It felt good to leave the monstrous Mexico City behind and escape the smog and chaos of the big city life. We weren’t headed far, just an hour and a half away to Pachuca, in the next state over, Hidalgo. This was a stop over for some nature adventures in the state we were excited to explore. Our stop over ended up being extended a few days however, as we fell in love with our oh so comfortable king size bed and quiet guest house. We hadn’t slept too well our last few nights in Mexico City in our noisy budget hotels, so finding a place with a good bed and no noise was a welcome respite. We decided to extend our stay mostly to just relax and catch up on some writing and sleep. Our host was so wonderful and welcoming and there were no other guests so it was extra quiet. She even got wine (and grape juice for me!) to share to help her celebrate the opening of the place, whilst burning copal. I highly recommend staying at this cute little place, ‘Downtown Pachuca’; Gina is the host and her place can be found on booking- definitely get the King size room! Continue reading
After over three weeks in Oaxaca where we spent the holidays, it was at last time to move on. We were moving north, to el Monstruo (as Mexico City is affectionally called), but decided to stop off in Puebla on the way there as we heard good things about this old city. It was a big city in and of itself; at over 1.5 million people it is the 5th largest city in the country. I’m not much of a big city fan, but it was just a couple day stop over, mostly to see if we could find some good food!
We checked out the massive cathedral in the centre of the town, took one of those cheesy open concept bus top tours, and stopped in at the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, a gorgeous library founded in 1646 , making it the first public library in colonial Mexico. Some even consider it to be the first public library in all the America’s! The Bishop of Puebla at the time was a total book nerd and donated over 5000 books to San Juan college under the stipulation that they be made available to all the public. Over 100 years later the library was created and given the name of the Bishop, Palafoxiana in honour of his donation and love of books. Continue reading
With our upcoming plans of trekking the Himalaya’s in Nepal, we needed to get a trek or two under our belts. There were plenty of hikes online with pricey tour companies, but we didn’t want to have to pay someone hundreds of dollars to walk with us, we were quite capable of that, thanks! After digging around some more we found there was a company in town that helped coordinate treks through the Sierra Juarez mountains and the Pueblos Mancomunados (united villages) for a fair price. The best part was the money went directly to the guides who lived in each of the villages so your money was actually making it to the villages. What made these villages united was that they pooled resources to help each other out, and 6 of the 8 communities came together and created the ecotourism programs that helps sustain the villages today.
And so, on the first day of the new year, I awoke at 6am after not really sleeping at all (thanks anxiety!), caught a cab to the second class bus station and hopped in a collectivo van headed for the village of Cuajimaloyas, resting at a mighty 3100 meters above sea level. Continue reading
Let’s be real here for a moment. The main reason I came to Mexico was the food. And the one state/city that I dreamt of most in my foodie dreams was of course, Oaxaca. The name alone strikes hunger, and fantasies of mole and chocolate swirl through your mind tantalizingly. Lucky for us, Mexico seems to book up like crazy over Christmas, and so we found ourselves ‘stuck’ in Oaxaca for three weeks over the Christmas and New Year holidays. This gave us ample time to taste this sweet and spicy city! Continue reading
While in San Cristóbal de las Casas we decided to go horse back riding through the country side to a small village. Technically this would be my first time on a horse (the ride I took in Peru hiking through the Salkantay Pass to Machu Picchu was a mule) and I was so excited! This would also be Travis’s first ever horse ride. We were picked up, myself, Travis, Matt and Monica, another hostel dweller, by Juan in his old pick up truck. His son hopped into the truck bed, which was full of huge sacks of maiz, and laid down to have a snooze, so that we could all squeeze into the back seat. We cruised to the edge of town where his pasture was located and then all got ourselves acquainted as best we could with the four horses. They didn’t speak much English (our guides, not the horses :P) so we just sort of went with the flow – which was a little unsettling since, you know, we were about to get on these huge beasts and had absolutely no idea what we were doing – Monica was the only one of us who had any experience with horses. I picked the smallest horse- thinking this would be a good idea, however that didn’t quite work out in my favour. I had the only horse who was clearly either overweight or pregnant, her side stuck out implausibly far, and she was the only horse without a sort of bit (which I am thankful for in the sense that it meant my horse was far more comfortable) but it also meant I had no control whatsoever. Continue reading
