Saturday, November 7, 2009

Veracruz - Sat. 11/7 '09

On this, my last night here in this surprising, wonderful place, many feelings are simmering in my heart. It will take some time for me to digest all that I've experienced these past two weeks, but just a few thoughts:

Back in August, the Mexico bug was biting me once again. In the span of about ten minutes, I decided that I'd check out Spanish Immersion schools, and that Veracruz (based on very little information) would be a good place to look. Google turned up a few thousand references, the very first of which I clicked on. Everything I read on the Language Immersion School's website sounded perfect; I got to know the owners, Eric and Linda Ladner, a bit by email, and I enrolled. It was definitely a leap of faith, but what a great decision!

Veracruz is different from any place I've been in Mexico. Being on nearly the south shore of the Gulf of Mexico, it can be sultry, even in the fall, but relief can come at any time from the mischievous blasts of cool air they call nortes. (We've been in an unusually persistent one for over a week now.)

There's a definite Afro-Caribbean edge to Mexican culture here. You can see Cuba in the faces of many Jarochos (what native Puerto Veracruzanos call themselves). And their unique music, son Jarocho, is a blend of sounds and rhythms one might not guess comes from Mexico.

Veracruz, lacking the broad white beaches of the famous resort destinations, is virtually undiscovered by Americans. In fact, in two weeks, I've seen fewer than ten people I've recognized as Americans.

I've found most Mexicans I've met to be smart, well-mannered, gracious and extremely generous. But here in Veracruz, I've felt an extra measure of these qualities. It's a happy place, one with an extraordinary lightness of spirit.

The drug wars haven't yet slithered into Veracruz. Is it a coincidence that there are barely any Americans here and that it's known as one of the safest cities in the country?

Sadly, I have to pack for tomorrow's flight back home, so I'll sign off for now. To those of you who've been following some of my posts, thank you for your interest. I'll leave you with a few more images of the people who have touched me during my time in this place called Veracruz.

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