El turismo de la Laguna se limita principalmente a los visitantes pasear por el Malecón en la ciudad de
Catemaco, contemplar hermosas vistas, interpelado por los vendedores gritando y tal vez dar un
paseo en lancha para ver los monos retozando o Nanciya, y luego salen despúes de pocas horas.

El turismo es estacional, centrado en semana santa, vacaciones escolares y puentes.

A pesar de la increíble belleza del lago y razonable clima, la mayoría de la orilla de la laguna está poco
desarrollado y característica de potreros ganado, comunidades empobrecidas, un vivero gigante de
helechos, unas casas escondidas de ricos y el disneylandia del famoso disneylandia de Nanciyaga.

La Laguna carece de una carretera circunferencial, y por tanto, debe ser visitado en dos viajes.
Durante estos viajes, una serie de aventuras moderadas seran posible.
El  turístico altamente viable área de la Laguna de Sontecomapan y la costa de Catemaco está sin
desarrollar en gran parte debido a deplorables vías de acceso, desinterés de gran terratenientes y un
gobierno ineficaz.

El turismo es extremamente estacional, y tiene su ápice en semana santa, seguida de las 8 semanas de
vacaciones del verano. El resto del año las playas están asoladas, y las palapas son arrastrados por el

Turismo en la zona se aloja por un eco-resorte al otro lado de La Barra, dos hoteles en Sontecomapan y
varias empresas de "turismo ecológico" en Jicacal, El Real y La Barra.

Los lugares más visitados son la Poza de Los Enanos y la playa de la Barra.
Las actividades incluyen devorar mariscos, recorridos en lancha, explorar manglares, caminatas en la
playa, observación de aves, el kayaking, esnorquelear, y devorar mariscos otra vez.

Para informacion de hoteles, restaurantes y turismo en general, ver - turismo
Veracruz, México
Catemaco tourism is going down the tubes.
Originally published in Catemaco News, May 2011.
Now being edited, mulled and expanded for translation.

Catemaco had its hayday in the mid 1960's when the Alvarado bridge was finally completed and tourists started
arriving in droves. The result was the building of most of the shabby hotels and restaurants in existence in Catemaco

Foreign tourism got a kick in the butt when the Catemaco - Villahermosa toll road opened  in the 1990's and permitted
anyone heading south to bypass Catemaco.

Meanwhile Catemaco wallowed in its glory and did virtually nothing to improve its infrastructure.

Unnoticed by most,  the southern end of Veracruz City, Boca del Rio and the beaches of Antòn Lizardo became one of
the hottest real estate markets of Mexico, continuing today.

Going onwards, piss-stops like Arbolillo before Alvarado, and others, have turned themselves into genuine attractions,
including beach access.

The city of Alvarado is now aggressively pursuing tourism, cleaning up its Malecòn and beaches, and even including
banana boat rides.

The same is true with Lerdo de Tejado, and its previous miserably accessible Gulf beaches.

Angel R. Cabada, the first town to enter Los Tuxtlas, now has a road to its own private beach and is aggressively
promoting it.

In 2004, the El Tropico loop road  to Catemaco (near Angel R Cabada) opened the popular beaches of San Andrès, and
slowly began eroding the traffic that previously had to drive through Catemaco to get there.

In 2009, the municipio of neighboring San Andrès announced the building of a highway direct to the beaches,
bypassing Catemaco. As usual, they are a few years behind, but the road should be a reality within the next year. And
of course, the municipio lately has been pumping videos about its gorgeous beaches.

So how can Catemaco compete?

The current mayor thinks it is with a Brujo Festival without brujos and commercial speed boat races on the Laguna of

Personally I think both events were a fiasco, in the sense of not attracting more tourists than would have shown up
without the publicity.

But what do I know, I'm just a dumb gabacho.

Tune in when I mouth off about  what  would help to improve local tourism.  "Mañana", of course.
Post 2

For years the Mexico City to Veracruz flight was one of the most expensive short hops in the world. The advent of
discount airlines has alleviated that problem somewhat.

Also for years the only international flight originated in Houston and still lands late at night and leaves at daybreak.

This year 2 other US cities were announced. That is a step in the right direction, and I wish there were more
connections, like there are to most tourist destinations in Mexico.

Meanwhile the even closer airport in Minatitlan is continuing as the stepchild of Mexican aviation, and only offers flights
to Mexico City.

