Published: March 5th 2012February 29th 2012
Annette and Lionel
Welcome to Mexico City, have a beer!
Once back in Mexico City we got caught up on general housekeeping and prepared for company from Canada.
Annette and Lionel arrived at 1 AM on Sunday morning, February 12th with big smiles and a backpack each. A short cab ride to the apartment and lots of visiting took place before we settled for the night. Maurice and I took the couches while our guests took our bedroom.
Early next morning we were up and off to church a few blocks away. Even though the service was in Spanish we attempted to follow along and have our Spanish lesson for the day. After a quick change of clothes we all got on the ecobikes and headed for Reforma to ride and see the sights. We made it close to the zocalo, parked the bikes and walked to a restaurant overlooking the main plaza. From there, we were able to watch all the action going on; sellers with their wares spread on blankets, indigenous dancing, smudging and throngs of people everywhere. In the cathedral we noticed a large fat pencil shaped weight hanging suspended on a cable at least 80 feet from the ceiling of the church. It was showing
We had warned them, we ride the ecobikes a lot, they are so handy.
the movement of the earth and any seismic activity that might occur. A staff person came along and stopped its motion, however a minute later, it was once again swinging a couple of feet back and forth. While watching this, we met some Mexican people who have been living in Calgary for the past 17 years and were visiting the cathedral. Go figure! After a little more wandering we took the metro back to the apartment as fatigue was setting in.
The next day we headed out, again on bikes , to the Latin America Building, one of the tallest buildings in the city and one with an observatory at the top. Being near the Zocalo, it is an excellent place to get a birds eye view of the city and put its shear size into perspective. It was a clear day and we were able to pick out landmarks to orient ourselves. We biked back to Condesa and around the 2 parks near our apartment to let our guests see the differences in this diverse city.
Chapultepec castle, in the heart of the city, was where we headed on Tuesday. Our guide gave us the history of
Overlooking the park,Reforma and El Angel in the distance.
why the castle was built and how it had been used over the years. We hurried from there to the Tuesday market and warned Annette and Lionel that they would be offered much food to taste and purchase, and assured them that trying the food was perfectly fine. We sampled a lot of fruit and were overwhelmed by the sellers encouraging us to eat and buy. We returned home with bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
On Wednesday we headed out on the metro to the south bus station to catch a bus to Taxco, a unique city just over 2 hours south of DF. We wanted Annette and Lionel to experience the first class busing system here. We visited silver shops, the Grutas and then hiked the steep hills of the old colonial mining city.
We were back in the city on Thursday and spent the weekend visiting the sights of DF, happy hour Friday, Turibus Saturday and of course Xochimilco boats and Coyoacan on Sunday. We ended the week with supper at one of our favorite restaurants in the area. We enjoyed a gourmet meal while listening to the lions roaring and pacing in their
On our way to the Grutas outside Taxco
When we got on the combie, Lionel asked if the door would close. I said sure! Boy, was I wrong. 80 kph, sliding door wide open!
Early, very early Monday morning, we bid our guests goodbye as they headed to the airport for their flight back to Calgary. It is always a pleasure to entertain friends and family from Canada and share with them a bit of our lives here in DF.
That same Monday evening, we boarded an Interjet flight to Huatulco to visit our very close friends, Fran and JoAnne. We arrived around 8 PM, dined and put the final touches on our plans to visit the southernmost state of Mexico, Chiapas.
Early next morning, we were off on our road trip. We arrived in Tuxtla, capital of Chiapas around 4 PM and found a hotel for the night. We gathered information on things to see and then visited Sam's Club and Walmart. These are stores that are not available for Fran and JoAnne in Huatulco.
Wednesday morning, we checked out of the hotel and proceeded to the Zoologico Miguel Alvarez del Toro, a wonderful zoo set in the rolling hills on the outskirts of the city. We spent a peaceful couple of hours strolling through lush jungle and admiring the many birds, reptiles, snakes, turtles, and mammals that
At Montetaxco Hotel, the view is spectacular. We like taking the funicular up the mountain and enjoying a cold one and snacks.
call this place home. Especially interesting was the large outdoor areas that housed the big cats and the monkeys.
Following a light lunch, we headed for the launchas (speed boats) at the Canon del Sumidero. This is a river that has cut a deep canyon with walls rising half a mile straight up, and extending for 9 miles. Legend has it that in the mid 16th century, Indians chose to hurl themselves down its precipitous sides rather than submit to the invading Spanish forces. What a beautiful and awe inspiring ride! The sun kissed us all by the time we got off the boats.
Then we were off to San Cristobal de las Casas situated 7550 feet above sea level. The climate is a lot cooler than either Huatulco or Tuxtla, where the temperature had been in the low 30's. By the time we arrived, it was evening and cooling off quickly. We were able to find a room with a loft in a quaint old colonial hotel in the heart of the old city, close to the zocalo, main park and cathedral. We headed off for dinner and had the best tortilla soup ever!
Terri in the spare room, Annette and Lionel in our room. We made a cozy bed for ourselves on the love seats and a few blankets.
up and off to check out the many churches and the famous everyday market in the Cathedral's adjoining parks. With the stalls in such close proximity to each other, all selling similar items, one wonders how the locals can make a living.
Into the car and off to the Grutas Rancho Nuevo was next on the agenda. We decided that because this area produced a lot of crafts, we spent a portion of the morning searching for the perfect sun ornament to adorn the front of Fran and JoAnne's Huatulco home... but no luck.
