We arrived in Alvarado not knowing what the town would be like, but heard that there was brackish water (mix of fresh and salt water), mangroves, and a big river flowing into the ocean there, the Papaloapan River. When we pulled into town, we found our way to the river and the port was full of old fishing boats. It was an impressive site and impressive docks. People were coming in from a day’s catch, as restaurant after restaurant were having fresh fish delivered. Most of the restaurants had pictures of “Snook” on the front door and that was encouraging because catching snook is very much like catching bass and we were equipped for that. After doing a lap of the town to see the layout, we found our way back to the docks, parked the vans, and sat down at a little restaurant by the water. It was a combination of an industrial and park type of setting. Nice sidewalk along the river just downstream of the docks, but just 50 feet upstream the fishing boat lineup and docks started. The tide was coming in because the river was flowing backwards. For lunch we all got a “cocktail” of seafood. Unlike shrimp cocktail at home, here you get a big cocktail glass and it looks like a drink with seafood in it, salt on the rim, etc.. Followed up by fish tacos, and fresh juice. We unloaded the Cudas and Journeys. James and I hit the fishing, while Nick and Emily paddled the Journeys around, exploring the harbor and then heading upriver to the mangroves. The fishing here was not great, partly because we are out of season for snook, but also because the locals had the river pretty well netted up in key areas to catch whatever was coming in from the ocean. That was OK, because we could get to some secluded spots and the exploring was beautiful. A few hours into the trip the sun began to set and the weather and water were perfect. James and I made our way well into a mangrove inlet and it is a different world there. Like the everglades, it is possible to get lost in mangroves if the forest is wide and deep enough. Where we were, there was no getting lost as we could see the light of the main river easy enough to make it out at any time. We headed back to port just after dark and were quite hungry and ready for another dinner, outside, enjoying the delayed winter here in Southern Mexico.
It was a short drive to Tlacatalopan, which is also on the river Papaloapan, but way upstream. We arrived in the town square and sat outside for another traditional Mexican dinner. With the main church just to our left and the city square behind us, the setting was very relaxing and perfect after another big day of paddling and fishing.
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