Reflections on Mexico

 Mexico  Comments Off on Reflections on Mexico
Feb 082012

When our trip was in the early stages of planning our timeline was frequently debated.  Unlike me, Jill had the advantage of a reference point.  She had spent many hours on other travelers’ blogs and had a feel for a slow pace versus a quick pace.  Envisioning what kind of travelers we would find ourselves to be Jill estimated accordingly.  I on the other hand was shooting blind.  And as is often the case, this did not stop me from defending my position fervently.  I saw Jill’s position of allotting three months for Mexico as a gross overestimate.  I considered the country a hurdle between us and the rest of our trip.  For reasons unknown to me at the time, I found it easier imagining us cracking into cultures in Central America, and saw Mexico as an impenetrable wall.  What I later came to realize was that although publicly I spoke skeptically of the perception of Mexico in the US, I was not immune to its influence.  A part of me was, and I hate to say it, scared and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.  Luckily for me, I have a stubborn enough partner who kept faith that once we were into the deep I would come around.  And after stepping into our first municipal market, I did.

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San Juan Chamula

 Mexico  Comments Off on San Juan Chamula
Feb 052012

One of the amazing things about Chiapas, that is, besides the mist-wrapped mountains and Caribbean-clear rivers, is its rich and vibrant indigenous culture.  Of the 4.2 million people of Chiapas, more than 25% are indigenous groups, mostly Mayan.  There are at least nine languages spoken and each ethnic group has its own beliefs, traditions and dress customs.   Tzotzil and Tzetzil clothing, specifically, is the most varied and colorful in Mexico and often identifies the wearers’ village.  One of the things we were most looking forward to during our stay in the state was visiting some of the smaller Mayan villages that surround San Cristóbal.  Continue reading »

A Struggle for Autonomy

 Mexico  Comments Off on A Struggle for Autonomy
Feb 012012

San Cristóbal was one of the cities I was really looking forward to visiting prior to our departure.  Nestled in the mountains of Chiapas, the city has the familiar colonial charm we’ve become accustomed to in Mexico – cobblestone streets, colorful homes, clean and winding streets perfect for strolling.  But what really makes San Cristóbal distinctive is the predominant and immediately obvious indigenous presence.  Due to its location in the heart of Mexico’s Mayan population, the city is ripe with the culture and customs of the Maya.  Continue reading »

Micheladas and Drag Queens

 Mexico  Comments Off on Micheladas and Drag Queens
Jan 302012

One of the tricky parts of continuous travel is that with every new day comes a new place to research.  Always a new town with a brand new list of must see items.  Guide books are obviously a good starting point, but seldom do they give you what we consider the “good stuff”.  The stuff the locals know:  how to avoid the traps, where to get an authentic yet cheap meal, or how to avoid the crowds and get off the beaten track.  When we were in Oaxaca I visited a few outfitters not with the intention of purchasing services but only in the hopes of gathering information.  I hit the jackpot when I met Eric, a native Oaxacan who was kind enough to spend over an hour giving me the goods.  I left with a laundry list of enticing places to see and things to do.  If not for him we may not have stopped in San Jose Del Pacifico, nor would we have been likely to stop in Chiapas de Corzo to take a tour of Canyon Sumidero.  When we arrived in Chipas de Corzo we quickly realized we had lucked out again in that we had coincidentally arrived during their week long annual fiesta.  And if there’s only one thing we’ve learned about travelling through Mexico it is to never pass up an opportunity to fiesta.

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A Welcome Respite

 Mexico  Comments Off on A Welcome Respite
Jan 252012

After over a month of city-hopping, we were more than ready to hit the famed Oaxacan countryside.  The mist covered mountains in this region are dotted with dozens of indigenous villages, most of which are only accessible via remote dirt roads you won’t find on any map.  We had our sights set on a small village by the name of San Jose del Pacifico, a three hour drive south on the region’s only highway.  The windy mountain road provided ample mountain vistas and opportunities for viewing indigenous life.  Continue reading »


 Mexico  Comments Off on Wa-Ha-Ka
Jan 202012

After travelling through Northern and Central Mexico, entering the state of Oaxaca was like entering a whole new country.  We began seeing signs of a culture different than any we had previously experienced.  Oaxaca marked our entry into Zapatec country.  No experience better encompassed the most notable differences than a walk through the city market.  The produce stands carry a number of new and strange items, the tortillas have doubled in size and are fried and stuffed with an assortment of delicious fillings and amidst the hum of the market we overheard languages that were neither English nor Spanish.  The metropolis acts as a magnet drawing in all of the regional specialties that left Jill and I overwhelmed with new foods to try and shops to peruse.      Continue reading »

Shakedown Street

 Mexico  Comments Off on Shakedown Street
Jan 152012

In an effort to combat some pretty severe air pollution, Mexico City implemented “Hoy No Circula” in the late 1980s.  The law translates literally as, “Today, it does not circulate” and is meant to prevent at least 20% of cars from driving on or around the city each day of the week.  The last digit of your license plate determines your day of no driving.  Luckily, we had heard of these rules in advance and planned our time in the area accordingly. Continue reading »


 Mexico  Comments Off on Tenochtitlán
Jan 102012

Our introduction to Mexico City was both hectic and stressful.  Despite our lack of a real map, we optimistically (read: stupidly) attempted to drive around the city to our campsite in the north with only a couple hours of daylight ahead of us.  Distance-wise, this was not an unreasonable goal – the drive amounted to only about 80 km, or 50 miles.  But we’re stubborn and as such, we avoid the toll roads as much as possible.  In this case, that meant driving through the center of countless small towns on the outskirts of what is arguably the largest city in the world.  It took us FIVE hours.  Continue reading »

Nevado De Toluca

 Mexico  Comments Off on Nevado De Toluca
Jan 072012

My US centric perspective left me surprised by the fact that, although Whitney may be the tallest mountain in the lower 48, Mexico owns a number of peaks that supersede 15,000 ft.  One of those peaks is Toluca Volcano in the state of Mexico,  which happened to be along our route to Mexico City.  The mountain has good signage from highway 134, which for Mexico is rare.  Heading south down highway 10 a dirt road will split off to the left leading to a toll.  It was 40 pesos for our camioneta (van), 20 for autos.  After the gate the road begins its long ascent up a winding road.  The road to the trail head is 17 km long from highway 10 and can be a bit rough at times.  That being said, we saw a number of vehicles with little clearance making their way up.  When we reached the parking lot, the air was crisp and cool, snow was scattered on the ground and a heavy fog was moving briskly by, a far cry from the sandy beaches of the Pacific. Continue reading »

The Ultimate Migration

 Mexico  Comments Off on The Ultimate Migration
Jan 032012

Deciding which places to visit and which to skip is one of the hardest things about traveling for an extended period of time.  You will undoubtedly have less time than you plan for and you simply cannot see everything.  While much of our trip is spontaneous, deciding one night where we hope to end up the next, we also have a mental list of  “must-sees” along the way.  For me, witnessing the Monarch butterfly migration in Mexico, one of the most impressive migrations in the animal kingdom, was on the top of this list.    Continue reading »