When you jet around as often as I do, you can find yourself “jaded” when presented with new destinations to visit. But after this last trip I just had to share what I’ve discovered in a little known spot just south of the border….Vera Cruz, Mexico! After seven years of toying with the idea of organizing a tour to Vera Cruz ten loyal clients committed to join me on my very first tour there in November of this year.
Now, I could paint you dreamy pictures that might a feel for what it’s like to relax on one of Vera Cruz’s beautiful beaches or gush on about the city’s near perfect year round weather or perhaps tempt you with spicy descriptions of the local cuisine but honestly you can find many places around the world with similar charms. No, I want to tell you about the warm hospitality and hidden history of the Afro-Mexican people of Vera Cruz. That’s right… Afro Mexicans or what my grandkids might call Blaxicans! Certainly, famous spots with bigger marketing budgets like Acapulco, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta enjoy well deserved reputations but for my money there is no better place to immerse yourself in the rich culture of Afro Mexico and experience its unique life style than Vera Cruz.
From the moment of our arrival we noticed that the local people were not staring us down as sometimes happens when we travel in Africa. We were promptly greeted by our land operators and taken to the five star Diligencias Hotel, conveniently located across the street from one of the city’s most stunning plazas. The hotel had all of the luxuries one could want while on vacation... restaurants, spa, swimming pool, cable television and an attentive staff. I should also mention that in the Plaza across the street from our hotel we could watch bands serenade diners in the many outdoor restaurants and bars whose colorful terraces provided the perfect vantage point for people watching and enjoying the sights.
Our local guides shared the story of Gaspar Yanga, a proud slave whose revolt lead to the abolishment of that shameful institution in Mexico. We visited city that bears his name where many Mexicans of African descent still live. There we toured a history museum that showcases the deep African roots that make this area so special. When in Vera Cruz it’s hard not to feel the presence of Gaspar Yanga and other Afro Mexicans who left and in some cases continue to leave their marks on history. Our travels also took us to the town of Cordoba where we feasted on indigenous dishes sourced with the freshest local ingredients. Before leaving the town many of its residents asked to have their pictures taken with us. From Cordoba we were traveled to the towns of Matama, Mandingo and Mozambique. These familiar sounding African place names reflect the heritage of each villages original residents. The people of these Afro Mexican hamlets laid out the carpet for us and made us feel like visiting royalty. There were hugs, tears, dancing and good food enjoyed by all. We shared stories with them and they with us late into the night. Visiting Vera Cruz was exciting, different, and new but strangely it felt as if you were coming home.
I could share many more stories from this trip with you here but I’d rather have you join me on my next tour to Vera Cruz. If you’d like to learn more about the adventures that await you in this “off the radar” tourist destination...
Join us Saturday, December 5th
Jesse Owens Park- Field house
8800 S. Clyde
3pm – sharp
PLEASE RSVP: 773-374-4199 or email
SPACE IS LIMITED