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Posts Tagged ‘Genuine Tourist’

In February 2008, we made a trip to Xico near Xalapa to see the waterfall used as a backdrop in the film “Romancing the Stone.” While the waterfall was impressive, we also found a second waterfall nearby to also be interesting. Anyone visiting the area should check out both of them. Our traveling campanion, Marie, wrote a nice article about our day trip on her blog which you can read at —

http://roadtoveracruz.wordpress.com/2008/02/22/the-texolo-waterfall/

I also made a video of our day trip and posted it on YOUTUBE which can be seen at —

Stephen, Genuine-Tourist, reporting from Baraboo, WI, USA

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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way . . .¬† to Tlaxcala, Xalapa, and Veracruz¬† ūüėȬ† .”

Yes, we are returning to Tlaxcala and Veracruz between January 22nd and April 30th.¬† We plan to start by getting¬†a brief two day tour of Mexico City by our esteemed guide,¬†Robert¬†Cox, the Mexico-Mystic, ¬†—

 

 http://mexico-mystic.blogspot.com/2008/09/mexico-mystic.html. 

 

Then we will travel to Tlaxcala for several weeks/months stay.  At some point, we will visit the beaches north of Veracruz and travel through Xalapa one or two times on route, I figure. 

We had planned to be in Tlaxcala this October and November (right now ;-(   However, air plane tickets were toooo high, so we stayed home and spent the alleged money on a new roof for our house and some carpet for our basement.  Since then, the price of plane tickets have dropped, so we booked flights on Northwest Airlines via Detroit to Mexico City. 

Now, we booked on Northwest at some peril to ourselves because one of my relatives is a former striking mechanic with Northwest Airlines and all family members are supposed to avoid flying with them.¬† We are not only¬†supposed to refrain from flying with Northwest, out of respect for his lost job, but also because he doesn’t think the planes will stay in the air with¬†only 300 mechanics instead of the usual 3,000!.

Oh well, I guess the pocketbook always gets one’s vote, and they were the cheapest.¬† And, yesterday, gas went below $3.00 a gallon in southern Wisconsin, although it is still higher in our town than other places.

I am trying to decide whether to bring my computer with me on the trip.¬† When I bring it, I am able to post on blogs directly “from the field,” but it is a heavy load, and I hear now about¬†some possible problems at the border with laptops. ¬†Last time my individual total luggage weighed almost 100 lbs ;-(¬†¬†¬† This time I would like to keep it under 50 lbs total, BUT my packed laptop alone is almost 20 labs¬†;-(

If you haven’t notice, I have posted a LOT of video about southern Mexico on YouTube.¬† You can see it (and even ME) by going to —¬†

http://ca.youtube.com/results?search_query=Silversard&search_type=&aq=f

So, even¬†In the “best of times and the worst of times” we plan to follow our “addiction” cravings and return to Mexico this winter.¬† We did purchase round trip tickets so we can get back to USA even if the economy further melts down, but then I don’t think I would mind being stranded in Mexico either ūüėČ

Stephen, Genuine-Tourist, reporting from Baraboo, WI, USA

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We have been walking the streets of Xalapa for six weeks and enjoying the beauty of its people.¬† Yes, beautiful people and things can be found in Xalapa and often within an arms lengths in what sometimes seems a very crowded¬†community.¬† I suppose our biggest adjustment was getting use to the narrow sidewalks crowded with people and the even more crowded streets with cars.¬† It took two weeks of walking twice a day before we didn’t get lost even with a map, compass, and street signs.¬† You see, Xalapa is a very complex city, at least in its “historic centro.”¬† Yesterday, we had lunch about noon at La Fanda restaurant.¬† The¬† “blue plate special”¬†included several items and was very good, especially the price of less than $5.00 (USD) each.¬† From the balcony of the restaurant, we had the following few of the main street leading from our residence up to the central plaza.

