As the capital of Veracruz, Jalapa is a bustling modern city.  As a university town, it has a youthful energy.  Its setting,  in rolling, jungly hills that form the heart of Mexico's coffee country lend it a somewhat exotic flavor.
The Zocalo, as ever, the heart of the city, is unique in that it is built on a slope such that to the south one is afforded spectacular views of Pico de Orizaba.  At 18,408 feet, Orizaba is Mexico's tallest mountain, and the third highest in North America.  The contrast of low tropical hills with a snow capped mountain (in summer, no less!) is both startling and enchanting.  It was overcast the first two days I was there, one can imagine my surprise one sunny Sunday morning as I wandered into the Zocalo and saw an enormous volcano off to the southeast.

This house is just one example of the Mexican culture's cavalier attitude toward color schemes.  Sometimes it seemed as if the whole country was laughing in paint.  This one was especially welcome on a grey day.

Jalapa holds many sights, but don't miss the Museo de Antrolopologia de la Universidad Veracruzana.  The building alone is worth the trip.  Spilling gently down a slope in a beautiful park-like setting the cool, clean stone edifice houses a collection that features no fewer than seven Olmec heads, the immense (6-8 ft. high) stern visages that are a hallmark of the Olmec civilization that once held sway over this region.  The photo above was taken inside the museum in one of the courtyards.


Copyright Estate of Anthony Vail Sloan 2009