Mandinga, Veracuz
Music, Seafood, and Fun
The Essence of Veracruz

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

Mandinga Map
How to Get There
20 Minutes from Boca del Rio
Outside of the local people in Veracruz, this little town of Mandinga is unknown.

Although it seems like it´s in another world, Mandinga is only about 20 minutes from the World Trade Center in Boca del Rio. It is a little forgotten nook about 3 miles off the highway south of Veracruz towards Antón Lizardo.

To get there, go south through the old part of Boca del Rio and take the left fork towards Antón Lizardo.

After six or eight kms., you´ll see the sign, "Mandinga" off to the right. Go up the hill, and down on the other side you will see the village of Mandinga and the Laguna Mandinga behind it.

It doesn´t look much different from many of the other small coastal villages in Veracruz.

Mandinga Panorama
Panorama of Mandinga, Veracruz and the Laguna Mandinga

Mandinga Restaurant
Mandinga Restaurant
The Restaurants
When you first get there, you will see 5 or 6 little restaurants, then you´ll hear the music.

People outside the restaurants are there to welcome you.

I always choose the one with the best music. It is the typical music of Veracruz.

The seafood is always fresh and good!Here is what the music sounds like:Veracruz Music

Or you may see dancers Veracruz Dancers.
Mandinga Dance
Festive Atmosphere
A Festive Atmosphere
These restaurants have the best of the culture of Veracruz, and they encourage people to join in the fun.

The live music makes you want to dance.

Some tourists had bought some Veracruz style bandanas, or paliacates as souvenirs, hesitated awhile before joining in. But the music was too contagious.

This is a school group visiting Veracruz in a tour bus. The ladies dressed in blue are the teachers.It must have been a tough day.
Mandinga Dance
Festive Atmosphere
Mandinga Dance
Festive Atmosphere
Restaurant Kids
Happy Kids
On the Mandinga Lagoon
Mandinga is on a lagoon where you find fresh and saltwater species of animal and plant life, plus a wide variety of coastal birds.

The restaurant is on the lagoon, and the front porch makes you feel almost like you were on a boat.

When local fishermen come close by, and you almost wait for the wake from their little boats.

Local boats are available with the local fishermen as guides to show you the mangrove swamp nearby or take you fishing.
Motor Launches
The Name Mandinga
The name Mandinga sounds like the town might be of African origen. Mocambo is another African sounding name.

I asked several people about it, and they didn´t know.

Perhaps the land grant in Yanga, Veracruz wasn´t the only land granted to freed African slaves.

I noticed some of the townspeople had some African features.

Now all that is forgotten.
Bottle Dance
La Bamba
Our Orders Arrive
From the kitchen came the aroma of seafood cooking in rich garlic and butter sauce, and we knew our orders would be ready soon.

I noticed off to the side a lady with a bottle on her head.

She was dancing "La Bamba" along with the musicians.

Her little feet were keeping perfect time with the rapid steps of the music of Veracruz.It´s not easy to do.

We could tell she was a professional by her bearing.

The girls who dance La Bamba have to stand ramrod straight, and the bottle dance is a test of their dancing skills.

I guess just about any of us can dance "La Bamba", but it´s harder to balance a bottle or much less a candle with a flame.

This lady was really good.
Bottle Dance
La Bamba
Bottle Dance
La Bamba
Shrimp Cocktail
Shrimp Cocktail
Time to Eat
It was time to eat.

The busy waitress was accustomed to serving many tables at the same time, and service was fast.

She approached our table, and on her tray was exactly what I had ordered.

A Veracruz style shrimp cocktail with avocado, onions, cilantro, in fresh tomato sauce, and just a dash of hot sauce for flavor.

I always add a squeeze of lime.

The atmosphere was so much fun that I forgot to take a picture of the tall shrimp cocktail I´d ordered and this is a picture from another day.

All the shrimp cocktails in Veracruz are the same.

If you´ve been here, you´ll know what I mean.
Shrimp Cocktail
Los Musicos
After Lunch
After Lunch I took a walk around, close to the water.

The music was quieter at my table, and the choice tables down near the water is where the musicians were playing.

These people told me they were vacationing from Puerto Vallarta.

They said all their lives they had heard a lot about Veracruz, and now they really were enjoying the atmosphere here in Mandinga.

They told me that for them, this restaurant is the real Veracruz.
Shrimp Cocktail
Los Musicos
Shrimp Cocktail
Los Musicos
Mandinga Dance
Sunset on the Lagoon
Back to the Real World Again
The musicians were still going strong, and other customers were coming into the restaurant.

Their eyes lit up when they began to hear the sounds of the jaraneros, and the lady began to dance again.

Time passes when you´re having fun. The shrimp cocktail had been good.

It was time to head back and a short siesta was not a bad idea.That evening we had planned to see the live music program of danzones on the Zócalo in downtown Veracruz.

Even though it is close to Veracruz, a lot of people haven´t discovered Mandinga yet.

It´s the kind of place where it makes you feel good, like being a tourist again.

Maybe in the evening we would see the people from Puerto Vallarta on the Zócalo again.

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