Looking back, six weeks in Mexico flew by. We left having seen more beautiful places than we initially imagined, and still only scratched the surface. And unlike what we assumed before the trip, the majority of Mexico is still pretty off the beaten path. We rarely saw other tourists, and the tourist infrastructure wasn’t as maintained as other countries in Latin America. This provided a certain excitement to a country we thought we’d feel all too comfortable in, given we both grew up nearly next the the border.
Mexico was beautiful, delicious, interesting and colorful. I also can’t forget to mention– regardless of what is printed in the news, it also felt extremely safe. Interestingly too, it definitely wasn’t always the social, exciting, party-place we had envisioned. During the majority of our six weeks there we dove into the culture and food while leading leisurely days. After Mexico, we flew to Colombia, where we were definitely ready to find other travelers and socialize. It was a perfect mix.
Here are my highlights to what were a gluttonous but beautiful six weeks in the ‘Tierra Azteca.’
F O O D.
We had so many amazing meals in Mexico that I couldn’t keep count. I also couldn’t even photograph them all. Sometimes though, it was just a $0.25 street taco or a black bean soup that would impress us the most. In Mexico, it’s not always quality (or cleanliness) for cost. Something delicious and sanitary can be found on almost every corner, usually being even safer and more delicious than most popular tourist restaurants!
Here were a few of my favorites that I managed to capture.
‘Enfrijoladas’, which are very similar to enchiladas but instead of a red or green sauce, they are covered in a creamy bean sauce. Yum!Shrimp and carnitas tacos before I piled them high with toppings and salsa galore.
Guadalajara & the land of T E Q U I L A.
Turns out, not every shot of tequila instills a fear of insta-vomiting all over the bar. Good tequila actually tastes…pretty good! After a tour from Guadalajara to the agave fields and distilleries of Tequila (yes, that’s the name of the town), we got a new found appreciation for the stuff.
Our time in Guadalajara was great, but we were also fresh and rested given this was the first place we visited in Mexico. Our exploration around the city and in the surrounding area inspired me to write this article.
S A Y U L I T A.
Oh, Sayulita. It was everything I wanted from a beach vacation. Sun, amazing food, a nice beach and great views. We even tried stand-up paddle boarding for the first time, and now I’m hooked!
Not everyone shares my sentiments with Sayulita though. To help you figure out if it’s also the paradise for you, I wrote this article.
A N C I E N T Education.
While the pyramids of Teotihuacán are fascinating and make for great photos, it’s honestly the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City which made the biggest impression on us.
With such an immense span of history in Mexico, it takes a museum as detailed as this one to really explain the roots of civilization in the area. After a couple hours there, we had a much firmer grasp on both the mysterious culture which built the pyramids, and the Aztecs who stumbled upon it hundreds of years later. That, along with all the huge and mysterious relics in the museum, really sparked our interest and made spending time among the ancient ruins much more fascinating.
Really, if you’re going to find yourself in Mexico City, do yourself a favor and get to the Museum of Anthropology! Then head to the pyramids and just have a fun time walking around.
G U A N A J U A T O & San Miguel de Allende.
Need I say more? Actually I do, and it’s all here.
The quirky sides of C D M X.
Our time spent in Mexico City was drastically different than elsewhere around the country. We dined on mainly (amazing) vegetarian meals (vegetables, yay!), visited Venice on crack and had one crazy night watching the Mexican wrestling of Lucha Libre.
Quirky is the only word I could think to describe the weekend.
Off-the-beaten path M O R E L I A.
I credit blog posts for the only reason we made it into the state of Michoacán. After seeing something-somewhere on Morelia, I continued to search for blog posts on the city. One after another said safety shouldn’t be concern, and in fact it was beautiful and off-the-beaten-path. With a few days of wiggle room within our itinerary, we took a bus there after our time in Guanajuato.
In full swing Christmas mode the city was beautifully festive. And to our great luck, the most beautiful hotel overlooking the main city square had available rooms. What’s more, they were actually affordable for a whopping $75 a night–for a suite!
