Squatting on the western shore of wide, mountain-ringed Lago de Catemaco, (also known as Laguna de Catemaco), and by tradition a centre of native witchcraft, CATEMACO is a picturesque spot to break the journey before the long leg south. The surrounding mountains, which are volcanic in origin (though the most recent activity was in 1793), are unique on the Gulf coast, as they descend right into the sea. The nearby marshland and lagoons are also a haven for wildlife, supporting large colonies of waterbirds, including herons, cormorants, wintering ospreys and many other resident and migratory species. This said, the town, though relaxed during the week (it's more like a big village) isn't particularly attractive, with slapdash development stretching five blocks or so back from the waterfront. Veracruzanos arrive in force at weekends and holidays, when the main strip can get pretty busy, and it's the lake itself and surrounding area, particularly the beaches and Nanciyaga resort, that are the primary attractions. Watch out for the touts, who'll try and persuade you to attend a native spiritual purification ceremony or to visit Playa Azul, one of the lake's several beaches and the location of an ageing resort-style hotel – it also happens to be where Sean Connery's Medicine Man (1992) was filmed. More recently, scenes from Mel Gibson's controversial Maya epic Apocalypto (2006) were filmed around the lake.