A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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From El Tajín, it wasn’t far to an area along the Gulf of Mexico called the Emerald Coast. Highway 180 runs close to the shore there, and we could see the surf as we drove, looking for just the right RV park. It was a treat to have a choice among several. We chose a nice one called Quinta Alicia, where we spent quite a few happy days parked almost on the beach. It was great fun to get in some serious beach time. There were a few other campers there, mostly Americans, and we enjoyed swapping tales.

At the beach, Costa Esmeralda, Gulf of Mexico

On the Costa Esmeralda

A Mexican family camped there for a couple of days. All the Mexican campers we met were camping in tents. This has become more popular among Mexicans in recent years, but February isn’t a big camping time for them. When we told this family that we would be heading toward Xalapa, they immediately said, “On your way, camp at the balneario called Carrizal!”

Soaking at hot springs is very popular in Mexico. With its volcanic past, the country has hundreds of balnearios, or hot spring bathing places, ranging from little bathhouses to elegant resorts. We had found a number of them on our last long trip to Mexico. This would be our first one this time.

The most noteworthy feature of the drive along the coast south of where we had stayed was Laguna Verde, or “Green Lake,” nicknamed Laguna Muerte, or “Death Lake.” It’s Mexico’s only nuclear power plant, and there have been public demonstrations against it since it opened. I was enamored of the Mexican ability to improvise and fix things, but in a country where the polarity was usually reversed on campground electrical circuits, I had my doubts about the manner in which the facility might be maintained. At least it had a tall fence, topped with barbed wire, and with security guardhouses at regular intervals. There were serious-looking guards too. I shivered as we passed it.

Carrizal, a few miles off Highway 140 coming up from the Gulf Coast to Xalapa, is a hot spring next to a river – quite a large establishment, with a huge thermal pool, a variety of pleasantly warm swimming pools, a restaurant, a hotel, and a grassy camping area which we shared with a few Mexicans in tents. It took the sting out of having left the beach, and the cobwebs out of our minds, to soak in the thermal pool as dusk came on.

The owner chatted with us in the waters, in excellent English. Carrizal had been in his family since the time of his grandfather, some 70 years earlier. Hundreds of gallons of hot water pour into the thermal pool each minute, and then flow on into the river. Running Carrizal is clearly a business that requires a lot of work, as there is much to maintain. Teams of yellow-shirted and friendly young people with walkie-talkies are everywhere, making all it run smoothly.

A Mexican hot spring in the state of Veracruz

In the early morning, I had the thermal pool practically to myself.

[Next: we can’t find a camping place in the city of Xalapa, and things get stressful.]

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