Veracruz: CouchSurfing And Living Local

1It was a short notice, but I was able to find a host in the town just south of Veracruz who was willing to host me for Friday and Saturday. I wasn’t looking for anything big on the tourist side but to rather live locally, which Gerry was very great at doing. Upon arrival I was able to take a much needed shower and throw the clothes into the laundry. Afterward we headed into town to pick up his girlfriend, Max, and then off into the local market for some cocktails. Cheap and delicious, of course. Here we were able to chat and learn more about on another. Gerry was born in Mexico but is a Canadian at heart after having went to high school there and learned to play hockey. His family races cars professionally, which he did as well. He is currently waiting on his residency paperwork so that he can return there and live the rest of his days in Alberta. I don’t blame him, its a beautiful area. Random story: He and Max met on tinder two years ago and shortly after found out that they went to Kindergarten together and even had a photo being next to one another. Small world! During part of our conversation I laughed at how Mexicans love to put lime on everything. It’s so true that Coca-Cola made a commercial making fun of it, which Max showed me for a good laugh. It’s like Israel with humus. After cocktails we went to view the port and share CouchSurfing stories.

2Back at home Max headed out and Gerry was getting ready for Hockey from 10PM-12AM. I was to nap during this time and we would all then go out to his local bar that he owned, ‘The Beer Box’. However prior to hockey Gerry invited me to get my bike washed at his cousins car wash. It was there that we discovered my battery fluid was completely gone. I don’t know how, but it was only 7,500miles in. Our assumption is the heat had drained it. Something I need to keep an eye on, and another thing that made me thankful for Gerry’s help. The nap was extremely refreshing and needed after only a few hours of miserable sleep the night before. It allowed me to keep going at the bar where we met their friend Claudia and talked the night away. Around 5am we headed upstairs into the club to dance a little and have some more drinks. It was around 6:30 that we got home, with plans to get up by 1 to go with Claudia to Xalapa for the day. Rough, but we could all manage.

XALAPA

Xalapa is the capitol city of the Veracruz state. I wanted to go there while heading towards Gerry, but I was tired and pressed on time. It was lucky for me to have been invited up. With all of us pretty tired, the 4 of us piled into the car and drove to the city. It was around 4 when we got to Claudia’s parents house. They were very kind and invited us out into town to eat at ‘Casa Bolleas’, which served delicious seafood. Throughout dinner everyone spoke in Spanish and I would be pulled in once in a while. I loved it. I would just listen to them speak, understand the context, and follow along for a little while. Complete immersion is the fastest way to learn. Her mother was very sweet and tried to make sure I was always getting enough to eat and wasn’t bored. Its hard to convey that I was happy just sitting there and being a part of it all.

3After dinner we went into the town center for desert and to walk around. The weather here is perfect, only an hour or so away from the hot beach. For it being late June, it felt like an early spring day in the upper 60’s. The center was cool (slang in Mexico for cool is “Chee-do”, unsure on the true spelling) with a religious band playing and the crowd jumping along. Elsewhere there were kids playing, couples sharing moments, and vendors walking around. A great place to people watch until it started to ‘llvia’ (rain). It was about time to call it a night anyways, so her parents took us to their spare apartment to spend the night. I would never have had the chance to explore this side of the town as a traditional tourist.

4In the morning we got ready to head to the nearby waterfalls for the day’s adventure. This day was even more enjoyable since I was comfortable with the flow and interaction alongside my new friends. The car rides were something else as I was surrounded by Spanish conversation and introduced to a wide variety of music. I would listen to pick up words and reinforce my vocabulary, as well as instances found on in Mexico such as scratching your finger towards someone means ‘si’. Another thing that I was introduced to was a drink called Toritos. Just before arriving at Cascada De Texolo, in Xico, we found a street side vendor giving out samples. They were all sweet and delicious, but we settled on getting the original which was peanut. Toritos is a sugar cane product of Sugar, Water, Alcohol, and Flavor. The large bottle only cost 50 pesos and the presence of alcohol wasn’t obvious. If I had done this myself I would have been drunk on the bike. We ended up sharing the bottle over some lunch before hiking down the waterfall.

5Hiking the falls was typical of most hikes. Good trails, great views, random conversation, and the end goal before hiking back up the cliff side. We couldn’t get extremely close to the basin, but from where we stood the roar of the falls was impressive. Our plan after the falls was to retrieve a phone left at the apartment before meeting Claudia’s parents for an early dinner to return the key. After dinner we would head back to Veracruz. Our evening didn’t go as expected at all.

6During dinner we shared more stories and I communicated with her dad on Google maps for places to see and visit. One bottle of wine gone, ‘Brett have you tried Carajillo, its a coffee and liquor mix (liquor 43 or 47)’. Two of those and another bottle were soon gone. We could still possibly leave now to get back in time for the Chile – Argentina game, ah here comes another bottle. I believe it was around 4 bottle of wine and 5 Carajillo’s (one was on the house) before we called it and headed to the parents place to watch the game. The drinks and conversations continued while the room was divided on who was going to win. I was cheering for Chile, but I liked both teams, mainly because they were the underdog in the match. It came to a shootout in which Chile won Copa America. It was the best experience to watch the game in a local home with local people. I cant really recall how much more the night went on, but we eventually gave up and headed back to the apartment for a few hours of sleep before the long drive in the morning. After all, the three of them had to work and we had just finished drinking three nights / days in a row.

The car ride back was a bit rough for me as I was finally feeling the fallout of my consumption. I had plans to ride off that morning, but as soon as we got back into town I requested an extra night with them. Gerry and Max were happy to oblige and we all went to our rooms to nap the sickness away. Fortunately for me, I had the whole day to just recover and do some planning for the next few days travels. Once Gerry got home we went out to Walmart so I could buy a few small items that I needed. I can’t express how helpful he was to my trip. A very quiet evening at home (they ducked out to watch the season finale of Game of Thrones) and a good nights sleep was had before saying my final goodbyes and starting my 7+ hour trip to Palenque.

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