Saturday, October 12, 2013

A weekend in Veracruz

At the end of August Edson, Rabea, Ariel and I spent a long weekend in Veracruz.

We arrived Friday and went to Edson's Alma mater, the Intstituto Tecnológico de Veracruz (ITVer).

on ITVer's campus
That afternoon we took a tour of San Juan de Ulúa - a small island which houses a fort, prison, and former palace. I was surprised to learn what an important place it has been in various moments of history. 

San Juan de Ulúa

When the Spaniards arrived in 1519, the island was already occupied by indigenous people of the region.

San Juan de Ulúa

The Spaniards used the island to house items coming in (and going out??) of the region. They began constructing the fort in 1535, in part to protect against pirates.

The fort itself is made out of coral. How cool is that?

wall of the fort
wall of the fort
wall of the fort
San Juan de Ulúa

San Juan de Ulúa

 San Juan de Ulúa

San Juan de Ulúa

my photo - they remind me of the flowers in Hawaii
Edson's photo
Mexican President Benito Juárez lived in San Juan de Ulúa - both as a political prisoner and President - and President Venustiano Carranza used San Juan de Ulúa as his presidential palace, instead of in Mexico City (though he travelled back and forth).

former Presidential Palace
San Juan de Ulúa
San Juan de Ulúa also served as a prison, reached by crossing the "Bridge of No return" ("El puente sin retorno") or "Last breath bridge" ("El puente del último suspiro"), where once you crossed the only way out was into the shark-infested water. 

the yellow bridge is the "Last breath bridge" 
Some of the more famous prisoners were Benito Juárez, Fray Servando Teresa de Miery and "Chucho el Roto" (somewhat of a Mexican Robin Hood that stole from the rich to give to the poor). 

cell in the prison
San Juan de Ulúa
unloading a container ship from Germany - view from San Juan de Ulúa
view from San Juan de Ulúa
@ San Juan de Ulúa
@ San Juan de Ulúa

@ San Juan de Ulúa
@ San Juan de Ulúa

"waiting to board" the school bus we spotted outside
of San Juan de Ulúa
That evening we wandered around downtown...

dancing danzón in the plaza

in front of the "Jarochos" (from Veracruz) statue 

...we got ice cream from the famous "Nieves del Malecón...

Nieves del Malecón 
... and ended the evening at a bar overlooking the ocean.

beautiful view, relaxing evening

Saturday morning we had breakfast at the famous Gran Café de La Parroquia. 

dancing to the Son Jarocho music at La Parroquia
From there we went to the beach!

We took a small boat tour out to "Cancuncito" or "Little Cancún", which is a sandbank of white sand out in the ocean, apparently formed by a hurricane in 1988. You have to take a boat to get there, but then you can get out and walk and swim around. Because of the white sandbank, the water appears clearer and a different color than the rest of the ocean surrounding it.

You're supposed to be able to see tropical fish and other creatures, but we didn't see much. Edson had been before and said it's not as clear or fish-filled as it used to be, probably due to time and tourists. Our captain / tour guide swan around though to find us some creatures.

this pink-tipped (sea anemone?) was my favorite of the 3
this starfish with worm-like legs was freaky to hold! 
starfish with worm-like legs
another type of sea anemone? 

That afternoon we went to the aquarium. It was small, but well-done and interesting. (Note- I'm spoiled by the National Aquarium in Baltimore). I really liked the tunnels you walk through to see the fish, sharks and sting rays swimming over you. 

I found Nemo(s) 

view from the aquarium

Sunday we had breakfast at La Parroquia again (at least it was another location?). They're famous for their café con leche. They serve you the coffee in a glass. You bang your spoon (or other utensil, whatever) against the class to call the person with the milk, who pours the hot milk from the kettle, raising it up to make a long stream of milk and a frothy café con leche.

preparing the café con leche
From there we went to Edson's brother's soccer game. It was raining so hard! We were covered from the rain, but the players were not.

rainy soccer game 
On the way back to the DF we stopped in Maltrata for a quick visit and lunch with "my family." 

view of Maltrata
view of Maltrata 
I always enjoy seeing "my family," especially my little buddy! Here we were playing with the camera on my iPad. 

(Which he continued to play with while I was having a grown-up conversation...) 

Overall it was a fun weekend!

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