Tim likes to travel. Follow his adventures as he explores the world.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Mexico: How Little I Knew About My Next Door Neighbor

Traveling with Ainhoa to her old stomping grounds of Guadalajara and then to travel through Guanajuato, León, and Puebla, before hanging out a few days in Mexico City.
Ainhoa and Tim pose with Mexican flag
Viva Mexico!

Interesting observations about Mexico

  • Mexicans are humble, honest, and generally friendly. 
  • Mexicans put chili on everything. No, seriously, everything.
  • Many things named after Miguel Hidalgo (Mexican revolutionary).
  •  Public bathrooms cost between 3-10 pesos, including some stores.
  • At the toilets, they give you a certain amount of toilet paper, or there is one roll outside of the toilet, and you take some in with you.
  • Mexicans speak in the simple past, like the Asturianos
  • "Alto" instead of stop signs. (Morocco is the only other country I've ever seen it say anything other than "stop").
  • Mexicans drive very aggressively. 
  • 'E' for estacionamiento instead of 'P' for parking, unlike rest of world.
  • Mexican street sellers are loud, but not aggressive (read: bothersome) like in some other countries.
  • Despite the intense heat, people have on long sleeves and even jackets, in the middle of the day. 
  • The women wear a lot of makeup.
  • Mexicans aren't fat but also no one is skinny. 
  • Volkswagen beetle may be the official car of Mexico.
  • Mexicans don't throw toilet paper in the toilet, but in a trash can. 
  • Mexico is more similar to US when it comes to smoking - they do it way less than in Europe.
  • In Europe you see people with fútbol shirts (i.e. Barça, Man U, Bayern), but in Mexico you see American cities and (all) sports teams.
  • I learned many new words, and new definitions for words I already knew.
  • The fruit here is so good: bananas, papaya, guava, dragon fruit, mango, zarzamora (blackberry).

From guiri to gringo

Catch a super early bus to Madrid and the ride is uncomfortable. We barely get any sleep. Then, wait five hours in the airport before we can catch our flight. A young lady faints in front of us and her parents stop one of the service workers to get them to call for medical attention, and lucky for this girl that it wasn't serious, because it took the medical team almost 40 minutes to show up!

Hop on our 10 hour flight to Dallas, and either I haven't flown international in awhile or the planes are getting nicer, because this one is pretty new and well-equipped with movies, games, etc. Arrive in Dallas and go through customs super quickly, so most of our four hour layover is spent walking around the airport trying to figure out what to eat. 

Our three hour flight to Guadalajara, Mexico is the opposite of our previous flight, as there are no amenities, but we sleep the whole flight. Gaby, Ainhoa's Mexican "mother", meets us at the airport and takes us to her home in south Zapopan. Driving to her house, I notice Mexico looks just like the states (restaurants, businesses, cars, highways) just everything is written in Spanish. She makes us dinner - tamales and agua fresca de jamaica (hibiscus). We chat a couple of hours before going to bed.

Tim stares at airplane
Hasta luego España

Gaby and Ainhoa reuniting
Reunited and it feels so good

Dinner and sobremesa
Dinner and sobremesa

How to be a Tapatío in Guadalajara

They say there are four things you have to do to officially be a tapatío (someone from Guadalajara): See a Chivas (fútbol) game, see the virgin parade, eat tortas ahogadas, and no one remembers the fourth thing! 

Wake up after sleeping like a rock and I didn't even realize there was a thunderstorm last night. Gaby makes us fresh fruit (papaya, banana, guava, mango), frijoles, chilaquiles, pollo con mole, and sautéed veggies, with yogurt and fresh cheese. After getting ready, Gaby drops us off near the center and we walk the rest of the way. 

We check out:
  • Avenida Chapultepec and see statue Niños Héroes 
  • Plaza del Expiatorio - in the church we get to see a quinceañera
  • Parque de la revolución
  • Ex Convento del Carmen
  • Avenida Juárez where we see people with traditional dresses
  • The cathedral and crypts
  • Palacio de gobierno with amazing art by José Clemente Orozco
  • Plaza de la Liberación

After three hours, we meet back up with Gaby to go have lunch in Tlaquepaque at El Patio, with her husband Fernando. The table is not ready at the restaurant when we arrive, so we walk the main street, calle Independencia, and stop at Museo Regional de la Cerámica. 

