On vacation in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, in June 1996, my wife Jane and I weathered the leading edge of Hurricane Alma as it made its way from the Caribbean into the western coast of Mexico. We were driving through the mountains from Fortin to Jalapa, the capital of the state of Veracruz, in a rented VW, and reached Jalapa well into the evening, two hours behind schedule.

We had intended to meet an aquaintance, and, since we were already late, we looked around intently for directions. It was raining very heavily, and I was barely able to read the street signs. One of them read: Jalapeños Ilustres.

I said to my wife: "These people are unusual... they name their streets after a famous chili pepper." Suddenly I realized that the original Jalapeños were the people of Jalapa, and not the popular chili peppers.



Jane on the Papaloapan river at Tlacotalpan, Veracruz

Jane on the Papaloapan river at Tlacotalpan, Veracruz.