October 2016 Travels in Review
In October I resumed my solo travel life, exploring central Mexico, while Alejandro returned to work life in Tulum (Oh, yes, in case you missed it, we broke up in late September due to irreconcilable differences.) I had started my central Mexico explorations in September in the Baroque cities of Cuernavaca and Puebla.
Learn about those gorgeous cities and other travel adventures in my September Travel Review.
From Puebla I visited the attractive colonial city of Oaxaca for one week, with a surprise guided tour of Oaxaca Valley by a local Mexican ‘cowboy’ thrown in. Then I headed south to Oaxaca state’s gorgeous Pacific coast beaches. I ended up exploring those charming Bohemian beaches for more than two weeks. Although they were stunning, they were also stiflingly hot.
I finally escaped the sweltering heat by heading inland to Chiapas state for some completely different landscapes – a glorious river canyon, a high altitude colonial city surrounded by pine trees and steamy jungles with magnificent Mayan ruins.
By the end of October I’d made it as far as a boat tour of Canyon Sumidero and sauntering around the charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas, with further explorations of Chiapas to continue in November.
Naturally I continued publishing articles and photo galleries of the beautiful places I discovered in wonderful Mexico. In case you missed anything, here’s a re-cap of new articles & photos on LashWorldTour in October:
NEW ARTICLES AND PHOTOS ON LASHWORLDTOUR IN OCTOBER:
1. PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of Beautiful Oaxaca City
Just before hanging out on Mexico’s Pacific coast beaches in Oaxaca state, I spent one week in charming Oaxaca city.
Somehow I ended up not writing much about Oaxaca on FB…but I did create this collection of photos from the beautiful historic colonial city.
Come see what one of Mexico’s prettiest cities looks like!
2. PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of the Baroque City of Puebla
Mexico’s 4th largest city was founded in the early 1500s by the Spanish who quickly began importing Europe’s most current Baroque architecture, art and design to create ‘The City of Angels’.
Puebla soon became famous throughout Europe for its elaborate, gorgeous cathedrals, churches and buildings.
Today Puebla’s large historic district is well-preserved and renovated…full of absolutely stunning architecture and a few fun surprises, too..
3. TRAVEL PERSPECTIVES – Busting American Myths About Mexico
Growing up in the US I’d only ever heard negative things about Mexico – poor, dirty, dangerous, unsophisticated – a developing country way behind the modern times.
Sound familiar fellow Americans?
WELL, the truth is far different! Here’s what I’ve learned by living and traveling around Mexico for 6 months…
The first half of September I continued enjoying my weekly 3-day trips around Yucatan while Alejandro & I continued living in Tulum. Actually, I took my final such trip – to Isla Mujeres, just off the coast of Cancun.
I spent the final two weeks of September in beautiful Puebla, trying to wrap my head around the shocking, totally unexpected split with Alejandro… and exploring Mexico’s lovely 4th largest city.
October Travels in Review via FB Updates
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Here’s the Baroque city of Puebla!
Puebla was built by the Spanish in the 1500s, who filled the city with very ornate Barroque buildings, cathedrals and churches…
Known at ‘City of Angels’, Puebla was one of the most important and widely-acclaimed cities in the world at that time!
Today Puebla is Mexico’s 4th largest city, located 2 hours SE of Mexico City.
The modern city sprawl extends out from the large historic center, which consists of dozens of blocks of gorgeous architecture. I’ve just spent 2 weeks here admiring it all and visiting incredible museums.
Here are several street views of Puebla… (incredible churches coming next)
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
Holy fancy churches, Batman!!!
Puebla is filled with mind-boggling, outstanding examples of Baroque church & cathedral architecture. Both exteriors and interiors are really ornate..
Built in the 1500-1600s by the Spanish who brought the current European architecture to Mexico.
Here are several church exteriors & their domes…
Wait until you see the interiors in my next update!
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Holy fancy churches, Batman!!! PART 2 – ornate interiors…
Yesterday I posted many pics of Puebla’s elaborate churches, towers & domes.
NOW…. here are the mind-boggling interiors! Whew…
What do you think of this Baroque architecture? Gorgeous? Hideous and over-the-top?
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Check out these traditional Puebla sweets…
Besides it’s gorgeous Baroque architecture, Puebla is famous for its unique traditional sweets (and other cuisine like Mole Poblano)
Puebla has an entire street full of shop after shop of sweets – aka ‘dulces’, fittingly called ‘Calle de Dulces’ – Street of Sweets
Here’s a sampling of some…and the selection I finally bought for myself to eat. I’ll let you know how tasty they are soon…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Volcano sightings from Puebla rooftop!
Did you know Mexico has volcanoes?