State Roads:
On Sunday I had the displeasure of driving in from Xalapa and as usual got shook, rattled and rolled by way too many
topes. And then I got stuck behind a doble remolque (Trailer towing 10 wheeler) along the winding roads through the
Tuxtlas mountains into Santiago.

The highway is otherwise in remarkably good shape this year.

But the number of topes MUST be reduced. The highway was there before the villages arose. The road sides should
be fenced with a single or maybe two pedestrian crossings with vibrators before and after the crossing, and a
pedestrian controlled stop light.

The only other access is from the toll road at Isla to Santiago. That federal road has been a highway from hell for the
last 9 years, and now, because of flood damage from last year, is too damaged to be considered safe to drive.

But a concession to build a toll road from Isla to San Andrès has been announced. That is a waste of money. The
existing road has minimal traffic and a toll road will not pay for itself. Instead the money should be spent to three or four
lane the sinuous roads winding through the mountains, to alleviate the congestion caused by trucks doing the turtle

The highway through San Andrès is an embarrassment for a city trying to present itself as the economic soul of Los
Tuxtlas. It must be four laned. The bottleneck of the bridge leading from outside the city to Catemaco must be enlarged
and the stretch to the Eyipantla turnoff should be 4 laned.

The touristic side roads leading most anywhere are a horror most of the year until the anger of residents causes the
arrival of an asphalt truck installing patches that last a few months.

There is a division of the Veracruz State road department right in Catemaco. It is imperative that someone teaches them
the concept of "regularly scheduled maintenance". It is ridiculous to see brand new highways of 10 meters, within a
year, convert themselves into tunnels of 6 meters because of encroaching vegetation.

The above may be wishful thinking, but if tourism in Los Tuxtlas is to continue, the suggestions are minimal and well
within the potential projected expenditures of the region.
More, "mañana".
Post 3

Visitors to Catemaco

weekends) and some religious holidays. That adds up to about 100 days per year. In addition, when the whether is
nice, some traffic finds its way to Catemaco on regular weekends.

During the rest of the days, if the shills, lancheros (boatmen - no women) and store keepers are excluded, the Malecon
of Catemaco is deserted.

Generally, tourism this year is better than last year but not at the levels from a few years ago. The swine flu, floods
and narcos have been getting in the way.

Gringo tourism, although bragged about and seemingly a little on the upswing, is minimal. Catemaco tourism is 98%

The principal driver of Catemaco tourism is the Basilica. More than a 1000 tour buses filled with pilgrims, from mostly the
southeastern area of Mexico, arrive throughout the year, even outside of the season, to worship at the shrine of the
Virgen del Carmen. Visits climax during the anniversary of the Virgin around the 16th of July and the celebration of the
Virgin of Guadalupe, Dec 12th.

This is primarily very low budget day time tourism and is on the decrease because of social changes.

Usually Catemaco has a street fair in July which possibly makes locals happy, but I doubt that it attracts visitors.
Promoting these pilgrims is a job for the catholic church. The only improvement I can see is a large sign in front of the
basilica explaining what it is all about for non pilgrims and improved access to the shrine at El Tegal.

Tour Buses
The second largest group of tourists arrive via tour buses, organized throughout east central Mexico, who generally
stay for a few hours and spend a little more than the first group. But not much. Ideally an effort should be made to
encourage them to spend the night, but until better access and facilities at touristic venues outside of Catemaco City are
built, I do not see an increase here. Some promotion is done by a few hotels.  A database of Mexican tour operators
would help to alert them to monthly specials in Catemaco.

I have noticed an increase of overnight European tour buses during the last winter season. That's probably atrributable
to the low Peso / Euro exchange rate.

Public Buses
A small amount of tourists arrive via public first and second class buses. First class service to or from the south is
abominal, and to the north only about 5 direct destinations are available.  Promoting of Catemaco is in the hands of the
bus operators and it might help if the county government begged them to do a little more advertising of the area, or
threaten to throw them out of downtown Catemaco. Generally these visitors stay overnight and are thus on the "muy
bienvenido" list.

San Andrès
Catemaco used to have substantial tourist traffic from neighboring San Andrès Tuxtla. But since the advent of a bunch
of new discoteques and restaurants in that city over the last few years, traffic has decreased considerably, and
probably the only way to excite it again is with new and novel eating and drinking ventures in Catemaco. The new La
Panga might  help here.

