Jan 19, 2012

Catemaco Amazonas

Amazon is the nickname of a funeral director in Catemaco. For the past ten years he has been one of the few promoters of tourism in the area. 

The photos are from his first DVD from Catemaco, published in 2002.

 Pick up your free copy in his crypt at El Cerrito in the center of Catemaco.

see some of his videos herei:

Jan 15, 2012

Catemaco Shit

I smell of shit. My house smells of shit. And especially my dog smells of shit. If my Popoluca were here, she would smell of shit.

For 9 years, I am living in a town that for 4 to 6 months of the years requires pedestrians to cross sheets of sewage flowing down the principal streets of Catemaco.

The local sewage system is 50 years old and totally incapable of handling the shit of a population that more than quadrupled during those years.

So during my 9 years, the principal public works in Catemaco City have been remodeling the town hall, painting the lake walk, and again, remodeling the town hall and painting the lake walk..

For the last 6 years the same inept person has managed the system that after 6 years still cannot get its sewage system to work, and instead contaminates the lake and the river flowing out of Catemaco. In addition the incompetent has greatly expanded the sewage connections to a system totally incapable of handling that load of shit.

Promises of corrections to the system have been on the political palate for years. Last year around 50 million pesos were bragged about to be spent on repairing the sewage system.

Instead, a few months ago, work began on an 11 million peso dock jutting into the lake that has no function except for visitors to ogle the laguna which is already accommodated by 5 view points along the lake front.

Meanwhile I wade through shit to enter my house, which is directly on the corner of the Malecon.

You think I a am concerned about narcos in Veracruz? Hell, no! I care about shit. And typically, neither my community nor the country can handle either!

Too bad, I can´t vote, or participate in politics!
see: http://www.catemaco.info/s/catemaco/ciudad/alcantarillado.html  (in Spanish, of course)

Catemaco Chagalapoli

The Chagalapoli are in bloom, and I am looking forward to jelly tasting sessions.

The fruit is vaguely related to mistletoe and is unique to Central America and endemic in Los Tuxtlas. Its latin name is ardisia compressa, and even Wikipedia does not know what it is. Originally I was told it was a wild grape vine, until I discovered I had a 10 foot tree of it growing on my sidewalk, and now in containers on my roof.

The fruit is about the size of a pinky fingernail, and begins with a nice claret color going to a lush burgundy and finishing almost like a blueberry. It has a seed. The fruit itself is on the bitter-sour/sweet side and is a popular homemade local lemonade, or better, chagalapolimade. It is also used to flavor atoles, which are basically liquefied tortillas. My preference is chagalapoli mermelade which used to be available in a now defunct gift shop on the Malécon and soon, for me and select friends, from the loving hands of my Popoluca.

Late February to May is harvest season, and the fruit stalls around the central market will be offering the fruit. 

And would you believe, I do not have a photo, among my 5000, of the damn tree? Check back, tomorrow.

Flowering Chagalapoli
It is incredible how I cater to my undeserving readership at 5:30 in the morning in a torrential rain

Jan 9, 2012

Into the Mystic of Los Tuxtlas...

Into the Mystic of Los Tuxtlas...

When I told the editor of National Geographic en Español that I was going to explore the Los Tuxtlas region of Veracruz state over the holidays with my brother, Anson, he asked me to dig around in the small city of Catemaco. He had always been interested in publishing a story on Catemaco’s famed witchcraft, but wasn’t sure there was one to be told; the abundance of stories in Mexican publications touting the witch’s abilities were always one-sided and, frankly, very uninteresting.
So I set about researching witchcraft in a Mexico City library; an important introduction, among other sources, was “La Magia en Los Tuxtlas” (The Magic in Los Tuxtlas) by Marcela Olavarrieta. Anson and I headed for Catemaco on December 31, and arrived just before midnight. We walked straight into our first mystical custom: “quemando el viejo.” (burning the old man).  Catemaco’s residents had made effigies filled with hay, newspaper, sawdust and fireworks, and were spraying them with lighter fluid then lighting them afire. The rite serves to do away with the past year, and start anew with a blank slate. Children no more than five years old lit fireworks and threw them at us. The streets were filled with smoke, thorough which we could see the flaming body after flaming body between the one-story houses. We escaped to the malecon (boardwalk), where the trees’ branches were filled with hundreds of birds and it smelled strongly of guano. Bats were wheeling across the lake’s surface.....
An absolutely MUST read:

Jan 8, 2012


One of my favorite reads on the intrernet about Mexico, the Mexfile, disappeared a few months ago, supposedly because of selling out to a Dutch weasel promising to put the "real" Mexico on the internet.

The poor guy apparently starved. Although he supposedly has 2 left arms, he provided some of the most interesting facets of Mexican history, and on occasion, concise interpretation of its current condition.

Apparently, he is now sneaking back:
If you are not just a snowbird or are living cheaper in Mexico than in  the US kind of person; Do a  "Me Gusta" (I like), on Facebook:

The photo is of Fidel Castro's boat "Grama" leaving from Tampico, Veracruz for Cuba. If the author was here during that time, they apparently ditched him.

Update: the Mexfile is back

Jan 2, 2012


I have been using the software of  Yahoo Sitebuilder to program the website of catemaco.info since 2005. 

Unannounced, four days ago, Yahoo changed its limits on my web hosting plan, and I was unable to upload changes because of a supposed lack of storage capacity. I upgraded to their unlimited plan and since then I have spent about 18 hours on the phone with tech reps in India trying to upload changes to my site.

Incredibly, that bunch of incompetents now advises me that the only solution to my problem is to restructure my 700 pages and reload them.

Instead I will switch to Dreamweaver, Coffee Cup, or maybe Wordpress to redesign my website which took me 6 years to build.

So for the next year, expect www.catemaco.info to be a mess while this old dog learns a few new tricks.

Meanwhile here is my heartfelt message to the powers that be: