Tag Archives: travel tlacotalpan

billdelaluz and ZAZZLE.COM


I (billdelaluz) have hooked up with ZAZZLE.COM and have started printing “T” shirts, and other products, using many of my photographs. These items are all available on the zazzle.com.billdelaluz/ web site.  In most cases, you can customize any product any way you like. Its simple and fun.

Join me, billdelaluz, in all the fun and creativity. See you there ! Here are a few samples——

Hope you have enjoyed this posting and I look forward to posting more items in the near future.







The  “SOTAVENTO” :  That  area of the Papaloapan River, and other rivers and their tributaries, covers an area of over 47,000 square miles.

Flowing down to the east from the volcanic highlands of the Mexican Plateau, originating from cold water springs, …on to  the MIGUEL ALEMAN DAM, in the state of OAXACA, constructed to prevent disastrous flooding and to generate power, the river meanders down to the GULF of MEXICO; creating an ecosystem that is one of the largest and most bio-diverse in North America.

With TLACOTALPAN situated on the banks of the Papaloapan River, we at the CASA are in a unique position to offer easy, close access to this abundant and diverse natural habitat.

With its MANGROVE SWAMPS, LAKES, and connecting, SHALLOW WATERWAYS, this is a nature lovers paradise. All located within  10 minutes of  TLACOTALPAN and the CASA.

Whether you chose a walking or boating tour of birdwatching, or a tour by horseback and /or  boating  through the mangroves,  there is gurentered to be a rewarding, visual experience for the whole family.


For the passionate birder, there is a knowledgeable guide, DAVID McCAULEY, who makes his home here in TLACOTALPAN. He can arrange walking and/or boating excursions for the enthusiast or armature alike. And his packaged tours of the FALL HAWK MIGRATION are unparalleled.

Here at the CASA, we can put you in touch with DAVID for birding tours, and with other knowledgeable guides who live in the area, for tours on horseback, and by boat through the MANGROVES and LAKES. If you wish to contact David McCuley direct, GOOGLE “birdingveracruz” and you will be directed to his website and contact information.

These excursions can last from 2 to 4 hours. The horses are genial and the boat rides are smooth—without the noise of a motor that would otherwise scare the birds and animals.


Here are some pictures taken by a guest at Casa De La Luz…MARNI…from Northern California. She and I also took a boat ride on the Papaloapan River one afternoon and came upon a rancher moving his herd of cattle ( swimming ) across the river. There are pictures of this event in an earlier post on this blog.

MARNIES’ guides’ name is MARTIN. He understands English, having worked in the states for a few years, but, alas, refuses to speak it ! But he and his 4 brothers and 2 sisters grew up on a RANCHO next to this wonderful ecosystem and he knows almost everything about its’ plants & animals and its’ secretes.


Getting ready for the ride

Getting ready for the ride



Not so wild

Not so wild

Casa De La Luz~Vacation Rental~Casa De Huespedes~Tlacotalpan


Welcome to casadelaluz…My home and vacation rental property in Tlacotalpan, Veracruz Mexico. In Spanish: Casa De Huespedes.


This is Bill Pandolf..( billdelaluz ..in my photography work )..A retired American, and your host here at the Casa.

Having lived in Mexico for over 10 years, and over 5 years here in Tlacotalpan, I try to bring together the colors and style of Mexican Gulf Coast living, with the amenities and personal service enjoyed by the seasoned traveler.


Casadelaluz is located in the small port/fishing village of Tlacotalpan, on the banks of the Papaloapan River, 15 kilometers from the Gulf of Mexico. And 80 kilometers south of the Port of Veracruz.  You can read more about the history of this once thriving port and what brings it into the 21 century as a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE in another posting on this blog.

You will also find links on this blog to the casadelaluz-mexico website, and photo tours of the Casa and Tlacotalpan in ” flicker ” and “webshots “. Just click on the links and then use your back button to return to this blog page.