Walk back to the restaurant, and receive a complimentary shot of tequila as we enter. I learn how to drink tequila the right way (everyone I know is doing it wrong). Gaby recommends certain dishes for us. Mariachi band plays while we eat gorditas with cheese, cuitlacoche, rajas, and flor de calabaza; panuchos de cochinita pibil; sopes de frijoles; and fajitas rancheras. I eat a habanero pepper salsa that almost burns my face off. 

After eating, walk into the Sergio Bustamante museum, which has some very interesting art. Then to la Casa de las Bicicletas de Rodo Padilla, the iconic, fat statues on bicycles. Next, we walk to the center, El Parian, and see mariachi bands and other live spectacles. 

As we are leaving Tlaquepaque, we try tejuino, a drink made from fermented corn and lemon ice cream. It's good, but I likely won't order it again. Back to Avenida Chapultepec in Guadalajara and there are lots of people, performers, markets with indigenous crafts. Young people in limousines passing by, hanging out the top, celebrating quinceañeras

Driving home, I notice the highways and roads are quite bumpy and uneven in many areas. We have dinner at home, with traditional desserts, rollo de guayaba lleno de cajeta and dulce de arraya. 
The first statue we saw, and therefore needed to be photographed
The first statue we saw, and therefore needed to photograph

Outside the Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento
Outside the Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento

My first exposure to the fantastic art of Jose Clemente Orozco
My first exposure to the fantastic art of José Clemente Orozco

Behind the cathedral in Plaza de la Liberación
Behind the cathedral in Plaza de la Liberación

Checking out Plaza Fundadores from the ground up
Checking out Plaza Fundadores from the ground up

Can you guess where we are?
Can you guess where we are?

 
Mariachi band!

Muy agustos
Muy agustos

Hanging out in Sergio Bustamente's garden of art
Hanging out in Sergio Bustamente's garden of art

¡No manches! Un día muy chido

Head out early, after a delicious breakfast, back into the city center to see the things we missed yesterday. In the center, every Sunday, they close many of the main roads from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and convert them to pedestrian streets. 

Fernando drops us off right where we finished yesterday and we start at Hospicio Cabañas (UNESCO) where we get a tour of more of Orozco's art and the guide is really good. Orozco is called the "Michelangelo of America". His art is very interesting. 

Next, walk to Mercado de San Juan de Dios, where you'll hear "a sus órdenes" when you approach a vendor's booth. In the fruit section, there are bees on the food and nobody seems to mind. The market is a labyrinth, and huge - it reminds me of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Walk around the city some more before stopping for Ainhoa's favorite chocolate-filled croissants. Head to Plaza Nueve Esquinas - named as such because there are eight easily visible corners and a hidden ninth one somewhere that I don't see. We eat at a restaurant, and like we saw in many other places, there are children as young as 12 years old working here. Ainhoa's friend, Ksenija, joins us for lunch. For dessert we go eat nieve de garrafa (artisanal ice cream). We go to Ksenija house and meet Alex, her boyfriend, and have mezcal, pitayas, tunas (fruit from cactuses), and nopal crackers. 

We catch the bus from their house to north Zapopan. It's packed! There are many people dressed as natives. There are so many people at the plaza and the basilica because they are rehearsing for the virgin parade on 12 October. We wait a bit to see un castillo de fuego (a fireworks tower) but they never light up. So we hop on a bus back to Gaby's house. Pass by the statue of Minerva and the arches of Vallarta, nicely lit up at night. Walk the last 40 minutes of the way home. 
So many chairs to choose from!
So many chairs to choose from!
You know you're relaxed when you meld with the chair
You know you're relaxed when you meld with the chair

Ainhoa reflecting on Orozco's murals
Ainhoa reflecting on Orozco's murals
You gotta look at his art from all the angles (Man of Fire)
You gotta look at his art from all the angles (Man of Fire)


The eyes follow you!

She's looking at something really amazing
She's looking at something really amazing

Inside the behemoth that is Mercado San Juan de Dios
Inside the behemoth that is Mercado San Juan de Dios

This dude is the store's security, haha. Many stores are like this
This dude is the store's security, haha. Many stores are like this

Walking in the streets of Guadalajara, Mexico on a Sunday

Old friends, new torta ahogado
Old friends, new torta ahogado

Have you ever eaten this fruit? It's called pitaya (dragon fruit)
Have you ever eaten this fruit? It's called pitaya (dragon fruit)

The eagle eating the serpent on a cactus in the middle of... concrete
The eagle eating the serpent on a cactus in the middle of... concrete

Basilica in Zapopan
Basilica in Zapopan

Lake Chapala and a bit more

Wake up and head out immediately to Lake Chapala, just south of Guadalajara. Something you never see in Europe or the U.S. - people walking and riding bikes in highway tunnels. Leaving the city you get to see the beauty of the countryside, mountains, lakes, and rivers. 

