Patzcuaro, Michoacan Jan 2015

What a lovely little Colonial town, smack dab in the midst of Purepecha country. All the buildings around the centre of town are white and red, and so beautifully maintained. Naturally, churches and squares everywhere, and the markets are amazing.

You never know what is behind a doorway in Mexico.  In this instance, our welcoming and comfortable casa was perfect.

You never know what is behind a doorway in Mexico. In this instance, our welcoming and comfortable casa was perfect.

How could you not love stepping into a front entry like this?

How could you not love stepping into a front entry like this?

We were fortunate to find an AirBNB place to stay, Casa Nana de Ree – and it is a beautiful place. Shared kitchen and common rooms, but 3 separate bedrooms to stay in. We chose the blue room, with a private bath.

Our blue room at Casa de Nana Ree - king size bed and private bathroom.

Our blue room at Casa de Nana Ree – king size bed and private bathroom.

Kitchen area - way nicer than my home kitchen.

Kitchen area – way nicer than my home kitchen.

For the most part, we had the house to ourselves, for 2 nights another couple were here from San Miguel de Allende, but they were out a lot. So nice to have space, be able to make a cup of tea or even dinner a couple of nights. After spending less than 100 pesos in the market, and 80 pesos for a roasted chicken, we had enough for 2 dinners and 3 breakfasts.

It's pretty hard to only buy as much as you need at the mercado - all the produce is so fresh and inviting.  Love having a kitchen to use.

It’s pretty hard to only buy as much as you need at the mercado – all the produce is so fresh and inviting. Love having a kitchen to use.

These chickens can be found everywhere - large pit with a fire in the centre and chicken on a stick, or goat on a stick, or even chorizo.  Just delicious.  They chop it up, put it in a container, squeeze lime and orange juice over and for 80 pesos they also throw in some orange habanero salsa.  Fabulous!

These chickens can be found everywhere – large pit with a fire in the centre and chicken on a stick, or goat on a stick, or even chorizo. Just delicious. They chop it up, put it in a container, squeeze lime and orange juice over and for 80 pesos they also throw in some orange habanero salsa. Fabulous.

You never know what is behind a doorway in Mexico.  In this instance, our welcoming and comfortable casa was perfect!

You never know what is behind a doorway in Mexico. In this instance, our welcoming and comfortable casa was perfect!

After a day of hiking, sight seeing or just being a tourist, it is pretty nice to be able to relax on these couches.

After a day of hiking, sight seeing or just being a tourist, it is pretty nice to be able to relax on these couches.

I'm not sure why but Patzcuaro had more old men sitting chatting in the plaza than any other place we've been - they were everywhere.  Socializing and usually laughing.

I’m not sure why but Patzcuaro had more old men sitting chatting in the plaza than any other place we’ve been – they were everywhere. Socializing and usually laughing.

We enjoyed Lupitas a couple of times in Patzcuaro - either for a meal or just a drink in this cozy bar.

We enjoyed Lupitas a couple of times in Patzcuaro – either for a meal or just a drink in this cozy bar.

Outside most of the cathedrals you will find a stall like this one, selling homeopathic remedies.

Outside most of the cathedrals you will find a stall like this one, selling homeopathic remedies.

Patzcuaro is well known for their handicrafts -these beautiful lights are just one example of the amazing art to be found.

Patzcuaro is well known for their handicrafts -these beautiful lights are just one example of the amazing art to be found.

All around Uruapan, and the entire way on the highway from Uruapan to Patzcuaro are avocado trees, as far as you can see.  So interesting to them alongside pine trees.

All around Uruapan, and the entire way on the highway from Uruapan to Patzcuaro are avocado trees, as far as you can see. So interesting to them alongside pine trees.

These photos were taken from the bus window, and hardly do the avocado groves (orchards?) justice.

These photos were taken from the bus window, and hardly do the avocado groves (orchards?) justice.

Being able to make your own guacamole and salsa at the end of a day and just sit with your feet up is so relaxing.

Being able to make your own guacamole and salsa at the end of a day and just sit with your feet up is so relaxing.

Perfect breakfast, fresh mangoes and avocado on toast with coffee.   How's my hair?

Perfect breakfast, fresh mangoes and avocado on toast with coffee.
How’s my hair?

Patzcuaro has been a great place to use as a base for seeing so much in the area, Quiroga, Tzintzuntzan, Isla Janitzia, Morelia and more.

However, the beach is calling our (my?) names so we are off for a night in Uruapan again (mainly to check out a restaurant we have heard about in yet another small town with a big name). Then, it is back to the beach area …..somewhere.

Hasta la vista.

Morelia and Isla Janitzia 28 Jan 2015

Speaking of food ….. and aren’t I usually speaking of food?? We are enjoying Patzcuaro so much we decided to just stay here and do a day trip to Morelia instead of going there for a couple of days. That involved hopping onto a bus and off we went.

