Jun 30, 2011

Catemaco Message Boards

updated 5 october 2011
from early 2010

There is no message board in beautiful downtown Catemaco. I operated one beginning  in 2003 but gave up after a lot of hassles and insults.

So now I am stuck with reading Mexican message boards for amusement. There are dozens. But the only ones that count about Mexico in general are:

Lonely Planet  *recommended -  moved up 2 - because there usually is some new blood.
This is for newbie travellers, and it helps them. Do not depend on their guides, they are full of errors.

Expat Forum *previously recommended
The pedantic editor took a vacation and came back with a much better attitude. Seems to be growing.

Mexconnect *previously recommended  - Too many of the same people talking to each other)
Free for all, with all the same gringos as on other boards. (Actually 5 or 6 years ago they charged to post).
Best board for research on Mexican laws and foibles.

Dying on the Line, or so it seems. Yep, it's even deader now

The boards are cyclical, heavily trafficked during the winter months, and asleep during the rest of the year.
Judging by these boards, there are only about 2 people travelling through Mexico at any one time.
But there are dozens of supposed residents fighting over answering their teeniest question. Generally, the more teeny the question, the more functional is the response just before, too often, some "pendejo" hijacks the message thread to proclaim his penchant for violence in Mexico.

Catemaco Links

Usually reading about an archaeological dig is as exciting as a telephone directory. Surprise! One of the best known Los Tuxtlas archaeologists puffed up 86 pages with great words and photos of a nearby Olmec settlement.

Trip reports are a dime a dozen and not my favorite read. But I enjoyed this one from 2005. Unfortunately it lacks the second half.

PS - I am still playing with the Catemaco tourism tube, but busy with other stuff

Photo: the old ferry in Alvarado, early 1960, taken from Diehl's Chronicle

Jun 14, 2011

DO NOT PASS GO in Catemaco

At least for the next 3 days.

Assorted highways will be blocked by protesters.

Blocking highways is a federal crime in Mexico. The only ones arrested for it, that I have read about, are impoverished Indians demanding better government services. The rest, ranging from the current national transportation unions to locals demanding handouts apparently are excluded from the law.

As if Mexico does not have enough problems, you can figure at least one or 2 days per month that a highway will be closed wherever you are going. Usually it is only for a few hours, but sometimes it will take days and the Mexican army to clear the road. Often the blockers will allow passage after paying an appropriate contribution to their cause.

The current fave in Veracruz is truck and bus drivers protesting against police abuses and the cost of fuel.

Shucks, what will they think of next?

Update: WHAT A MESS!
http://www.veracruzanos.info/2011/06/ultimos-reportes-carreteros/  Today's mess.
A few hours ago the usual jerks in Covarrubias closed the bridge. And I have friends on the road arriving from Chiapas.

Jun 12, 2011

Catemaco June 2011

It's still hot, but not as hot as the as usual unbearable days of  May.

Rain is now overdue and Los Tuxtlas is a potential tinderbox. Each year hundreds to thousands of acres go up in flames, primarily in the Sierra Santa Marta to the south. Little is done about it because the mountain communities lack both fire equipment and fire roads.

My series about tourism going down the tubes was waylaid by dozens of tangents arising from studying the local dreams which I had unfortunately stored in a mess. To be continued soon.

The high faluting chef that created a little excitement in Catemaco is gone, and instead I just saw my first sliced pizza tricycle peddlar.

For twelve weeks the local authorities ballyhooed the carnival of Catemaco, which finally came to a close the end of  May with three identical parades, presumably attended by identical local people, because touristically the local restaurants were starving.

Also coming to a close is the political gift giving season. Every year I am amazed at the public funds used to entertain potential voters or influence peddlers. Gifts ranged from cash to refrigerators, plasma TVs, and video recorders, which in the latest round, kept local school teachers and journalists in line. The last potential give-away day is Father's Day, but somehow I have never seen politicians use that day as a vote buying opportunity.

You might think my mentioning politicians without upcoming elections is a little stupid. WRONG, the jockeying for political power started the day after the last election in 2010 and, amazingly, is now in full swing for the end of 2012 elections, even in a hick town like Catemaco which sells less than 300 newspapers per day. Which brings up the current mayor. I had hopes for the next 3 years of Catemaco. Like I said, I had hopes.

Yesterday, a terrible accident occurred on the road around Nanciyaga. A young women died and another two are fighting for life. The horrible aspect is that the driver fled the bloody scene. That is the typical response of Mexican drivers who prefer to leave their dying wife and children on the road (2010 local accident), rather than to face the Mexican judicial system. But, among all the razzle of protests in Mexico, I see none addressing that issue.  "Asi es", says my Popoluca.

We are now in the doldrums of tourism which won`t lift till the beginning of summer vacation in mid July and the major festival of the Virgen del Carmen, the local chief holiness. Charter buses filled with European tourists are the only visitors that pop out on the bleak touristic landscape.

This is a local mountain cat which has lately been snacking on the Fool on the Hill's chicken. Jaguarundis are not particularly endangered, but they are almost extinct in Los Tuxtlas.

Jun 7, 2011

Fly united to Catemaco

Oh, oh! The narcos of Veracruz are doing Tamaulipas stuff on the road to heaven (Catemaco), and caused  the toll road to be closed for a few  hours.

8 supposed Zetas were wacked just north of Veracruz City. Milenio (in Spanish).