We arrive at the pedazo (huge) lake, the largest in Mexico. We eat breakfast in Chapala, and I have a real-deal, delicious chimichanga. Go to a hidden gem called Dulcería Chapala, that makes artesanal candies, and we tasted some delicious ones. Walk along the pier and later to the city archives, where there's an exhibit with old photos of the town. Then, we walk around the city a bit, looking for a post office. 

Next, we go to Ajijic, where more than half the population is American. The town has mountains one side and the lake on other side. Walking around, we see a tortilleria and go in to see how tortillas de maiz are made. Stop to have a drink before heading back. 

Take a nap in the car and when we get home, eat lunch. Afterward, take another nap and relax in the garden. Later, Gaby takes us up a nearby mountain for some hiking. The Bugambilias neighborhood is super wealthy and has some huge houses, many with electric fences. See the city light up at night. We see a hermita as the full moon comes out. My stomach is hurting a little bit, but I'll be alright. 
Hitting the road to Lake Chapala
Hitting the road to Lake Chapala

Some stereotypes are true - police car with 6 cops in the back on the highway
Some stereotypes are true - police car with 6 cops in the back on the highway

Sometimes handstands are not the best way to see something
Sometimes handstands are not the best way to see something

Great slogan for a nice lakeside city
Great slogan for a nice lakeside city

We eat so good in Mexico!!!
We eat so good in Mexico!!! Chilaquiles, chimichangas, and burritos for breakfast

Best tip jars ever. For Chappo's tunnel and for Trump's wall
Best tip jars ever. For Chappo's tunnel and for Trump's wall

Having a drink with a great view (not pictured)
Having a drink with a great view (not pictured)

Guadalajara from above, at night
Guadalajara from above, at night

I can't be the first person to put mango on my fajitas
I can't be the first person to have put mango on my fajitas, and I won't be the last because it's yummy

Guanajuato Capital: Colores entre cerros

Wake up and grab an uber at 5:30 a.m. and head to the bus station. There are so many people already at the bus stops and taxi stands, ready to go to work. Our bus, ETN, is super equipped and very comfortable, we get food, and has wifi. Sleep decently and wake up as we pit stop in León. Amazing how many cities here have the same name as in Spain. Continue to Guanajuato. Hop on a bus to the center. It drops us off in a tunnel. Walk about 20 minutes to our hostel, which is not easy with a suitcase.

After dropping off our bags, we head up to the El Pípila statue, which overlooks the city. Paid city tours are offered everywhere, and the city isn't even that big. We walk around for awhile, and then stop in a park for break and to eat a snack. It just so happens to be right next to the Presa de la Olla, a reservoir. 

Go back to the hostel and eat lunch on the terrace on top of the hostel, with amazing views. Head back out into the city and check out the university and a few temples. Stop in a dance academy to watch children performing a traditional dance. Go by el Alhóndiga, a granary-turned-museum, but it is closed. 

Stop to eat gorditas de nata. Then, we head to Callejón del Beso, where you can kiss in front of several strangers, if you're into that kind of thing. Next, we head over to the basilica with the super long name and walk around. Afterward, we walk up Calzada de Guadalupe all the way to the top, where the church is, and it's closed. 

Heading back down, we take our time and look around. Walking the neighborhoods, we see some people have candy or clothing stores, barber shops and restaurants right in their houses, even in their bedrooms. As we return to the center of the city, night is falling and we see and hear tunas all over. 

Eat tacos on the street by our hostel for the amazingly low price of 2€ for the both of us. One taco with green sauce and chorizo is amazing, and the other with red sauce and pork ribs is delicious, but super spicy and leaves our mouths on fire. 

Go back up to El Pípila to see the city at night. Head back down and grab churros and eat them on the steps of Juárez theater, with the locals and listen to the tunas. It feels like we walked uphill all day.
I was knocked out on that comfortable bus
I was knocked out on that comfortable bus

Tunnels that run under the city have bus stops and everything
Tunnels that run under the city have bus stops and everything

The amazing view from our hostel

Callejoneando a tope
Callejoneando a tope

Anyone remember the song "Shoulder Lean"?
Anyone remember the song "Shoulder Lean"?

