Heroica Veracruz, Veracruz I knew almost nothing about Heroica Veracruz before arriving and now that we spent two days there, I now know very little about it. A port city with a population of 430,000, it is Mexico’s oldest European-founded settlement with a cornucopia of architecture as a lasting result of French, Spanish, and Americans troops (they occupied the city in 1914) battling their way through the city.
The prettiest part of the Veracruz IOO (in our opinion) was the zócalo. That was clean and lively and inviting. According to Lonely Planet, people from Veracruz are called Jarochos and they are known to be lovers not fighters.
The group of people above were working for this program:
Boca del Rio This is where we stayed, a municipality that borders Veracruz. While the hotel was fairly awesome, the town itself is just okay. Tall buildings, loud traffic, and dirty beaches. There is a long malecón with statues that borders the bay. That was kind of sweet.
Despite the beautiful zócalo, I have no desire to ever return to the city of Veracruz, and I do not recommend it for anyone else who has earth consciousness. While many parts of Mexico are terribly polluted, I think the city and surrounding areas of Veracruz ranked as some of the most polluted. And by polluted, I mean everyday humans throwing their $h!t on the earth. It was a monumental disappointment, so much that for the couple of days we were there I felt utter resignation about holding out on any hope for our planet. It is with absolute certainty after seeing the disregard for ocean life and health here that humans are destroying this planet. If we ever return to the state of Veracruz, which I doubt, we will stay at one of the beautiful beaches towards the border of Tamaulipas and hope those are cleaner. I don’t expect to return, and that’s a damn shame.
Veracruz to Tampico
And thanks be to the Gods and Goddesses for audiobooks. Harper Lee, Dan Brown, and David Sedaris have been getting us through the long drives.
My memories of driving to Tampico will unfortunately be wrought with hair-raising images of horrific roads and treacherous rains. I think the worst roads in Mexico, maybe even the entire universe, are between Ciudad Veracruz and Tampico. The drive started out easily enough. We had a relatively clear day and it seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing. We passed some gorgeous coastal towns, and I longed to stop and enjoy the beautiful beaches. NEXT time I want to stay at one of those places instead of Veracruz. Like El Pital. That town looked super cute. Add to it, we passed several cool-looking Mayan ruin sites along that drive.
At some point, about 2-hours into the drive everything changed – an about-face. It’s like that point on an amusement park ride when you start to think, “Hey, this isn’t so bad, this is pretty chill!” then you encounter the ascent. This is when you realize you’re on a ride that hasn’t been inspected by any agent of authority for the last two decades, and it dawns on you this thing you’re on, this vehicle of amusement, is more than 100 years old. The rickety boards beneath you feel like they will splinter if you lean even the slightest bit to the right. At the apex you look at the park all around you and for the briefest of brief moments you once again feel a sense of great joy having a bird’s eye view. This happens just before you look at the imposing structure around you, the structure that’s plummets 100 feet in 2 seconds. On the verge of puking out your intestines and wondering if you’ll be written about in tomorrow’s paper or if even your life merit’s an article on page 8 of the Yokel Herald and several neck-breaking turns that require a year’s worth of chiropractic later, you spin into a dark tunnel, come to a screeching halt, and it’s over. THAT is how the remaining 8-hours of our 10-hour 30 mph drive proceeded.
The very worst part of this drive was around Tuxpam (or Tuxpan). It was a nightmare of BAD and flooded roads. It was like the Exorcist, Psycho, and Silence of the Lambs nightmare-bad. Potholes were masked by puddles or ankle-deep mud, 18-wheelers passing with oncoming traffic, torrential rains, flooded streets…We’re scratching our heads wondering why in the world these roads need topes or worse yet, the greatest offenders, topes followed by vibradores.
We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Tampico, which incidentally was fairly comfortable. And they accepted Stella despite the fact they are not a dog-friendly hotel. The next morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed and headed for the border. Still hung over from too much drive intake the day before, we gathered ourselves and geared up for what could potentially be the most dangerous drive of our lives. Tampico to Matamoros
I couldn’t help but feel some stress with this last leg of our journey. On the heels of the drive less than 12 hours earlier and with the US State Department’s warning looming heavily on our minds, we wanted our drive to Matamoros to be behind us as quickly as possible. But one of the hassles and joys of living in Mexico, most things simply are not accomplished quickly. We were mentally, emotionally, and physically preparing ourselves for another long day of driving and the unfortunate and potential outcome of being murdered. After all, this road has been dubbed Highway of Death or highway of satan or something like that.