We took full advantage. We dressed up, had some beers on the terrace and went to a nice dinner. Our luck continued when we found a restaurant (Chango) which Jordan says was one of the best of his life. As for me, I’ll dream about the peanut encrusted octopus tacos I had forever.
The next day we went to investigate Patzcuaro, a sleepy pueblo magico, along with Janitzio, a village on an island that looks out of a fantasy novel.
Ups and downs in O A X A C A.
Most people rave about Oaxaca, but we didn’t share the same sentiments. There is a traceable reason for this though, we were in Oaxaca city for Christmas and Puerto Escondido for New Years. Both were filled with tourists to the brim, so much so we had to change accommodation 3 times in 4 days over New Years. We even tried to book a few weeks in advance! This meant we also didn’t make it further along the coast as planned, since all the accommodation was full from AirBnbs to hostel dorms.
Still, looking back on these photos I can appreciate the time we had in both places. For one, it is very photogenic and two, we had some strange-but-funny experiences. From the worst cooking class I’ve ever taken, to one of the strangest hostels (more like a halfway house at times with an alcoholic owner), it was all definitely memorable.
Being STREET VENDORS for a Night.
It’s a strange feeling being away from both family and a group of friends on Christmas. And while I’m not a huge Christmas person anyway (I would be fine doing away the the whole gift giving and two months of Christmas music) we still wanted to do something special.
Feeling privileged enough, we also felt no reason to treat ourselves. Every day traveling around and gorging ourselves on Mexican food was a treat enough! After roaming around Oaxaca aimlessly, watching all the families and groups celebrate, we sat down for a few beers and thought of an idea– we’d help people without handing out money or supporting begging. We decided to buy up a few ‘elote’ (corn on the cob) stands, give it out for free and let someone go home early on Christmas Eve.
It ended up being possibly one of the best days in Mexico.
Of course, it took some liquid courage. Beforehand we stopped by our favorite mezcal bar and strategized. Then, we found an elote stand by the cathedral, somewhere off the tourist path. We wanted it to be a spot where locals frequent. Giving travelers free food wasn’t really part of the plan.
After buying out the first cart, learning how to prepare the corn (harder than you think!) and selling it all, we did it again with another cart! While it was super hectic at times, it ended up being almost too fun. We joked and laughed with the customers and everyone was so excited by a free treat.
NOT taking photos on Isla Holbox or Isla Mujeres.
Yup, it was beautiful but I have nothing to show for it. I did though, have an amazing time reuniting with a large and rowdy group of co-tour leaders for the week. It sure is great when everyone you work with has time off at the same time as you!
Cañon del S U M I D E R O.
A place I had wanted to see since researching our trip, Sumidero didn’t disappoint. Taking a boat ride between the gargantuan canyon walls was hugely impressive, but that wasn’t all. To my surprise, there are also crocodiles in the water!
Within the first ten minutes of the ride our guide pulled to the side and pointed at a huge statuesque croc. I didn’t even believe him at first, besides, showing tourists wildlife is never this easy, at least not for me!
These nitwits were memorable in the worst kind of way. I don’t think they stopped taking video the entire time. Also the reason why I could only find one photo without their hands in them.
Although the croc we spotted later was surrounded by floating trash (*cringe*). It was still impressive. I was later convinced they were in fact actually real, and not just planted for tourists….
S A N C R I S T O B A L de las Casas.
Of all the colonial towns and pueblo magicos we visited, San Cristobal de las Casa takes the cake. With the surrounding green mountains, cobblestone streets, picture-perfect restaurants and unique indigenous culture it was the perfect place to slowly get to know.
It also helps that we found a wine and tapas bar just like the ones in Spain. I know we were in Mexico, but when things remind you of one of your favorite places, you lap it up. Almost each night we’d get a glass of wine from the expansive menu and be brought a free tapa. An hour later we would ditch ordering by the glass and go for a whole bottle instead, skipping dinner and gorging on the huge tapas plate which accompanied the bottle.
In the end, from looking at all these experiences, it really was the simple things that made us the happiest. From the tapas bar, giving out free corn or just to eating some really good cheap tacos, that’s what I’ll remember the most in the end.