leisure 01.31.18

Out of Town: Winter Getaways
Every Person in New York

When you're planning a trip to Mexico, Xalapa isn't usually the first place that comes to mind. It's unlikely that it comes to mind at all.

Located in the highlands of Veracruz, Xalapa probably isn't what you picture of Mexico: lots of green, lots of rain and mist (the average temperature is 64 degrees), an arts community, and a coffee culture. It's more Seattle than Cabo.

Well, not exactly—Seattle doesn't have quite the mix of cobblestone streets, Neoclassical, neo-Gothic, and Moorish architecture. There are other quiet delights, including the 750 species in the city's Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanic Garden. The Pinacoteca Diego Rivera has the largest collection of the artist's work in the country. The Xalapa Anthropology Museum has an extraordinary collection, featuring the giant heads excavated from the Olmec settlements. Hiking in the nearby mountains and forests is a popular activity. And Xalapa (sometimes spelled Jalapa), gave its name to the jalapeno pepper—and that's only a small part of the food culture here.

What are you waiting for?

Sun, and blue skies, and spectacular beaches, and plenty of birds to appreciate. That is about it.

Well, not quite: visit between October and January and there will be turtles, too, laying eggs. From December to March, the adorable results emerge.

Bird Island is only accessible by small plane, about a 30-minute hop from the international airport. There are two dozen bungalows on the whole island, so you'll certainly see many more birds than humans during your stay. (Doubles are about $575 a night. They're nice, but you're really paying for a nearly-private island experience.) You'll unplug, too. They've got electricity, but no television or phone. Spend your time instead on the distinctly undigital three miles of beaches—some of the planet's loveliest.

You want opera? Shopping? Crowds? Late-night restaurants? Museums? You won't be happy here. But for a holiday from the built world, Bird Island is spirit-soaring.

Jason Polan started Every Person in New York in March of 2008. He plans on working on the project until it is finished. Look for more at Jason's site and his book Every Person in New York.

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