Exploring Mexico

Images of Mexico Part XI

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

Note:
Mexico is a big country. It can only be described as a sensual mosaic of different scenes of people and landscapes. Soft pastels and hard colors are seen and felt in the emotions of the people.

Beautiful as the soft music of a romantic trio in the evening or a hard ranchera. The laughter of a people who love their children and celebrate life in the streets and their homes.

If you look at a map of Mexico and the US, you might describe the US as the mind and logic, and Mexico is the heart.

A Ship Emerges from the Early Morning Fog
Mornings in Veracruz
The mornings in February are special.

When you have not grown up near the sea, each day is marvellous.

To feel the ever present humidity, with a tinge of salt, is something you never get accustomed to.

The weather is what makes the day near the ocean.

When the constant winds die down, sometimes the dawn brings a very dense ground fog.
First Dawn in Veracruz
New Visitors to the Sea
Several days before I had been contacted to be a tour guide for a cruise ship scheduled to arrive at 7AM.

Because of the morning fog, the ship was delayed and I had some time to look around.

I enjoy being around people who are new to Veracruz, and share their wonder for the sea.

These are people who are having their first dawn, before breakfast, timidly touching, the beach at low tide.
Industry and the Future Also Emerge
Business or Pleasure?
One of my friends drives a taxi. Once, he took a quick course in English and how to treat tourists.

One of the first phrases he learned was, "Business or Pleasure, Señor?"

Veracruz is a busy seaport, moving thousands of containers from ship to shore each month.

The future industry of Veracruz looms like an artificial monster about the pleasure craft, as the morning ground fog slowly lifts.
La Bamba Restaurant at Low Tide
"La Bamba" at Low Tide
For many years, the Restaurant "La Bamba" was a lively place at night.

It was a good restaurant, and I spent many hours on the veranda next to the water with friends talking into the night.

The lights of the city reflected off the water, and the tropical music was loud and fun.

Now "La Bamba" is closed, looking forlorn, and hungover at low tide in the lifting fog.
The Malecón Early in the Morning
El Paseo del Malecón
El Paseo del Malecón is sparkling clean in the mornings.

People are going to work in the shipyards in the background.

You can begin to hear the metallic noise and revving diesel engines coming across the water of the busy port as people go to work.

These are the sounds of any busy port.
The Port of Veracruz
Veracruz is Unique
What makes Veracruz a unique port, is that it is the take-off point for the largest transfer of riches in the history of mankind.

Now the rest of the port dwarfs the Fort of San Juan de Ulua, the most famous fort in the world. It was like the largest bank vault in the world. For 300 years, it held the fortunes and the futures of the kings and queens of Europe.

Today, it is tropical and warm, and people come here to relax and watch the ships as they come and go from all the ports in the world.
A Marimba at Breakfast
The 2 "Cafés de la Parroquía"
In Veracruz, there are two "Cafés de la Parroquía". "Number I" and "Number II".

The "Number II" opened on the Malecón first and became the place where the local people have coffee and talk.

Later "Number I", which was mostly a hangout for tourists, relocated from its original location in front of the Cathedral.

At the original, Café de la Parroquía, you could hear a marimba band at breakfast. When the restaurants moved, the marimba band moved along with it.
A Waiting Boat Beckons
Midmorning
Veracruz has miles and miles of beaches you can walk.

Sometimes you can see old shipwrecks rusting on the beach.

Or, walk out on the jetty and look down at the jagged coral reef, where there are probably many other shipwrecks that landed on the rocks during the winter storms.

All that´s left are the bronze spikes that held them together.

Sometimes people find them washed up on the beach by the waves after a several winter storm.
An Open Air Tourist Bus Waits
Tour Bus
Veracruz had one of the first streetcar systems.

The first on was drawn by mules and started in 1844.

This is a diesel version of the same street car, and it´s fun to take a drive down the long boulevard to Boca del Rio.
Fried Eggs and Fresh Orange Juice
Huevos Motuleños
Motul is a town in Yucatan and "huevos motuleños" is a very filling breakfast.

Fried eggs, on top of fried tortillas smothered in "salsa ranchera".

There is nothing like fresh local orange juice that is the sweetest in the world, and fruit dish of papaya and cantaloupe.

When you finish, a cup of fresh, strong coffee from the mountains about an hour away, is the way to start the day.

After a breakfast like this, having breakfast anywhere else, is just not the same.

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