Tuesday morning we left Veracruz and drove to Catemaco on Laguna de Catemaco. Duke remembers the lake and the surrounding area from his travels 29 years ago. We found a nice hotel, Playa Azul on the lake, checked in and took a siesta.Then we went for a drive through the ecological reserve to the coast at Monte Pio, We had sodas at tables on the beach. On the way back we found the dirt road to the remote hotel Duke stayed at when he was there in 1982. We decided not to risk driving the car down the rocky road. Back at the hotel we had a great fish dinner. After dinner we sat and enjoying the warm night and the beautiful Laguna de Catemaco and the jungle around it.
Wednesday morning we found a friendly taxi driver who agreed to take us back to the coast and then down the dirt road to the Playa Escondido Hotel. The road was rough but the taxi driver was great and we had a nice chat in Spanish. When we got to the spot Duke remembered, the hotel was a ruin being overtaken by the jungle. The people there told us that the hotel had been closed for 11 years. You could see how stunning the restaurant had been on a cliff overlooking the coast.
Our taxi driver took us back to another rustic hotel right on the beach below the Playa Escondido Hotel. The Parador Icacos is right on Playa Jicacal with an open air dining room and about 8 rooms. We got a room, went swimming in the gulf to cool off, and then sat in the shade and read all afternoon.
We had fresh fish for dinner and went for a walk on the beach. The rooms didn't have hot water or air conditioning so we did get a bit mosquito bitten but the whole experience was still fun.
The owner of the hotel had 3 sons and an enormously cute 4 year old daughter, Maria. She showed us her magic tricks, her bucket full of crabs, and she tried to each me some Spanish words.
When we were ready to leave Thursday morning the owner and his family offered us a ride back up the dirt road. We dropped Mom, Maria and the youngest son Oscar off to register Oscar for school and then a bit farther down the main road the truck stopped and everybody else got out to cut grass on the side of the road. They were taking it to a horse farmer they know. We got a ride the rest of the way back to our hotel in a mixto, rural taxi (a truck with seats in back). with ten or fifteen other people.
At the hotel we got into our car and drove south to Ciudad del Carmen. It seems to be a very prosperous oil town with lots of oil workers both American and Mexican. The most expensive hotel in town was full but we stayed at the Holiday Inn and enjoying the marble floor, shower and air conditioning. The ironic thing though is that although it cost 5 times more than Icacos Parador, Holoiday Inn didn't have hot water either!