Day 3 (continued)

On the road from Puebla to Veracruz, in the distance we caught a glimpse of the second tallest volcano in the Americas, behind Mount McKinley.  Volcan Orizaba sits at 18,490 feet, but on this day, refused to show her impressive size, hiding behind cloud cover instead.

Veracruz is a major port city on the Gulf of Mexico and is the largest city in the state of Veracruz.  It is Mexico’s largest and oldest port and was founded in 1519.  The port is an important economic engine, for imports and exports and especially the automobile industry.

Veracruz is a very large producer of fruits for all of Mexico, as was evident as we passed fields of orange, lime, lemon, papaya, banana and mango.  The highlands also produce some of the best coffee in Mexico.  Spanish, Caribbean, and African influences are seen in the food and music in this vibrant city.

We spent the night at the Gran Hotel Diligencias, overlooking a plaza gearing up for yet another evening of Carnaval festivities!

View from our Hotel Room Gearing up for Carnaval Festivities
Striking View of our Hotel Lobby

Our tour director Manuel took us on a short walk to the wharf, giving us the lay of the land as we fought the Carnaval crowds.

Rick and Tara, a newlywed couple from Chicago, were on our tour and preparing for the Carnaval fiesta to take place later than evening.  There was music, food, laughter, and crowds everywhere in the city so Terry and I decided to chill for a while and grab a refreshment.

Guadalupe Martinez Carrazco, 94 years young, was so diligent in assisting us to find seats that we just had to buy him a cerveza.  I believe he was hoping for that all along.  Perhaps it is the Corona that is keeping him going as he was outwardly flirting with all the women, who seemed to be enjoying it!

That evening, directly across from our hotel, a stage was being set for the night’s performances.  The music was superb and everyone in the crowd around us started to dance, young and old.  Does no one in this country not know how to dance, and dance well?!

The next morning, as we waited to load onto our bus, Terry snapped a rare street scene without the throngs of people streaming by.  Notice another lovely church steeple in the background.

From here we headed to Villahermosa, then on to magical Palenque, who some say is the most outstanding archeological site in all of Mexico.  It certainly was one of the most important, as this was where royalty lived, Pakal the Great.

I have much more to share of our Caravan tour, however, 10 days into our 6-week adventure we received a phone call that our dear friend Barbara was admitted to the hospital and is in intensive care.  We elected to cut our trip short and return home, which we did last night.  Today I will board a plane to Arizona so my remaining posts will be a bit delayed.  Please pray for Barbara and Pete during this very difficult time.

Vaya con Dios!


Day 3

Although Puebla is no longer a part of this Caravan tour, given the delay with our bus getting the “boot”, our tour director Manuel presented us with a little treat, in the way of a short stop in Puebla.

Puebla is the capital of the state of Puebla and is one of the five most important colonial cities in Mexico, being a main route between Mexico City and the port city of Veracruz.  It was founded in 1531 and due to its rich history and architectural styles, ranging from Renaissance and Mexican Baroque, Puebla was named a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Puebla is the only city in Mexico where the Indians were not displaced.  It is the seat of the best textiles and tiles in all of Mexico and is the 4th largest city, with a population of approximately 1.5 million.

The university in Puebla, University of the Americas, is internationally recognized for the fields of medicine and archeology.

As we entered the city there are a number of life-size trumpeting angels that can be seen guarding the city.

Trumpeting Angels Guarding Puebla

It is an understatement to say that Puebla has some of the most striking churches that we have seen to date and is definitely still on our “bucket list” to visit in more depth.

Tiled-Fronted Church Dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe

The Templo de Santo Domingo was probably one of the most striking churches in the city, both in color and facade, as well as the chapel inside housing the Virgin of the Rosary.

Beautiful Facade of the Templo de Santo Domingo

The interior of Templo de Santo Domingo is difficult to capture, with its many arches and gold leaf lined ceiling, but the chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Rosary has to be seen to be believed.

The elaborate murals and the massive amount of gold leaf in the chapel left me with such a feeling of awe.  This is an ornate chapel of unbelievable proportions.

Although the Cathedral below may not look as interesting as some churches from the outside, the inside revealed quite a few gems, although we were not able to photograph them due to a mass being held at the time we were there.  The walls surrounding the chapel were beautiful, bedecked with angels on every pedestal.

The zocalo (plaza) is the focal point of this city, with the Cathedral, the residence of the Bishop of Mexico, and several shops and cafes bordering it.

From here we headed to Veracruz, where Carnaval was still in full swing.