Enjoying the view of the city from above
Enjoying the view of the city from above

Gotta see it from all angles
Gotta see it from all angles

The local hero of Guanajuato, standing below El Pípila
The local hero of Guanajuato, standing below El Pípila

Hangin' out with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
Hangin' out with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Ainhoa might be a little bit too happy to be taking this picture
Ainhoa might be a little bit too happy to be taking this picture

The kissing street where legend says that a couple tragically ripped off Romeo and Juliette and now people kiss below where they used to live and share kisses. (kissing balcony not pictured)
The kissing alley, where legend says that a couple tragically ripped off Romeo and Juliette and now people kiss below where they used to live and the city makes money off the tourism. (kissing balcony not pictured)

Yay! Another cathedral!
Yay! Another cathedral!

Maybe the best chorizo tacos I've ever had in my life
Maybe the best chorizo tacos I've ever had in my life

The city lights up at night, and it's beautiful
The city lights up at night, and it's beautiful

Churros on the theater steps - it's what the locals do
Churros on the theater steps - it's what the locals do

Guanajuato from above and dancing the streets of León

Breakfast in the hostel and then catch a bus 75 minutes to el Cerro de Cubilete, where the Santuario de Cristo Rey is located. The bus is packed. Pass several mines along the way, as mining was, and still is, a very important part of Guanajuato's economy. 

This has got to be the bumpiest bus ride ever, especially after leaving Guanajuato city limits. Arrive at the Santuario de Cristo Rey and we have 45 minutes to look around before the next bus. The Christ statue is 20 meters tall and on a mountain that's 2,620 meters above sea-level. The entire monument is in form of a crown. We can see Guanajuato and León in the distances. An hour and 15 minute bumpy bus ride was totally worth it to see the views. 

Bumpy bus ride back to Guanajuato to grab our things from the hostel and then catch a bus to León. Arrive at the bus station in León, drop off our stuff, and hit the streets without a map. First thing we see is the Templo Expiatorio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. 

When we arrive in Plaza Principal, with the giant flag of Mexico, we are stopped by teenagers who are selling Movistar service. We don't buy service but we ask them where to eat authentic food and they recommend a place, and then we chat with them for a few minutes before going to eat quesadillas and enchiladas. We prefer Gaby's cooking. 

Continue walking and find Plaza de S.S. Benedicto XVI and Nuestra Señora Basílica with two nice murals facing the basilica. Walk around and find ourselves back at Plaza Principal, where we listen to live opera in the park. Then we have some ice cream before heading toward the bus station. Walk back past Plaza Expiatorio and we dance popular Latin dances with dozens of other strangers. 

Continue to park Niño Héroes and Arco de la Calzada. Walk the Calzada de los Niños Héroes and cross the bridge of love. Back at bus station, we grab our stuff and then watch a movie in the station with some snacks, as we wait for our night bus to Puebla. On the bus, we eat our provided snack and then fall asleep. As a city León didn't quite have that enchantment that Guanajuato had, but we still had fun here.
The bus is full, but more people are getting on!
The bus is full, but more people are getting on!

Beautiful countryside and in the distance you can see the Santuario de Cristo Rey
Beautiful countryside and in the distance you can see the Santuario de Cristo Rey

Guess we were the only ones to show up for church today
Guess we were the only ones to show up for church today

The rolling hills of central Mexico
The rolling hills of central Mexico

Is anyone actually surprised by this photo?
Is anyone actually surprised by this photo?

Time lapse...
Time lapse...

Ainhoa with Guanajuato in the distance
Ainhoa with Guanajuato in the distance

Revenge is a dish best served with your mouth open, mwahaha
Revenge is a dish best served with your mouth open, mwahaha

It's all about good angles, with the Expiatorio Temple in León
It's all about good angles, with the Expiatorio Temple in León

A pretty cool monument in Pope Benedicto XVI Plaza
A pretty cool monument in Pope Benedicto XVI Plaza

León: constantly under construction
León: constantly under construction

Back at the Expiatorio Temple, but this time to dance
Back at the Expiatorio Temple, but this time to dance

If you're in León, let me see you jump!
If you're in León, let me see you jump!

