It was roughly 5.5 years ago that I started this blog, and six years ago to the month that I took my first of four, unknown to me at the time, exploratory trips to Mexico City prior to my moving there…a move that, in turn, led to the creation of this blog. As such, I thought I’d start 2018 with a post that hearkens nostalgically back to a wonderful extended weekend in Mexico. Where have the last six years gone?! Continue reading “Three Days around Valle de Bravo”
I recently blogged about my four-day trip to San Miguel de Allende, a small colonial city a few hours north of Mexico City. San Miguel, which for decades has attracted older Americans and Canadians – many of them retirees – instantly shot towards the top of my list of favorite places in all of Mexico.
Many foreigners own vacation homes in San Miguel, so the city is not cheap, in comparison with other highland cities and towns in Mexico. As such, many backpackers visit it as a day trip from either Querétaro or Guanajuato, larger cities that are just an hour away by bus. I recommend staying longer, not just because San Miguel casts an enchanting spell, but also because the city itself makes a great base for day trips to various points of interest.
I spent several hours day tripping from San Miguel to Dolores Hidalgo, a Pueblo Mágico (magic town) and the one-time residence of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a not-so-humble priest who lived here when he kick-started the Mexican Revolution (one of several revolutions in Mexico’s turbulent history, but, alas, the ultimate one) against Spanish rule. I suspect that most visitors hit up the Museo Casa de Hidalgo, the house-turned-history museum about Hidalgo’s life and times, and then leave. But while a far cry from being the most exciting Mexican town, Dolores Hidalgo is a pleasant place and deserves a bit more exploration than just the museum.
The colonial cities and towns of Mexico, with their leafy public squares, Baroque churches, vibrant markets, and colorful architecture are quite special. Oaxaca, Querétaro, Guanajuato, even much bigger Guadalajara…all are worth visiting. For years, the small city of San Miguel de Allende, acclaimed by countless travel writers as among the very best, alluded me. One planned visit was canceled after I caught the flu. Another was aborted following a schedule change at work. But this past March, I finally made it to San Miguel de Allende…
…and it was worth the wait.
Happy New Year! It definitely feels like January – 30-degree temps (and falling) and a good coating of snow on the ground. Although the snow is pretty, I can’t help but dream of being someplace warmer…
…and so my first photo feature of 2016 flashes back to sunny Mexico! It was exactly five years ago that I traveled to Cabo San Lucas for a few relaxing days. The resort city at the tip of Baja California, seemingly within spitting distance of the Tropic of Cancer, attracts more Americans than Mexicans. Some of them are snowbirds, others are anglers, others are aging 80’s rockers, and others, still, are explorers that simply want to see what the peninsular fishing village-turned-beach destination has to offer. The natural formations at Land’s End are the focus of this month’s entry.
I have no idea where the year went. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and December is only a few days away! I have been working some sweet overtime lately, but as it happens, I was off on Turkey Day and got to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner GringoPotpourri-style – stuffing, long grain-and-wild rice, cranberries, peas, brown-and-serve rolls, and Cornish hens instead of turkey. In other words: a real smorgasbord! 🙂
If you have been a long-time follower of this blog, you know that I often wax nostalgic about past holiday travels. At least five out of my last 15 Thanksgivings have been spent in Mexico, and those particular Turkey Days remain especially memorable. For all of my holiday travel blog recollections however – Scandinavia in 2010, Rome in 2008-09, East Tennessee in 2011, Québec in 2008, London in 2006 – I have never actually written in much detail about any of my holidays spent in Mexico…until now.
Thanksgiving in Puebla, Mexico (2003)
My love affair with Mexico has lasted for many years. It was over 12 years ago, in April of 2003, when I made my second trip to Mexico City, with my eyes set on an extended weekend destination one hour to the south of DF: Cuernavaca.
Often called the “City of Eternal Spring,” Cuernavaca sits in a 5,000-foot valley south of Mexico City’s volcanic southern slopes, and features a wonderful year-round climate. Cuernavaca has been a long-time weekend destination for many wealthy Chilangos (Mexico City residents), and I’ve heard – but have not been able to verify – that Cuernavaca has more swimming pools per capita than anywhere else in the world. Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, the Shah of Iran once had a house in Cuernavaca!
I was up late the other night, channel surfing like a zombie, when I stumbled upon the 2002 film Once upon a Time in Mexico. This action movie, the third in director Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi trilogy, packs more plot into its 100 minutes than four normal action movies.
I decided to watch the remainder of Once upon a Time in Mexico, and came into the film at the beginning of the movie’s climactic shoot ’em up. I did a double-take, however, when the University of Guanajuato’s main building flashed across the screen. This building, located in Guanajuato, 4.5 hours north of Mexico City, features one of the country’s most recognizable exterior façades. I already knew that portions of the movie were shot in the mid-sized cities of Querétaro and San Miguel de Allende, but I was not previously aware of lovely Guanajuato being another film location.
As a teacher I was always discouraged from forming friendships with my students, and for all the right reasons. I see no reason, however, why I cannot pursue friendships, Facebook connections, and the like once I am no longer a teacher – and certainly once I no longer work for the language school that provides lessons to said student(s). So when Yolanda, a former student of mine, suggested that she would like for me to spend one weekend day to meet her family and spend some time speaking English with her children, I felt obliged to say “yes.”
We choose last Sunday as the date and Tepotzotlán as the place. Tepotzotlán is just north of Mexico City – a proper small town and another “Pueblo Mágico” in Mexico’s tourism crown. The “magical town” of roughly 39,000 people is famous for two things: barbacoa (barbecued lamb) and el Museo Nacional del Virreinato (the National Vice-Regal Museum).
I read a terrific CNN blog entry Wednesday about America’s (and the world’s, but mostly America’s) misconceptions about Mexico, their muyyy complicated neighbor to the south. The link is below:
I wanted to digest the article for a day or two before offering my own opinion. I encourage you to read it yourself. It is insightful and generally accurate, although I partially disagree with one of author Ravi Agrawal’s major points. He comments that the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China should make way for four other, less-respected, faster-rising countries: Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, and South Korea. A well-intended observation, but he’s being too generous with some of the aforementioned countries – and not generous enough with others.