Driving Tourists
There are no air or sea facilities in Los Tuxtlas, so the remainder are tourists that drive themselves here. Since there
are no official statistics, I'll make an educated guess. The largest number of visitors are from Veracruz City, Xalapa,
Coatzacoalcos/Minatitlan and the Cordoba/Orizaba duo. Most are day trippers. Many are repeat visitors. Unfortunately,
many of those from the north are now bypassing Catemaco to reach the beaches. The only thing that would help to
increase these "muy bienvenido" drivers is to improve their experience while here. But that is related to the malaise that
affects most Catemaco tourism operators.

The cream of the crop are the out of state license plates, who generally do spend a night and probably more money
than a bus load of pilgrims. They should receive the red carpet treatment, to hopefully convert them into ambassadors
of good will in their home towns.

Curiously I know of only one hotel (Prashanti) that aggressively advertises on the internet. A few others (Playa Azul,
etc.) run promotions in regional newspapers. If there were a local Chamber of Commerce or at least a functional
organization of hotel and restaurant operators, they should be encouraged to form consortiums to advertise in regional
newspapers or even the internet, to lure this cream of the crop.

The county government usually only shills tourism to serve its political needs. I would really like to see a Miss Brujo of
Catemaco, rather than a jolly politician, announcing touristic events at press conferences.

Curiously when the Adventists draw a thousand people to their compound, the local press  does not mention it,
probably because no politician was present.  A few other tourist enterprises draw group visitors, such as a summer
sailing camp at el Huerto, catholic retreats at Villa de Carmen, welfare worthies at a resort in Tebanca, or weird earthy
things at Los Amigos. Any group adds to the Catemaco economy.

There is limited convention business because of the absence of facilities, and only La Finca does a fair job of attracting
small groups. A few others intermittently draw daytime workshops. The Catemaco administration should actively jockey
to get some of the smaller of the hundreds of multi day federal and state government events to be planned for

If Catemaco had an air conditioned, modern convention center instead of the half dozen primitive private social salons,
there might be a chance to attract more groups to occupy the estimated 250 hotel rooms that qualify above two stars.

All Tourism
For anyone driving, or even busing, I could easily fill a good five day vacation package in Los Tuxtlas, and a superb
three day 2 night adventure. Unfortunately I think the average stay is 4 hours. Obviously that is the area that needs
work, but I do not see the local infrastructure addressing that issue.

More, "mañana".
Post 4
Foreign Residents of Catemaco

Permanent foreign residents originally from:
USA: 6
Switzerland: 3
Italy: 3
Germany: 2
France: 1

11 men, 4 women. Most men formed Mexican relationships after they arrived here.
(added 2 more, 20 May)

3 US long term renters at Tepetapan (longer than a year)
plus 4 or more Spaniards, mostly Mexicanized,
plus a handful of "Pochos",  Mexican-Americans,

plus a few short termers, noticeably non-Mexican, (evangelists, scientists, RV park guests, etc)
plus I know 5 foreign property owners that show up here, rarely more than once a year.

The Mexican population of the Catemaco municipality is about 48,600, maybe including a few Guatemalans, etc.
Population grew about 8 % during the last 8 years.

The number of foreigners has not changed in the 8 years that I've been here.
But I have also seen more than the entire total (excluding Mexicans) trying to make a life here and failing,  including 4
deaths, 1 leaving to die at home and 1 deportation.

I think part of the absence of growth is the lack of suitable furnished extended rentals, (only about 10 in Catemaco),
and the lack of affordable attractive housing or lots to purchase. At present there is no fix for either in the foreseeable

More, mañana.
Post 5


Downtown Catemaco presents itself with a thin veneer of modernity and membership in the late 20th century. A half a
mile uphill, the situation reverses to unpaved and impassible streets, lack of municipal services and subsistence shacks.

It is alleged and vaguely substantiated by news blog reports that the Catemaco municipal mayors of the last decade
stole millions of dollars.  Knowledgable people in Catemaco say that probably 10 percent of the county's potential
income disappears into politician's pockets.

Of the remaining resources, an extraordinary amount is wasted on excessive political compensation, entertainment,
give-aways and paint, instead of spending on the most basic needs of the community.

Tourism suffers because there is no continuing mandate to support it. Each presidente (mayor) chooses what he
wants to do, in which year of his 3 year term. So one year, there is a giant brujo festival, another year almost nothing.
One year a Catemaco county fair, the next 3 years, nothing, One year a huge carnaval, one year a mini one. And on
and on.

