Poza Rica Mexico
Bounded by the vast vanilla plains of Panantla along a stretch of the Costa Esmeralda (Emerald Coast), the compact Veracruz town of Poza Rica has never been one for showing off – even at the height of its oil boom. Less than 15 km from the famous Tapoteca archaeological ruins of El Tajin, youthful Poza Rica has remained content to be portrayed as an outpost of Veracruz and convenient stopover for outlying coastal attractions.
Spanish conquistadors may have overlooked this balmy, tropical town on the Southern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, however real estate has not. The Federal Tourism Secretary announced plans for a $15 million cash injection for the quaint coastal towns of Costa Esmeralda, in a bid to highlight its touristic and habitable appeal. The two major beach attractions lie at Cazones and Maderos, around twenty minutes drive North. The huge seawater lagoon of Laguna Tamihua, on the outskirts of North Eastern Naranjos is well worth a stop off for its lush scenery and wildlife habitats.
Best known for its unspoiled virgin beaches and calm surf gently hugging the soft, sugar-like shores, Poza Rica captivates with an effortless natural beauty. One of the busiest centers for oil commerce in Mexico, the bewitching city is surprisingly green. The main thoroughfare, known to locals as Ruiz Cortinez offers a vast tree-lined avenue decked out with modest seating arrangements and miniature plazas. El Cuerro de Abuelo, a well known hill to the North of the city offers the best vantage point from which to take in the verdant urban sprawl. Old oil drums, which first saw service in 1920 can still be made out peeping between the trees that have grown up around them, along with the city's various modest parroquias (churches) – most only 20 - 50 years old. Built in 1959, Iglesia de San Judas Tadeo exudes little of the pseudo-Gothic beauty to be found within most Mexican towns, however the church contains a number of murals and reliefs, created by notable local artisans.
Shopping is by far one of the most rewarding experiences to be had at the heart of Poza Rica. Soriana Plaza, conveniently situated beside the main bus and train station offers a wealth of cavernous souvenir shops selling exuberant artwork, locally produced coffee and wooden pyramid trinkets replicating the symbolism of El Tajin. Street markets line the main thoroughfare from the train station to Ruiz Cortinez, offering fruit, hog-roasts and everything in between. Day trips from Poza Rica are easily booked through legitimate operators at the train station. Licensed mini-bus operators are also on hand, should you wish to explore the Tlaxcalatongo Falls due East of the City and cost little more than a few pesos for 10-mile round trips. As an excursion base, Poza Rica is justifiably affordable and extremely welcoming, however hosts few attractions at its heart to suit a full vacation.