Mar 27, 2011

Catemaco Tepetapan

Tepetapan is a suburb of Catemaco City, located on the west side of the federal highway crossing Catemaco. 

Its primary fame is the presence of a slaughterhouse and vicinity to the sewage plant of Catemaco.

The polluted Rìo Grande de Catemaco borders the community, which also features access to the Catemaco cemetary.

There are indications that Popoluca Indians settled in its area in the 1500's, but they have since disappeared. The area was not developed until the 1950's when an attractive waterfall was converted into a dam for a hydroelectric powerplant further down the river, and its lands were subdivided

At present Tepetapan houses a kindergarden, an elementary school, the only condominium in Catemaco, dozens of  Mexican standard homes, several tiny housing projects, a few river front villas, and a secluded gringo haven of several rental units and a trailer park.

The colonia (suburb, city segment) is not seen favorably in Catemaco, because of its high incidence of  minor crimes.

Mar 26, 2011

Catemaco Topes

After a few hundred posts mostly extolling Catemaco, I have a hard time to add something new. Here is something:

The carretera running through Catemaco has the absolutely best topes (speedbumps) in southern Veracruz. They are low, and broad enough, to not bust your oilpan in case you stop too sharp to cross one. They are easily passed over at 20 mph. I would add vibrators to make them more exciting, and advertise them nationally: "Come to Catemaco - Enjoy our Speedbumps".

So unfortunately my "bodyguard" drove me to Xalapa yesterday. Usually I drive, so this gave me a chance to enjoy the countryside, and I started counting topes, until I went ooh, ahh, because the suspension killer in El Tropico had been leveled. So I lost count to tell you how many miserable topes there are now between Catemaco and Paso del Toro (about 20 miles outside of VC city).

But hurrah, the construction nightmare at Paso del Toro now has a picture opportunity. The overpass to the Veracruz libramiento (bypass) is now open. But there remain a few unannounced killer topes on that stretch of road.

After that it was all clear to Xalapa, and I made a pit stop at my favorite Cardel restaurant "La Bamba", (about 1/4 mile on the Cardel main drag, entering it instead of the Cardel bypass). I highly recommend it, which I almost never do for Catemaco restaurants.

Talking about Catemaco: A chef that built a rep in San Andres has now moved to the Playa Cristal restaurant on the Malecon. That promises to be exciting.

As for excitement, the recent shootout in Catemaco obliterated all of the good press the city had been generating the last few months. On a day when about 30 others were killed in Mexico, that particular mickey mouse event, without any reported deaths,  made 100s of national and a few international headlines because of its association with Catemaco and its brujo mystique.

I put together a page for Spanish readers, which is still in draft, because I'm not sure that the story has an end. La Balacera de Catemaco, 17 marzo 2011.

We drove home at night, which I absolutely do not advise anyone unfamiliar with the local roads to do. Traffic as usual was light, and the most prominent  feature were those guys dressed in black, carrying modified M16's on virtually every intersection.  Fortunately none stopped us, driving a very large black SUV, loaded to the ceiling with Xalapa purchases. Must have been my pleasant smile.

Mar 18, 2011

Catemaco Rap

Veracruz is getting a bad rap
Last night another 20 victim bloodbath happened in northern Veracruz. I like how a correpondent describes it: It should be noted that the number of presumed dead varies because there is the custom of the armed forces and police not to allow access to the press and not allowing official coroners to remove the bodies, which turns the body count into a state secret and allows them to quote whatever number they want. EnlaceVeracruz 

Not to be outdone, the Christian Science Monitor fear-mongered Veracruz to be one of 3 nuclear places around the rim of fire. Gee, I thought that was on the Pacific. And while we are going nuclear, send a little support to the Mexican relief effort.

Los Tuxtlas is getting a bad rap
The federal senator let the cat out of the bag and bragged about 23 kidnappings in the area in the last 3 months.

Catemaco is getting a bad rap
Last weekend the chief of Public Works was kidnapped. Of course that was hidden by most newspapers, except one.

Aside from that, I finally got rid of my wraps and am enjoying some gorgeous days here.

