Why should you choose Veracruz for your year abroad?
Though the port is relaxed, there’s also a lot of fire in its belly. You can just as easily sit back and sip on the locally-picked and brewed café, watching the world go by, as step up your game, put on some dancing shoes and shimmy away to salsa, with an obliging local. Perhaps one of the best things about it all is the absence of tourists - it’s like you’ve discovered this place, all to yourself.
The nearby Tajín brings in the crowds, yet the capital of this state doesn’t drown itself in tourist trade, unlike some other places in the country. You can admire the two fortresses around the city, as well as the many museums (the two that stick out and are most definitely worth stopping by are the Museo de la Ciudad and the Museo Histórico Naval, to really understand how it all began, back in 1519). Even if history isn’t really your thing, you won’t regret picking Veracruz as your year abroad destination - vibrant, fun and alive, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to going out, once you’ve packed away your books or cleared your desk for the day. Yes, dancing is big here - due to its geographic location on the coast, and its marred history, Veracruz has adopted song and dance from all over the world - well, mostly from Cuba, Spain and the rest of Mexico, though you might spot a note of French chanson in some of the local beats, if you’re a real music buff. Thanks to this rich cocktail of foreign influences, you can have fun whilst you’re learning about the country, about its habits and about its customs. Though the accent might slightly throw you off (think Sevillano, with Mexican intonation), getting involved in the culture here will reap rewards for your Spanish, as well as your knowledge of Mexico.
The port really comes alive in February, when the Carnival hits - and man, is it worth staying/travelling here! People literally don’t stop, night to day, day to night, dancing, laughing, entertaining, singing, eating...Quite an experience, to say the least, and one you can’t afford to miss. And we haven’t even mentioned the food - if you’re into fish, you can’t get much fresher than the mariscos here. And that’s not all, how about the price...For this place is cheap, let us tell you. You can easily tuck into a comida corrida (literally translation: a running meal) for little over £4. Yep, you read that right. Four smackeroons. One place worth keeping in the diary, though it is about 15 minutes outside of the city centre, is Boca del Río, as it’s the mecca for all seafood restaurants. You won’t regret getting onto local transport for this, that’s for sure.
Going out is big here, so if you see yourself as a bit of a party animal, you won’t feel like a misfit in gorgeous Veracru’. If you feel like having a local experience for the evening, you can’t get much better than Barricas del Boca, where Latin beats of salsa and trova play side by side to pop and rock. Might sound a bit sordid, but this is the place to be, for locals and foreigners alike! Mambo Café is also a keen contender, in terms of salsa stakes. If you fancy something a bit more low-key, La Cava will be right up your street. A cosy bar, with dimmed lights and great cocktails, this is the place to take that special someone, or sit back and enjoy a relaxed night out.
All in all, Veracruz, with its historic importance, its gorgeous local beaches (try Tecolutla), archaeological sites, dancing and free-thinking attitude and student-friendly vibes will leave you asking for more. Nay, begging. One things for sure, if you’re coming here, you better pack your social alter-ego!