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,

Aug 4, 2010

Catemaco disappearance

My enchantment with Catemaco is fading and I will be economizing my coverage of Catemaco.
The new address of Catemaco News for feeds will be:

Please adjust your link.