From the balcony, we saw people just beginning their afternoon shopping and young people returning from morning school.¬†¬†Also, we noticed the local bicycle club (person in¬†the orange¬†shirt) working on a project for the blind.¬† We spotted Raul on the sidewalk across from us following a person with a guide dog and filming the challenge¬†of being disabled and walking in Xalapa.¬† Raul appeared¬†invloved in a¬†service project to help people who are blind to live more independently.¬† AND, even though we are just “Genuine Tourists” in Xalapa, we spotted our landlord, Roy, networking with folks on the street on his way home.¬† Just drag your cursor slowing across the following thumbnails to read their descriptions.

Woman Serious About ShoppingStudents ReturningCouple Returning From School

Person Blind and GPS MonitorOur Landlord Networking

Interestingly, this very night, several tandem bicycles were delivered to the local bicycle club so that blind people will be able to experience bike riding with a sighted person.

Tandem Bikes For The Blind

And, here they are unpacked . . .

 Unpacked Tandem Bikes

The beauty of¬†Xalapa’s people is not seen in their outward appearance but rather in their¬†honorable conduct, some already noted in the preceding service project for¬†people¬†with the disability of blindness.¬† However, we also found beauty¬†in their honesty¬†when we¬†overpaid many of them in the market place and were returned our funds even in their¬†poverty.¬† We¬†have experienced beauty in their kindness¬†when they have interrupted their own daily routine to help us find a¬†street or shop, sometimes going many blocks out of their way.¬†¬†Perhaps, their greatest¬†work, however,¬†has been and is their children.¬† Today, we found one such moment when we observed very young school children celebrating¬†an early “Festival of Spring.”¬† Here¬†are¬†two videos of the event, followed by a few photos.

Princesses Waiting For CrownsSpring Festival QueenSpring Festival Smallest

We have almost completed our “Visit” of¬†Xalapa for this year.¬† Soon,¬† we will travel to Huatulco, then Oaxaca, and then finish our¬†first winter in Mexico with a visit of several weeks in the small Mexican¬†state of¬†Tlaxcala.¬† We will miss this place and hope you will too.¬†¬†Next week,¬†posts regarding our time in Huatulco will be available¬†at —

 http://huatulcoparadise.wordpress.com/  

Stephen, also posting at — http://www.Genuine-Tourist.com

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Supposedly things are slow this time of year in Xalapa, Mexico, but we are finding much to do.¬† Oh . . . it has been fairly “cool” in the evenings for us from the Midwest, USA, but layers of clothing do the job.¬† Last night, evening with the coolness, we went to an auditorium at the head of Los Largos¬†and enjoyed “Huasteco” music and dance for several hours for just 30 pesos each (a little less than $3.oo USA).¬† Of course, we had no clue what “Huasteco” music was all about, but it turned out to be a delightful evening largely because children once again “stole the show.”¬†¬†Also,¬†a bit of research revealed that “Huasteco” music originated from northeastern Mexico and usually features three instruments and singers who often sing with a¬†“falsetto” voice.¬†¬†¬†As is often the case, audience members wanted to participate and often danced in front of the stage.¬† One couple danced quite nicely and here they are.

Dancing to Huasteco Music

Perhaps you would like to see them “in action” by¬†clicking on the Youtube video¬†below.¬†

And here is some early audience participation by more young people.

Many groups performed during the course of the evening but one group that included a father and son seemed to get the most attention.  Here is a photo of the 5 year old boy, Enriquito, hawking his CDs with help from this big sister (I think).

Enriquito Hawking His CDs

 Here is a video of Enriquito and his father singing a duet.  Of course, the little girl on the platform in the video is just as entertaining as the performance on the stage!

 Here is a picture of Enriquito with his mother and sister.  His sister, probably only three years old, also danced a lot on the platform who you will see in later postings. 

Enriquito with mother and sister

As mentioned, children made the evening and here are some thumbnails of them until some video can be uploaded of them dancing.

Enriquito dancing with sisterGoup of three with little girl.Little girl in blue dress restingThree girls resting

We just could not stay until the end because we have more dancing to enjoy on Saturday night but here is what some of the audience was doing just as we left about 11:30 PM.

Supposedly things are “slow” in Xalapa . . . “I don’t think so!”

Stephen, also posting at — http://www.Genuine-Tourist.com

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¬†The two young people in the video below seemed to have captured the spirit of “Polka” music, but I will let you judge for yourself —

The above video does not have a photo embedded in it for some reason, but if you click on it you will see a short demonstration of young people dancing on a challenging stage surface.