Maintenance of touristic infrastructure such as the Malecòn, and surrounding streets is abominal, and usally limited to a
change in color of the guard rails in each administration.

The current mayor began his term with a focus on improving the situation. But because of political pretentions I see no
substantial improvement in the coming years.

Although the constitutional laws defining the powers of municipalities are well defined on paper, in reality they permit a
mayor to act like a dictator. Citizen input is basically not existent.

With the ongoing growth of democracy in Mexico, I would like to see a pressure group of tourism providers and
business owners, such as a functional chamber of commerce to actively demand regularity in the promotion of events
and the maintenance of infrastructure,

That's probably a pipe dream.
<META name="robots"
Post  6

I recently watched a rerun of the last episodes of the TV series "Lost". I swear that amazing scenery might just as well
have been filmed in Los Tuxtlas.

Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas are by far the most attractive areas bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, the southern Atlantic,
and the Mexican Caribbean. Lush tropical beaches alternate with verdant jungle growth, towering extinct volcanoes
deliver incredible skylines, lakes and lagunas provide a bounty of fresh fish and crystal clear rivers slice through its
rugged mountains.

Unfortunately, aside from the lagunas and Montepio, tourists have a hard time finding these jewels.

FONATUR, the Mexican tourism development agency has poured billions into mega resorts such as Cancun, Huatulco
and Los Cabos, all located along the Caribbean and the Pacific. Apparently they never heard of the success of dozens
of beach resorts along the US Gulf coast. There were rumors a few years ago, that FONATUR was studying the Los
Tuxtlas area. As of today that is still a dream.

The Beaches of Catemaco
What could be one of the best features of Catemaco is at present a lost cause.  And rightly so!

The most northern beach, Playa Escondida, described as one of the most beautiful in North America, has a hotel in
ruins. The magnificent beaches of Jicacal are occupied by the ranch of a former mayor of San Andrés and features a
longhouse  of hotel rooms with holes in the walls. Its 600 acres are for sale. Both beaches lack  access by road for
cared for passenger vehicles or public transport.

The next stretch of beach, about 6 km, is mostly occupied by another San Andrés tycoon and features absolutely
nothing, except a now erased for sale sign on the internet.

The village of La Barra at the marvelous juncture with Laguna Sontecomapan features dozens of palapas but no public
plumbing. Overnighters have a choice between a dilapidated cabin and lately, a postage stamp mini hotel. The only
glimmer of a brighter future is the mini eco resort of "Los Amigos" across from La Barra and only accessible by boat. La
Barra is connected to the Catemaco - Montepio highway by a dirt road with more potholes than dirt.

Access to the beaches of the southeast of Catemaco, including the isolated and beautiful beaches of El Morro,
Capulteotl and El Carrizal might as well be through Afghanistan.

Development of the coast is stymied by the heavy concentration of very large properties and lack of land titles in La

At the bare minimum:
Catemaco should demand of Veracruz State that the La Barra road be entirely paved or at least be surfaced and
maintained with all weather material.

The Veracruz State development agency, if there is such a dog, should promote the availabilty of large gulf front
properties in Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas  to hopefully place them in the hands of buyers who understand  the potential
of the zone.

Local politicians should fight to clear the land title problems in La Barra and El Real, to assure small developers of their

Promote the construction of the forever promised  highway, connecting the  Catemaco - Montepio road to the southern
Catemaco and Los Tuxtlas beaches via either La Barra or Coxcoapan, including both a bridge at  La Barra or a drive
around Laguna Sontecomapan through Coxcoapan.

If nothing is done, Catemaco tourism will continue to be decimated by access to the beaches of San Andrés through El
Tropico and soon through Ruiz Cortines.

The Catemaco Mountains
The word mountain may strike you as presumptous, but when you see a 5000 foot hill from the sea shore, you'll
appreciate the term. At present tourism to the mountains is a pimple on the Catemaco tourism scene.

10+ years ago, instigated by NGO's, two ecotourism facilities were constructed on the edge of the nucleus of the Los
Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve. We have been visiting them yearly over the last 8 years and we are usually the only ones
there, and have a hard time getting something to eat.
Without exploring my personal misgivings of imposed ecotourism ventures on villages that have only occupied their land
grant places for 30 years, let me just say I think they are economic failures, barely supported by organized tours from
Mexico City.

