I realise that this post is coming aloooot later than I planned. The last weeks have been insanely busy cause I’m really kewl, so I didn’t get the chance to post!
After my night in Cancún, I caught a flight on budget airline Volaris to Mexico City, and was delighted to find that it was on time! It was a bit of a hilarious flight to be a part of, as NOONE seemed to want to behave themselves. We had people standing up the moment the airplane’s wheels left the ground, people wandering around when we were already at that “ear-popping” point of the flight when it is definitely seatbelt oclock, and even a lady changing her horrible child’s diaper on the seat in front of me. So nice to have a flight with Cirque du Soleil. I’m definitely gonna make a facebook group so I can stay in touch with that awesome group of people <3.
Anyway, the good news is that I did arrive, and was picked up by my lovely friend from the airport. We drove to the gorgeous, bohemian neighbourhood of Coyoacan, saw the house of Frida Kahlo, and strolled around the neighbourhood catching up. After that, we went to the “Roma” neighbourhood, which is my spirit animal. It is full of trendy cafes and restaurants, as well as street-vendors galore. The streets are busy, but surrounded by trees and parks, and everything is totally well kept and clean. We ate a nice dinner in Roma, then I went home to my awesome airbnb, which was super close to all the restaurants and cafes in Roma.
The next day I did something that I am a little bit ashamed of but also, I do what I want, so yeah. I found me a nice breakfast of a Quinoa Parfait (believe it or not, that’s not even the embarrassing bit), and then I went on a hop-on hop-off tour of the city. Yes, it’s a yucky thing to do, but actually it’s a pretty smart way to get your bearings of a new city. Especially when that city is the gigantic Mexico City. We drove through a number of gorgeous neighbourhoods, and elegant streets. The scale of the city is just insane, not only for the size of it, but also the volume of beautiful big buildings, huge multilane streets and roundabouts, and pretty statues. The first place I hopped off, was at the Zocalo. The Zocalo is the old, historic part of the city, and it is stunning. There is a huge plaza with a big Mexican flag in the centre, which is surrounded by pretty old buildings, museums, restaurants, ruins, and a big old cathedral. In and around the Zocalo is a nice place to wander around, looking at the old buildings, and being heckled by people wanting to sell you an optometrist appointment (literally so many of them! wtf?). After spending about 2 hours strolling and taking it all in, I wandered over to the Bellas Artes museum, an absolutely stunning building near the Zocalo. Inside, you can gawk at awesome murals by Diego Rivera (Frida Kahlo’s boo), among other artists.
I eventually found the bus again, and sat on it for the rest of the loop. This was somewhat frightening, as in some parts of the city, the trees and powerlines hang suuuper low, and seeing as we were in a double-decker bus, caution must be taken. I got whacked in the face multiple times by various trees, and dodged powerlines endlessly, cause hey, I’m kind of enjoying my trip and I would like to be alive for it. Eventually I came to the end of the loop, where I swapped onto another loop- the south loop. This ride went for about 4 hours, right into the south of the city, including a huge university campus, multiple cute suburbs, and at the end, Coyoacan again. By the time we got back to the city, it was already dark, and traffic was ridiculous. I watched police cars next to me put their sirens on, and nobody moving out of their way. Such is life in such a massively populated city.
The next day I took myself down the road in the lovely Roma neighbourhood, and in true Mexican style, found me a hot chocolate with sweet bread- which is what the Mexicans appear to eat as an “appetiser” before their real breakfast. This is definitely a habit I could get used to. I then packed up my things, and caught a taxi back to the historical centre, and checked into a hotel there, where my friend would be meeting me later on.
The next day was hugely exciting. My friend (who joined me from Montreal, and was super excited to escape the -50000°C cold) and I went to Teotihuacan- ancient Aztec ruins just out of Mexico City. We got up early and had a quick cab ride to a bus station of which the name has escaped me (note- there are multiple bus stations in Mexico City, so just ask someone helpful-looking which station is the one to get you to Teotihuacan). Of course, there are multiple options for like, day tour groups to Teotihuacan from Mexico City, which include all kinds of foods and probably like a circus performance or something. But I think that it is best to go on your own, as it gives you flexibility of when to go, and when to leave, as well as you get to avoid hanging out in a massive mob of people all day. Once at the central bus station, we bought tickets which were about an eighth of the price of a day tour, and hopped on the bus. The ride took about 45 minutes.
Teotihuacan is absolutely stunning. I’m not gonna compare it to the other ruins I’ve seen on this trip, because I don’t think it’s fair or useful to compare Mayan ruins with Aztec ruins, because they are pretty different! But wow, just the scale of Teotihuacan is jaw dropping! The coolest part is the “Avenida de los Muertos”, which is a big long walkway, with multiple small pyramids and structures all the way along the sides, and at the very end of the passage, a massive pyramid. There are two which you can climb up, which is exhausting and actually kind of scary because the steps don’t fit my gargantuan feet, and it is seriously steep. The view from the top, however, is insane. I don’t think you really would need a tour guide there- just do your research before you go, and make sure to read the signs all around the place to tell you what you’re looking at!