I didn’t until I planned this trip to central Mexico. Turns out that near Mexico City several very high volcanoes dominate the horizon – WHEN the weather is clear, ahem…
Before arriving, I was super excited to see the volcanoes…but despite 2 bus trips across open land and nearly 2 weeks exploring Puebla city, I NEVER got to see them!
Finally, Sunday morning the sky was super clear. I ran to the rooftop cafe at Museum Amparo, hoping to finally see the elusive volcanoes… and..
YES! Finally! I present Mt. Popocatpetl and Mt. Itztaccihuatl…
…yeah, don’t even TRY to pronounce them! Mt Popo & Mt Itzl is close enough…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Puebla food is different than in Yucatan!
I knew that Mexico has many regional cuisines, but until now I’ve only traveled around Yucatan.
Puebla is famous for regional cuisines like Mole Poblano (Poblano = from Puebla) and Chiles en Pogado and their traditional sweets.
But also many foods I know in Yucatan are here, in a different style…
Quesadillas are completely different in Puebla than Yucatan! And MUCH better here! I will never eat a quesadilla in Yucatan again, that’s for sure!
…then this giant sandwich, called Cimita, is found ONLY in Puebla apparently…
Has anyone else here visited Puebla and tried their cuisine? If so, what did you have and how was it?
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
Visiting libraries might not generally sound very like a very exciting travel adventure, even for me, but…
Check out this incredible historic Baroque style library in Puebla.
Everything in the room is pretty cool, even including the book shelfs, historic books and beautiful old world globes…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Anybody here love trains?
Check out these cool old-time trains on display at the Train Museum in Puebla…
I’ve always been a big fan of riding trains, so I really enjoyed these wonderful, colorful trains… There’s even a mail car and plush 1st-class seat car, with all the seats covered in cushy red velvet and a polished wood floor. Nice!
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
If you love modern architecture, you’ve gotta see the amazing Museum of Baroque Art in Puebla.
I’m talking about the museum building itself…
But inside are several huge rooms full of Baroque art, including paintings, furniture, architecture and even fashions from the Baroque period of European history.
It’s all relevant to Puebla because it IS a Baroque city, built by the Spanish in the 1500s and filled with orante buildings, churches and cathedrals with ultra-ornate decoration.
The Baroque Museum really helped me appreciate the city much more. I highly recommend anyone visiting Puebla to visit this museum before anything else so you can then appreciate all the other places you visit in town.
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
I visited this Spanish church built on top of ancient pyramids…
I know, I know, it looks like the church rests on top of a forested hill.. BUT the hill is actually an over-grown massive stone pyramid
…actually, it’s several layers of pyramids, each built on top of each other over several centuries!
Visitors can walk through a tunnel system inside the heart of the ‘hill’ pyramids, look down long stone corridors, gaze down several ‘floors’ below and above, and see dark old rooms, all inside the original pyramids.
Exposed sections of some pyramids have been excavated at the base of the ‘hill’. That really gives you perspective on how incredibly massive the pyramid complex was…
Location is Cholula, slightly east of Puebla.
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Day trip to amazing sites in Oaxaca Valley!
I was invited on a day excursion to the best sites in the valley east of Oaxaca.
Wow, every site was incredible! So much diversity in just one valley!
We visited Mexican Indian ruins that are unique to the country – uniquely cut and carved stone tiles throughout the buildings…
Climbed up a hill for great panoramic views…
Ate goat meat tacos at a local pueblo market…
Joined a village festival and admired the astoundingly ornate church interiors.
…and finally visited the largest tree in the entire world! It’s also over 1500 YEARS old! Wow, I had no idea that was in Mexico!
Two years ago I visited some of the largest and oldest trees in the world – Kaori trees in New Zealand. But apparently this one is even bigger! Wooo yoo!
Great, great day in Mexico! Thanks Xavier.
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
Ha ha! My very first sombrero / cowboy hat!
What do you think about me in a sombrero?
I never considered wearing a cowboy hat! So I was surprised to note that it doesn’t look so bad…. Or? What do you think?
… a gift from a new Mexican friend, Xavier – aka Oaxaca Cabron – who took me on a day excursion around Oaxaca Valley… more on that trip next…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: I’m at the Pacific Ocean! I’m at the beach!
Yippie! Once again I’m living a beach life, this time on Mexico’s picturesque Pacific Coast.
I’m at Puerto Escondido, with dark volcanic sand and wildly pounding surf.
My hotel sits along a hillside above the beach…just ONE block away!
The spacious balcony and sitting room looks out over the beach and down the coast for miles and miles to a tall cliff headlands.
New daily routine: Get up early for sunrise yoga & meditation. Cook & eat a hearty breakfast. Go walk on the beach 1-2 hours. Suntan to regain my much-wilted Mexican tan…Lunch..
