Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Walking in the rain

I woke up early on Tuesday to make my trip to Jalapa, Veracruz. The trip was to last 4-5 hours on bus. I was on the bus by 9 AM. A supposed plus on the buses is that they play movies during the trip. The problem is that the movies are usually bad and the volume is too loud. I'm not sure what I would have done without my headphones.

I get to the Jalapa station and proceed to get a taxi, which was a confusing process. Once I had the taxi ticket I was able to get one and headed to the hotel. The weather was a little hot and sunny, but slightly overcast. I ask the driver about a good place to eat and he points one out. That was the one and only time I would see that place, since I could never find it later. The hotel used to be a colonial house that was built some 200 years ago. It was great. I dropped off my stuff and started walking around the city.

The city has plenty of steep hills and streets seem to run in all directions. The hotel was right next to the zocalo and the main church. There were people camping out in front of the Palacio de Gobierno, with banners saying they won't leave until they are heard. There was an American-style bar on a second floor nearby that completely stood out. I saw a tourist having a drink in the upstairs patio and wondered why anyone would want to have a drink in such a generic-looking place.

I find a place to eat and relax for a bit. I stumbled into an alley full of vendors, and see a lot of interesting things. At the top end of the alley there are kids hanging out, playing reggae and selling hand-made jewelry and things. I got into a trendy shop and after buying a t-shirt ask them where the gay bars are. They mention one called Cabaret, a few blocks down. A bar called Cabaret sounds promising for sure. I continue walking around the city for the rest of the afternoon. I stop at a very interesting museum, dedicated to a local priest. That was to be the only museum I visit, since I spent most of the time walking the streets.

After hours of walking around, I decided to go back to the room and rest. I turn the TV on to some novela and quickly start falling asleep. I wake up over an hour later to the sound of some gossip show. That was one great nap. I shower and head out again, looking for a place to eat. I find a place a block away. Now I had heard that it rained a lot in Jalapa, so I was not surprised when it started raining. I was, however, surprised that it was raining so hard. This was now going to get in the way of my night exploration.

I step out of the restaurant and watch the rivers forming on the streets. The hotel is so close, I decided to make a run for it. I did have an umbrella, but it was not match for the rain. Somehow i crossed the street that had become a river and got to the hotel entrance. My pants and shoes were soaked. I was in the room for close to two hours until the rain slowed down. I could have stayed in, but I wanted to have one drink somewhere.

I had looked a couple of places on the internet, so I left the room with a few potential bars in mind. The Cabaret place was closed on Tuesdays, I found out. After walking a couple of blocks, I started thinking I should have stayed in the room. It was still raining pretty hard and the streets were deserted. I struggled find the place I was looking for, but finally found it after a long walk. My jacket and pants were now soaked in water again. As soon as I start getting comfortable, they tell me that they're closing. Awesome. I decide to at least buy some beer and take it to the room. I get to a small convenience store, that's also closing, but they don't sell beer. I buy some water and juice and walk back to the hotel.

Right before I get to the hotel, I notice music coming from that American-type place. I should have thought of that in the first place, it's half a block away. I go up the stairs and am welcomed by some Peter Cetera song. I have a relaxing time listening to 80's ballads, having a couple of beers, wondering how I'm going to dry my jeans for my morning trip to Papantla.

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