Rentals :

Casadelaluz has a fully furnished apartment on the second floor, with a screened patio, overlooking a tropical garden. Including a full kitchen with pots & pans, glassware, plates, and utensils.-A microwave, blender, and a toaster, among other things. The all-tiled bath has a glass block wall to allow in plenty of natural light. The main room has an antique French wardrobe, table and six chairs, two double beds, satellite TV, a ceiling fan, floor fan, and original paintings on the walls. Looking through the three sets of all-glass French doors, you see the patio with wicker chairs, and a marble topped table—the perfect place to sit and observe the many birds in the garden while having a morning cup of coffee, or an afternoon of reading and planning the next days activities.  And if you are up early in the morning, watching the beautiful Tlacotalpan sunrise above the coconut palms swaying in the distance.

The Casa also has a large room, with private bath, two single beds, satellite TV, and a ceiling fan. There is also a set of French doors and floor to ceiling window, looking on to a small screened patio next to the garden. There are two chairs and a table on the patio where you can sit and enjoy your morning coffee, which is provided by the Casa.

The Casa has a second, smaller room with a double bed, no TV, a floor fan and the bathroom is shared with me. This room also has French doors opening onto the screened garden patio, where you will find coffee in the mornings. All three units come with AIR CONDITIONING and they have street access through the garden.


During my five plus years of living here in Tlacotalpan, I have done some research on the history of the town and the surrounding area, and offer a walking / orientation tour of the town. Starting in the Zocalo, pointing out good places to eat, where to hire a boat to view the town from the river, as well as other points of interest such as museums, the opera house, the central market and a well stocked grocery store. And, oh yes, lets not forget the cantina where the famous Tlacotalpaño, Agustin Lara used to drink and regale his friends. I am also happy to arrange ECO tours on horseback, and boating tours of the Mangrove swamps and waterways, where you will see many birds, plants and wild animals. I can also help you plan day trips to the Tuxtlas Mountain towns of Santiago, and San Andres…and on to the Lake town of Catemaco…a lake formed in the creator of an extinct volcano. There is also a day trip to the beach town on Monte Pio.


As fishing is a major occupation here, the seafood from the Gulf and the River is fresh and abundant. Many kinds of fish, blue crab, and shrimp…it doesn’t get much better.


With bicycles and horseback being predominant forms of transportation, you will experience the friendly, outgoing, and always willing to stop and talk, attitudes of the people of the slow paced and beautiful Caribbean style town.

Tlacotalpan and CasaDeLaLuz is the place to come for a family holiday, a couples getaway, and a nature lovers dream come true. A place where artists and writers can come to let their creativity flow.


I am always willing to answer any questions you might have and can be contacted through E-MAIL by going to the casadelaluz website and clicking on the link provided.  Come and visit …    ” LET YOUR STRESS DOWN “.





The name TLACOTALPAN comes from the Nahuatl language, loosely meaning “land floating on water, as the area was an island before sediment filled in the “Rio Chiquito”..(little river), to one side, consolidating the island with the mainland.


In 1518, Pedro de Alvarado first explored the ” Sotavento “-or-the leeward side (to which the wind blows) of the Papaloapan river delta, for his homeland of Spain. This also was the first contact with the Indigenous inhabitants.

Around 1521 a Spanish land grant was given to Sr. Alonso Romero Soldier. The town government was created, and the new name..” SAN CRISTOBAL de TLACOTALPAN ” was given to the area.

Three sections of the community were established.

1. First Settlement…the official government offices and residences

2. The Native Congregation

3. The Spanish Settlement

Then in 1580 TLACOTALPAN was given the title ” Pueblo de Cabecras “…roughly meaning …official recognition as a Pueblo by Spain.

At this time, and throughout the 17th century, the population was divided into two groups. The Spanish, around the Zocalo and to the left side. And the Native village to the right side of the Zocalo. Untill the early 1600s, TLACOTALPAN was mainly an Indigenous community where a Spanish minority lived.

On into the 17th century more and more Spanish and other Europeans arrived and the Indigenous were pushed back to the area surrounding the current location of the San Miguel Church.


The main streets were planned in an East-West direction, running parallel to the river. The houses benefited from this position, taking advantage of the ventilation from the Northwest prevailing winds. Porticos were created to protect the houses from the morning and afternoon sun, and providing a covered walkway for the pedestrians.