The bridge of love (aka steal a kiss from the closest person to you and then run)
The bridge of love (aka steal a kiss from the closest person to you and then run)

Tianguis y Julio y Enrique. ¿Mande? Mercados e Iglesias.

Arrive at 6:30 a.m. to a cold and rainy Cuatro Veces Heroica Puebla de Zaragoza. That's the city's official name, but is more commonly known as Puebla. We take out warmer clothes to wear. Grab some hot coffee and hang out in the bus station for a couple of hours before heading out in the rain to our couchsurfing host's house. 

It's raining sideways and the streets are flooding. Being cheap, we buy an umbrella and walk to catch one bus to walk to catch another bus, and get soaked - next time, we will pay for a taxi. Our host, Jorge, lives in the south of the city in Tlaxcalancingo, and the bus ride is about 45 minutes. Jorge lives in a humble house with his mom, a once-aspiring restauranteur-turned dessert chef (yes, we are eating well), and his father, a retired sailor who joined his wife in the dessert business. 

His mom makes us picaditas and agua fresca de limón for breakfast. Hang out and talk a bit with the family before heading back out into the rain. Jorge hurt his foot so he can't go out. His mom had gone out minutes before with a slightly larger umbrella than our own and we catch up to her and ask if she'll switch with us for the day. Then we get to the bus stop and we are 50 cents short of the fare and only have a 200 peso bill, which the machine won't take. We ask a couple of people before someone gives us 50 cents and we get on the bus to the center. 

Get off the bus and go to the Mercado de Sabores, lined with about 20 "kitchens". Every kitchen has a person that greets you and starts describing their menu to you before you even have a chance to say hello back. We decide on one and order enchiladas a cuatro moles (including the famous mole poblano) and chile en nogada (authentic version only available during three months of the year when the ingredients actually grow) with agua fresca de guayaba

Leaving the market the rain has stopped. The Mexicans keep asking Ainhoa where she is from and they are fascinated with her accent. Someone thought she was from Argentina and another thought we were both from Venezuela. We stop to buy some shoes since ours are still soaked from earlier. Then we head to the center (the entire center of the city is UNESCO). Mercado la Victoria is a nice indoor/outdoor market. 

Walk around the historic center: Barrio de San José; Canal de Almoloya; Iglesia de San Francisco (like five churches in one) where it's raining when we walk out, but only lasts a half hour; Teatro principal; Barrio del artista; the Parian; Palacio municipal; Zócalo; Cathedral.

Stop to eat chanclas on the street and they're pretty good. Because of the wet streets, mosquitoes are everywhere. Puebla is where a famous battle was fought against the French and therefore why the Mexicans celebrate Cinco de Mayo, which has nothing to do with their independence. 

Jorge recommended Cafe Milagros, which we find, and have hot chocolate and it has some nice colorful Mexican themed decorations and atmosphere. They say there are more than 300 churches in Puebla, one for every day of the year. 

On the way home, we walk by Los Sapos. Catch bus to Jorge's house. Go out to eat dinner at a nearby taco stand and we get cemitas and tacos and take home and eat while watching lucha libre on Netflix. I am fairly certain I have Montezuma's revenge.
Freezing cold in the Puebla bus station
Freezing cold in the Puebla bus station

Waiting for the bus
Waiting for the bus under the most ideal under conditions


So much rain


Chile en nogado and enchiladas a cuatro mole
Chile en nogada and enchiladas a cuatro moles

Dancing in the rain
Dancing in the rain

Bridge handstand
Bridge handstand 

Artistic angle shot
Artistic angle shot

Panoramic at the Puebla theater
Panoramic at the Puebla theater

Picture perfect nose pickin' pic
Picture perfect nose pickin' pic

It only took us three times to get the perfect cathedral shot
It only took us three times to get the perfect cathedral shot

Enjoying chanclas on the street, not the shoe, but the food
Enjoying chanclas on the street - not the shoe, but the food


Street food-licious!

Ainhoa pinning the Blue Demon
Ainhoa pinning the Blue Demon

Double fisting hot chocolates
Double fisting hot chocolates

A witch cast a spell on me and Ainhoa came to my rescue
A witch cast a spell on me and Ainhoa came to my rescue

Eating cemitas with Jorge
Eating cemitas with Jorge

Forts, pyramids, volcanoes, and meeting Montezuma

Wake up to fresh homemade donuts, the tacos from yesterday, and homemade pan de elote - all white listening to cumbia concerts on YouTube. We shower and then Jorge's parents drive us to Cholula. They go for a walk while we go to the pyramid Tlachihualtepetl, with the world's largest pyramid base, though most of the rest of the pyramid is gone. 

