A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.


These guys take the show on the road

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

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?

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

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

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.


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.

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

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

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!


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.

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!

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

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

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.


Exercise stations along Paseo de la Reforma keep everyone motivated and feeling welcome, including this one for dancing.

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:

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

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

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.

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.


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

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

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

In front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes

In Coyoacán

Posted by BettinaNYC 18:47 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico city dia_de_muertos missing_university_students Comments (0)

Reflecting on the adventure

Signing off with much gratitude

View Breaking Away 2014 on BettinaNYC's travel map.

After traveling in five countries, to countless cities and studying in three Spanish language schools, here are some reflections I'd like to share upon returning home.

I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Even the bad hotel (I won't say where it was but trust me it was baaad) or the terrifying panga ride in the open ocean between Little Corn Island and Big Corn Island.

Learning Spanish is hard. But everyday that I learned a new word or cultural reference made it all worth while. Language teachers have more patience than nearly anyone on earth.

Cousins! In North Carolina and Italy, it was a joy to see family. Nobody understands you quite like cousins do, right?

I won't miss the lack of safety standards prevalent in Latin America. Whether being squeezed like a sardine into a microbus with questionable breaks whizzing down a hillside, or seeing construction workers lack basic safety gear, our neighbors to the south have a long way to go to protect its citizens. I'm certain many of you are saying it has gotten better, and sadly, that is probably true.

Food! Cheese, pasta and wine in Rome. Knock-your-pants-off natural juices in Nicaragua. Tamarindo Micheladas in Guanajuato. Hell, almost all the food in México.

Chad is a most excellent traveling companion and partner. I'm a lucky lady that we did this together.

I will never take for granted my access to affordable, potable, hot water. And you shouldn't either. If you think conflicts to acquire cheap gas have been destructive and expensive just wait until the first world starts to lose its water, I mean really lose its water. In Mexico and Nicaragua there are many places where water is sanctioned and it is very expensive. For example, in our homestay in Nicaragua there was no plumbing and water came through one tap twice a week. You can develop empathy by reading that parts of the world suffer with inadequate infrastructure and climate change, but to experience it even for two months is an eye-opener. C'mon people! Eat less meat before we use our last drops of water for that hamburger.

Finally, the world is full of good, fascinating people. Throughout our travels I can't think of a person I didn't enjoy meeting: from the charming, funny owners of the pensione in Firenze to the right-wing conservative Republican from Texas to all who steered us in the right direction and to those that housed us. If we met during this trip, you have reinforced why traveling enriches the soul. Por esto, estoy agradecida. ¡Muchisimas gracias!

Posted by BettinaNYC 19:53 Archived in USA Tagged reflections change climate Comments (2)

(Entries 21 - 27 of 27) « Page 1 2 [3]