Something feels different when you begin exploring Los Tuxtla, Veracruz with Yambigapan Adventure Company, (www.yambigapan.com) - you feel like family. That’s because when grandfather Hernandez of this eight member family company distributed his land, many decided to go into business of sharing their beautiful area with travelers. And because this family loves nature-based learning themselves, clients come away with not only a ton of lasting memories, but a storehouse of knowledge as well.
I was in Veracruz, Mexico for the Adventure Travel Mexico Conference (www.atmexveracruz.com) where they were showing off all that Mexico has to offer to tour operators and travel agents. Multiple press trips were offered in surrounding states and fortunately for me, I chose Yambigapan.
During our three-day adventure, we hiked through the rain forest to a bat cave hidden deep in the jungle of Ruiz Cortinez Bio-Reserve Park, we kayaked on Laguna Encantada, we rapelled down a sea cliff, we rode horses on the beach at Roca Partida to incredible waterfalls, and we boated on beautiful Lago de Catemaco.
More than Expected
But Yambigapan went a step further with each adventure. We didn’t just repel down a rock face, but a basalt sea cliff and then free rapelled over a sea cave where pirates once hung out, into a rocking fishing skiff in the sea.
At the end of the lava tube cave were thousands of roosting bats which decided to exit the cave and brushed past our heads, shoulders and arms as they whizzed by.
Our horseback ride ended at a waterfall for jumping and deep pools with pounding cascades like a deep tissue massage on our backs.
We didn’t just kayak in modern plastic sit-on-tops but also tried our hand on rustic Tom Sawyer-like balsam plank boats used by local fishermen and powered by a long pole. And while we boated on monstrous Lake Catemaco, we also stopped in a village for a traditional lava mud mask that promised to give us beautiful skin. While our faces transformed, we took our turn in a small grass hut where a brujo (shaman-type) read our palms and promised us a bright and long future.
While on these adventures, we dined on amazing, authentic local food prepared by the mothers and grandmothers of the Hernandez family. Once again, Yambigapan took it one step further and allowed us to visit a garden where we could harvest our own leaves to roll tamales in with a hand-forged machete, then mixed in the corn stuffing (masa) and learned to wrap them into pretty green triangles for roasting. Before we ate our farm-raised red salmon, we got to catch them in a net.
As we feasted, the Hernendez family brought in traditional local musicians (Son Jarocho music) who sang to us and played their little handmade Jarana (ukulele-type) guitars and sang songs of their history and their folklore. They also taught us to dance on little wooden platforms, where we mimicked one another, and also to do a courting dance where the men danced on all fours like an iguana. We learned to play the horse and donkey jaw, which made a wonderful percussion sound when rattled
We then learned to roll cigars; tobacco is a big agricultural product here. For the evening’s grand finale, we learned to make tissue paper sky lanterns (globos) that, filled with heat from a candle, lifted out of sight into the Veracruz sky. We looked up with faces filled with awe and wonder like children, knowing that all we had experienced touched our lives and will not float away but stay in our hearts forever.
Some may be hesitant to visit Veracruz but it’s important to note that in the past two years all the police have been replaced with upstanding Veracruz/Mexican marines, whose presence provides not only safety for Mexicans and travelers alike but also instills confidence, so you can lose yourself in the adventures, in the beauty of the place and the Mexican people, where your only concern is not knowing if you’ll have enough time to fit in all the adventures and experiences you want to have.
For more information, please our website at www.visitmexico.com