The village of Lopez Mateos is the trail head for two magificent kayakable rivers in Los Tuxtlas, the Yohualtajapan and
the Coxcoapan. Good luck trying to find them. You'll need a horse and a guide.

Miguel Hidalgo sits at the apex of the Rio Cuetzalapan valley. This valley, in other more sensible parts of the world,
would be a free standing destination to spend a weekend. Outrageously beautiful waterfalls like Cola de Caballo and
Velo de Novia, adjoined by crystal clear swimming holes like Poza Reina, and a leisurely canoe trip to the alligators
along the shores of Laguna Catemaco, define to me what Los Tuxtlas is really about, a remnant of nature that
thousands of outsiders are trying to protect.

Again, the problem is access. The roads are plain miserable, and even flooded  during parts of the year. How much
does it cost for a few trucks of gravel and a grader to maintain access to paradise? For a casual visitor the features
along the Cuetzalapan river are very hard to find. There is almost no signage by the property owners who control
access, which brings up another point.

At present Poza Reina charges 35 pesos to see its public river and is open when they feel like it. The Biosphere
Reserve should eminent domain purchase a strip of land to the river from the road to allow public access to the 5
meters above the high water line on both sides of a river which are federal property.

A good sign is the recent opening of a private dude ranch complete with cabins above Miguel Hidalgo, and a struggling
camp ground between Cola Caballo and Poza Reina. The area would be  perfect for small private eco lodges.

All beach and mountain areas are hampered by the absence of both landlines and cellular phones. Promotion of these
beautiful aereas is minimal and until their infrastructure improves, I doubt that is is worth to advertise to attract more
than the handful of visitors who now undertake the difficult trips.
Post 7

The Dream Factory

I can`t really get a handle on this post, so I will do it in stages.

The first tourism development plan for Los Tuxtlas was published in the early 1990's. By late 1999 the Veracruz
government proposed a golf course and a waterfront development in Sontecomapan and a few other inanities.
The major sensible proposals were a coastal road from El Tropico to Montepio, Sontecomapan to Coatzacoalcos  and
the autopista to Covarrubias.
By 2004 the El Tropico road opened, and by 2011, the idea of the others never got  off the ground.

During that time span, there was a proposal to turn the southern Los Tuxtlas coast into a giant shrimp hatchery similar
to the wasteland of the Gulf coast of  the states of  Campeche/Yucatan. Also silver miners were rattling their shovels
in what is now one of the nuclei of the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere.

The declaration of the Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve in 1999 sort of stopped all that nonsense, although as recent as
this year, mining concessions have been renewed in the nucleus of the Sierra Santa Marta.

Also in 1999, a development plan of the downtown of Catemaco was published. Considering that every each
recommendation of the plan  has been ignored by the municipal government until 2011, the plan is probably the laughing
stock of Mexico's city planners at their conventions.

In 2007, some fools actually sat down with many of the business and government in-crowd of Catemaco and drew up
a litany of complaints and proposals of how to fix them. By 2011 their "AGENDA 2001" is still being ignored.

Of course, since 2007, Catemaco has been petitioning to be declared a "Pueblo Màgico" in line with many historic and
maintained towns in Mexico. That one belongs in Ripley's.

The latest Veracruz governor recently published his development plan for 2010-2015. Of course, Catemaco was not

That about sums up the official Veracruz dream state. The local one follows "mañana"

Many references for the above statements are in In
Spanish,of course.
Probably the first dream about Catemaco , was discovering it.

There really are numerous repetions of  stories that fishermen from San Andres walked up the river and discovered
Catemaco in the 1700's. How stupid can you get?

Read the history of Catemaco to get a better idea of the history of this community.

Talking about dreams relevant to tourism:

First one comes to my mind is an airport. There actually was one in nearby San Andrès, and there actually was
frequent air service. Nowadays the airport is a subdivision and hopes for a new airport are announced every polticial
election cycle. Regularly there are news blurbs about a heliport in Catemaco. Usually whenever a governor arives
and breathes the dust.

The next one is more difficult.
Anyone aware of the Mexican coast, knows it is tough to get anywhere near it. There are exceptions, like a few
miles in Veracruz and a lot mre ine Campeche, but basically, along the coastal highway of Matamoros to the Yucatan,  
you will  primarily see anything but ocean.

