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.
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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!
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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).
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It’s been awhile – two months, more-or-less, since I last posted about my life in Mexico. I returned to Mexico from the U.S. three weeks ago, determined to make 2014 a great year. I was also determined to take better advantage than I did in 2013 of living in Mexico City to visit places of interest surrounding the metropolis.
I’ve held true to my word so far, and took a day trip two Saturdays ago to Tequisquiapan, a “Pueblo Mágico” (magical town) two hours north of el DF. I enjoyed the company of Monroy, a good friend and enthusiastic Chilanga who, as it happens, has a car. I met her at 8 a.m. near where she lived in the Polanco district of Mexico City, and we were on our way.
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“We should go to Pachuca for the weekend,” Pamela suggested, perhaps in an effort to distract me from the fact that I had been staring at her chest for five minutes straight. “Huh?” I asked, perplexed. “Where is that?” Pamela explained that Pachuca was the capital of Hidalgo State, just 90 minutes by bus from Mexico City, and that it was in Pachuca that an exhibit of controversial Fernando Botero paintings was on display through mid-June. Having been floored by the Botero Museum in Bogotá, my interest was immediately piqued.
The above conversation occurred a few weeks ago, Loyal Reader. I normally pride myself on my geek-level knowledge of geography and places of interest, so color me perplexed that I knew little-to-nothing about Pachuca. Pamela suggested leaving there on a Saturday morning, arriving midday, and spending the remainder of the day (and an overnight) in the city and visiting the Prismas Basalticos that Sunday. The name suggested that los prismas would be similar to the basalt columns of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, or at least to the Devil’s Postpile near Mammoth Lakes, California. Still, how is it that I had never heard of these basalt “prisms,” either? Quick research revealed that there weren’t any hostels in Pachuca, but when I discovered that I had enough hotel points for a free night’s lodging in the city center, the deal was sealed.
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