Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mexico Travels

I've been in Mexico for the better part of this month. One of Dave's best friends and his wife live [t]here in a small town called Jalcomulco in the state of Veracruz. It's a little adventure town in the mountains with rock climbing and a class V whitewater river. If it weren't for the difference in vegetation, language, and culture, it could be mistaken for Fayetteville, WV on most days. Green abounds.

The people of this little town are beyond friendly. And while the culture in this town is much of what I learned when I was in Spanish courses in HS (I learned just as much about the culture of each Spanish-speaking country as I did grammar and speaking), Jalco has some unique tendencies all its own (as any place does). My favorite of these, is that the locals communicate with various whistles before speaking if the person they're seeking isn't in sight. Different whistles can mean anything from, "Hey, how's it going?" to "Anyone home?" or "Let's go do something!" and those are just to name a few.

We've left Jalco to see adjacent towns like Coatepec and Actopan, but mostly, we ended up staying pretty local. This part of Mexico doesn't get much tourism by gringos, which is sad because it is absolutely GORGEOUS. Below, enjoy a chronological journey through our trip via my photos (all cell phone). We head home later today. It's been a fun few weeks.

20171112_103721
Life in a hammock...that's basically been my trip. This is the communal kitchen/living room area in their house.
20171112_231006-01
Enjoying the hammock on the first night while Michele, Roberto and Dave play music
20171112_133117
More hammock the following AM
20171112_133231
And more music before walking up to the climbing wall
IMG_20171112_164750_017
View of Jalcomulco from the climbing crag
20171112_135610
A need treehouse fort Sohoda (who developed the climbing area) built
20171112_140652
Cerro Brujo, the climbing wall outside Jalco
20171112_141523
Where Sohoda sleeps; his family have a house in town but he prefers this
20171112_142338
Sohoda and friend playing instruments while Dave and Roberto gear up to climb.
I have a rotator cuff injury and sadly cannot climb.
20171112_143243
Up, up and away!
20171112_144111
One of many dogs I've encountered on my trip. This girl was standoffish but still wanted to
sleep on my foot!
20171112_144521
They weren't sure if they'd max out the 70 meter rope, so Dave went up on Sohoda's
kitchen roof to lower Roberto. Rope wasn't maxed out fortunately, but better safe than sorry.
20171112_152459
More time in a hammock while they climbed. 
20171112_225746
And another evening of music playing at the house.
20171112_225826
The donkey parked really close to our bedroom window. There are a lot of working donkeys around here and they bray 24/7
20171113_083723
Enjoying the early sunshine
20171113_082303
Sun beaming through the kitchen in the morning. Everything is open air - no glass windows!
20171113_144400
We had to make a fire to help with bugs at the crag. The no see ums are no fucking joke down here. You should see my legs...
20171113_152227
Such beautiful vistas! 75%+ of those trees are mango trees by the way. Jalco is a ecotourism and mango town.
20171113_152254
Jalco and fires to burn the "trash" that are fallen leaves. They've got no concept of compost and just burn the understory.
20171113_152330
Such a beautiful crag area. Sohoda has done an outstanding job.
20171113_181552
Roberto and Michele's house. Rooms segmented out like pie slices below, open common area above (where hammocks are)
20171113_183011
Sugar cane to the right, mango trees to the left
20171113_183423
Gorgeous sunset vistas from the car on our way to Coatepec
20171113_202521
Um yeah. Rattlesnake in the tequila....
20171113_202935
And a....king snake? Roberto is not drinking the viper tequila, but mezcal, another agave liquor
20171113_210234
Tacos al pastor and a corona
20171113_210337
Tacos al pastor....more on this later...
20171113_215456
Plaza within a bar we went to
20171113_215551
It was a chilly 64°F this night, hence my jacket.
20171113_220538
Pork rinds and tamarind margaritas - so freaking delicious!
20171113_220723
The biggest freaking chelada-mix beer ever.
IMG_20171114_115140_602
Streets of Jalco
20171114_103102
Dave deciding which meat and cheese to order before going in, running his Spanish by me
20171114_140237
The three amigos one morning
20171114_152724(0)
Puto = bitch. Dave and Roberto end many sentences in conversation to one another with "puto!" so it was only
 appropriate to pose with the graffiti lolol
20171114_160147
A hobbit-esque home near the swimming hole we went to
20171114_160553-01
Poza Azul (Blue Hole) local springfed swimming hole. Totally and completely gorgeous
20171114_164205
Nature's infinity pool!
20171114_164251
It certainly didn't suck ;-)
20171114_164405-01
The drop here is deceiving, we were a good 30' above the next pool
20171114_164543
Swimming selfies
IMG_20171114_215002_448
Enjoying the cool escape from the heat - this redhead doesn't mesh well with hot weather!
20171114_180448
