nowadays permit them to touch, while we ourselves have to slave over our collection of fine brandy snifters and exquisite wine glasses.

Of course, we do not own dishwashers! That's what housekeepers are for!

Mar 20, 2010

Punta Puntilla

Punta Puntilla is a small peninsula on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz, forming the northern edge of the Biosphere Reserve of Los Tuxtlas, and just about at the northern end of the Sierra de Los Tuxtlas, about  55 miles north of beautiful downtown Catemaco, near La Victoria, on the El Tropico - Catemaco coastal highway.

The last (2005) census reported 42 inhabitants in the fishing village occupying the peninsula.

I had visited the village 6 or 7 years ago along a dirt trail. Early last year dozens of Veracruz newspapers and blogs announced the paving of the road as a detonator of tourism in the northern Los Tuxtlas, especially for the nearby town of Angel R. Cabada.

Being of sane mind and curious body, I ventured forth to explore and discovered that, as usual, the Veracruz press and government lied. Only 1 mile of the 6 km road was paved, and a year later, the road resembles something built 25 years ago.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed visiting the pueblo, although I could neither find a cup of coffee, breakfast or a place for ablutions.

This small paradise is not suitable for drive by tourism, but great for shell collecting, hard core beachcombing and Mexican suburbanites fleeing their concrete slums at all costs once a year.

Sorry, the day was cloudy

Mar 16, 2010

Catemaco Pitstop

I have not driven to the Texan border from beautiful downtown Catemaco in the last few years, but I do remember the stretch between Brownsville and Tampico near Soto de Marina to be one of worst parts of the trip. I hear it has been improved in the last year.

Now FONATUR, the granddaddy of the giant tourism developments in Cancun, Huatulco and other places I would rather not visit, has decreed a 5 billion dollar megaproject for 18 miles of beach in the region. Proposals extend to 20,000 rooms in condominiums, villas, hotels and residences, plus marinas, golf courses, beach clubs, commercial area, activities such as sport fishing, water tourism, hunting and ecotourism. Presumably they will also stick in a world class RV park.

It is about time FONATUR built something on the Gulf of Mexico. All of its previous billions of dollars went to the Pacific and Caribbean. I had heard rumors for years that the beaches of Los Tuxtlas were under consideration.

OH well, at least the roads around Soto de Marina will get a major facelift. - a Spanish website focused on news of the development

Mar 8, 2010

Mar 6, 2010

Catemaco Brujos

Mexico Connect recently published an article on the current local brujo scene:
Catemaco: Mexico's cradle of sorcery and witchcraft
Although the author has half of her facts wrong, the article is still a good read.

Mar 1, 2010

Catemaco Housemate

Mexico, without a doubt, has the finest police and justice system that money can buy.

A family member was arrested on Friday afternoon on the Catemaco highway by pistol wielding officers of the Judicial Police. Apparently an arrest warrant had been issued for him because he deposited a check in what was supposedly a fraudulent transaction.

So he was destined to go to jail until proven innocent. And the negotiations began in the offices of the "judiciales". They settled for 30 thousand pesos.

Do you know anyone that has that kind of cash on a Friday night? We scraped and pleaded to collect the cash and delivered it in a large black SUV with tinted windows, which was promply surrounded by the entire police contingent touting automatic weapons and sub machine guns. Apparently they thought we were drug dealers getting ready to break out our comrade.

So now the kid is in my house, but he cannot leave.

There are six teams of arresting officers in the Catemaco judicial zone. And although the "comandante" was part of the negotiations, only the arresting team was bribed. Now there are 5 more teams looking for the kid.

So, of course, he is hiding until our attorney can get an "amparo"  (injunction to stop a legal proceeding or arrest) which can take from 2 to 6 weeks.

Curiously an arrest warrant does not give police the right to enter a private house. A different warrant has to be issued, but only if the police saw the suspect entering the house.

So, of course, I only let the dog out of the house.