Mega Pack Mexico

Mexico, the big kahuna! I’m pleased we left it till last as it perfectly crowned the Americas leg of the trip. Where to start; super warm and resilient people, a huge and diverse country, arts and culture abound, good food, all far from the atypical images served in the media of gangsters and maids. Oh and Mexico City (CDMX) – do it! Go there on a holiday.
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Realising the magnitude of the place, we scarified our plans to visit the Yucatan Peninsula and focused on the states of Chiapas (Southern-most state), Oaxaca (South-west) and Mexico City.
We started at Palenque, located just over the border with Guatemala. The Mayan ruins are the clear highlight here. With the addition of a community of restaurants, bars and cabanas set in a fairy-like forest, all mossy with little creeks and ponds, lite by UV and fairy lights. I expect the near year-round supply of magic mushrooms has something to do with it. Anyway I digress, back to the ruins, amazing, old, in my opinion more interesting than Tikal as you could get more of a feel for how this ancient citadel operated.
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Next up was San Cristobal de las Casas, another colonial charmer. It’s the cultural capital of the state of Chiapas, the most ethnically diverse state in Mexico, set in the high central interior serving as a base for many indigenous communities. Some of these communities have only come into contact with the rest of the world over the last 100 years, meaning they missed the whole Spanish “thing”, which is quite amazing when you think how pervasive it was for the rest of the continent. Needing to keep some pace, we only stayed here 4-5 days, we knew could have stayed a lot longer. Other than taking in some of the nearby waterfalls and lakes we just chilled in the atmosphere of the town.
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A 13hr overnight bus ride South and we arrived to Puerto Escondido, I should probably mention that Mexico has a great national bus system. Puerto Escondido is the main hub for a series of Pacific Ocean facing beach towns and fishing villages along the South West coast. It’s also a surfing meca, known to have some of the biggest waves in the world. The vibe is a bit commercial, but it’s very practical, we were able to stay in a sweet motel with a pool 5min walk from a charming cove-shaped beach (Carrizalillo). Pere and I also did three days of surf lessons which I loved, I was up almost every time… don’t underestimate the role of the instructor picking your wave and pushing you off is all i’d say.
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We spent another week getting along to a few of these other spots on the coast.
Chacahua, is large island like sand bar, we stayed here a couple of nights, it was muy rustic, staying in a thatched roof hut through two stormy nights. We were also the only guests at the little family run business, in fact one of only about 10 on the whole island, her cooking was good and it was truly wild.
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Zipolite, supposed to be a pretty happening beach town, in the low season it was near empty. But hey, we scored an amazing bungalow right on the far end of the beach adjoining a 5* boutique hotel and we didn’t move for 3 days. Our host at Lo Cosmico gave us a knocked down price on the accomm and we spent our pesos next door being pandered to on the beach. Perfect! right? Well until your partner decides the sound of crashing waves a mere few steps past our lovely bamboo door are actually a bad thing. Till he starts having nightmares along the lines of the movie The Impossible. Mini-van! We’re off.
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Manzunte, cool, charming low key, stunningly beautiful. Again owing to low season we scored primo accommodation in a little lodge on a hill. With the pool this place had it was hard to leave. But trips to yoga, beach walks and visit to the Turtle museum did happen. Food highlight, the divine swordfish pasta at the local Italian.
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From here we move into the Centre of Oaxaca state, on our way to its capital. We’d been told about a little village in the hills en-route called San Jose el Pacifico, famous for clouds and spirituality and mushrooms.  Our friend from Lo Cosmico recommended a little retreat with organic vege gardens and beautiful vistas, which we headed straight for. Wow, this place delivered. It’s the project of Thomas, a Danish national, he’s 8 years into building his dream with the significant piece of land (40 waterfalls, 3 little peaks and 3km of rivers). It’s all bio-dynamic, a closed system endemic to that piece of land, including the cultivation of none less than 7 different types of compost. Meals are freshly picked, complimented by their own breads, honey, tofu, as well as sesame, peanut and cacao pastes. Our room was a two story mud-brick cottage with stone floors, finished to the highest standard, presented to us with roaring open fire as we walked in. The site has a total 13 pyramids (we didn’t get to exactly how these are used), yoga room, sauna, hot pool – all running on wood fires and walking tracks over the property to go out an explore on. I loved it … next time I’m thinking about going “off-the-grid” this is the benchmark.