That night, we hopped on a bus to Oaxaca. This was a 6.5 hour ride. The bus was actually super luxe and comfortable, but still not a really fun experience because it’s just yuck being on any mode of transport that isn’t a plane for more than like 30 minutes. We arrived in Oaxaca around 1am, and were delighted to find that our hotel booking hadn’t gone through properly. Luckily they had a room available, or we would have been paying them to let us sleep on the sofas at reception for the night. Aside from that small mishap, the hotel was really lovely. It was just a little, simple hotel, called Hotel Mayis, that was really well located in the historical centre of Oaxaca.
The next day, after a successful hot chocolate hunt, we met up with the amazing Jen (from my CELTA course) and her lovely boyfriend. We had a super tranquila day. First, we walked to the Mercado 20 de Noviembre. This market is totally impressive- it has a huge variety of food stalls, and the atmosphere is super exciting. Basically it was only locals eating there, which is always a good sign. We ordered the most amazing dish, which was basically a giant pizza but with a massive tortilla as the base, and covered in a variety of veggies and yummy cured meat. We basically spent the day wandering around the gorgeous Oaxaca City, then found ourselves at a gorgeous restaurant called La Popular, which I totally recommend. It was a very mellow restaurant, with nice lighting, and amazing food. If you are looking for that kind of restaurant, I recommend Calle Manuel Garcia Vigil- not only is it a super pretty street (and don’t miss it during the day, either!), but it is also full of gorgeous restaurants.
On day two, we got up early, had a gorgeous breakfast at Casa Oaxaca (10/10), then went to Mitla, a small town approx 45 minutes away from Oaxaca City. We caught a public bus from Oaxaca city (from Calle 20 Noviembre, any bus that says “Macro Parque” on the front), then waited for another bus to Mitla. Once we arrived in Mitla, we had a nice wander around the sleepy town and its ruins.
After we fed our starving bellies, it was time to head up to Hierve el Agua.
We found a man who seemed to be offering rides in the back of his truck, to go up to Hierve el Agua. Sounds super dodgy, but it was legit, so you can all stop panicking. The truck was like a different kind of prison van to the ones described in previous posts. This one was more like a police truck, the kind where the police all sit in the back of the wagon, on either side, facing each other, clutching their guns. So that was quite nice to feel like a police man going on a fun mountain trek. The ride was hilarious- crazy uneven grounds, no seatbelts, and multiple times when I could have sworn I was about to be catapulted off the edge of the mountain. Transport like this would never ever exist in New Zealand. It was a bit of a hysterical 45 minutes, singing spice girls, dodging donkeys, and beeping at cheeky street dogs who wouldn’t move out of the truck’s way.
Hierve el agua is seriously breathtaking. If you go to Mexico, definitely try and make it up there. The backdrop of mountains and cliffs is breathtaking, the pools are ridiculously blue, and the petrified waterfalls off the sides of the cliffs are so huge and insane that I don’t really understand how nature can do something like that. I have never seen anything like it. The 2 pools (man made, but the rest of the site is completely naturally formed) are good for swimming, but I would recommend going at the hottest part of the day, because later on, there is a bit of a wind chill sweeping through, simply because you are so high up.
We grabbed ourselves a beer for the ride, then caught the same hilarious van back down the hill. This is definitely a full day trip out of Oaxaca City, but I totally recommend it- I don’t think Hierve el Agua is a sight I will ever forget.
The next day was spent in Oaxaca City, strolling through the markets and the pretty colonial streets. At 3pm, we caught the bus back to Mexico City. This ride took 8 hours, instead of the should-have-been 6.5 hours. I think the entirety of the extra time was spent actually trying to get through Mexico City to the bus station. Who do people think they are, driving around the city at midnight on a Sunday night? Pretty sure I’m the only person allowed on the road at that time?
The next day, I said goodbye to my friend, and flew back to Cancun. My flight was delayed almost 2 hours, and was only declared to be “delayed” about an hour after we should have departed. I tried so hard to keep my cool, but sometimes this is no easy feat for an uptight anglo like myself.
After a good night’s sleep in my old residence in Playa del Carmen, and a last goodbye to the friends who are still in Playa, I made my way back to the Cancun airport (which is a super nice airport btw, despite the fact that there is no wifi, and only one coffee shop- and Starbucks at that *gasp*… someone help pls…).
And that is the end of my Mexico chapter. I must say, I expected great things of Mexico, and wowww have my expectations been exceeded. It is an absolutely beautiful country (well, what I saw of it!), with a huge variety of beautiful things to see. Not only that, but the people are so kind and happy and generous and relaxed. And although there is that sense of chaos that I myself am actually a huge fan of, everything seems to work really well, and the country (again, speaking on behalf of the places I was able to visit) is really easy to get around- this is so important as a foreigner, as it can really make or break your trip. So please, I URGE everyone who has been following my adventure to put Mexico on the top of your list. The beaches are gorgeous, the ruins are jaw-dropping, the people are amazing, the food is freaking tyt, the towns are super cute, and Mexico just makes you feel HAPPY! Already plotting my return back there!
Stay tuned for the adventures of my new life in Colombia!