Just after noon, we headed off to Palenque, a city 196 km north of San Cristobal. This turned out to be about a 4 and a half hour drive with 214 topes (large speed bumps where you needed to slow down to 5 km an hour or they take out your car's undercarriage) and 28 deslaves (washouts or cave-ins where part or most of the highway just disappears). You must drive around the cave-in making sure you can yield if there is oncoming traffic. We were told not to drive after dark because between this being Zapatista territory ... and the crazy roads, it
On the way to Xochimilco. We used all types of transportation available in DF. Cab, Metro, metrobus, combie, ecobike and even bicycle taxi.
was just too dangerous. We breathed a sigh of relief when we arrived just as the sun was setting.
The first thing we noticed as we stepped out of the car was the tropical climate and how green everything was. We had gone from San Cristobal with temperatures in the low 20's to Palenque in the low 30's. Quite a difference!
Palenque is know for its archaeological site which dates back as early as 100 BC. There were over 10,000 buildings at one time in this capital city, but only about a square mile or 10% of the city has been excavated and protected. Excavations have uncovered ruins emblazoned with fine sculptures and splendid stucco-work. The Mayans had a terrific water supply and rerouted the water flowing from the mountains into 2 channels. One was for the higher class people and the other was for the lower class people. Everyone had a job and all knew their place. We were told that there was no human sacrifices conducted here, but rather it was emphasized that royalty did practice personal blood letting or "cleansing". Trees were not cleared but were kept to assist in relieving the 48 degree heat
No visit to DF is complete without a boat ride on the canals. 200 pesos an hour is cheap, and the micheladas are delivered right to the boat.
of summer. This area gets about 85 inches of rain a year and only has about a 3 month winter when temperatures average about 26 degrees. I could go on and on but these ruins demonstrated many advanced technologies including indoor toilets and baths that this civilization enjoyed between 1500 and 2000 years ago.
Maurice, Fran and JoAnne dragged Linda out of the ruins and we headed to Misol-Ha, a 30 meter (100 foot) waterfall. We hiked to the fall and walked behind the stream of water. How refreshing! The movie Predator was filmed here. Off we went from there to Agua Azul, a good stopping off point to observe the 50 different cascadas ranging from 3 to 30 meters. The water was the most beautiful aquamarine color, possibly the most gorgeous falls in all of Mexico. We could have spent many hours hiking, swimming and enjoying the cooling effects of the falls, but after a beer, we hit the road. It was imperative for us to reach San Cristobal before dark. Safety was a must for us, remember, between this being Zapatista territory, and the conditions of the road, night driving is not recommended at all.
Off to Chiapas, Mexico
Fran and JoAnne's hotel room in Tuxtla, our first stop on our tour of Chiapas?
got into San Cristobal and were able to rent the same room we had been in before, but since it was the weekend it cost us an extra 100 pesos. After a good dinner and more card playing we headed off to bed. Next morning we cut up the watermelon we had purchased by the road the day before, enjoyed lots of coffee and headed for home (Huatulco).
We made Tuxtla in about 30 minutes and then took a scenic route through and around the city before we finally found our way toward our destination. We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant along the road and after a curvy, up, down and around ride we arrived in Huatulco about 5:30 PM. JoAnne and Linda congratulated the drivers, Fran and Maurice, on driving well done.
Sunday was a lazy day to catch up on laundry, emails and relax. Linda's tummy and head needed to get over whatever it was that got her down.... the local water drink or the food! The card players had to play with only 3 players.
Monday we headed out to Chahue beach for the afternoon to enjoy the 33 degree afternoon by
Very beautiful and peaceful area to spend the morning in, strolling and enjoying the jungle ambiance full of naturally occurring wildlife set behind fences.
the ocean and use their umbrellas for shade.
Many expats and visitors gather to play volleyball Monday afternoons from 4 to 6. Linda and JoAnne opposed each other on the court, however, they were able to share a drink after each game because of such strenuous play. Maurice and Fran saved our chairs.
Tuesday we were up early so the girls could attend the 8 AM yoga. This was Linda's first yoga class. Then we headed out to sea on a small boat to enjoy the weather, water, swimming, snorkeling (Maurice got more comfortable with snorkeling), lunch at St. Augustin beach (a platter of shrimp, 2 types of fillets, a whole fish, creole seafood, rice, salad and 4 beer for 730 pesos. WOW! Yummy!). On the return trip, we were lucky enough to catch another tuna for supper the next day. The manta rays were jumping to show they were ready to mate and we saw a few turtles but still no dolphins or whales.... next time.
Wednesday found us sending the girls off to Spanish class while we blogged and swam in their backyard pool. Tough Life! Then we headed out to Conejo Beach, Fran and
Set on the mountainside in a natural setting, the animals are in huge enclosures and have room to roam.
JoAnne's favorite beach. This beach is now dominated by the Secrets Resort. After a few ouches from the water, we realized that there must be jelly fish in the area.
No, no one needed to pee on anyone to relieve the stinging, it just went away after 10 or 15 minutes. We headed to the house to cook our tuna and gussy up for the charity dance, with music provided by a blues band led by David Rotunda, a Canadian, and his 4 very talented back up players. What a great evening of music, dancing and visiting on the beach in Huatulco! The setting couldn't be better.
Thursday morning found us up and off to yoga class. This time it was Maurice's first time! We then frantically read our books to finish up before Maurice and I headed back to DF. We were in the pool, then out of the pool, then more reading frantically. After packing, Fran and JoAnne drove us to the airport for our 6:30 flight where we sat in the air conditioned waiting room until our plane arrived....30 minutes late. We were still able to be back in our apartment by 9 PM. We
Zoo in the Jungle
Even the birds seemed content, they had lots of room.
noticed right away that the temperature was much more pleasant than it was 2 weeks earlier.
We have a week to spend in Mexico City before we head out again. I wonder what we will do to fill the time........
There are more photos below