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There’s been some pretty fierce protests in and around Oaxaca by the teachers as they claim their progressive union leader was stitched up rather than guilty of corruption offences laid upon him. The day before we were travelling to Oaxaca city, the army killed 6 of these protesters, a sobering reminder Mexico is not a paradise and there are many struggles going on. For us it meant our van driver refunded our fare and put us on the side of the road at the first road block (which is how they typically protest)… keep calm, keep calm we thought. And it was fine, a couple of rides on the back of trucks with the ever-warm and well humoured locals, few more road blocks and a bit more walking and we made it, 8 hours rather than 4.
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Oaxaca city was lovely, as we’d heard. It had a noticeable cultural and public art vibe.  It’s also the home of mescal production, the agave spirit drink to which Tequila belongs. After a little bit of local opposition (Pere) I got us booked into a proper tasting session and once the mouth had acclimatised to the alcohol volumes, some of them up to 70%, it was good fun, or were we half cut by then? Anyway here’s some factoids I managed to punch out before losing the ability to focus on my phone.
1. It has to be 45%+ abv to be called a Mescal
2. The Agave fruit is cooked for 5 days hangi style (underground fire pit) before being pulped
3. An Agave plant needs to flower before the centre can be harvested for use, depending on the type, a plant flowers once every 5-30 years, then dies
4. Only 1 of 13 types Agave is cultivated, the rest are harvested from the wild
5. One of the most revered flavours is ‘chicken breast’ made by hanging a stuffed chicken in the still.
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Opting to fly over the worst of the teacher protests we took our first flight since Bogota and boom we’re in CDMX. We’d been looking forward to Mexico City since the planning of the trip, we understood it be a complete metropolis, with loads of culture, food, parties etc. I can confirm, it’s all that and more. We spent 8 nights here, yet I still feel like we’ve done the abridged version. The inner city neighbourhoods, particularly Condesa (where we stayed) and Roma are characterised by art deco, 1960-70’s and mish-mash of other low-rise buildings with immaculately kept tree-lined walkways, gardens and small parks throughout. At street level, it’s a nice mix of houses, little cafes/bars with and all the hallmarks of a real community; corner shops and street stalls, laundry services, restaurants, gas stations, banks, galleries. The central City is relatively low-rise and has a Pandora’s box of old and new buildings, markets and squares worth visiting. The subway rules too, super easy to use.
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Really there’s just too much to cover, so I won’t bore you with it, other than a couple of highlights;
Its a very gay city, haven’t seen so many gays since London.
There’s literally no end of museums, galleries, national monuments and they’re all very very good, I have “Pablo’s list” if anyone would like a run down the best of arts, restaurants and sights. Ping me. I also learned that since 1963 artists have been able to pay their tax bill with art, as a result the state has a super impressive collection of national art, we were lucky to see a temporary exhibition of some of it within the National Palace.
There’s some great eating opportunities and it’s relatively cheap coming from London.
The people are open and friendly, they are very happy to have you here, we experienced nothing other than smiles.. even if your Spanish is rubbish!

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Move over Mexico, Cuba coming right up. Well … when we get there, 16hr delay in an airport hotel so far 🙂
Salute, Reuben
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3 thoughts on “Mega Pack Mexico

  1. Mega cool Reuby! More superb shots, especially loving the respective poodle signboard and cat picture poses and as for that retreat in the hills wow – I want to be transported into that organic garden for some R&R. Great to see you have been tirelessly working on your tans, mixing it up with some mescal and having a blast together xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Reu & Pere, again great reading & photo’s of more amazing travels. Am pleased you enjoyed Mexico,& VERY pleased that you went for the option of ‘” Discretion is the better part of valour”” in flying to Mexico City, thus avoiding the protesters & Army! !I guess is now Cigars In Cuba. Enjoy & look forward to more travel updates.
      XXX Mum & Dick

      Liked by 1 person

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