The lime and brick factories, as well as the first meat and fish markets were located on the opposite side of the river,  in accordance to Spanish statutes. The remains of the brick factory can still be seen there today.


The construction of the Royal Shipyard in 1750, and a Spanish court decree, turned TLACOTALPAN into a renound port by the early 1800s.

By 1821, TLACOTALPAN was a significant port with established trade routes with New Orleans, Havana, and Bordeaux. With steamers sailing up the Papaloapan River from the Gulf of Mexico at Alvarado. One of the reasons for the ports great success was the fact that it was easy to defend from PIRATES and even the invading French of Napoleon III. The port was defended from the French for 3 full years, until the end of the conflict.

At the height of its trading days, The Port of TLACOTALPAN owned over 13 steamships.

Amongst the items exported were: Leathers, Tobacco, Seeds, Cotton, cut Corn, Rum, Moral Stick, Alligators, Sugar, Ceder, Mahogany, Pine, and Heron Feathers.


In 1849 the Government Building was built and oil burning street lamps were installed. Also during this period, the central market was built, and several public squares were created. Also a city Band and a music academy was established.

In 1885, with donations from merchants, traders and ranchers, construction was begun on the San Cristobal Church and  Parrish. Two years later the right tower was completed and the clock was installed. During this period, the Casino Tlacotalpaño was constructed , where today, the  Hotel Doña LaLa now stands. This was also the time in which the NETZAHUALCOYOTL THEATER was constructed.

By 1909, TLACOTALPAN had eight government offices, six public schools, four private schools, three hotels, nine factories, and one Parrish with two churches. Also one hospital, one jail, 1200 houses, and 54 huts.


In 1905 the Isthmus Railroad bypassed TLACOTALPAN, for the Port of Veracruz…..This combined with a cyclone and earthquake in the 1930s, and several subsequent floods, brought commerce to a halt and the ultimate decline of ” THE JEWEL OF THE PAPALOAPAN”. In 1944, 460 hectares of the Popaloapan river delta were flooded.

By the end of the 19TH century, sugar cane and cattle raising had taken over about 95% of all the surrounding land.


The type of housing construction seen today was developed in the 18th & 19th centuries, partially due to a series of fires that devastated most of the village. After that, buildings made from palm wood were prohibited in the urban area.


Besides cattle and horse raising, some of the crops cultivated at the time were : Corn, Sugar cane, Cotton, Rice, Beans, Tobacco, Water Mellon, Mellon, Pineapple, Sweet potato, Mamey, seven different types of Bananas, Oranges, Lemons, limes, Papaya, Avocado, Plum, Red Current, Coco, Nanche, Guava, Apple, Fig,  Almonds, Coconut, Pumpkin, and Mangos.

Squash, Chayote, Yucca, Cabbage, Radishes, Jicama,  Beets, Chard, Squash, Eggplant, Sweet & Common Chillies, Tomatoes, Garlic, Onions, and Kidney Beans.

There were, and are, many species of animals and birds…but hunting was never a preferred activity.

Fish, including Sea Bass, Jolote, Stripped Mullitt, Lake Trout, Shad, Eel, Blue Crab, Black and White Mojarra, Catfish, Shrimp, and Grouper. As well as several species of Turtles.


In 1998, TLACOTALPAN was recognized by UNESCO as a WORLD HERITAGE SITE. TLACOTALPAN is one of only a few places to have the entire town so designated.

The modest, single story homes, with colonnades, porticos, and tajas tile roofs, are a blend of Spanish and Caribbean architectural design. This theme continues with the brightly painted buildings and wide streets that are virtually untouched today. The historic town center has maintained its  Renaissance layout ..” For the Foundation and Establishments of Towns ” ..dictated by FELIPE II of Spain, in the so called “Laws Of The Indies “.



Julio Sesto, a romantic Spanish poet who visited TLACOTALPAN wrote: ” Oh, my brother, if you are weary of suffering, go to the Papaloapan, take in the air of the Sotavento,..everything is cured in TLACOTALPAN, everything is forgotten. The soul that, when injured, is incurable…is cured” !