Get out of the blazing heat & sun by working online midday. Early evening walk on the beach and watch sunset. Mojitos in the evening while reading a book…
Ahhhh, this is the life! …more info and photos on Puerto Escondido up next!
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
The surfing world’s famous ‘Mexican Pipeline’ is here at Puerto Escondido!
This beach town is primarily famous with surfers, who apparently come from all over the world to tackle the massively high Mexican Pipeline.
I’ve seen the waves every day while walking along the beach… Often they are 3 times the height of the surfers!
Can you imagine a wall of water racing behind you that’s towering above you 3 times your height? Eek!
I certainly don’t want to try it! But this morning I went out to photograph some surfers in action…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Check out my great hotel at Puerto Escondido
It’s a huge, spacious rambling house-like hotel…
with a massive, fully-equipt kitchen, many prettily painted hallways & corridors & sitting spaces…
and a very spacious living room with big windows and veranda over-looking the long beach stretching south to the horizon. Here’s where I do yoga every morning and sip mojitos in evenings while reading or studying.
My room is also very spacious, in sparkling white with colorful photos.
And, amazingly, it only costs me 110 pesos / $6 US per night! Including free wifi, drinking water and kitchen.
Best of all, it’s quiet and empty! Yippie! The 1st night here I was the only one! I had the whole entire hotel-kitchen-living room-balcony all to myself! Bliss I tell you, bliss!
It’s so great I’m staying a week… if not longer…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
Mexico’s Pacific Coast is packed with beautiful beaches…
Here are some beaches I’ve visited near Puerto Escondido & Zipolite recently…
Puerto Angel is little fishing village tucked in a well-protected harbor with 2 lovely beaches.
Several other beaches are set in small, leafy bays and lined by open-air cafes & seafood restaurants. Popular with local Mexicans in evenings & weekends.
Each beach has its own character and distinctive settings. Some are safe for swimming, others extremely dangerous with strong, shifting currents and pounding waves.
ZIPOLITE and MAZUNTE BEACHES
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: I found a place BETTER than Tulum! Zipolite
Like Tulum, Zipolite Beach offers a gorgeous slice of beach and ocean with very low-key development and alternate-lifestyle people. And it’s quiet!!!
Just sun, sand, sea, trees, rocky headlands, forested hills and nearly hidden buildings.
Most of Zipolite’s beach-side hotels, cafes, restaurants & cabanas are built of wood & thatch and blend right into the trees & vegetation, much like Tulum.
The bonus at Zipolite is that everyone can stay right on the beach! Yeah! (like me in my cute beach shack here)
(At Tulum Beach, all the resorts cost over $100 US per night. So everyone except luxury travelers pretty much have to stay in ugly Tulum town, 5 km inland. Yuk.)
And Zipolite town – as such – sits just one block behind the beach. It’s a single stone/brick road, immaculately clean and lined by colorful little shops, cafes, restaurants, bars & hotels.
(Tulum town, on the other hand, sucks! It’s a dirty, ratty ugly town. It’s all stretched out, so you have to walk long distances in the heat to get anywhere)
So, Hello Zipolite! …I just knew there must be somewhere in Mexico better than Tulum. Hello, hello! :)
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Zipolite is a Nudist Beach!
Apparently Zipolite’s main claim to fame over the years is as a Nudist Beach and ‘Hippie’ hang-out.
In reality, nowadays anyhow, almost everyone here wears a full bathing suit or even clothes out on the beach. Hmm…
Only a handful of girls are topless and a few other men & women wander around naked… So every day brings a few pop-shots of naked breasts and genitals. … Unless you’re still virginal, you’ve seen it all before, so…Whatever…
I – for the record – have been wearing my bikini. Honestly. :)
Have you ever been to a nudist beach? If so, where?
If not, would you try it?
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: I’m living in a scruffy beach shack at Zipolite!
These groovy beach shacks on stilts sit right smack in the middle of gorgeous Zipolite Beach…and just 20 M / 60 ft from the crashing Pacific Ocean waves.
All I can hear all day & all night is roaring, crashing surf. Wonderful!
…meanwhile I’ve got these fab views from my shack, along the entire beach to east and west. With full view of both sunrises & sunsets.
AND, get this: My private beach cabana costs only 150 ps / $7.90 US, including wifi and very clean showers/toilets. :) How’s that for deal of the month?!
(But, wait until you see the next place I’m going to stay! It’s even more amazing!)
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
The sun is ALWAYS shining on Zipolite beach!
Zipolite Beach faces south, bordered at the east and west ends by rocky headlands.
So all day long the sun slowly crosses the beach from one end to the other.
