Flying in to Veracruz it is green and lush. As soon as you step off of the plane on to the tarmac the heat sticks to your skin, and the air is thick. This place is hot. I have not had a dry forehead since I’ve been here. The airport is under construction and it looks as if it as been in a constant state of repair for quite sometime. The ceiling is missing panels, the tiles are chipped and broken, and there is a putrid smell in the air; most like sewage. But this says nothing about the typical attitude and demeanor of the Veracruz citizens. They are incredibly kind people, not only to us but to each other. I see a young server handing an elderly customer a cup of coffee and even though I could not hear the little conversation they were having I could see in the body language and laughter that there is an invisible transaction of love taking place between the people here and even with us.
After we checked in to the Veracruz Language School, we went for a walk in sweltering sticky heat down by the beach and then near the Zocalo (town plaza). While on the little excursion we were approached by several different street vendors and hustlers of sorts. And even they were friendly and endearing. Alex sincerely wants us to come and enjoy the food at his restaurant and Beng is willing to sell you the shoes off of his very feet; we bought nothing from either vendor but you could tell that they were satisfied with meeting and maybe even making friends out of 5 strangers. Myself, Reagan, Eryerusalem, Azeb, and Zion are all black. I have not seen any other black people here. People stare at us. Living in the United States we are used to being stared at, especially in groups. But what is different about these stares is that they dong have an air of hostility or ‘you don’t belong’ energy in them. It is a child like curiosity and possibly a hint of wonder in their gaze. I like it hear. It’s old but it is hanging on to its beauty like an aging queen. All the establishments that are turning a profit have military, police, or security on patrol. And military details patrol the streets in jeeps. Veracruz has very ugly corroded sidewalks with very beautiful colonial houses and buildings on top. Cathedrals on street corners have their large doors wide open, and people wander in, slump themselves over in the pews for prayer or sleep. It’s holy. I was surprised to only see one street musician in the 20 some odd blocks we walked. This is only day 1 though, and we are barely getting are feet wet in the ocean of history and culture that this place possesses.