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The comfortable winter climate has disappeared
Durango (Mexico) to Catemaco (Mexico), April 2017

From Durango we travel southwards, towards Mexico City. However, we still have two stops on the way, namely the cities of Zacatecas and Guanajuato. Both colonial towns are absolutely worth a visit. Especially Guanajuato impressed us a lot. We found this the most beautiful city we have visited in Mexico over the last five months. The location on the hills is magnificent, and the atmosphere in the old town is still authentic. Of course we are not the only travellers who have discovered this destination. The colonial town is overtaken during the holiday periods by holidaymakers from cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara, but if you go outside these busy periods, the town will definitely not let you down.

We spent the Easter week in Mexico City. The Easter week is one of the busiest holiday periods of the year, and all destinations that offer something to tourists are hectic and fully booked. We used the week to do some shopping, sending some of our stuff back home, and to go to the dentist for our regular check-up. And Mexico City is a good place to do activities like this. This metropolis of 20 million plus inhabitants has everything you need. In Mexico City we also make global plans for the coming period. We are allowed to stay in Mexico for six months, and five of them are gone. Besides that, we decided that we have seen enough of Mexico, so it’s time to move on and to take the next step in Central America. That step will be Guatemala. The weather is still warm, although we are in build-up period for the rainy season. This wet season takes roughly from May to September. At the moment it is still dry, but the temperature rises to 40 degrees Celsius regularly, and the humidity is high. The comfortable winter climate has unfortunately disappeared.

Enjoying a capuchino in Zacatecas
 

There are several ways to travel to Guatemala from Mexico City. We choose the option to travel through Palenque and cross the border between Mexico and Guatemala in northern part of Guatemala. Our first real destination in Guatemala will be Tikal, the world-famous Mayan ruin complex. But that is something for next month. From Mexico City we take the bus to Veracruz. The city is of great historical significance, as this is the place where the Spaniards arrived in Mexico for the first time in 1519. Many Mexicans also see Veracruz as an important place because it is the place where Christianity arrived. And in religious Mexico this is an important fact. The city does not offer a lot to travellers, but it is a nice and friendly city, like most cities in Mexico.

For us, Veracruz is just a stopover of some days on our way to Tlacotalpan. This colonial town, founded in 1550, was one of Mexico's most important ports until the twentieth century, and it was one of the few river ports in Latin America at the time. With the arrival of the railways, the role of the port became smaller, and the importance of Tlacotalpan decreased. Many of the original buildings have been preserved, and for that reason, UNESCO has decided to add Tlacotalpan to the list of our world heritage places that needs to be protected. Not a lot of things are happening today in the town. Many young people have gone away looking for work in the big cities, and the older people who stayed try to earn some money from the tourists.

View on the old town of Guanajuato from our hostal
 

A few hours by bus south of Tlacotalpan lies the town of Catemaco, on a lake bearing the same name. This pleasant town has become a real tourist destination nowadays. Not only because of its beautiful location on the lake, but also because it is known as the centre of witchcraft, prayer healers, shamanism and other paranormalities. The surrounding area of the lake is also beautiful. Here is the northernmost rainforest of Central America located. There is not much left to it, but it is still big enough to maintain sustainable populations of birds and other animals. We spent a few days in a remote low-key resort that is in the middle of the rainforest and is only accessible by boat. Here we have been able to find some beautiful birds in the woods around the resort for a number of days and we even saw a coyote. Nowadays, we enter all of our bird data that we collect during our travels in the database www.ebird.org. This worldwide online community, set up by Cornell Lab of Ornithology (http://www.birds.cornell.edu) and the National Audubon Society (http://www.audubon.org/), aims to collect data of birdlife worldwide and make the data available for scientific research and conservation. The advantage for the birdwatcher is that website is a beautiful tool to manage his own birding activities. In this way cuts the knife on both sides.

Crowds during the 'Virgin of Dolores' (Virgin of the sorrow) festival in Guanajuato
City life in Mexico City
Colonial buildings in Tlacotalpan

Mating ritual of the Snowy Egrets

Cabañas in the Los Amigos resort near Catemaco

 
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