Mexico Day 5

Hi Everyone

So where are we now? Would you believe Verzacruz, Mexico? That’s right.

The day started at 8:30 AM in Puebla. We first visited a Church that was closed yesterday in Puebla. The Church was decorated in the Baroque style and very ornate and beautiful. We only spent a few minutes there since Mass was starting. We then boarded our bus for our four hour drive to Veracruz.

At about 11:30 we arrived at the town of Xalapa. Our tour guide had arranged a special lunch for us at a local coffee plantation. We arrived at the plantation at about noon. This stop was not on the tour, but our tour guide felt that we would enjoy this site. What I am about to describe is one of the truly amazing places that I have visited. This is one reason why I love to travel. You never know what you will encounter. The plantation does not entertain guests, but the tour guide and the owner made this special arrangement. The owner met us as we descended the bus. Her name is Marisa Moolick Gutierrez and the name of the plantation is “Hacienda de Pacho”. The property was purchased by her great grandfather in 1843 and has remained in the family ever since then. The original structure housed African slaves who worked the plantation that was purchased by Luis Pacho y Mexia and thats how the plantation gets its name. She is half Mexican and half American, having been born in Mexico but raised in California. She has lived on the plantation since the mid 80’s. Her great grandfather, Julian Gutierrez purchased the property in 1843. The original structure included housing for African slaves who worked the plantation until emancipation. The emancipation of the slaves took place when Mexico achieves its independence from Spain in 1821. Marisa’s great grandfather added onto the original structure by building a large house next to the structure where he and his family lived. He had nineteen children with his wife and fifteen reached adulthood. Both Julian and his wife were closely allied with Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana from Alamo fame. Santa Ana had a hacienda a short horse ride from their plantation. The fortunes rose and fell with those of Santa Ana. Santa Ana was the President of Mexico eleven different times. Julian Gutierrez passed away in 1857 and his wife, Damiana, operated the property until she passed away in 1895. After the two Mexican revolutions of 1857 and 1910, most of the property was taken by the government to be given to the local people. As we were being shown the property, Olivia commented that it sounded like the movie “Out of Africa” The movie starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and is about Danish author Karen Blixen and her family’s coffee plantation in Kenya. There is also a chapel on the property and it is named “Our Lady of the Remedios”. The chapel or small church is very beautiful and houses the mausoleums of many of Marisa’s ancestors including her great grandparents. After we were served lunch, it was time to sample her coffee. I took the coffee black and was amazed byob the beach the taste and smell. The coffee has almost no acidity and drinking it black was easy to do. Marisa does not sell her coffee commercially. She has no website and only offers it to visitors and locals. We purchased one kilo for 200 pesos or $10 dollars. She needs to raise her prices. Marisa has no children and wants the property to remain as it is after her demise. I have some ideas and will be staying in contact with her to try to figure out the best way possible. What a gem and how fortunate we were to find and have this experience.

It was now back in the bus with a two hour drive to Verzacruz. Veracruz is the largest port in Mexico. Most of the shipping into and out of Mexico goes through Veracruz. We checked into our hotel and all met in the lobby for a short drive to the beach. The sand looked almost volcanic and there were lots of locals playing on the beach and enjoying the beach area. Ivan, our tour guide, told us that one custom in Veracruz is that there are boys who dive for coins that are thrown into the harbor. He introduced us to one who was just finishing his day’s work. He was diving all day and made around $7 US dollars. People throw a coin in the harbor and he dives after it.

It was then back to our hotel to have dinner. Fish is the dish here in Veracruz. I had conch fillet and started out with a side order of raw tuna and octopus ceviche. Was so fresh and delicious.

We leave early tomorrow for a ten hour drive to Palenque.

Our visit to Hacienda de Pacho was so special. The memory will stay with us for a long time.