The El Tropico to Montepio highway opened a new venue of seeing parts of the coast. Of course, almost no one
knows about it, and after having announced  the highway as a detonator of tourism, they forgot to maintain it, post
signs or alert travelers.

Of course the major pipe dream was and is to continue the highway up the coast to see the remarkable beaches of
the Sierra Santa Marta.  Move this one to the Disneyland column.

Another pipe dream, just coming out its opium phase is a connector from San Rodriguez Clara to Covarrubias. Ok. you
never heard of it, but it was proposed 10+ years ago, and actually, if completed, will provide faster access to
Catemaco from the South.

Catemaco Tourism  - part 1
For years Catemaco suffered with 2 rental halls to accommodate more than 100 people that wanted to congregate
in Catemaco.

The usual standard for less than those, was and is to block a street  with some large rocks, throw up a tent, and
rent some chairs.

In the last few years, so called "salones sociales" have popped up all over the place. The last municipal mayor, even
constructed almost half a dozen in outlying communities.

Catemaco City itself  has no social hall!


Actually, to hell with the inhabitants who are accustomed to stand for hours in the rain, cold or heat to listen to
politicians before receiving their hand outs.


Most tourists pass through Catemaco for a few hours to see monkeys and leave their diapers. Percentage wise
only a few overnight in the city.

The only locale making a minor effort to attract the convention trade is La Finca, which annually attracts small
groups to its own "salon social"

Catemaco includes about 200 hotel rooms in its repertoire of more than 500, that are suitable for conventioneers.
Drawing any substantial convention with a one or 2 night stay, would do the equivalent of 100 tourbuses.

Unfortunately over the years, Catemaco City has screwed itself by allowing private interests to occupy its prime city
properties on the Malecon.

There is almost nothing suitable available.

Here are some suggestions that would require a government with guts and  willingness to do some long term
planning (Virtually impossible in the political setup of Catemaco and Mexico).

1) Land on La Punta could be expropriated to construct a Convention Center.
2) The private "tianguis" (commercial weekly  flea market) on Ave. Carranza could be bought, because the now
owners are dying of hunger since the advent of Walmart and others in Los Tuxtlas.
3) Best of all - The hidden, seasonally submerged peninsula in front of Mantilla and Boettiger could be expropriated,
filled in and turned into a Convention Center for both locals and visitors.

Of course, Catemaco does not have the resources to do any of the above. But it could originate a long term debt,
same as was used by previous mayors, not to improve Catemaco, but to enrich their personal portfolios.

File this under "wishful thinking about Catemaco."
Catemaco Tourism  - part 2
A few  concerned tourists have asked me what there is to do in Catemaco when the weather is nasty. My usual
response is to drive to Veracruz City or Cancun.

Catemaco desperately needs some venues to keep the tourists that DO arrive in the city for more than a few hours:

Here are some suggestions that are not new but have variously been discussed locally.

1) A small museum focusing on brujos and local folklore
Ideal location: on one of the plazuelas of the Malecòn.

2) A playground for visiting children.
Ideal location: One of the properties on the Malecon given away by the last presidente (mayor).

3. A zoo
Ideal location:  Pipiapan and its existing "Parque de Fauna y Flora"

4. A nature garden
Ideal location:  the river island below the bridge of Catemaco

5) An aviary or butterfly garden
Ideal location:  El Azuzul swamp, which unfortunately is now being filled in

6) A daytime hang out
Ideal location: the central park of Catemaco.
(Because of its attitude and pricing, the principal hotel chases more tourists away than it attracts)

7) a nighttime hangout
Ideal location: see above

8) A youth center
To keep the increasing number of NiNis, friends and young tourists off the street
Ideal location:  center of Catemaco

Don't get me started on improving hotels and restaurants. That is another part!
Catemaco Tourism  - part 3

Catemaco is the next best thing to not getting there from here.

Only one highway connects Catemaco to the rest of Mexico.  
Lately, most of the time, that federal road from the 1950's, two lanes, mostly without curbs, has been in good

Unfortunately the highway is plagued by more than 100 nasty topes, both north and south of Catemaco, and
personally, if I did not have to, I would think twice about returning to Catemaco.


Aside from getting rid of the ridiculously excessive number of topes on the road from Veracruz , the highway
urgently needs to be three or four laned to reduce a 100 mile trip to 2 hours instead of the current 3+ hours.

