We spent a few days in Catemaco. It was simultaneously lovely and not.
The campground (Tepetapan, 200 pesos) was the lovely part.
It had the sad appearance of a town come too late to a party, all dressed up and the music moved on.
Shop after shop was stocked to the gills with things that few would buy, and with no other tourists that we could see around, it depressed us.
Restaurants, all open, so much seating, no customers.
The trash. And stray dogs.
I don’t know what it is – has the tourist industry there really fallen so dramatically? Or were they really, as I said, late to the game?
We walked by a Temazcal – a sweat lodge – and Mikey turned to me, “hey, wanna go?” I smiled and we walked in and asked about it. It was a tiny place right by the street, completely simple. Dirt ground, simple brick lodge with murals on it, big pit for fire.
Mikey asked about the details and cost and came away with something like, a 20 minute massage, a short head massage too and an hour or so in the sweat lodge. She said childcare would be included, they were “professionals”, she said, “no problema!”
So we arrived and did what she and the other women told us to. And this is what we got:
An HOUR long massage, each, full body, with different kinds of clay. Then we dried the clay off while standing in front of a roaring fire and our heads and faces were massaged. Then we went into the sweat lodge for a ceremony, and I’m talking, CEREMONY: drumming, chanting and meditation that lasted for about an hour and a half.
And then we had cold showers, foot soak in herbs and herbal tea. They fed the kids dinner and watched them the whole time – Micah joined us for part of the Temazcal and for the foot soak and tea.
All of this totaled 1,000 pesos (14 pesos to the dollar). But coming out as new people? Priceless.