Tampico to Veracruz

Jan 9, 2008

After we drove all over creation in Tampico and over about 100 of their, must be, 500 bridges, we finally settled on the MonteCarlo hotel in town. The nice thing about it was that we could pull our car into their covered parking with a guard watching it and leave it there. We had to leave Chico in the car. Since we crossed the border we haven't been able to find any dog friendly hotels. It got to the point where we stopped even asking and just assumed he'd sleep in the car (which also let us feel better about leaving stuff in the truck).

While we were looking for a hotel we kept passing this one lovers hotel in town. They had nice, pull in garages in the heart of town, which was appealing. We both knew what type of hotel it was (plus there were a lot of stained glass windows depicting romantic scenes), but we figured we could get a private garage, so why not?

We went in and asked for a room. Turns out that the private garages are for hourly use only. I guess it doesn't pay for them to rent it out for the whole night when they could be making so much more... Anyway, they wouldn't rent it to us, so we ended up at the Montecarlo.

The next morning we were looking for something for breakfast and I swear that nothing was open for a quick breakfast. I just wasn't ready for a breakfast taco. So we stopped in to a little bakery to ask about breakfast items. She didn't have anything but made us a couple cafe americanos and then gave us (on the house) two pieces of Budin, which was like a bread pudding with raisins in it and orange slices on top. It was SUPER sweet, but yummy.

So we headed out from Tampico for Veracruz. The roads are supposed to be really bad between the two, but we didn't run into anything major. There were a couple pot holes here and there, but nothing like what people had prepared us for. Also- let's just say that Veracruz has beautiful views and lush countrysides on lock down. It's possibly the most beautiful place I have seen. Unbelievable mountains jutting up here and there with the amazing Gulf of Mexico on the other side. Add to that orange orchards and lush farms, it was amazing.

About half way to Veracruz, between Poza Rica and Veracruz there's a series of beach-side resort towns. The one where we stopped was called Casitas. BEAUTIFUL. If they weren't about 5 hours from Tampico I would say to stay there on your first night in Mexico and skip Tampico. Unfortunately they're too far from the border to reach on the first day but not far enough from Tampico to be a stopping place for the second day (if you have a limited amount of time you can be on the road, like us). I'd like to go back as a regular vacation some time.

We made it to Veracruz by about 5pm and, since Hans really doesn't like the large cities here (well, after Tampico, at least), we decided to push on a little farther because we had read about Tlalcoltapan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To get there we had to break one of our cardinal rules of driving in Mexico- don't drive after night. We pulled in around 7:30 and got a hotel right off the main square (the zocalo). It's a charming town with a magnificent zocalo. It's the type of place I imagined when I was reading Love in the Time of Cholera. The main gazebo in the middle of the park in made from beautiful wrought iron work painted white and surrounding the park are multitudes of benches in a similar style. The sidewalks are made of marble and there are lots of artfully laid walkways. It's a really lovely place.

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In addition to the park in the zocalo, there are two churches that are quite beautiful and the whole town seems to be made of colonial era buildings that have been restored and painted bright, pastel hues (is that an oxymoron?).

We slept, rather fitfully, through the night because we chose to get a room with a fan and no A/C. It wasn't hot at all in the room, in fact, it was nice and cool. What kept us awake was that the rooms without A/C are on the exterior of the building, so we had all sorts of street noise all night long. Several times we got up to peek off the balcony to see what was making the noise.

The next morning we were off to Campeche.

* A note about the pictures: hubby got the "good" camera out and shot several lovely shots of the zocalo, will post them when I get my grubby little hands on his nice camera. Also- hubby "helpfully" downloaded the images off the camera prior to Tlalcotalpan, so I'll have to get them off his computer.

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