As the Mexican writer..ELENA PONIATOWSKA says……………………………………….

“When I want to smile, I remember TLACOTALPAN; when you pronounce the word TLA-CO-TAL-PAN, its’ as tho you wash your face and laughter comes out”


The always smiling, friendly people contribute to making a visit to TLACOTALPAN a restful and everlasting experience.   WELCOME.


For more pictures of TLACOTALPAN…click on the “webshots/billdelaluz” link, listed on the right hand side at the top of this blog page.



The Candelria Festival started  with the arrival of first MONKS from THE SAN JUAN de DIOS order , in the early 1600s.

The Candelaria Virgin was used to convert the Indigenous inhabitants to Christianity, by replacing the Prehispanic Fertility Deity, who was celebrated on the same date…February 2ND.

These days the festival begins January 31ST, and continues until February 9TH.

The Candelaria Festival begins on the afternoon of January 31ST with the  parade on horseback of 100s of the townspeople, young and old, dressed in traditional costumes.

The festival in its present form is mainly a music festival.

The”SON” or “SON JAROCHO” music was influenced by the music coming from Venezuela in the 18TH century and from Cuba in the 19TH century.

Musicians from all over Mexico and around the world gather in TLACOTALPAN, VERACRUZ for this yearly event.

A huge outdoor stage is erected, with lighting and sound. The different groups ( 50 to 100 ) take turns playing and singing their versions of the “SON”, continually for over 24 hours.

On street corners and in parks, platforms are placed, for impromptu gatherings of Fandango dancers and players of the “SON JAROCHO”. You can find this kind of spontaneous display day and night throughout the coming week.

Bulls running in the streets..

6 bulls are transported ( swimming ) from one side of the river to the other and into a corral. One at a time ( usually ) they are let loose in the streets. Total mayhem is the only way to describe what follows ! There are secure viewing locations, and cowboys on horseback with lassos to rein in the bulls and keep the damage to a minimum !

But , of course, “MACHOS” and drunks with something to prove, run in the streets to challenge the bulls. Sometimes to their detriment and screams from the crowd.


There is also the “MOJIGANGA”. A costume parade.

Originally it was a carnival-like atmosphere when the locals of all classes could hide behind masks and intermingle, creating mischief, without being recognized.

Today, the children’s handmade costumes in the parade are a photographers dream, and true works of art. This is a “must-see” at the festival.


There are also carnival rides for the kids, a rodeo, cock fights, and a major contemporary MEXICAN band on an outdoor stage, playing till dawn.


You can also participate in the traditional “DANZON” , evenings in the Zocalo, and watch spectacular fireworks.


Then there is the FOOD……..after all, whats a festival without lots of food and sweet munchies. RIGHT ??

There are many stands selling speciality items from different parts of Mexico and , of course, the wonderful seafood restaurants along the RIO PAPALOAPAN.  All local fare: Fish, Blue Crab, Octopus, and great SHRIMP and shrimp cocktails. And for the adventurous, you may be invited to someones home for turtle soup.

Lets not forget the many booths of fresh baked  bread & rolls, Cinnamon swirls, and all that homemade candy.  If you find thats not enough, there are also the carts selling homemade ice cream !! YUM.


The population of TLACOTALPAN doubles during the festival, especially for the first 3 days.

Most hotels are booked a year in advance. Many residents open their homes to rent rooms and some rent entire houses for the festival. And as you will see in a picture below, some travel to the festival with tents and sleep in the parks.

We at   CASA DE LA LUZ have a list , and photographs, of rooms and houses we would recommend to rent and can put people in touch….as we, at the CASA,  are booked by mid August.

The non-stop party atmosphere of the first 3 days slowly winds down…to a second running of the bulls on the closing day, February 9TH.   ALL EVENTS ARE FREE


Come to Tlacotalpan this next January and party with us. You will never forget the experience ! Guaranteed !

Below are some photos and a few links to a YOUTUBE video.

YOU TUBE: Type: “Candelaria Tlacotalpan 2008”   or  “Toros Candelaria 2008” in the search box. There are a lot of choices to view.