As we go up, we see voladores performing in the square. Continue up to Sanctuary de los Remedios, and everything is covered in gold and very nicely decorated. The woods on one side of the hill are dominated by butterflies, and the side with the pyramid is dominated by squirrels. Go down to the ruins of the pyramid but we don't go in, knowing that will see a full pyramids in Mexico City. El Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes are majestic in the distance. Coming down the pyramid we see an interesting art form called popotillo, images done with straw. 

Montezuma's revenge continues to plague me, as I leave a public toilet in ruins. Head back toward the car and stop at Convento Franciscano de San Gabriel Arcángel along the way. Jorge's parents take us to the Cuexcomate volcano, and after we all get over being so underwhelmed, we ask them to wait for us a second so we can run and take a picture. We don't go up because they have the nerve to charge 11 pesos for a 15ft hill. Then Montezuma attacks again. Go back to the car and they drop us and Jorge off in the center. 

Walk to Iglesia Santo Domingo and it's famous Capilla del Rosario, which we missed yesterday. Inside the capilla they force upon you a not free, brief history, given by an official guide, who we don't tip, but thank all the same. Next, passing the Calle de Dulces, we go to a restaurant to eat. Walk through Barrio Xanenetla with its interesting murals, as we head up to the two Cinco de Mayo forts, from 1862, which are closed. It seems the Mexican revolution started here in Puebla also in 1910. It's exciting when I hear history in one country and they describe things I've seen and learned in other places.

Reach Plaza la Victoria at the top of the hill, with the Cinco de Mayo statue and musical dancing fountains. Hangout and watch the sunset before heading back to center, being attacked by mosquitoes, and then enjoying the thematic park along the route. Head to bar where a couchsurfing meeting is, and speak English and drink grosellita (agua ardiente, refresco rimmed with lemon juice, salt and powdered chili). Get home and go to sleep, but not before Montezuma has a final word. 
Popocatépetl and the sleeping woman volcanoes in the background
Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes in the background


Voladores at Tlachihualtepetl pyramid


The church on top of the former Tlachihualtepetl pyramid in Cholula
The church on top of the former Tlachihualtepetl pyramid in Cholula

Popotillo art in Cholula, done with colored straw
Popotillo art in Cholula, done with colored straw

The world's smallest volcano. No, literally.
The world's smallest volcano. No, literally.

The Capilla del Rosario and it's super ornateness
The Capilla del Rosario and it's super ornateness

Plaza la Victoria overlooking the city
Plaza la Victoria overlooking the city

The 5 de Mayo statue has some new additions
The Cinco de Mayo statue has some new additions

Ainhoa training to be a volador
Ainhoa training to be a volador

Hanging out with Montezuma in Mexico City

Say our goodbyes to Jorge and his family and catch an overly crowded metro bus to the train station. Make a connection to another bus and we don't have credit on our (mandatory) metrocard and only one can make the connection, but thankfully, the driver lets us pass. 

Hop on a bus to Mexico City and finally, we can rest. Arrive in Mexico City and catch the metro, which is packed and guarded by police. Ainhoa's friend, Jaime, hosts us and is very friendly. They catch up a bit once we arrive at his house. Go to a tianguis that sells everything including fruits and veggies I've never seen before. Buy food for the week at amazing prices. 

Head back to apartment and meet Barbara, Jaime's girlfriend. We go out to eat (delicious cognac cake) as Jaime teaches me the many meanings of chingar, and then head to the center to walk around and see the Templo Mayor and the cathedral. Jaime and Barbara are good guides. 

The Mexico City metropolitan area is over 20 million people. Mexico city used to be called Distrito Federal de México but recently changed its name to just Mexico City. The city is built on unstable ground, so it is constantly sinking. Zócalo, the main square, is under construction, so I don't get to see where they filmed James Bond movie Spectre. Walk the pedestrian street Madero to Alameda Park and the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Then we walk to the Reforma monument. 

