On the unfamiliar Gulf Coast

After our mighty descent from Orizaba, we arrived at Veracruz on the Gulf Coast, a very big harbor city with correspondingly lively activity. Here, it is less the special architecture or great churches that attract attention. Veracruz is especially vibrant and animated – with loud music, lots of great food, and life played out on the streets. We were able to get a few jobs done and had a special experience which we will tell you about in a while. You’ll have to be a little patient. Since Veracruz doesn’t offer the usual attractions and is a bit off the big tourist route, the city is rather un-touristy and a really typical Mexican harbor city. In the area surrounding Veracruz, there is a lot of coast, but it’s not attractive for swimming: the beach is not particularly clean, the water is full of sediments, and there are either freighters or oil drilling platforms on the horizon. This is surely another reason why most tourists give Veracruz the go-by on their way to the Yucatan.

Appropriately for the weekend, we drove to an especially popular excursion destination for the Veracruzians – Lago de Catemaco. This is a big lake surrounded by extinguished volcanoes and one of the last intact jungle areas on the Gulf Coast. Over lots and lots of topes, as usual, the so-called highway leads you along the Atlantic coast and a number of large swamp areas into a small volcano region somewhat further south. We suddenly plunged into the rain forest, surrounded by impenetrable undergrowth and mighty trees. Thanks to lots of travel blogs, we found a terrific camp-site in a clearing directly next to the lake, which can only be reached on one narrow, almost overgrown jungle track. While howler monkeys clambered around through the trees and we basked in the natural pool and tested the great water slide into the lake, two toucans flew by. We enjoyed the peace and quiet here – once again, it was the weekend, and there was nothing going on. Marc from France, who has been traveling around the world for several years already, joined us and gave us lots of tips, along with freshly baked bread and chocolate cake. What bliss to eat really good, fresh bread again, right in the middle of the jungle! We could have stayed and enjoyed life here a while longer, but, slowly, we wanted to move on and get back on the road – we have been in Mexico for quite a while already.

In Veracruz, we had heard that the Yucatan peninsula is especially wet right now. An unusually stabile low is hanging over the Caribbean Sea and bringing the peninsula lots of rain and humidity. Since we have no desire to experience this weather, we decided spontaneously after breakfast to take a different route through the rest of Mexico and drive to the areas Marc recommended wholeheartedly. Instead of the flat jungle and Maya pyramids, we drove on into the steep mountains of the Sierra Madre.

And, as always at the end, here is the link to some private pictures.

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