contributions by Roy Dudley, Bret Cohen, Jim Martin and John Bokma
From what we hear, there is a lot to do in Xalapa. The excitement of living in a vibrant cultural center is palpable, from the messages sent by Roy Dudley, one of our group members who lives there:
June 11, 2007
Xalapa is definitely a music and cultural scene. Right now is Junio Musical 2007 and the whole month there are dozens of concerts, many free and costing at most US$40 for something that would be much higher in the States.
The jazz scene is very alive here, as well as all the other genres (classic, folklore, fandango, tango, etc.).
I have lived in Xalapa for 35 years, thankfully, and enjoy life here very much. Just this last Saturday there was an Encuentro de Arpistas (get together of harpists) at the Centro Cultural Los Lagos that cost less than US$2 and lasted from 5PM until 2 AM!!! And the “masters of masters” were there of the Son Jarocho. You would have to spend several days in Tlacotalpan February 5th at the Encuentro de Jaraneros to see so much talent of the “old guard”. ¡¡¡Fabuloso!!! — Roy
Musicians on Calle Enriquez playing for spare change
Photo by Laura Garcia
Listen to Similar Musicians on YouTube
This above video was produced by one of our members, Chris, who lives in Xalapa and writes the Ruminations of an Expatriate blog.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-SOxqH_3R4&mode=related&search= video by galijip
More things to do in Xalapa, by Roy:
December 4, 2006
Richard and all:
Xalapa always seems to have something going on. This Saturday was absolutely filled with things happening (Friday was a holiday so Felipe Calderon could be made officially Presidente). There was a three-day event for the Italian-Mexicans at the Centro Recreativo (great food!), the Encuentro de Tunas y Estudiantinas for a callejoneada with presentations at the Agora, and two fandangos with jaraneros. Plus your other night clubs, restaurants, etc.
As I always say… you can get bored in Xalapa if you work at it! — Roy
Bret Cohen lived in Xalapa from July, 2001 to December, 2002, and is in love with the city. He sometimes dreams of retiring there, as do a number of us in the group. Aside from its beautiful colonial hillside setting, the fact that Xalapa is a huge university town has led to there being an enormous amount of cultural activities and restaurants to enjoy there.
Below is information Bret sent about only some of these, emphasizing his preference for workshops in theater and music. The former, of course, are more geared to those who can stay for an extended period.
To start, those like you that don’t know Spanish might consider the School of Foreign Students at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa. http://www.uv.mx/eee.
I now read that a Spanish immersion program, the Ecole de Langue Immersion, has been set up by some French Canadians. http://www.immersion.qc.ca/english/imm_xalapa.htm
There is also a new program, called Kiosk. More information can be found on the Meet-Up site here.
Then there are the parks. Click here for pictures & links, though the text is in Spanish. Parque Juarez, right downtown, is not especially beautiful, but it has a wonderful view of a nearby volcano, the Pico de Orizaba, and the area surrounding Xalapa. Here are some photos of the Pico de Orizaba and Cofre de Perote on John Bokma’s site. It also has a building that shows international films and has a cafe with outdoor seating and a view of the volcano.
Another member of our Grupo, Jim Martin, has also spent some time in Xalapa. Here are Jim’s impressions: “I think Parque Juarez is unique in Mexico. Not only is the the only zocalo (well, the only one *I* know of) that is built on a hillside, it contains two fascinating attractions seldom seen in cities of this size. [Bret] refers to one, the Agora, the city’s arts complex, which when I was there last had an extremely fine exhibit of regional modern art, with some works I wanted to make off with when the student guards were chatting and not looking. The other is the semi-circular row of massive sculptures on the Eastern parapet depicting — I seem to recall — the Virtues? These works are tall and powerfully rendered, the males with Shwartznegger development; the females, as muscular as Amazons. (Although I haven’t visited it yet, there’s also at the bottom of the park a small museum with works of Rivera.) You can’t see the volcano except on clear days, and even then it might be hazy.”
There is also an extinct volcano within the city itself (on the northern edge of the city), at Parque Macuiltepec (site in Spanish).
Parque de Los Berros
photo by John Bokma
Parque de Los Berros is a lovely spot with lots of activities for children. John Bokma has more photos of it here.
Paseo de Los Lagos (“Stroll Among The Lakes”) is another park, right in the middle of the university area & down the hill from center city. There is a cultural center as you walk up from the park with lots of cultural events. There is a nice YouTube video of the lake & cultural center and a few photographs here.
Parque los Tecajetes is a beautiful spot recommended by John Bokma, who has a page of photos of it here.
UNIVERSIDAD VERACRUZANA & CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Then there is the university itself — I mean the biggest university in town, Universidad Veracruzana. There are different “faculties” (departments) spread out around the city. Above Los Lagos, going toward Juarez Park and the city center, is the Facultad de Musica y Teatro (department of theater & music). It’s a great place to meet students. There are all sorts of events either going on there or listed in the flyers on the announcement boards there. In the surrounding stores lots of other flyers are posted announcing art, music, dance and other cultural workshops.
The theater department runs a community theater called Teatro La Caja (calle de la Pérgola s/n Zona Universitaria, Xalapa 814 8672). In addition to the showing of plays, they put on theater workshops for the Xalapa community. I watched one and also participated in an improvisational workshop there.
There are a variety of music events and orchestras. One of my favorites is a yearly series of events in June, Festival Junio Musical Lately, they have been devoting the festival to a different country. They invite musicians from the selected country to come play. On a visit last year I saw lots of wonderful Brazilian music. In August the city of Veracruz hosts Festival Afrocaribeño – workshops, dance & music related to carribean influences.
For those of you who are only there for a brief visit, here are a few suggestions for your itinerary:
For Your Xalapa Itinerary
Museo de Antropología
The sparkling Museo houses an amazing collection of artifacts from pre-Colombian civilizations of Veracruz. For further information, see the Museo de Antropología article on this site, recently updated.
Photo by Laura Garcia
Pinacoteca Diego Rivera
Xalapa has the largest collection of Diego Rivera paintings in Mexico at a gallery called Pinacoteca Diego Rivera near City Hall and Parque Juárez in the downtown area.
J.J. Herrera No. 5.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Jardin Botanico Francisco Javier Clavijero
This 16-acre regional botanic garden is committed to the study and conservation of native flora, especially threatened and endangered species. Located 2.5 kilometers from Xalapa and 7 kilometers from Coatepec.
Km 2.5 carretera antigua a Coatepec No. 351
Congregación El Haya, Apartado Postal 63
More information on the FJC Botanic Gardens from the Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
An exchange student’s impressions on a visit to the FJC Botanic Garden.