I end up being the party pooper, literally, because of my stomach. So we go home and relax. I have a light headache, and I go to sleep. 
Due to aggressive behavior from perverts, this is a thing in Mexico City
Due to aggressive behavior from perverts, this is a thing in Mexico City

Jaime taking us through the local market
Jaime taking us through the local market

Walking around city center with our guides
Walking around city center with our guides

Jaime learning how to do a handstand
Jaime learning how to do a handstand

Jet pilots, I guess I'm the armaments officer
Jet pilots, I guess I'm the armaments officer


Visiting Teotihuacan and Escaping Montezuma's Wrath

Wake up to rice, mamey, and zapote blanco while everyone else eats quesadillas and fruit salad with mangos. After sobremesa, shower and Jaime gives us a car tour of the University National Autónomo de México (UNESCO), built on volcanic rock, and the size of a small city, with its 300,000 students and free admission. The city's soccer/Olympic stadium is at the university. There is also a soccer game today so there are police with riot gear all over the place. 

Driving through the city on a Sunday, and just like in Guadalajara some main streets closed just for bikes. The whole time Jaime is explaining things to us. Then head to Teotihuacan (UNESCO): the sun and moon pyramids, avenue of the dead, Plaza de la Ciudadela, Temple of Quetzalcoatl, and Palacio Quetzalpapálotl. 

Go to sun pyramid last but we didn't know it closes at 5 p.m. so we can't go up. Then to Museo de Sitio, but it's also closed. On the way home, we see three people on one motorcycle on the highway and none with a helmet. 

Stop at a restaurant that Jaime and Barbara like and I try to eat some real food to see how I feel. I feel ok! Next, we head to do an escape room: Montezuma's Treasure, and we easily beat it and get out in 42 minutes. The whole day in the car we played chichi pulguita and veo veo in the car. 


My diet for the day
My diet for the day

National Autonomous University of Mexico
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Sweet handstand in front of a sweet building
Sweet handstand in front of a sweet building

Even sweeter handstands in front of an even sweeter building
Even sweeter handstands in front of an even sweeter building

Ainhoa and Barbara doing some archaeological archaeology
Ainhoa and Barbara doing some archaeological archaeology

Ainhoa crawling out of the pyramid
Ainhoa crawling out of the pyramid

Climbing up to see Quetzalcoatl's temple
Climbing up to see Quetzalcoatl's temple

That's a good looking bunch of tourists
That's a good looking bunch of tourists

Pistol squatters
Pistol squatters

Postcard picture
Postcard picture

The moon temple during the day
The moon temple during the day

View from the top and of the whole complex
View from the top of the Moon Pyramid and of the whole complex

Teporocho - a drunk who constantly stays in a state of inebriation
Teporocho - a street drunk who is constantly in a state of inebriation

SKPeones! Escape champions
SKPeones! Escape champions

Someone didn't know how to spell Ainhoa's name and didn't know Roman numerals :-P
Someone didn't know how to spell Ainhoa's name and didn't know Roman numerals :-P

Touring Ciudad de Mexico

Have breakfast and then head out to a free walking tour. We get there early, so we go into the cathedral and upon entering you can tell you're walking uphill. You can even see it. After the cathedral we go into the sagrario (tabernacle) next door. 

Go out to the Estación México free walking tour with Victoria and it's pretty good and I learn a lot about things that I've heard or seen before, but didn't know the whole story. Go into the former insane asylum for women with nice stain glass ceilings. 

Next we go inside the nicest and most elaborately decorated post office I've ever seen, equipped with two elevators. Victoria explains the meaning of the song "la cucaracha". Go in a pastelería with ridiculously large cakes for special occasions, including quinceañeras. Finish the tour in front of the San Francisco church, the building that has sank the most in the city. We go across the street and enter Sarbons, a high-end store and restaurant. 

Head across town to go to another free tour in Coyoacán, where the first Spanish colony (town hall, etc) was located. Grab something to eat along the way and then we start the next tour, with Miguel. This neighborhood is a lot calmer and there are few people walking the streets. Enter the Casa de los Sonidos, formerly owned by Pedro de Alvarado. Learned the history and origin of piñatas. Finish the tour by walking through the Centennial Garden and down to Frida Kahlo's house. 

Walk back to the metro to go to Bosque Chapultepec. We walk around the park for awhile and then head toward the city center. We cross Lion Bride down Calzada Juventud Heroica and connect to La Reforma. We see a lot of people around the Ángel de la Independencia, so we join them to take some photos. It starts to rain, but luckily we have umbrella. 