The recently announced toll road from Isla to San Andrès is a farce. Because of annual floods and washouts, the
existing federal highway from Isla to Santiago has been and is a nightmare in the 9 years that I have traveled the
road.  Replacing it with a toll road instead of fixing the very lightly traveled only direct connector to central Mexico is
a stupid idea and a waste of money Nevertheless, if they do build it, it will be welcome. Usually toll roads are
federal. In this case it may be a state road.

Both accesses to the north and south of Catemaco are annually destroyed by washouts, floods and destroyed
bridges. Usually the duration is a day or two, but nevertheless this is another reason for knowledgable drivers to
avoid highway 180 and Catemaco during the rainy season.

The responsibility for the federal roads is with federal diputados (congressmen) and senators from Veracruz.
None of  which have  been worth a pound of the snails extracted from the Catemaco Lake.
The municipal government of Catemaco or the state of Veracruz have none but suggestive powers.

I have no suggestions aside from the customary pressure politics by those affected on all levels, including tourists,
residents, private, municipal and state agencies to keep demanding a functional road system.
Catemaco Tourism - part 4

Catemaco's municipal budget is too strapped to cover its basic necessities and cannot afford significant
promotional expenses.

But, Catemaco generates an incredible amount of free national and international publicity, mostly related to brujos
(witches), the incredible beauty of much of the surrounding Sierra de Los Tuxtlas and the disneyesque nature
park of Nanciyaga.

In addition the state of Veracruz, runs, funds or supports yearly promotions of  specific events.

There is no functional local chamber of commerce, and private commercial advertising is limited to a few hotel
websites. Rarely do hotels advertise outside the area. The only one actively doing so is Prashanti, a lakeside
resort, which from a shabby unknown upstart, has become a financial success.

Catemaco NEEDS a functional local chamber of commerce or hotel association, both to organize group advertising
and to be a counterweight to some of the incredible stupidities that local politicians permit to happen in the touristic

The best promotion is word of mouth from visitors returning home. And the only way that "word" will be good, will
be if it comes from a happy tourist. And I hear and read too many negative comments.

a) the local hungaros (gypsies) have multiplied like rabbits, and the recent surprising growth in census figures is
possibly related to the number of shills on the Malecon who attack those driving into Catemaco in swarms of  
motorbikes and peddlars. Their numbers and annoyances MUST be controlled. Eliminating the shills is politically
impossible, and a few hungaras do dress up the Malecòn.

b) the garbage strewn shores of the Malecòn, complete with dying birds, heaps of trash and mosquito motels
annoy any visitor but, apparently not locals. The local tour boat operators MUST shoulder most of the burden to
keep the beaches clean, instead of an annual political cleanup. And a city inspector should rouse them to do so on
a daily basis.

c) there are only about 4 city blocks that dominate the visitor presence. And they are a dangerous and unattractive
4 blocks. Most of the sidewalks are physically damaged or just plain stupidly constructed. Much of the sidewalks
is encumbered by merchandise intruding from the neighboring shabby shops and stalls., forcing tourists to walk
single file or having  to walk in the street. Catemaco needs a city inspector to regularly address these issues.

d) the Malecòn is clearly marked "No Parking" on its shore side. Most of the year that signage is ignored and traffic
cops are absent, too busy collecting mordidas on Ave. Carranza, the main street leading into town. Meanwhile
drivers face a very uncomfortable jam trying to cross 4 blocks filled with weaving pedestrians bottlenecks. Parking
laws must be enforced, especially on the weekends when the area receives most of its traffic.

e) there are 150 tour boat concession, and almost all are uncomfortable, polluting and without a safe way to enter
and exit the boats. That subject will  be my next web page in

f) food and lodging quality is mostly mediocre and rarely receives a rave. But I`ll save that for one of the next
Catemaco Tourism - part 5
The Problem
Some Recommendations
The Dreams

A Class 1 Hospital in Los Tuxtlas
There are 6 public hospitals in a 30 mile area. Not one delivers first class care. Major trauma care or surgery is only available in
hospitals in Xalapa and Veracruz City. Potential retirees consider this a strong negative.
Status: Being considered without urgency

A golf course in Los Tuxtlas
A nice idea but not sustainable without substantial improvement in tourism infrastructure.
Status: Proposed in 1999, now dormant

Deviation of the runoff from the hills:
To stop the clogging of the drainage system and make many streets passable during rainstorms.
Proposed in the 1990's early 2000's.
Status: Being ignored

Funcional Sewage treatment plant:
To stop the discharge the city's sewage into the Rio Grande de Catemaco.
Proposed since the construction of the sewage system in 196?, built in 2004, modified in 2005.
Status: Still not operational, being ignored

Elimination of sewage contaminating principal streets and the Catemaco Lake.
Demanded since the 1990's.
Proposals published in 2011
Status: Still being ignored.

