XALAPA VERACRUZ JUNE MUSIC FESTIVAL
June 9-13, 2005
The beautiful tropical city of Xalapa, the capital of the State of Veracruz, is situated 65 miles northwest of the City of Veracruz at about 4000 feet in a mountainous region of the state which receives rain most all year round. Xalapa (sometimes spelled Jalapa) is a cultural city with the best music school in Mexico, part of the University of Veracruz and one of the best symphony orchestras in the country.
Every year, the University sponsors a June Music Festival and this year’s program was devoted to French music. Isabel Fuente and Jim Lloyd arranged the tour to take in at least four concerts, including a performance of Saint-Saens opera, Sampson and Delilah. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Xalapa just above the Centro area and a extensive botanical gardens that we visited on our first day.
After Anya and Robin posed at the gardens, we walked to Centro historic area with it’s Governor’s Palace, Cathedral and well-manicured Juarez Park, filled with colorful modern sculptures. We walked through narrow alleys filled with shops and restaurants.
We spent as much time in wonderful restaurants as well as musical events. Our first morning we and had breakfast at Café Parroquia where café con leche was a specialty. And for comida before the Opera, we taxied to El Molino de Quijote (Quixote’s Mill) a Spanish restaurant specializing in paella. On Saturday morning we traveled to Coatapec for breakfast at the famed Posada Coatapec where Harrison Ford stayed while make a film nearby.
Coatapec is a delightful town with colorful churches and main plaza.
Afterwards we drove to the Instituto de Ecologia with its extensive botanical gardens, school and auditorium. After touring the gardens we attended a Classical Guitar Recital.
Then on to one of the tour’s highlights, Hacienda El Lencero, begun in the mid sixteenth century and the nineteenth century home of one of Mexico’s most loved and reviled men, first General then President (11 times) Antonio Lopes de Santa Anna. The Hacienda was built in a number of stages and now consists of two similar buildings linked with terraces upstairs and down and with the carriage house under a 500 year fig tree in the back. A spring filled pond surrounds it on two sides.
The Hacienda in furnished in the grand European style of the nineteenth century. Downstairs were the kitchens, informal eating areas and guest rooms.
Upstairs in the older building were the private quarters of the General and President, including his special bedroom.
On Sunday we traveled to the Museo Anthropologia de Xalapa, second only to the Museum in Mexico City. The Museum contains eight Olmec heads, found in the region, and the most of any other museum in the world.
Designed by the firm of Edward Durrell Stone (Kennedy Center in Washington DC) and is laid out in stages showing the various Mexican periods. Pictured below along with another Olmec head is an altar with jaguar and the “fat god.”
The Stele pictured below with human figure contains more hieroglyphs than any other similar stone illustrating the earliest and most extensive attempt at language. A laughing man is show warming himself at a brazier; an early burial urn and funeral pots containing bones and objects.
Other objects of interest where a stately bird figure, three figures called The Trilogy, and several children’s toys including a ceramic doll complete with her mold.
The last day of the tour, Sunday, we were treated to a marvelous and theatrical show by the Ballet Folklorico of the University of Guadalajara. The first dance was a tribal ceremony from the District of Mexico.
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