We've done the beach so now what? Mexico's other treasures

We've done the beach so now what? Mexico's other treasures

So you have lounged on the beach sipping margaritas and mindlessly snacked on all the delectable treats brought to you by the beach butler that seems to anticipate your every need for a few vacations and now you're bored.  What's next?  There's still so much to explore beyond the shore in Mexico. All-Inlcusives are great for total relaxation and escape but even when you want more adventure you don't have to look beyond our southern neighbor.  There's a vacation for every type of traveler. 

Last month I got to explore two destinations that showcase a different side of my favorite vacation destination.  The first one, the state of Veracruz, was packed with so many types of activities it's hard to even narrow down a few for this post. I'll point out a few, but my new friend over at about.com has a great top 10 list.
The beach doesn't compare to the Caribbean of course, 
but Cancun can't beat the food here!  .  
A packed square full of music and great food at midnight 
in Veracruz. You'll know you're in Mexico.
As part of the first Mexico Adventure Travel (ATMEX)  Conference I  went white water rafting for the first time,  discovered the magic of Catemaco's shamans and brujas, finally participated in a Temezcal ceremony and even learned about raptor migration.  Adventure travel doesn't have to mean roughing it in the woods or rappelling off cliffs, it's also delving into the culture of a place and living history beyond museums.  I think there's something here for just about everyone, from families, to homeschool groups and field trips for college Spanish classes and even corporate retreats.

So what are some things you can do with the kids that everyone will enjoy?

Glamping in a luxury tent at Mexico Verde. - They offer nearly every outdoor activity you could think of.  Whitewater rafting, rappelling, zip lines, kayaking, mountain biking and more.  Mom still gets to enjoy herself too since meals are included. (The food is great by the way) Suites with an attached bathroom made forget I was even sleeping in a tent.  

trying not to disturb the counters
The small education center packs in lots of knowledge
about the work they do tracking these birds 
Watching the 'River of Raptors' migrate through Veracruz. - Did you know Veracruz is home to the largest migratory bird concentration in the world?  Neither did I before visiting Pronatura and learning all about climbing vortexes and the like.  My son is quite excited about going next year to watch for Perrigrine Falcons. 
Beginning of the season count

Explore an eco-reserve and learn traditions of the pre-Hispanic Olmec civilization -  Nestled in Los Tuxtlas is the town of Catemaco, widely known in Mexico for its shamans and annual gathering black and white magic followers stop twin peaks. There is so much more to this area that although you may go for the limpia, (aura cleansinig) the natural beauty of this region is the real magical lure.  Nanciyaga is a short boat trip over Lake Catemaco where the jungle was reclaimed for a model of sustainable ecotourism.  Look for the twin peaks where the practitioners of black and white magic gather in March opposite each other.


I didn't even get to the sea turtles, coffee growers, museums in Xalapa etc.  More for next time!
Finally, I can't leave off the million dollar question....Was it safe?  I  haven't hesitated to go to the typical resort areas after my first trip to Mexico 10 years ago, but I was a little anxious about Veracruz given the news coming out of the area last year.  After reassuring myself that of course the tourist board wouldn't let anything happen to a bunch of foreign journalists and travel agents (big gulp, right???) I went for it.  I've wanted to visit Veracruz since Henry Louis Gates featured the port on 'Black in Latin America'.  After a day, all my fears were eased and I enjoyed the city.  I talked to a few locals to see what the situation was really like there.  Not one person said they had any concerns now that the police have been replaced with the military.  I also talked with several Americans who now live in Mexico(some in areas that I've believed to be the most dangerous) to see what their perspective on safety was now.  Over and over I heard, 'it's worse at home'...from people who have nothing to gain from the tourism industry.    As if to further drive the point home, the week I got home there were several shootings  and an armed fugitive loose in my own town.  Of course drug violence is a problem, for both countries.  When traveling anywhere take your common sense and a little research with you.  The untold story of Mexico is that you will want to come back over and over again!  It is not that there is a cartel operative waiting to kidnap you.  The planes are flying full, so don't sit at home listening to the news while everyone else is living an amazing adventure.

Travel On Purpose