The state of Veracruz lies along the western shores of the Gulf of Mexico and the city of the same name, El Puerto de Veracruz (the port of Veracruz), has been the entry point into Mexico for centuries. We’re traveling through the state starting in the Puerto de Veracruz and then moving up into the cloud forested mountains at the state’s capital, Xalapa.
Strategically located on the Gulf of Mexico, the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez conquered Mexico from it in 1519. The Americans invaded Mexico through it in 1846, the French in 1862. Yet despite its troubled past the port of Veracruz, and the state of the same name, remains a festive place enriched rather than diminished by the mix of cultures it has experienced over the centuries. Here you’ll find formally-dressed couples dancing the European, waltz-like Danzón, you’ll hear the Afro-Cuban rhythms of the son Jarocho (son ha-ROE-choe; the sound of Veracruz), bakeries make French-inspired bolillos (boh-LEE-yos; small baguettes), small towns in the hills make jamon serrano and longaniza (Spanish ham and sausage). Continue reading