Experience obviously colours memory, and as such our memories of Papantla are a true myriad of colours.
After returning from our visit to the impressive ruins of El Tajin, it was time to see what else this town had to offer (our sole purpose for visiting was in fact to visit the ruins).
There wasn’t really much to see being truly honest.
Apparently at midday outside the main church, traditional local Voladores perform their famous twirling routine.
If it is not something you have heard of, perhaps it is something you have at least seen (without realising who they were)? If not, I’d recommend you look them up on Youtube.
In a manner not too dissimilar to the traditional islanders on Vanuatu who (as part of a masculine ritual) throw themselves off wooden towers with vines tied about their ankles, these local men do the same.
Perched atop a high wooden tower, these men do similar, launching themselves off a narrow platform, spinning themselves around the pole as part of an ancient ritual.
We waited… trying to appear not too interested, lest somebody try and charge us a few pesos for the privilege of watching.
We waited… we needn’t have worried, as there was nobody about, let alone anybody that looked capable of even climbing the pole or eager to launch themselves off its great height!
So what now?
Well perched above the town sits a vertical hill upon which sits a statue paying tribute to the very Voladores we’d hoped to see perform outside the church.
So we began the short (and incredibly steep) walk to both check out the statue, as well as the views of the town that its elevated position granted.
A few Mexican tourists (who were all hearing impaired) happened to be present as well, posing for a variety of shots before the statue.
We took in the views (not that impressive), marveled at the statue, before heading back to the town where we grabbed a couple of beers and some Jalapeno flavoured crisps to enjoy back at our hotel.
Now that essentially wrapped up our time in Papantla…
What’s that? I did indeed mention colour earlier, although thinking back, it is still a little unpleasant.
The exact cause shall never be determined (although we suspect that it may have been a frozen Coconut treat we both enjoyed on a bus back from Xochicalco), but in the early afternoon I began to feel unwell, feeling the need for regular and disagreeable visits to the bathroom.
By early evening there were problems at both ends, and by 01:00 the next morning, Sarah was suffering the same as well.
As both breakfast and our Jalapeno crisps were returned to the world, so came the myriad of colours mentioned earlier…
So passed a horrid night, and morning found a very tired and weak pair of travellers who had a fairly early bus to catch for their onwards journey to Veracruz.
Three or so hours later found us in the state capital, at one time Mexico’s major port, as it was through here that originally all of the silver, gold and all manner of precious commodities, left New Spain for Europe (well, Spain at least).
As already mentioned, we were weak. Hungry, yet had no appetite. It was 38 degrees. Humidity was around 85%… and we’d given ourselves one day to explore the place!
We put our packs into storage and unable to face a hot local bus, grabbed a taxi to the main Zocalo (plaza).
Sitting in the shaded square for a bit was a good move to protect us from the Sun, however it didn’t make us feel any better (in fact Sarah was feeling quite horrid), so we purchased a couple of Coconut Waters and with much effort, began to wander towards the waterfront.
There were some beautiful buildings to be seen, and several minutes later we also caught out first glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico.
It certainly wasn’t a palm tree postcard one first hopes for, but hey, this is a major port city!
To fully convey how poorly we both felt, neither of us even felt like a beer!
However there were several cold bottles of water purchased, and several Ice-creams at a few locations also brought a bit more life into us.
Eventually we even found some beach, and as you’d expect, dipped our feet in to cool them off a little.
Veracruz had a bit of a gritty, working class and in some areas, run down feel, which I actually liked.
A small regret for us was that we didn’t get to investigate the free Naval Museum (we arrived too close to the 5pm closing time), but we did get to see, at least from the exterior, the last of the cities original forts.
Feeling rather spent, we decided it was time to return to the bus terminal to collect our bags, and purchase our tickets for the overnight journey to Oaxaca.
Another taxi saw us back, but what we weren’t prepared for was the ticket counter queue!
In all seriousness, this thing was a monster, and it was 45 minutes to an hour before we were finally able to secure ourselves a seat on the bus.
Lucky for us we’d left plenty of time!
By the time of our 22:30 bus departure, we were completely spent, so our overnight ride to Oaxaca probably represents the deepest sleep either of us have ever enjoyed on a bus!
I guess one small positive to come out of the past 48 hours trauma on our bodies…
* Our morning bus journey from Papantla to Veracruz with ADO was $246.00 pesos per person, one way.
* Overnight from Veracruz to Oaxaca was again with ADO, the seven hour journey costing us $546.00 pesos per person for the pleasure.