A few days ago I reported that Lorena, of Teocelo, had called at the request of the owners of the Ranchito Coyolopan who were concerned that perhaps the architecto who had taken me to the ranchito the previous Sunday may have given me incorrect information. I told Lorena that I would visit the Ranchito again on the following Sunday; and, on the way, stop in Teocelo to introduce myself.
I had told my gringo neighbor, Steve, of the call from Lorena and of my planned trip to the ranchito, and he asked if he could come along for my follow up visit. Steve is even more of a hermit than am I, so the trip promised to be a grand adventure for him.
Sunday at noon we left for Teocelo. We had no problem finding Teocelo, home to about 15,000 folks; and after about fifteen minutes of driving around in circles in Teocelo we encontered Lorena’s father’s bakery, located in a bright blue building across the street from the pueblo’s central park.
Lorena; her father, Franco; and a variety of sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, and neighbors greeted us warmly. We spent a very pleasant half hour talking to Lorena and her father, as her father busied himself tending to customers of the bakery and adjacent juice stand.
Lorena is the coordinator of the twelve English teachers at a private school located between Coatepec and Teocelo, so speaks English flawlessly. She studied English for five years and spent a couple of months in Portland, Oregon as part of a student exchange program. Both Lorena and her father, as is customary, assured us that “nos casa es sus casa” and encouraged us to visit again as we excused ourselves and departed for the ranchito.
We thanked Franco and Lorena for their hospitalities, hopped in the pickup, and headed out of Teocelo on Calle Cinco de Mayo. Just beyond town there is a hand-lettered sign announcing the primitive route to Coyopolan.
The road to Coyopolan is a ten kilometer, exceptionally rough track that offers some stunning vistas of what, as best I am able to determine, are referred to in the ecological vernacular as “Veracruz Montane Forests”. Often cloud obscured mountains and intervening valleys mantled in a dense forest canopy which provides rich habitat for wide varieties of butterflies, birds, ground dwelling shrubs and animals, as well epiphytes, such as orchids, ferns, mosses, and lichens.
The winding road, scoured by frequent rainfall induced runoff, rises and falls as it passes numerous ranchos, occasional isolated dwellings, and through a couple of pueblitos before descending into the picturesque pueblo of Coyopolan.
Driving through the pueblo I reached the field at the end of town which hosts the regular Sunday futbol (soccer) games, attended it seems by most everyone in town, before I realized I had passed the entrance to the Ranchito Coyolopan. I gingerly turned around, careful to avoid the spectators, and soon encountered the ranchito entrance.
Senor Luis and Senora Betty were expecting me, as Senor Franco had advised them of my intended visit, and welcomed me warmly, as they did Steve upon his introduction.
Betty rounded up and placed three chairs on the concrete slab abutting the small, ramshackle home. Luis, Steve, and I settled into the chairs while Betty and an older woman visitor went off to the adjacent kitchen building. Smoke soon emerged from the kitchen building and Betty soon emerged to offer us food, as is customary here as it is in Cuba. I politely declined as I wasn’t the least bit hungry. I did, however, accept Luis’ invitation to try some fruit “vino”, which seemed to me more like liquor than wine.
We spent a pleasant hour, or so, listening to Luis describe the ranchito, describing his and Betty’s lives before moving to the ranchito two years ago, and looking at his old silver coins and a five year old, insect infested cigar. Luis told me that his minimum price for the ranchito is $450,000. pesos, about $41,000. USA at today’s exchange rate.
Steve and I thanked Luis and Betty, said our farewells, and headed back to Teocelo, picking up a couple of folks walking along the Coyolopan road on our way. Then on through Coatepec and home to Xalapa.
Given the very rough ten kilometer road; the lack of internet service and the immense amount of work involved with owning 7.5 acres, I have decided against buying the property.
I am thinking that Teocelo is probably a better place for me to live. It is a colorful, quiet, very clean little town, of which I will later post a description and pictures.