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So far I’ve just arrived and sat on the terrace of “El Colonial” in the main square of the city, and I start to fall for Veracruz for a very simple reason: there is an authenticity to this place. It is full of local people, enjoying their city, rather than a purely touristic area where everything has been designed and manufactured, as sometimes happens in many other cities around the world. In a bid to keep traditions alive, people come here to the main square to dance, for just one reason: they love it!
La Chiva Viajera and I have spent two non-stop weeks, traveling to one city after the other, visiting along the way, Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Mexico DF, Guadalajara and tonight after a hair-raising flight in windy conditions we have made it to the enchanting city of Veracruz, our last stop on this blog trip.
Being chosen as the best blog in the Americas has brought us a lot of joy, for instance invitations such as this one, in Mexico, which have allowed us to share our experiences around the world. But our joy increased when we were given the option not only to go to Mexico City, but to choose other cities to visit, because we knew we would be finally able to pay a visit to this legendary corner of the southern part of the country.
Let’s start with the basics: Veracruz is located in the Gulf of Mexico on the Atlantic coastline and its capital isn’t Puerto de Veracruz as many might think, but Xalapa, a city known for its cultural richness. This is not breaking news since the authenticity that now defines Veracruz comes as a result of the syncretism of Spanish culture (Hernan Cortes named this place, the first municipality in the Americas, as “Villa Rica de la Verdadera Cruz”) with the pre-Hispanic cultures which once inhabited Jarocho’s current territory. Add in global cultural influences, as are often present in coastal, port cities, and you get a rich, vibrant diversity of culture.
Trying to forget about delayed flights, long waiting hours at the airports and air-con, the first thing I did after checking in at Holiday Inn was to head directly downtown and start from there, as in every Mexican city, since it is a good way to slowly get involved in the local atmosphere.
I’ve arrived to Veracruz main square on a Thursday night and luckily that means just one thing: Danzon. In front of the City Hall, mixing with the music coming from the doorways and the terraces full of people, mariachis and little boys selling about everything in the street, there’s a group of people that seem to be from another age, who are mostly dressed in white, living in their own world and dancing that Cuban-originated rhythm, that has become an important part of their culture and traditions held in the city, adopted as an element of their own identity.
And that’s how I spend my very first hours in Veracruz: with the cool breeze on a warm evening, music and the historic center strategically lit up, while I take a break to drink “Criollas” – the flagship local beer- and taste more food in the menu that I probably should, surrounded by the atmosphere that will embrace me for the next few days. It perfectly highlights what someone at my neighboring table tells me: “Dear friend: only Veracruz is beautiful”
Written by: JL
Translated by: Carolina