An indigenous woman is causing quite the political stir in Mexico much like Bernie Sanders did in the
 US - we went to a part of one of her rallies in Jalco
20171115_095232
Me. In a hammock. Again. 
20171115_131138
Michele is a ceramist and taught me a bit about throwing pots
20171115_131711
She made it look so easy!
20171115_175408
Michele's quick example bowl on the left and my bowl on the right...
20171115_175412
Mine was far from perfect, but it was okay for my first time!
20171115_175424
Not going to fire it and take it home as their kiln isn't complete, but it would suffice as a dog bowl if I did.
20171116_170433
Beautiful river views....
20171116_172029-01
One of my favorite views of the whole trip! From a restaurant/wedding venue. They also have zip lining...one of the
zip is actually right in front of me in this photo but you can't see it due to the trees/clouds
20171116_172123
Enjoying the view. We ate dinner right at this table.
20171116_175029
The wedding area.
20171116_175350
Similar topography to WV for sure.
20171116_175539
A poinsettia relative...
20171117_130806
One of many puppies encountered this week <3
20171117_132855
Beans cooking in a crock outside someone's front door in Jalco
20171117_134309
Local swimming hole in a pool between rapids
20171117_160925
Roberto and Michele's backyard complete with pine apple, lemongrass, aloe, and other yumminess
20171117_161030
View of the upstairs common area from the back yard
20171117_161055
And again...
20171117_161120
Michele's ceramic studio
20171117_161133
Nice complete view of the upstairs area.
20171117_213327
Tacos al pastor...a lot of pork that is repeatedly marinaded as it's rotated into the flame
20171117_213335
And then they shave off the outside to be served a little at a time as they're ready
20171117_215032
Roberto and Dave freaking love this place
20171117_215036
Evidence of the unhealthy Mr Taco love of tacos al pastor
20171117_230507
Neat composting toilet Sohoda built for the cerveceria (brewery)
20171117_232959
Mike (originally from New Orleans) showing Roberto and Dave his cerveceria outside of Coatepec
20171117_233114
He and his wife have done a beautiful job!!
20171117_233619
There's even an outside area (featuring one of his wife's paintings) for bands, this was a local jazz group
20171118_131027-01
Yet another vista of Jalco
20171118_182849
Nubes (noo-behs, clouds in English) one of few huskies I saw on this trip...his "owner" would leave him tied and crying
without water most of the day (he'd dump it out in his distress) and I started taking him water and going over to console him
It isn't easy being a dog in a culture that sees animals more as things that serve a function than companions. This guy tore
at my heartstrings a lot. He was a total sweetheart - just a typical husky who needed more exercise than he was provided
and acted out as a result.
20171118_195837
Another evening jam sesh
20171118_210021
Eating pizza!
20171119_211148
Bunch of climbing friends at dinner another night. Many of our dinners were on tables like this in the middle of the street
in Jalco outside of someone's home. They'd take your order and cook for you in their kitchen and serve you on the street.
We brought our own beer. Dave and I ate like kings most evenings for a whopping $2.50-5 total for us both.
20171120_093216
Gecko on my yoga mat
20171120_131757
A butterfly in a butterfly garden
20171120_132039
Unfortunately all of the orchids in this garden had just completed their blooming period so there weren't any magnificent
flowers to enjoy, it was beautiful all the same.
20171120_132104
Near Actopan above El Descabezadero, the birth place of rivers
20171120_132710
Yep. That's a waterfall basically coming out of the middle of a wall of rock...
20171120_133434
Another view. Waterfalls to the right and left of this staircase
20171120_133656
With the water coming out of the wall....
20171120_133711
And behind us
20171120_133947-01
Loving the water and the cooler temperatures
20171120_133954-01
Cheesin'
20171120_134132
So uniquely beautiful
20171120_134215
Lesser falls coming out of the same wall of rock further downstream, that is a swimming hole at the base
20171120_134241
People for scale
20171120_134649
Bizarre unreal looking flowering structures on a plant
20171120_144557
A very cool series of cascading pools elsewhere in the park
20171120_144633
There were about 7 hottub sized pools where you could sit and enjoy the water.
 If someone in the top one pees in the water though everyone below will sit in it we joked.
20171120_144718
Bananas
20171120_145403
The biggest waterfall...see the trail to the right? Yeah, we got a bit wet...
20171120_145821
But it was so cool! Roberto and Michele
20171120_145908
Dave and I
20171120_150151-01
Always climbing something somewhere...
20171120_150837
Picturesque swimming area above the falls
20171120_150903
There was NO ONE up here. So obviously, we took advantage of the quiet and had a peaceful swim
20171120_151654
Look closely and you'll see my stark whiteness as I launch off a small rope swing into the water
20171120_155746
One more parting shot of the waterfall as we headed out
20171120_163504
Central church near the central square in Actopan