More Arroyo Zacate

The roosters of Arroyo Zacate commence their cantata about 2:00 in the morning, I discovered, while here in Xalapa the chorus begins about 4:00.

Having gone to bed earlier Saturday night than the rest of the household I arose Sunday morning before all except Perfecto’s mother, who, amongst other kitchen chores, was kindling the tortilla fire.

Ivan had told me of a sulfur spring (fuente azufre) at the far end of the pueblo. He pointed down the road in front of his store and indicated “todo derecho”, which means straight ahead all the way.

So, with my camera in hand, I tip toed through the house, quietly bidding la senora “buenos dias” as I passed through the kitchen, and set out through the still sleepy village to find the azufre, in hope of a morning dip.

A couple of blocks from Ivan’s store I cam upon an older gentleman working at preparing a large pile of plam fronds for placement on a roof. I quietly asked if he would permit me to take a photo. He didn’t understand my request so called to his son to come out and speak with me. The son assured me I was welcome to photograph his father at work.

A bit further along I came to a wire fence stretched across the end of the road, with a narrow, wooden, swinging gate along side. A young woman sweeping the yard in front of the house adjacent to the gates instructed me to “pase por favor”. I thanked her and after passing through the gate I was approached by a smiling, older gentleman in a straw hat who directed me to just follow this path traversing a rolling pasture. I thanked him, bid him a good day, and continued on my way.

I turned the final corner in the path and saw there was a woman and her daughter washing clothes in the river into which the sulfur spring flows. I announced myself , so as to not startle them, and asked their permission to approach. The woman bid me to “pase pro favor” and I stepped down to the spring. Departing with their arm loads of clean clothes, the woman encouraged me to take a dip. I responded that I had no swimming suit but she assured me that I would most likely be alone that early in the morning.

They disappeared around the bend in the path, I disrobed, and stepped into the very clear, slightly warm water in the small pool where the water, with only a slight sulfur odor, emerges from rocks just above the level of the river. The water cascades a couple of feet over rocks at the far end of the pool and flows on to the river.

The rocks over which the sulfur water flows are covered with what appeared to me as pure white algae. I was later discussing the white material on the rocks with some of Abbi’s family and was told the white material is skin shed from the many folks who bath in the spring, as the sulfurous water cause the skin to shed. Though the explanation sounded implausible to me I certainly did not argue the matter.

A couple days after my return to Xalapa I visited Javier, the shoe shiner in Parque Juarez I visit every couple of weeks, and told him of the shed skin explanation. He laughed and assured me the white material on the rocks were aquatic plants.

Having completed my refreshing bath and redressed I headed back to town. Not very far along the way I ran across these turkeys and a brood of chicks. I returned to Perfecto and Laura’s home for a breakfast of fruit, cereal, and yogurt and then prepared to depart for Avasolo del Valle to visit Abbi’s father, a bunch of her other relatives, and to attend her niece’s birthday party.

More later.



Filed under Travel, Veracruz

7 responses to “More Arroyo Zacate

  1. Neil


    This is a terrific set of entries….I find myself logging on every day to see if you’ve posted more info on your trip to the birthday party. Thanks for being willing to share your experiences.


  2. Hey Neil,

    I figured you like this series of reports and am glad to hear that you do. It was indeed a rare opportunity to have a local guide, such as Abbi, take me deep into the countryside and show me around pueblos from where she is from.

    I’ve got a report or two to do of Asolo del Valle (where amongst other neat things I twice had a 12 year old fellow drive me around town in my pickup showing me the sites and helped deliver tortillas from the local tortillaria to various parties around town), one to do on palapa roof construction, and maybe one of miscellaneous photos.

    Friday morning I leave for my first visit to Cabo San Lucas, to share with my good friend, Life Long Harborite, his last visit to time shares he has had their for quite some years. Hopefully I will find something worthwhile there to post.

    The week after I return from Cabo I will have a visit from a couple of high school chums. The following week I will visit Huatusco to meet a coffee growing family with whom I have connected and in which I will be investing in an effort to add value to their coffee crop by opening a shop here in Xalapa.

    I have been researching coffee, from growing to marketing, and have a few things to say about what folks put into their morning cup; but want to wait until I have photos of Hautusco.

    Take care and thanks for writing.

  3. Ross

    Ditto with Neil…

    I’ve been doing the same. It’s really not every day you have the time or the opportunity to visit another world, although we’re in Mexico… I imagine the women hid behind some trees to watch this Gringo skinny dip:-) It’s really very interesting, your story. These are experiences we should live for…

    Think about dropping down to Paso Dona Juana to the beach, just north of Chachalacas. Paso Dona Juana is a small town just north of Cardel and east of Cempaola. I have friends who have a cabin on the beach; it’s called Cabana Lety after Lety. Her husband’s name is Poncho. They have a 22-year-old son living in Suffern, NY. I visited him there a week before leaving for Mexico in 2003. He’s been in the U.S. since the age of 16. Lety has a brother living there in Suffern also and I believe he’s been there for over 12 years… You can sleep on the beach… Poncho sells beer and torito. Lety sells mariscos… Poncho will train you in net fishing from his row boat. They catch small fish and crabs in the river that enters the sea a hundred meters north of their caban… My friend Michael from Australia stumbled into them in December 2002 and spent a week with them. They were very sad to see him go. He sent me with photographs for them and I only spent 3 days with them, since I had something to do in Xalapa and Huatusco. I stayed with them 2 months later when Ricardo Romero kicked me out of Las Canadas but was extremely anxious about looking for a way of solidifying my life with Margarita. So they became frustrated with me. We visited them for an hour or so when we were driving up to Tecolutla with my mother and her husband in April 2004. Poncho offered us toritos and being that it was hospitality of friends, no one suggested towards paying for the drinks. Later on I concluded that they expected my mother and her husband to pay for the drinks since their “rich” gringos… I haven’t heard from them since. It was a bad decision on my part not to offer to pay and assume that as friends they would have been offended. But then again, the last time I visited them with Margarita in 2003, I imagine that they were offended by our abrupt departure. The thing is that the coastal culture, like the ranch culture is extremely laid back and hardly has a time frame. So, it’s very difficult for them as well as my in-laws to understand schedules and work demands… Poncho and Lety really expected us to pass a week or more with them… We haven’t had the time or the money to visit them in 3 years. Imagine that! We’ve talked about it numerous times. But it just hasn’t happened.



  4. Hola Ross,

    Gracas para las palabras amble y la informacion de Paso Dona Juana.

    I’ve located on my wonderful Mexican atlas Zempoalo and have put it on my list for a visit, after I visit Huatusco with you and Margarita.

    I traveled most of the Gulf coast from Campeche to Matamoras; but, since I detoured to Xalapa from Veracruz and took the back roads to Costa Esmeralda, I missed that stretch. I’ll have to make a trip of it and explore the coast between Veracruz and Nautla.

    Cuidate. Saludos a Margarita y los jovenes.


  5. El Macho Grandisimo

    Great photos!

  6. Nice to hear from you El Macho. I’m glad to know you like the photos.

    I hope all is well.

  7. El Macho Grandisimo

    Indeed it is. I have some interesting work. But retirement is looking better and better.

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