A Travellerspoint blog

Mexico

Puebla, home of the Mexican Revolution

Please stand by. We are experience technical difficulties.


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We are in Puebla, Mexico where revolution is in the city's soul and where we found the eighth wonder of the world (the Capilla del Rosario, photo at the bottom), but technology isn't feeling so revolutionary to me.

File under lesson learned:
I knew having access to consistent and reliable wifi on this trip would be an issue. Which is why we backed up important information and documents. But it only works if you use it.

Several days ago, Chad's Ipad mysteriously locked itself, along with my blog drafts which may or may not still be there when we find a location/authorized dealer we trust enough to fix it. And the iphone version of the website hosting the blog is, shall we say....different, than the complete version.

So, send your positive tech vibes to Mexico so I can share stories about our last days in Nicaragua, how we partied until dawn in Colon, Panama (well, almost until dawn), rode Panama City's brand new subway, and my joyous culinary tour of Oaxaca.

Until then, I'll be distracted by all the gold.

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A very subtle sign indicates a chapel that is drowning in gold leaf.

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Another lesson I've learned? Photos don't do most of what we have seen justice. The Capilla del Rosario (the eighth wonder of world, or so say the lovely materials we picked up at the tourism office) built in the late 1600's is no exception.

Posted by BettinaNYC 21:55 Archived in Mexico Tagged lesson learned Comments (0)

Beautiful México

In Oaxaca I devour quesadillas, coffee and pyramids.


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We arrived in Oaxaca City after one of our longest travel days yet: leaving Panama City at about 5:00am and arriving in Oaxaca City early evening. Much of that time was spent on a bus to Oaxaca City from Mexico City with beautiful views thanks to its terrifying weaves up and down the rugged Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range. For those that haven't been on a bus in Mexico, don't roll your eyes; they are luxurious, comfortable and safe. But mostly I was happy to land in one of the world's best-known culinary destinations and experience Oaxaca City's stunning architecture, food and to learn about its incredibly diverse indigenous population. The Zocalo has dozens of food stalls and if you're there, check out the family stationed in front of the Interjet office: I favored the quesadillas with flor de la cabeza (squash flowers) and of course, the dreamy coffee. Our week here went by much too quickly.

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The view from Mont Alban.

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An all too common site, teachers occupying the Zocolo in Oaxaca City.

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Random street party celebrating nurses.

Posted by BettinaNYC 19:00 Archived in Mexico Tagged city oaxaca Comments (0)

Guanajuato, Guanajuato

A city so good, they named it twice.


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After several weeks of exploring Nicaragua, Panama and a couple of southern Mexican cities, it was time to buckle down and get back to Spanish classes. For five weeks we settled into one of the most fabulous cities I have ever seen, Guanajuato, and studied at Plateros Spanish School.

The city has numerous identities: cultural capital of Mexico, capital of the state of Guanajuato, once home to some of the largest silver (and other metals) mines in the world, home of the acclaimed International Cervatino Festival, and one of the oldest universities in Latin America. I fell in love with Guanajuato: it's university-student vibe, mix of colorful architecture (and it's a city of tunnels!), and amazing culture (we saw breathtaking performances of the city's Ballet Folklore and the Symphony Orchestra).

The center of our activities in Guanajuato (GTO to locals) was our Spanish school. Our teachers at Plateros were generous with their time, enthusiastic about teaching the Spanish language and joyful to be around. Every Wednesday evening teachers and students gather for "cafe social" at one of the city's bars. It was a great way to practice Spanish and meet current and former students who now live in Guanajuato. Our homestay experience was an absolute delight thanks to the generous housemother, Imelda. Each day after class we trekked up one of Guanajuato's mountainous-like streets (if you live in this town, there's no need for a treadmill, I guarantee you) to be met with authentic Mexican food and sometimes Spanish language quiz games.

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A typical sidewalk in Guanajuato.

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Our Spanish teachers at Plateros and fellow students.

We were lucky to be in town for the celebration of Mexican Independence and just a couple of weeks later on September 28th when the city celebrates Día de la Toma de la Alhóndiga or the Taking of the Alhóndiga, a fort that was taken over by Mexicans from the Spaniards. This was as much of a celebration as the one for Independence.

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The geography and architecture of this city is breathtaking.
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I will miss Guanajuato and those brutal to walk but beautiful hillside streets. I will be back!

Posted by BettinaNYC 11:04 Archived in Mexico Tagged guanajuato plateros Comments (0)

GTO en Red Series

Colorful Guanajuato


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Maybe it was just the altitude, but the colors in Guanajuato seemed amazing. Especially the reds.
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Posted by BettinaNYC 19:27 Archived in Mexico Tagged pictures guanajuato Comments (0)

Callejoneadas

These guys take the show on the road


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It was the last night in Guanajuato and our tour with the "Callejoneadas" was more entertainment than one can imagine - a nighttime walking tour of the city's narrow, hilly streets with Callejoneadas dressed in traditional garb playing all kinds of instruments and singing about the legends of the city. They also provide tequila along the way.

Who knew that playing the tambourine could be an Olympic sport?


Or that one could transport tequila so efficiently?
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Posted by BettinaNYC 18:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged guanajuato callejoneadas Comments (0)

Celebrating San Miguel in SMA

A side trip to San Miguel Allende before Mexico City


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Reading about San Miguel Allende gave me the impression that this small Mexican city was overrun with Americans. But everything I read also said that it was beautiful. And those descriptions are true: beautiful, lots of art and Americans. But it didn't mean we didn't have a wonderful time. Unlike other places devoured by ex-pats in my experience, our few days here still felt like we were in México, not a mall in the US. Our timing was also helpful as we arrived, unplanned, for the celebration of San Miguel.