Below are some samples of dancing in the streets —

Beauty and The Beast, perhaps?

Beauty and “the Beast” Dancing . . . which drew a lot of attention ūüėČ

The Beasts in the Crowd

Some of “the Beasts” on the Streets

Perhaps someone could write a comment about the nature of the costumes and the wood masks and the tradition they actually represent.

Finally, the dancing in the parade was both organized and spontaneous.   

One Enthusiastic Young Lady

The¬†young lady¬†above seemed to capture the “spirit” of the event

Stephen, a Genuine Tourist posting at http://www.Genuine-Tourist.com

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On¬†Sunday afternoon we were off to¬†look for a major ecological park in Xalapa and didn’t know which way to go to pick up a bus to do so.¬† So, we headed towards our neighorhood park thinking it¬†was the place to catch transport¬†headed in the right¬†direction.¬† However, the sound of music¬†drew¬†us into¬†“our”¬†park, and this is what we discovered —

One couple performed a dance with a ribbon at their feet on the ground.¬†¬†¬†Within moments, however, they presented the ribbon tied in a bow to the audience which they had tied with their feet while dancing —

Tied in Knots 

This little performer was delightful as well as her companions who danced with candles on their heads.¬† However, please notice the musician playing a “jaw bone” as a musical instrument behind her —

A Musical Jawbone

We did make it to the ecological park later in the afternoon but not before watching the other dancers in the park on a Sunday afternoon.¬† Here are some snapshots of what we were privileged to enjoy in our very own neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon —

Candles and DancersComedy and DancePregnant and RacingMore With Many ColorsA Talented CoupleBoys Can Do It

While we didn’t understand all the announcements following the dances, we got the impression much more was on the agenda for this little park in the early evening.¬† Unfortunately, it rained and we came back from our exploration too late and with not enough energy to return to the park to see if they were able to present an evening performance.

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As noted in the previous posting, we had the privilege of attending Carnaval in a mountain village northeast of Xalapa named Coyolillo. Roy Dudley, professional photographer and guide extraordinaire, transported us through the sugar cane fields and mountain vistas to the village kind of perched on the mountainside about an hour from Xalapa.

We were not the only visitors from afar that day, however, because the Governor of the state of Veracruz also attended in order to start off the festivities by signing many documents and crowning the King, Queen, and princesses great and small. Now, we relied on Roy’s knowledge of the highways to get us there, but the Governor probably was guided to the community by the three crosses located high above the village on the mountain because he arrived in a shiny, bright red helicopter.

Crosses Sited Above Coyolillo

Unfortunately, neither Roy nor I got a shot of the helicopter,
but here are the crosses that probably guided him in.

The Governor’s arrival on stage

Ok, I digressed a bit to work the Governor‚Äôs arrival in, so now let’s go back to the village of Coyolillo and its fine people. Apparently, they elected a King, Queen and Court from the youth of their community. It would be interesting to know what criteria they used to elect the young people. One wonders how much the quality of their character or educational achievement may have played a part in their decision to display them in such a nice manner.

Crowning of King by Governor

The crowning of the king

Governor Addresses Audience Flanked By Installed Court

The Governor addresses the crowd flanked by court and other dignitaries

Roy Dudley and Royal Court

Roy Dudley, our photographer and guide,
trying to get himself in a picture with the court

While another digression from the theme, it would be unkind not to mention the great politeness of the residents of the community. You see, we didn‚Äôt always know where we were or what we were doing because Roy was off bonding with old friends in the community. So, when we didn’t know where to go or where to stand, residents of the community very lightly touched our shoulders and pointed to where we should go in order to see the parade or actually led us to a different street where it was coming around again. Another person, thinking we were official media photographers, alerted us to an African drum performance that she didn‚Äôt want us to miss by leaving too early.

Oh, I‚Äôm sure the community has its problems and problem people like any community anywhere, but it will always be a very special community to us, their seemingly treasured guests for one day on a “Fat Tuesday‚ÄĚ in the mountains near Xalapa.

Stephen
Genuine Tourist at — ¬†http://www.genuine-tourist.com

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