About 5 hours east of Mexico City, Xalapa is a refreshingly safe and relaxed place. Despite having 0.5 million residents, the few streets in central Xalapa have a bohemian, small-town feel to them.
From the main Zocalo in Xalapa, there are some breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, including the snow-capped peak of Mexico's highest mountain. Also, the weather is fine, the air is richer (than in Mexico City), and the pollution levels are lower.
I'm only staying here 2 nights, but if I had more time in Mexico, I could easily spend a week here, as my friend Steve from Jersey is doing. There isn't that much to do here, but nevertheless, there's something about Xalapa that makes you want to hang around a bit longer.
Tried charging my phone and my camera this morning. When I plugged them in, I got an error message on the screen saying "not charging". Huh? Clearly, the devices were getting some power, but only enough to realise that they weren't getting enough, and to tell me as much.
After dinner, Steve and I went out for a stroll, in search of some more good Xalapa bars. Apart from La Chiva, which we already visited last night, we couldn't find anywhere else to hang out and have a beer. And this is Friday night, for heaven's sake! Where are all the bars in Xalapa?
This chunky lady was on display in a special exhibition of modern ceramic artwork, at the Museum of Anthropology in Xalapa. Not only is this señora large and naked; she's also looking down over her shoulder, and examining her behind with a mirror!
Xalapa is home to one of Mexico's largest museums of anthropology. After a radioactive lunch, Mauricio and Lachlan took Steve and myself to this museum, and we thoroughly explored this amazing place.
Mauricio and Lachlan took Steve and myself out for lunch, to have some moles. The moles themselves weren't that spicy, but they came with something on the side that was, as Lachlan said, "bloody radioactive". It was some kind of chili, and although it looked like grated carrot, it felt like a weapon of mass destruction inside my mouth.
How I managed to meet Mauricio (and, in turn, Lachlan) was another case of fate being mi mejor amigo. A few days ago, a guy called Antonio Ognio, in Peru, emailed me with a Drupal support query. When I emailed him back and told him I was in Mexico, he said that I had to visit his FOSS friend Mauricio, if I was going to be in Xalapa. Well, it just so turns out that here I am in Xalapa!
This is a great little bar in the middle of Xalapa, just down the road from Hostal de la Niebla. It offers cheap beers, great music, and regular intense games of chess.
Steve and I arrived and checked in to Hostal de la Niebla at the same time this evening, with me coming from Mexico City (to the west), and with Steve coming from Tampico (to the north). Since there weren't many other people at the hostel, and since we got on really well, we ended up doing pretty much everything in Xalapa together.
This is a great little place to stay in Xalapa, although it was very quiet and empty, which is apparently how it is most of the time.
I've had enough of Mexico City by now. There's more to see here, of course: mainly museums, art galleries, and markets. But at the end of the day, it's just a (really) big city. Everyone here seems to just be treating Mexico City as a thoroughfare, or as a waypoint; but not as a destination. So I hopped on a bus and went to Xalapa.