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Church Celebration in Veracruz
Veracruz is a large port city located on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The state has the same name. While not typically a tourist hot-spot, there is plenty to see.
I was in town for the Adventure Travel Mexico Summit to speak on behalf of the ATTA. After a joint presentation with Kraig Becker & Kristin Gill on how destinations, brands, & travel bloggers can work together, I stuck around for an extra week to explore.
Boasting about half a million people, Veracruz is a nice place to spend a few days watching how working-class Mexicans live. There is a lot of interesting history & culture to be found here as well.
Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés founded the old city when he first landed in Mexico back in 1519, before he helped destroy the Aztec Empire that is. But these days Veracruz is a hub for international trade. The export of oil, automobiles, and other goods keeps Mexico’s biggest port very busy.
Huevos Tirados & Gorda Negras
Breakfast at Samborcito
While staying along the beach at Hotel Playa Veracruz, the owner Juan let me in on a local secret. The best place to eat breakfast in town is a little family-run joint called Samborcito. A typical order? Delicious huevos tirados with gorda negras and some freshly squeezed orange juice. Definitely hit the spot.
Colorful Old La Huaca Neighborhood
La Huaca Neighborhood
The ultra colorful & crumbling neighborhood of La Huaca is located right outside the old city walls of Veracruz. Built to house immigrant workers in the 17th century, many of the structures are falling into disrepair. But in my opinion this helps give the area it’s character. There are some great little family-run food stands & restaurants here too.
Octopus in the Harbor
The Recycling Octopus
What an odd sight! I spotted this octopus on the surface of the water holding onto a plastic bottle. Apparently, this is a homemade buoy. But octopuses (octopi?) just love to climb into bottles, and that’s what he’s trying to do. I thought he was attempting to clean a bit of trash from the ocean. :D
Military & Police Checkpoint
Mexican Military & Police
The port city of Veracruz is home to the Mexican Navy, and they’ll often be seen patrolling city streets alongside the National or State Police. This happy crew is providing some extra security as a large Navy ship docks in the harbor.
Paseo del Malecón
Paseo del Malecón is the waterfront boardwalk in Veracruz that winds it’s way along the port. Here you can find snacks, excellent local coffee, and gaze with wonder as massive cargo or Navy ships float by. Scuba Pedro here is diving for colorful shells & sea creatures at the bottom of the harbor.
Baluarte de Santiago
Fort Baluarte de Santiago
This 17th Century fort was built to protect the city of Veracruz against invasion by pirates. Inside the massive stone structure you’ll find a collection of well-preserved cannon, as well as a small stash of beautiful pre-Hispanic gold jewelry. Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside. But the flowers outside are nice, don’t you think?
Back Alleys of Veracruz
Back Alley Goose!
When traveling in a new city like Veracruz, I really enjoy getting lost on purpose. You just never know what you’ll find off the main streets — and it’s bound to be interesting. Like this guy for example. A goose that didn’t like me very much. But I managed to snag his photo anyway. In your face, goose!
La Parroquia in Veracruz
La Parroquia Coffee
A visit to Veracruz City would not be complete without stopping at the famous Gran Café de La Parroquia! A bit more milk than coffee here though. After ordering, you hit your glass of coffee with a spoon to signal you are ready for milk. The proportion is something like 20% coffee, 80% milk. In fact, you’re pretty much drinking coffee-flavored milk. I normally like my coffee black-as-hell; but I couldn’t leave without trying the local style.
Beautiful Sunrise Over the Gulf
What better way to end this photo essay from Veracruz than with a sunrise from my room at Hotel Playa! The port city surprised me with some interesting sights and plenty of friendly people. Like all of Mexico, Veracruz has been hit hard by the negative media surrounding its drug war. While not great for tourism, it was nice for me, because it meant I pretty much had Veracruz all to myself. :)
Definitely worth a visit. ★
Would you consider traveling to Veracruz? Which photo was your favorite & why?
The total length of the US–Mexican border is close to 2,000 miles, from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Heading east from Tijuana and San Diego are the vast expanses of Sonora and Chihuahua deserts, via Ciudad Juárez and El Paso, before reaching the Colorado river delta, and finally the cities of Matamoros and Brownsville.
Jim Watson drove nearly 1,750 miles along dirt roads, through deserts and vast amounts of farm lands along the US side of the border beginning in San Diego, California and ending in San Antonio, Texas. Watson’s Mexican colleagues Yuri Cortes, and Guillermo Arias took a parallel journey on the Mexican side, beginning in Baha California and finishing in Tamaulipas.
I felt that many Americans had no idea what the border in the US really looked like, and I myself had no complete vision of it. I hoped US Border Patrol public affairs would be able to provide me with embeds along the the way, but the best they could do was let the agents in the areas know I was coming and that I could be there shooting pictures; Jim Watson
Watson continues: “I quickly began to see, once starting the project, that there is already a wall. While it is not brick and mortar, a huge fence runs up and down the border in quite a few locations. That being said, there are gaps in the fence, and there are areas where there is nothing at all. In many locations the border is the river, or mountains, and a physical barrier would almost be nonsensical, but there are places that the border patrol mentioned that are now seeing high traffic because the fence is everywhere else.
“It seems to me that the fence is not really needed to keep out illegal immigrants, they come to the US mainly by overstaying their visas. I would think the fence is important in the eyes of the border patrol for keeping out the drugs. The barrier slows down the contraband crossing the borders and also funnels it into locations the border patrol can reinforce their presence.”
This journey begins in Tijuana, in the Mexican state of Baja California, and in San Diego, in southern California. The San Diego–Tijuana conurbation is the second-largest trans-border agglomeration between the US and a bordering country after Detroit and Windsor on the US/Canadian border, with a combined population of almost 5 million people.
- Municipal police patrol the area by a money exchange near the border in Tijuana
I spent time hiking the trails in Tecate with border agent Luis Barona, and was amazed that we have seismic tools that are triggered by someone walking around in the area. While talking he got a call and we had to go investigate – turned out to be an animal, which is quite common; Jim Watson
It is estimated that the two border crossing stations between the cities of San Diego and Tijuana account for up to 300,000 border crossings each day.
- A stream of tail lights illuminate the road as cars cross the border into Mexico
It is fair to say that the Tijuana–San Diego border is one of the more monitored urban spots along the border. In some points you can find up to three fences and/or barriers; Guillermo Arias