Luck runs out quickly and the rain comes down harder and almost breaks the umbrella and knocks my hat off. Find shelter below a hotel parking garage entrance with several others until the rain calms down. Head to the store to get some food and then head home and cook dinner and breakfast for tomorrow. 
I'm supposed to be listening to the guide, but I'm too busy capturing the moment
I'm supposed to be listening to the guide, but I'm too busy capturing the moment

Stain glass looks really good from this angle
Stain glass looks really good from this angle
Hanging out with other Spaniards (Carlos IV)
Hanging out with the Spaniards (Ainhoa and Carlos IV)



This is probably this most elaborately decorated post office in the world
This is probably this most elaborately decorated post office in the world

Ainhoa getting ready for her quinceañera
Ainhoa getting ready for her quinceañera

The food is so good in Mexico
The food is so good in Mexico

Walking tour pow-wow in some gardens of the Casa de los Sonidos
Walking tour pow-wow in the gardens of the Casa de los Sonidos

Frida's house is photobombing us
Frida Kahlo's house is photobombing us

Being monumental in the Chapultepec Forest
Being monumental in the Chapultepec Forest

Trifecta - 1. handstand 2. quinceañera 3. the Angel of Independence
Trifecta - 1. handstand 2. quinceañera 3. the Angel of Independence

A day to remember... and to learn

Wake up and eat the breakfast we prepared last night and then head out to Xochimilco, a town that represents how old Mexico City used to be canals and islands on a big lake, using trajineras for transportation. 

To use the "light train" you need a metro bus card, so instead of buying one, we pay a girl to let us pass on her card. She passes four other people as well. Once you arrive at the embarcaderos, they follow you trying to sell boat tours. Prices are bit high for individuals, but we were told if you can find other people to share with, it makes the cost worth it. We only find another couple and so we don't get good prices. Decide to walk around a few embarcaderos before heading back into the city to the archeology museum. 

Line 12 is the nicest metro we ride, not crowded, with tvs and audio alerts for stops. Have lunch that we brought, in front of the museum before entering. Enter the museum, but after a half hour I feel faint and we sit down and I grab water. Once I feel better, we continue. 

One cool thing in the museum are the large paintings of what the ancient cities looked like, accompanied by maquetas (models). My favorite rooms are Maya and Mexica. Ainhoa likes the the rooms upstairs with colorful paintings, handcrafts, and jewelry. One room has virtual reality goggles where you get to feel like a volador and it is pretty cool. 

After we leave the museum, we have tostilocos: chips with carrots, cucumbers, arrowroot, peanuts, gummy candies and salsa. It is quite delicious, or we are really hungry. 

Then we go to Pulqueria las Duelistas to try a cactus-based drink called pulqueIt has a slimy, mucousy texture, but a smooth finish. It's a lemony flavored alcohol that stings a bit. We order the sampler: natural (which is pulque), and five curados: celery, blueberry, coffee, guava, and oatmeal. Despite the weird flavors, they are all delicious, except natural, with coffee being my favorite, then oatmeal, celery, blueberry, and guava. 

Head back to the house and then go out for tacos with Jaime and Barbara, and three other friends. Go home to pack and then catch an uber to the airport. 


So many ports to choose from, but we found this one first
So many ports to choose from, but we found this one first

So many trajineras (boats) to choose from
So many trajineras (boats) to choose from, but we choose none

We're just so excited to go into the museum
We're just so excited to go into the museum

Maybe a bit too excited, and I needed to rest a few minutes
Maybe a bit too excited, and I need to rest a few minutes

Pretty cool new artifact at the museum
Pretty cool new artifact at the museum

It's amazing some of the things the Mayans had so many years ago
It's amazing some of the things the Mayans had so many years ago

Somebody kill it! It's got my arm!
Somebody kill it! It's got my arm!

She so strong. It must be her Mayan super powers
She so strong. It must be her Mayan super powers

Handstanding in the jungle, walking in the temples (cue music)
Handstanding in the jungle, walking in the temples (cue music)

Tostilocos for the loco tostis (It's not supposed to make sense)
Tostilocos for the loco tostis (It's not supposed to make sense)

The pulque sampler plate
The pulque sampler plate

Ainhoa's Mexican crew and our dinner buddies
Ainhoa's Mexican crew and our dinner buddies
Writing this blog, I came across a pretty cool 3 minute video that quickly goes over the history of Mexico.
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Location: Mexico

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