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One of the more memorable days was spent melting away at one of the hot springs just outside of town. We had planned to spend just part of the day there, but were one of the last to leave. We were lucky to be there on a weekday when at times we had the place to ourselves. I suspect the weekends are more lively as there are many pools and places for picnics and parties. Our time in San Miguel Allende and our day at the hot springs were the perfect interlude between weeks in quiet, enchanting colonial towns and the frenzy that will be Mexico City.


Good advice on a bathroom wall in SMA.
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Posted by BettinaNYC 18:09 Archived in Mexico Tagged art san thermal spas ex-pats miquel Comments (0)

Back in a Big City

Easing my way back to urban life in la Ciudad de México


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I won't compare New York City and Mexico City, but in my Latin America travels so far, this city feels most like home.

Not surprisingly, the city has kept us busy. In addition to more Spanish classes, I've drowned myself in public transportation: autobúses, the metro and my feet make me feel at ease in this urban landscape. And then there's the vast cultural options. In the same week I went to the Ballet Folklorico and Lucha Libre. For those of you that don't know it, Lucha Libre is far afield from the ballet but can be just as graceful and entertaining. While these men and women - yes, women! - really take a beating, their athletic ability, acting and the audience participation make for an incredible show that has a tremendous cultural significance here in México. There is always a good vs. a bad theme and sometimes the bad guy wins. Which happened when we went and I thought I would learn a few new "special" Spanish words. Sadly, I never grasped the words people screamed before the phrase "¡tu madre!

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The Ballet Folklorico took my breath away every time I saw it. We went in Guanajuato and for a mere 100 Pesos (barely 8.00 USD) was stunned by the music, costumes, and of course the dancing. While the price might seem low to us, the price is a bit steep for the majority of Mexicans but students, seniors and locals paid on a sliding scale making the audience more diverse than it was in Mexico City. I went twice in Mexico City at the famous opera house, Palacio de Bella Artes.

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My friend Amy joined us in Mexico City for a few days, here we are in front of the Palacio de Bella Artes before seeing the Ballet Folklorico.

Aside from the cultural and public transportation experiences, I was happy to have a kitchen in which to cook. There are many fresh fruits and vegetables available in the streets and the markets. Nearly every day we brought fresh produce, cheese, eggs and other items from the food stand in front of the apartment where we stayed. The stand is run by family that greeted us every morning with a grand "buenos dias". And, since they are from Oaxaca, they supplied a great recipe and produce for one of my favorite dishes, chilaquiles!

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Proudly representing the "Pollería de Oaxaqueña".

Posted by BettinaNYC 21:10 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico urban city Comments (0)

Wonky thoughts: Sundays in the park and on the streets

Mexico City's efforts to clean the air and be pedestrian friendly


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During our month-long stay in Mexico City, Chad and I ventured out along with tens of thousands every Sunday to walk, run and take in a little cardio kick-boxing or dance class. "Muévete en Bici” closes off approximately 15 miles of city streets that are taken over by energetic Mexicans of all ages and often their dogs.

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Exercise stations along Paseo de la Reforma keep everyone motivated and feeling welcome, including this one for dancing.
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In a city with some of the worst air pollution in the world, Mexico City's efforts to minimize car traffic and encourage exercise seems like a hit. The bike sharing system "Eco Bici" is in such demand in the area we stayed, the couple of times we wanted to use it no bikes were available. Additionally, Mexico City has a policy that limits car travel: each car has a colored sticker that indicates the one day a week that car cannot enter the city center. This is a step that other world cities (ahem, New York) has not made yet.

I found Mexico City's streets and transportation systems incredibly easy to navigate. Albeit some streets were more treacherous than others. Someone said that pedestrians of Mexico City's streets are "sobrevivientes" or survivors. At least there is a warning:
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Posted by BettinaNYC 11:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico city en bici muévete Comments (0)

New Yorkers in the house!

Friends and colleagues join the last leg of the adventure


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What better way to ease back into thoughts of home and work but to have colleagues from New York join us? For a week I was lucky to have Joan Byron and Elena Conte from the Pratt Center here in Mexico City during their visit to a sustainable transportation conference. Many fabulous conversations were had (as well as bottles of Mexican wine) and there's nothing like joining these two esteemed transportation advocates for a day of meandering the city's renowned autobús system. I enjoyed every minute of it. We even squeezed in some fun time.

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Joan and Chad feeling groovy in the very unique public space, the "audiorama" with surround-sound music in a garden enclosed corner of Chapultepec Park.

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Elena, with the weight of the world on her shoulders at the Museo de Anthropogía.

Posted by BettinaNYC 13:03 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico city transportation planning wonks Comments (0)

Where are the students?

Dia de Muertos celebrations express sadness, rage


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The media in the US and México are covering the disappearance of 43 university students missing from the Mexican state of Guerrero. I think there should be more media coverage in the US since US policy is an integral part of the drug trafficking problem, not to mention the dangers reporters face in México. The story (and countless ones just like it) is complicated and I am certainly not of the authority to critique it well, but I also can't ignore it.

Reports indicate that drug traffickers have confessed to killing the students at the demand of a local elected official. The students were planning to demonstrate for more education funding in late September when they disappeared. Until this week there was speculation they might still be alive, but new reports tell a horrible, different story. Parents are still demanding DNA tests to verify the remains recently found are of their children.

During Mexico City's Dia de Muertos festivities, there were several altars displaying contempt against what many believe is the government's failure to find the activist students and hold those responsible accountable. Art and political expression go hand-in-hand in México. Below are just a handful of examples.

In the Zocalo
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In front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes
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In Coyoacán
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Posted by BettinaNYC 18:47 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico city dia_de_muertos missing_university_students Comments (0)

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