Casa Blanca: Without Humphrey or Greta

This wonderful first hand story was written by Jim Farrell, owner of Nah Hah and Azul Riviera.

On Tuesday, November 11, 2008, my wife Kathy and I found ourselves in the small city of Cosamaloapan, about 100 miles southeast of Veracruz, Mexico. This is not a tourist city. We found ourselves trapped here for five days while our truck transmission was being repaired. This city is very close to the Mexico City-Villahermosa toll road (307) that we were traveling. The transmission garage was no more than the curb in front of the owner’s open-air well-cluttered shop. The shop was guarded by an underfed, rather unfriendly Doberman pincher. Work was performed right in the street at the curb; including the full transmission removal. The whole unit was hauled away for repair in Oaxaca, in the bed of a 30-year old beat-up Ford Ranger.

Cosamaloapan is small, but it is a real city. Wandering around it revealed that all the streets and sidewalks were paved, but maintenance had not occurred in many years. The buildings were in the common disrepair that we have seen throughout Mexico. Among dilapidated buildings were several very nice houses that were extremely well maintained, frequently with extensive protective fencing. The city square had many stores and banks including Bancomer, Banamex, HSBC, a Chedraui supermarket going up as well as a large well-maintained cathedral. As is usual, there was a religious artifacts sales stand next to the cathedral. Among the expected statuary and images of Guadalupe, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and other saints, was a statue of Buddha. Perhaps the church is more liberal here than in other places. There were also several good restaurants around the city center. None were fast food "chains" - American or otherwise.

The local restaurant food was good, with ample portions, and the prices were very reasonable ˆ only half of the going dinner tabs in Playa Del Carmen or Akumal. The streets were very noisy. Many people had vehicles with extremely loud audio systems ˆ complete with massive subwoofers; and advertising vehicles loudly hawked products via large loudspeakers mounted of their roofs. This was very annoying, especially late at night. There were also a fair number of horse and mule drawn carts in the street. It is quite incongruous to see a mule drawn vegetable cart being followed by a new 34-wheel, 120,000 pound Sol beer truck "doble" tractor-trailer rig.

There are several hotels in Cosamaloapan, and some looked very nice. However, we had two dogs in tow, and needed lodging that accepted pets. This was a big problem. With the help of our friend Sherwood, we had located pet-friendly Mexican hotels for our planned Mexican stops on the way from Austin to Akumal. However, Cosamaloapan was not in the plan.

After some unsuccessful hunting, we found a really old poorly maintained hotel that accepts pets, called the Hotel Casa Blanca. The hotel was extremely dilapidated, but there was no evidence of vermin, and the bed sheets were clean. The room rates varied from 87 pesos (US$6.65) for a basic single room, to 170 pesos (US$13.00) for the “deluxe” double room. (Actually, the hotel also had a two-hour rate, for two people, during the day for 70 pesos - US$5.35. I had seen this pricing before at low-cost hotels in Japan euphemistically called the “rest” rate.)

Being big spenders, Kathy and I went for the 170-peso deluxe room. This included extras, such as an old 19-inch color TV with the prerequisite fuzzy picture, and a "forced-into-the-wall" window air conditioner that was not too noisy. We were advised that toilet paper was replenished only on Mondays. However, Kathy managed to score an extra roll of this low-quality stuff by schmoozing the front desk woman. The room had a single unfrosted bare light bulb for illumination and also had a sheet steel door and the windows had sheet steel shutters. Outside of the shutters were steel bars. There were no screens or glass. All of the steel was painted with red Rustoleum. The cement in the room was falling apart in places, and the most recent paint was slapped on right over previous multiple layers of failed paint. No preparation work was done. The bathroom had a modern toilet. (There was also a spare toilet upside down on the balcony outside.) The sink had only one faucet - cold. The shower had two faucets ˆ cold and not-quite-as-cold. The water pressure was very low. I think the pressure tanaka (tank) shared the third floor with us, explaining the pressure. Strangely, immediately next to the hotel was a large city water tank, easily 70 feet high. In front of the hotel was a large leaking ground water pumping station, vigorously pumping water to the tank via a ten-inch pipe. However, this proximity did not help the room’s water pressure.

Overall, I would rate this hotel barely ”One Star” point. On the plus side, the room was very inexpensive, bug free, and accepted pets. On the minus side, it was a dark depressing room.

Taken with the one light bulb turned on!

Some mentioned how colorful the room appeared,
but soap scum and mold aren’t a color in my book.

The veranda with a second toilet (2beds, 2 toilets),
but TP only on Mondays. No Kleenex, either.

Here are the vigilant guard dogs after arriving in Akumal:
Foxy, tan & white “Akumal Sand Terrier” and
Monsieur Perot in the down quilt is a Dogo de Argentino.

I get my dogs' vaccinations all up to date. I have never been asked for any paperwork to enter MX with the dogs while driving.!!

I suggest you enter at Brownsville, TX. Even when I used to drive from N. of San Francisco I stayed on the USA roads as long as possible. There is a Motel 6 there and they let you have dogs. After that:

Dog Friendly MX - *places I have stayed

Nautla: *Las Palmas, ocean side, huge older property

Tuxpan: Plaza las Palmas rest. pool, grassy play area

Veracruz: Posada del Carmen, Fran. Canal Y 12 de Desiembre

Cosamaloapan: *Hotel Royal Casa Blanca, Av. Manuel Carpio Y ?

Minititlan: Motel Holiday

Villahermosa: Hilton south of town about 15 minutes, pricey. Oasis Auto Hotel Has Wifi, pool (look for billboards or it is about 45 miles south of Villahermosa on the west side of Hwy.)

Palenque: Hotel Aldea

Website for Pet Friendly places to stay in Mexico

I have stayed in some other places but I don’t think you would like them at all! If you only have one dog and it is small and/or quiet you can usually stay at the auto Hotels. This is done on the "Don’t ask, Don’t tell" system. If they ask, I always tell them, that it stays in the car or truck as a guard dog. Buy a Guida Rojo, this is the best maps of the roads in Mexico and it is published annually. I think you can buy it on Amazon.COM. In Mexico the new addition is sold at Sandborns' restaurants in their book stores.

Leaving Brownsville: go through the regular gates with the green & red lights and then you can park in spaces behind the offices for the inspection aduanas. That way you don’t get searched and have to pay tax on whatever they decide you are importing! This really only works, if your vehicle doesn’t look like it is loaded with stuff (open pick-up with tons of stuff covered by a tarp is a dead giveaway).

Akumal Villas

Villas Flamingo