One of the things I love about travel is going to places you’ve never even heard of before. I admit to being quite ignorant of much of Mexico and it’s 31 states prior to coming here. I knew about the Cancun area, and that was about it. From Mérida we knew we wanted to head southwest towards San Cristóbal, so we looked at a map and saw a place called Campeche was on the way. Why not, right? So we researched it briefly online and booked our bus tickets out of Mérida. After Holbox, we had come back to Mérida for another 10 days or so to just relax, and check out a few places to eat that we never made it to last time, and hit up some of our favourites again! We were excited to be moving on from the east to new land, and Campeche sounded like a great stop along the way. Continue reading
Shortly after arriving in México, my friend Yves messaged me on facebook and told me I absolutely had to get to Holbox Island while in the country. I had never heard of this island before (and I admit to pronouncing it Hall-box, not Hall-bosh, as it is properly pronounced!) but I was now recalling posts of his from a couple of years ago from an idyllic looking beach in México. So we looked it up and said why not? After spending almost ten days in Mérida, we were excited to get back to a beach and to a place we’d never heard of! We found a perfect little apartment online at Casa Frida that was a bit expensive for us, but we agreed to eat as cheaply as possible and take full advantage of the kitchen instead of eating out.
When we decided we would travel around Mexico, I was elated to know we would be in the country for one of their greatest holidays, Día de los Meurtos (Day of the Dead), which falls around the same time as our Canadian Halloween, which just so happens to be my favourite holiday of all! So while I was devastated to be missing Halloween, being in Mexico for Día de los Muertos more than made up for that loss! I wanted to make sure we were in a big city centre for the holiday, so after Tulum, we headed up to Mérida, a city my mom had told us about when she last came down to Mexico. Continue reading
Tulum was the only real plan we had so far on this big journey of ours. We had booked Casa Toloc back in Canada as we wanted our first destination to be booked for us in Mexico, hassle free. We reserved eight days based on the flawless reviews and were not disappointed! We were warned that the good price was due to the property being under major construction, but we figured we would be out all day when the work was being done anyway, so what the heck! Jeronimo and Humberto were amazing right from the start. Humberto offered to pick us up from the bus station since I mentioned our bags were heavy (my bags weigh 60 lbs, no lie…) and it was a ten minute walk – so sweet! He dropped us off at our apartment and it was like coming home! A nice big comfy king size bed with five pillows, air conditioning, and all the amenities one needs in a bachelor apartment, including two cute cruiser bikes with baskets! Since we paid to have our own apartment, we wanted to make good use of the kitchen and cook all our own meals to try save on money a bit as Tulum is quite touristy, and the main best food hubs aren’t that cheap. I am shocked, but we actually didn’t eat out once time in Tulum! Which is a bit of a shame, as I feel I don’t get to know a place unless I eat there, but we just loved the kitchen and loved cooking up our own version of Mexican food. Continue reading
Incredible street art in Cancún
I’m sitting in my hotel room in Cancún, México, belly full of tacos, skin sun burnt, and listening to the terribly off-key wailing of Karaoke night from the pub down the road as I write this. It seemed like an odd choice for a lot of my fellow Canadians, to start my world travels this time in Mexico, as Mexico is most often only seen as a tourist destination for all inclusive vacations to escape the winter blues and icy torment of the cold. And oddly enough, the reason Mexico even made the list was that I needed to go to the dentist; I didn’t have any coverage for the last three years, which meant I would be looking at a monster bill if I went to the dentist back home. So I said why not hop down to Mexico, get my check up, cleanings, fillings, and then we can be on our way to travel? And then I realized how ridiculous that is. Why would we not stay and travel in Mexico? I adored Guatemala and all of Central America, and I knew Mexico would offer much of the same – while simultaneously wildly different – culture, food and experience as those Latin American countries. Why would I come all the way down here just to go to the dentist and then be on my way? I mean, tacos are literally my favourite food group. Ever! So it was decided – we would spend four months in this vast and magical country! And Cancún would be the first stop to get that pesky dentist appointment out of the way! Continue reading