Day 1: US to Veracruz - De un Largo Dia de Viaje

Trip Start Feb 06, 2009
Trip End Feb 14, 2009

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Where I stayed
Veracruz Hotel
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Friday, February 6, 2009

Today began fairly early because I had to finish packing and drive to the Philadelphia airport which is about a 2 hour drive from where I live.

I made arrangements to leave my car parked in one of the long term lots near the airport and to have the company shuttle me to the airport. The shuttle came fairly quickly and the transport to the airport was seamless. They gave me a ticket with my parking spot number on it and told me to call the number for pick up when I got back....seemed easy enough.

I was inside the Philadelphia airport and already through security by 1:15 p.m. I had expected some trouble since I brought my kayak paddle with me and was using it as one of my two checked bags. Continental charges for a second checked bag on an international flight, so I had to pay $25.00 for that.

Once I was inside the airport I decided to get something to eat since I knew neither of my flights had a meal service. I found the Jet Rock Grill Cafe not far from my gate so I decided to eat there. I ordered a Buffalo Chicken Wrap which came with chips and I also got a soda. I sat in the restaurant and watched the news while eating my meal.

After eating I made my way to my gate and sat there talking on my cell phone and reading until boarding time.

The first portion of my travel was Philadelphia to Houston which was 3:30-6:25 p.m. They showed a decent movie called Flash of Brilliance on board. As I flew over Texas I noticed that it was big, flat, wide. It also had alot of trees. I always pictured Texas as more desert than anything.

When I landed I could tell I wasn't in the north anymore because it was so hot there. I got an ice cream and a water since I had a layover. I called home and let everyone know I was in Texas and I also called Mandy, one of the other women on my kayak trip who was supposed to be on my next flight. I sat and read until boarding time. My flight from Houston to Veracruz was 8:45-10:45 p.m.

I hadn't found Mandy or Carol before boarding the plane but oddly enough the stewardess asked me if I was going on that kayak trip since she saw my carry-on bag with my life jacket in it. I said yeah and asked how she knew that and she explained that she had women from several of Anna's previous trip on her flights and that they all had a great time and really loved the food. I was glad to hear that and Mandy overheard the conversation so I was able to find her onboard.

As soon as I got to the Veracruz airport I thought uh-oh....I was the first one through customs and security and no one spoke any English. I have a teeny tiny little bit of Spanish but I needed alot more!
Mandy, Carol and I gathered at the baggage claim and gathered all of our gear. We were going to share a taxi to the hotel. Neither of them spoke much Spanish either. As we were leaving the airport we had to clear customs...this was the first time I've seen this done. Of course the poor customs boy didn't speak English and trying to explain to him what my paddle was brought on a wonderful game of multi-lingual charades! Thankfully I stumbled upon the one word he understood........Jalcomulco! Jalcomulco was our group's ultimate destination. Its a little village outside of Veracruz where everyone goes to whitewater raft, kayak, hike and zip line. Thank God he had heard of it and let me and my paddle enter Mexico!

By 11:20 p.m. we found our way to the taxi area. Mandy, Carol and I decided to share a taxi to our hotel. It was very amusing to watch the poor local man try to fit three large checked bags, two paddle bags, three carry-on bags and three women inside a cab. He had to rearrange the luggage a few times. It reminded me of a demented game of tetris.

After some initial confusion we were taken to the correct hotel. Mandy, Carol and I arrived a day early to get acclimated to the are and to explore some. Our hotel was beautiful. I had hoped someone here would speak English but no one did. We took our luggage to our rooms and decided to go out to the zocalo. It was midnight when we went out. The zocalo is the town square and it was right across the street from our hotel. There were vendors set up everywhere selling all types of things, there were strolling mariachi bands playing music and workers from all the various cafes were outside trying to convince people to eat at their place.

We sat down at the Hotel Imperial Cafe and ordered Coronas, guacamole and tortillas. We all sat and talked about our kayaking experience and what we thought the trip would be like and what we hoped to learn. Meanwhile different vendors kept walking up to us, interrupted the conversation and tried to get us to buy their wares. Competing mariachi bands tried to get us to to buy songs from them. I could tell it was a very different type of culture. If someone in the States came up to patrons eating at a restaurant and tried to sell them something the restaurant owners would have something to say about it. That wasn't the case here, it was accepted and very common. The whole thing was very amusing and a little overwhelming so late at night with such little sleep.

At 2:30 a.m. we headed back to the hotel for the night and made plans to meet the next morning.

Things Learned on Day 1 in Mexico:

1. Veracruz is a tourist destination for Mexicans, no one speaks English.

2. If you want a quiet meal try to eat inside the restaurant. If you are eating outside people will constantly interrupt your meal to ask you to buy various things or to buy a song.

3. The partying in the zocalo goes on til all hours of the morning.

My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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