The sun rises about 7 am over the Eastern headlands…and sets around 7:30 pm behind the western rocks and headlands.
Sun, sun, sun, all day long here! Yippie!
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: OMG! Look where I’ve been sleeping!
Outdoor beds suspended by ropes – on top of a cliff – overlooking the Pacific Ocean and grand golden beaches! Doi!
Incredible views of the coast…and in the morning YEOI sunrises!
How COOL is THIS?!!!
Lovely white linen mosquito nets cover the beds at night… And The beds swing a bit when you move around.
All you can hear all night is the roaring ocean down below.
And in late afternoons the sun lights up the jagged rocks, golden sand and leafy hillsides.
How would you like to sleep here? …any guesses on the cost?
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
Boo-hoo! Time to leave Mexico’s Pacific beaches!
Yes, I’m heading inland to Chiapas state – dense jungles and highland pine forests…
I’ve been enjoying Mexico’s gorgeous but broiling hot Pacific beaches for 2 ½ weeks now. They are great, as you’ve all seen…
…but it’s SOOO hot here that every day from about 2-5 pm I think, “I’ve got to get the F out of here…” ..then I find another amazing beach and place to sleep and stay a few more days…
So I’m actually quite ready to escape the heat and discover a whole new scene in Mexico…
How about exploring a deep canyon by boat, a chilly colonial town at 8000 ft surrounded by pine forests, followed by steamy hot jungle with ancient Mayan ruins?!
Chiapas here I come! …more on the adventures next week from Chiapas…
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO: Boat tour through Sumidero Canyon!
Over the weekend I joined an awesome 2 ½ hour boat trip through this spectacular canyon.
It actually reminded me a lot of New Zealand’s famous Milford Sound, without the sea connection.
Strangely enough though, there were many sea birds in the canyon (which is very far inland from the sea) including pelicans and egrets! Eh?
We also saw some hefty crocodiles.
Fun trip! And cost me only 190 ps / $10 US
San Cristobal de Las Casas
TRAVEL UPDATE MEXICO:
I feel like I’m in an entirely different country!
Here in San Cristobal de Casas city in Chiapas state…
Why’s it so different you might ask. Good question. Well…
1. It’s cold! The city sits at 2160 M / 7128 ft, surrounded by pine-clad mountains. Most of the time I look like this, all bundled up in warm clothes…
2. The city feels ‘miniature’. Instead of Mexico’s usual wide roads and huge, spacious buildings with high ceilings and massive rooms, in San Cristobal de Chiapas the roads are narrow, the sidewalks barely walk-able they’re so narrow.
Buildings are much smaller in proportion and just 1-2 stories high. This city feels a lot more like Antique, Guatemala than any city in Mexico!
3. It’s crowded! Wowie, this is the most crowded place I’ve been in Mexico. One thing I’ve become accustomed to (and really like) in Mexico is the low population density. It’s weird to walk down streets crammed with people.
4. There’s a lot of traffic! Along with the high population are lots of cars, even daily traffic jams on the narrow stone roads!
5. A lot of indigenous tribal people, wearing traditional costumes, are present in the city. They walk around selling handicrafts and have fresh produce stalls in the markets. Again, this feels more like Antique, Guatemala than a Mexican city.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN de Mexico!
Mexico is the very first country I’ve visited in all my 18 years of travels that actually celebrates Halloween!
In Puebla stores put up elaborate Halloween decorations. And major Walmart-type stores sell costumes, decorations and other Halloween paraphernalia.
This weekend in San Cristobal de Casas I’ve seen several kids walking around in costumes or with painted faces… And I guess tonight will be full of festivities.
In truth, in Mexico Halloween co-incides with their big festival Day of the Dead, which occurs annually on Nov. 1st So I’ll actually be joining bigger festivities tomorrow. Photos coming soon!
In October I enjoyed a huge diversity of locations and activities in central Mexico. I explored gorgeous colonial cities, was treated to a private guided tour of Oaxaca Valley, lounged on stunning Pacific coast beaches, slept in some fantastic & unusual accommodations, joined a boat tour of Sumidero Canyon and finished up the month shivering in high altitude San Cristobal de Las Casas.
November will be my final month exploring wonderful Mexico. My 6-month visa expires on Dec. 3rd. First I will visit friends, ancient Mayan ruins and steamy jungles in Chiapas state.
Then I’ll be returning to the fabulous Yucatan Peninsula to explore a few new destinations and re-visit some of my favorite locations. That will entail more charming colonial cities, the Bohemian island of Isla Holbox, visiting friends in Playa del Carmen and finally ending my long, intriguing Mexican journey back in Tulum.
Follow along and discover more of Mexico with me!