Central America | Mexico | Istmo & Gulf of Mexico | Veracruz | Veracruz City – The Gran Hotel
I spent the night last night in the Gran Hotel Diligencieas, in Veracruz, Veracruz. I feel a bit like the Lionel Barrymore character in Grand Hotel. Not that this hotel is anything like the hustling and bustling hub that the one in the movie was, but it has had its moments. I am sure it is all a matter of who is telling the story. From the sounds of it, I am the old man with the marked face, The Grand Hotel. People coming, people going, and nothing ever happens. There is a Puerto Rican drug dealer here that is drunk and yelling obscenities. I was waiting for him to start yelling, Oh yeah, look at me, look at the bad guy. There were two guys that looked sort of like construction workers on some sort of Mexican job. There was a bald guy carrying a laptop. There was a mother and a father who had to keep a close watch over their beautiful Latino daughter. Im sure if I wanted to, I could dig a story out of that. The hotel is very nice. It really is a gran hotel, intentionally missing the g. There is a pool on the roof of the second floor that overlooks the towns main plaza. Last night there was a few live bands and it seemed that the whole town came out to dance. Earlier in the night it was older couples with a traditional big band style music. The steps were very calculated and a few of the couples had obviously been practicing for years. One of the primero couples were the teachers of a dancing school, and although the woman was very beautiful, with a Billy Holiday flower in her hair, the man, with his white linen shirt and pants, and blanco y negro shoes and hat, was the part of the couple that truly shined. He was in his sixties, possibly his seventies, and yet his dancing was so romantic and sexual. He would lead her very passionately, slowly spinning her, stopping her, and then moving very slowly, just one step closer. Very cool. Later in the night the younger people came out. They changed bands to a more upbeat, younger style music, faster and louder. However, in the square, the dancing was still very similar. I am sure if I was more familiar with the steps I would know how different it really is, but the similarities were that everyone that danced was a couple. There were no single people out there just shaking around like they do in some of the clubs back in the states. I am starting to realize that this is a very passionate culture, with beautiful women, and equally as beautiful men. I keep asking people what the word for cool is, and they say that it is either bueno which also translates as good, or boneto which translates a beautiful. There is also another word that I havent quite picked up yet. The rest of the night I would move from restaurant to the front of the hotel, which was open with columns and sat hundreds more than were out there, then into the bar, which had people singing to a guitarist and drummer. Few of the singers were professionals, and all of them were severely off key. That was part of the humor, that someone could sound that bad, and yet still belt out a song into the microphone. They sang loud and the sounds spilled out into the plaza, where the main band was, but also competed against various other musical groups. It seemed like the whole plaza was filled with bands of roving musicians, all competing for a listening ear, and a tourist dollar. The plaza was also lined with small carts with wheels that get rolled out to the center of the plaza. I am sure they had problems trying to control the amount of people trying to sell things, so they made it a requirement that if you wanted to sell anything you had to first purchase one of these carts. It save the whole scene from turning into a circus, although it was very close. In the plaza I met a very nice niece/aunt duo. They spoke a little English, enough for us to be able to communicate and laugh. Laughter is so important. I spend much of the day alone, and miss joking around with people. I think one of my favorite things to do is make people laugh, although, sometimes this gets me into trouble. Im sure I have gotten fired from more than one job for acting the fool. I drank some hot chocolate in the open aired bar. I ate some chocolate cake in the open aired restaurant. I dont know what the locals thought, I did see some jackets, but these seventy degree nights are very comfortable. I am sure it is spoiling me for the twenty degree nights that I will be returning to. Speaking of, I need to call home. I am sure there are things going on there, that need to be dealt with. I dont know what is going to happen with my school, or its funding, or anything else for that matter. I guess that will be confronted when the time comes. I know I paid off about seven thousand in school loans before I left, as well as got most everything else under control. Im sure I am going to have to continue the car loan on my own, as well as keep up the insurance. I found a number that is going to be able to continue it for the remainder of the time here in Mexico and Latin America. This Lonely Planet guide is simply packed full of information. Ive been posting some of the writing up on the worldsurface.com sight, and their big sponsor is Footprints. I should try and pick up one of those also so that I can cross reference a little of the information. I am just now getting to the edge of where the Lonely Planet guide begins. I bought the Central America guide, and it goes as far north as the Yucatan peninsula and into parts of Chiapas. Palenque was one of the cities I pulled out of the guide. Im sure it is going to be a lot of driving today. I am going to shower, and hopefully be able to catch another Spanish church service across the street at the cathedral.