Retention of Catemaco city property along the Malecòn:
Apparently not a concern of Catemaco citizens.
Most properties sold clandestinely during the last three administrations of Salvador Guerrero, Sergio Cadena and Jorge G. Azamar.
Status: Almost none left to be sold.

Stopping the visual contamination of the city waterfront:
Apparently not a concern of Catemaco citizens.
Shabby gift shops have proliferated along the waterside of the Lake, within the federal zone. Permissions date from pre 2000 and
reached extremes during the G. Azamar administration 2008-2011.
Status: Current administration is continuing the pollution with the permission of more fixed "puestos".

Closing the Punta Tepeyaga Gap.
Proposed during the Sergio Cadena administration 2005-2007, and historically by any resident of the Sierra Santa Marta.
At present there is no circumference road of the lake. The north road ends at Las Margaritas and the south road ends at Mimiahua.
Status: Studies were done and funded in 2006. Construction was announced in 2007, but has now disappeared from the political

Construction of an airport in Los Tuxtlas.
Existing airport and air service was destroyed in the 1960's by San Andrès Tuxtla politicians.
Status: Construction of a new airport has been announced almost yearly since Gov. Fidel Herrera (2004-2010), reiterated by Javier
Duarte (2010 -)

Construction of a paved road to La Barra
Primary Gulf Coast access for Catemaco
Status: 1 km of 6 completed in 2008?, remainder promised but being ignored.

Completion of the Catemaco to Montepio highway
Principal Gulf Coast access for visitors from south Veracruz.
Status: Constructed in 2006, missing 1 km segment in front of the Biology Station. Being ignored.

Connection of western Catemaco to eastern Catemaco via a road from Sontecomapan to Capulteotl
At present the east is only accessible via a one boat ferry in La Barra or via a torturous dirt track via Coxcoapan.
Status: Proposed since the early 2000's. At present ignored.

Construction of a modern, fun children's playground on the Malecòn:
To entertain both resident and visiting children.
Proposed by G. Azamar (2008-10)
Status: Apparently not a concern of Catemaco citizens, being ignored

A transparent municipal government:
to stop abuses and corruption alleged to cost the municipio up to 1 million dollars per 3 year administration.
Status: Apparently not a concern of Catemaco citizens, being ignored.

Museum of Catemaco:
To consolidate local archaeological artifacts and historical lore.
Status: Variously proposed and ignored.

Manglar Museum of Sontecomapan
To present the status of endangered mangrove species and the biological importance of the Sontecomapan lagoon.
Status: Insufficiently funded and partially constructed in 2006. Being ignored.

Functional highway from the toll road at Isla to Santiago / San Andrès Tuxtla.
The fastest access from central Mexico to Catemaco.
Status: Apparently not a concern of Los Tuxtlas citizens. For 10 years the federal highway has been in deplorable conditions and
is now not recommendable because of damage from the 2010 floods. In 2011 a replacement toll road was announced by Gov.

Construction of a connector to the toll road from Covarrubias
Proposed in one of the aster plans for development of Los Tuxtlas (1999)
Status: Being ignored

Major Hotel in Los Tuxtlas
To interconnect with touristic promotions of airlines, institutions, tourism promoters, etc. Current hotels are inadequate to handle
national promotions.
Status: Variously rumored, including a FONATUR development on the coast,golf courses in Sontecomapan ad condominiums at
Playa Escondida. At present in dream state.

Pozolapan University
Creation of a one degree satellite campus of the University of Veracruz within the Pozolapan state tree nursery, to teach
environmental studies.
Status: Constructed in 2007. Unoccupied and ignored.

State University in Los Tuxtlas
Thousands of young people, yearly experience extreme financial difficulties attending campuses in Xalapa and Veracruz.
Status: Proposed and under discussion 2011, unfortunately a hick town north of Santiago seems to be the front runner.

Conversion of 2 cycle to 4 cycle motors of Catemaco tourist boats.
2 cycle engines are heavy environmental polluters.
Status: Variously proposed, but being ignored. At present there is one boat of 150 +/- with a 4 cycle engine.