From US State Department The kidnapping rate for Tamaulipas, the highest for all states in Mexico, more than doubled in the past year. In February 2013, four masked and armed individuals attempted to kidnap a USG employee in Matamoros during daylight hours. All travelers should be aware of the risks posed by armed robbery and carjacking on state highways throughout Tamaulipas, particularly on highways and roads outside of urban areas along the northern border. Traveling outside of cities after dark is particularly dangerous. While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, many of the crimes reported to the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros have taken place along the Matamoros-Tampico highway.
Just before entering Highway 101 – the road notorious for kidnappings, carjackings, and general all-purpose crime, we thought it best to stop at the Pemex for a bathroom break and final fill-up. Pulling in, we realized this place was totally abandoned. With only about 90 miles to go, ONE of us decided to hold it until crossing the border.
Matamoros to Estados Unidos Several annoying versions later remaking our own personal rendition of Highway to the Danger Zone, we arrived to the destination, Matamoros, Mexico.
There was some minor confusion about finding the Banjercito. We needed to have them remove the temporary import sticker and return the $300.00 deposit.
Follow the signs for Puente Internacional – we had to take a detour around the bridge – watch out for horses.
We were afraid to miss the building, but it’s hard to miss. You have to turn LEFT just before the bridge. Ask, if you’re unsure. We asked an official-looking guy after driving in circles twice, and he got in our car and guided us there. The folks who work there were all very friendly.
We paid our only toll of the day and final toll in Mexico, 55 pesos to cross the bridge. These two friendly chaps wished us a good trip and allowed me to take a photo. We crossed the bridge said howdy ho to the customs officer who didn’t even bother to check anything in the car or Stella’s health certificate.
We prepared for the worst today and discovered it was one of the easiest drives we’ve had yet. And just like that…we have arrived. Such mixed feelings seeing this Welcome to Texas sign. How happy we are to be back in the states and how sad to leave Mexico behind us. We still have several days on this adventure that leads us to Florida. Hugging the Gulf coast, we’ll be taking our time (including a stop in New Orleans) to our next destination, Cocoa Beach.
One more post on Mexico coming up…Things we learned while living in Mexico.
*Photos and stuff* Please contact me for permission to use images and text for commercial or private use.
This is Mexico Post #30
To see Mexico Post #1, Me and My Trimalleolar go to Mexico with my Husband and our Pooch, click this here.
To see Mexico Post #2, Dos Americanos y Su Perro en Mexico, click this here.
To see Mexico Post #3, Feliz Ano Nuevo 2013, click here.
To see Mexico Post #4, Ballenas, Ballenas Hermosas, click here.
To see Mexico Post #5, Una Visita Morelia, click here.
To see Mexico Post #6, Mariposas Monarcas!, click here.
To see Mexico Post #7, Los Pueblos de Patzcuaro, Paracho, y Tzintzuntzan, click here.
To see Mexico Post #8, La pintoresca ciudad de San Miguel de Allende, click here.
To see Mexico Post #9, Guanajuato, Guanajuato, click here.
To see Mexico Post #10, Back to Sayulita and Jaime Visits!, click here.
To see Mexico Post #11, Semana Santa y Semana Pasqua, click here.
To see Mexico Post #12, Semana de Animales, click here.
To see Mexico Post #13, Semana de Amigos y Amigas, click here.
To see Mexico Post #14, Frida y Diego, click here.
To see Mexico Post #15, Adiós Sayulita, click here.
To see Mexico Post #16, Living and Grinning in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
To see Mexico Post #17, Puddle Jumping in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
To see Mexico Post #18, Guanajuato International Film Festival, click here.
To see Mexico Post #19, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Coyoacán, y La Casa Azul, click here.
To see Mexico Post #20, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Chapultapec y Centro Historico, click here.
To see Mexico Post #21, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Templo Mayor, click here.
To see Mexico Post #22, Living the Dream in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
To see Mexico Post #23, Viva la Independencia! click here.
To see Mexico Post #24, Adios San Miguel, click here.
To see Mexico Post #25, Valle de Bravo y Teploztlán, click here.
To see Mexico Post #26, Ciudad de Oaxaca, click here.
To see Mexico Post #27, On the road from Oaxaca to Chiapas: 50 Shades of Green, click here.
To see Mexico Post #28, San Cristóbal de las Casas, click here.
To see Mexico Post #29, The Almost Halloween Edition: Dark Mountains, Foggy Cliffs, Witches, Jungles and Shamans, click here.
To see Mexico Post #30, Veracruz, Tampico y Estados Unidos, click here.
To see the Post 2013 in Photo Review and Lessons Learned in Mexico, click here.