Catemaco is expanding on the culinary front and opened a branch of Don Tako, a local mini chain located 2 blocks behind the basilica. Their cholesterol heaven version of a baked potato with carne asada is to die for. 35 pesos, opens late. Bring a defribrillator! See fotos dispersed in Don Gringo Foto Diario.

Casa Lost keeps expanding their menu with a recent email alert to clients and is well on its way to become the best deli between Matamoros and Cancun.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. The local gringo haven is not only two jerks. A mess of them actually put down their money to support DEMATAC, the local faltering Defenders of the Los Tuxtlas Environment.

The clowns of Catemaco are at it again. They sponsored a successful salsa concert and introduced the candidates for queen of the Catemaco Carnival. A dozen papers reported it but couldn`t give dates for the Carnival because as of today, it is still a municipal secret.

Travelling around Catemaco is becoming a nightmare. The number of topes and potholes are approaching drug crime statistics.  So a few days ago a few dump trucks arrived with what they use to fill holes with. It's a joke to see it aside the road by the Hospital. Locals say they'll apply a "mano de gato", a cat`s paw brushing, meaning they'll paint the holes black.

Unbelievably, some hotels dropped their pants and advertised rooms for half of the listed prices. Except of course this Benito Juarez weekend, when the city and beaches will be swamped.

It's almost a great time to be in Catemaco.

Apparently the rental jerk left the gringo haven a while back. Only the owner remains in that category.

Mar 13, 2011

El Cerrito, Catemaco

El Cerrito means small hill in English and that is what it is, a small hill plunked down in the middle of the hilly slope that leads to the edge of the Catemaco lake.The hill is more or less round, about 35 feet tall and capped by a concrete structure.

Over the last 50 years the hill has become the geographic center of the city of Catemaco, and various streets lead away from it, similar to many zocalos in Mexico.

Its history is debatable. Nothing is actually known, although local residents, including the "Fool on the Hill" believe it to be covering a pre-hispanic temple. No archaeological excavation has ever been done on the hill.

Mar 7, 2011

Catemaco tricks

I learned a new trick. Converted a bunch of photos into a movie. Here is the result of a usually forgotten event in Catemaco.

Catemaco shot itself into the foot again. After screwing up the last few brujo festivals, the new municipal govt. allowed itself to be hijacked by a "New Age" hotel owner, and kissed off the brujos that have put Catemaco on the map. Instead, lots of attractive imported culture was presented in a four day festival called "First Friday in March", and ignorant foreign and Mexican tourist kept wondering where are the brujos?

Despite a heay state supported advertising budget, the event drizzled way below its promised 30 thousand attendees, and the hotels stayed less than half full. The neighboring cities of Santiago and San Andres Tuxtla now sponsor their own brujo festivals with the full support of most Catemaco brujos. Let's see what happens next year.

The "New Ager", though, put his money where his mouth is, and helped the municipio to publish:
an attractive 16 page brochure: Ecoturismo en la Selva de Los Tuxtlas

Meanwhile, one of the occasional mean drunks  from the local gringo enclave went out of his way to join a message board to insult me, probably  because I love deleting his perverted messages. I also delete his equally nutty tunnel visioned ex landlord's messages. You wanna spout trash talk - join Facebook!

The area tourism boosters did it again and closed several highways around Catemaco for hours at a time. Apparently they are resentful because they are still awaiting state and federal relief for last year's floods.

The weather has been remarkably wonderful the last few weeks. Not too hot and not too cold. I predict it will stay that way till mid April. It`s my favorite time of the year before the sweat bath of  mid April to the start of the rains in June sets in.

Mexico continues its basket case tradition with a prediction that GDP growth will be 4.1%, inflation will reach 3.94% and the exchange rate at the end of the year will be around 12.23 pesos per dollar.  And of course corruption will gobble up 9% of GDP.

What Catemaco really needs is another party. So of course one is scheduled. "El diablo de la salsa" Oscar de Leon from Venezuela, will initiate the Catemaco carnaval on the 12th of March. They may have to change his nickname to please the local mind police.

One last note: Stay away from the latest beta version of Explorer 9. It totally sucks.

Mar 3, 2011

Catemaco Brujo Song

turn it on to play