Michoacan, and in particular the Morelia area, can be an area of unrest. Often you will see protests, barricades and generally a lot of police. As we were on the bus to Morelia, we saw many trucks of heavily armed police moving very quickly towards Morelia – complete with machine guns mounted on top of the trucks, and police ready to fire. I had a few moments of feeling rather nervous, thinking to myself …. “what the heck are we doing going to Morelia?”…. As we pulled into Morelia we noticed immediately what the panic was …………barbacoa!! Or, barbecue. All the trucks were lined up at their favourite barbecue joint and they were having a great time. Whew.

Exiting the bus, we hopped on to a taxi and went to the main zocalo – always the centre in a Mexican city. And, this is a city. Huge, and major congestion in traffic.

Cathedral in Morelia

Cathedral in Morelia

We were told that we must try gazpacho, Morelia style. Given the instructions to find the market where the best can be found, we set off and walked from the main plaza. And walked, and walked. Eventually we did find the market. Grant is the one that spotted the gazpacho stands, and thankfully he did because I was looking for cold tomato soup, and that is definitely not what this gazpacho is. So incredibly delicious – in some ways it had the entire balance of Thai food – sweet, salty, spicy and tangy. We couldn’t believe how good it was!

Gazpacho stand at the market in Morelia - fruit minced finely, dusted with chiles, orange and cheese traditionally.

Gazpacho stand at the market in Morelia – fruit minced finely, dusted with chiles, orange and cheese traditionally.

Gazpacho, Morelia style - ours was loaded with mango, watermelon and jicama - topped with orange and lime juices with chile flakes … we passed on the cheese.  So refreshing and delicious

Gazpacho, Morelia style – ours was loaded with mango, watermelon and jicama – topped with orange and lime juices with chile flakes … we passed on the cheese. So refreshing and delicious

Strangely enough, in Morelia this famous statue went missing in 1940, and while they never did find out who stole it, the statue itself was replaced.

Fuente Las Taracas: This statue, of Tarascan women, holding a basket of fruit is iconic for the Morelian people.  It was replaced in the 60's after mysteriously disappearing in 1940.

Fuente Las Taracas: This statue, of Tarascan women, holding a basket of fruit is iconic for the Morelian people. It was replaced in the 60’s after mysteriously disappearing in 1940.

In Mexico, always a statue!

In Mexico, always a statue!

Our next stop, strangely enough, was to eat. Hotel Casino’s Restaurant Lu was heartily recommended, along with their tasting menu. Sadly, the tasting menu wasn’t available, and the waiter wasn’t sure when it would be, so we had some of the other regions specialties – equally delicious I’m sure.

Restaurant Lu, and delicious macadamia crusted trout.  That salad was the best I've ever had in Mexico - topped with sugar dusted crunchy jamaica flowers!

Restaurant Lu, and delicious macadamia crusted trout. That salad was the best I’ve ever had in Mexico – topped with sugar dusted crunchy jamaica flowers!

On our way back we decided to go over to Isla Janitzia. This place is a real meca in all of Mexico for Day of the Dead ceremonies. A massive statue dominates the island, with his fist held high you can see it for miles.

Waiting for the ferry boat to go over to Isla Janitzia, with local musicians.

Waiting for the ferry boat to go over to Isla Janitzia, with local musicians.

So many water plants choke the shores these boats struggle getting through.

So many water plants choke the shores these boats struggle getting through.

Arriving to Isla Janitzia, with the statue of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon towering over the small island.  Now to hike up there ...

Arriving to Isla Janitzia, with the statue of Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon towering over the small island. Now to hike up there …

Wow.  He looks bigger up close - are we really going to climb up inside him?

Wow. He looks bigger up close – are we really going to climb up inside him?

Starting the long climb up the island.

Starting the long climb up the island.

HOLY   VERTIGO  !!  We are really going all the way up there (this is INSIDE the statue)!

HOLY VERTIGO !!
We are really going all the way up there (this is INSIDE the statue)!

As we got closer to the top of the statue, inside his arm, it got closer and closer and tighter and tighter and twistier….

As we got closer to the top of the statue, inside his arm, it got closer and closer and tighter and tighter and twistier….

View from the statue on Isla Janitzia

View from the statue on Isla Janitzia

Yes, I was literally clinging to the wall and the railing on the way down.

Yes, I was literally clinging to the wall and the railing on the way down.

Why is going down always so much worse than going up?  For me it certainly is.   I seriously wasn't sure if my wobbly knees were going to collapse, I was going to tinkle, or I was going to cry.

Why is going down always so much worse than going up? For me it certainly is. I seriously wasn’t sure if my wobbly knees were going to collapse, I was going to tinkle, or I was going to cry.

Those are great smiles - mine is of relief and Grant's is of the humour he got out of the whole situation!  We survived the climb, took in the view from the statue's wrist (yes, they have a viewing window around his wrist???)

Those are great smiles – mine is of relief and Grant’s is of the humour he got out of the whole situation! We survived the climb, took in the view from the statue’s wrist (yes, they have a viewing window around his wrist???)

General rule of thumb, if you climb up those steps, you will have to go back down there.

General rule of thumb, if you climb up those steps, you will have to go back down there.

Basketball court on Isla Janitzia - maybe 20 feet by 20 feet, but not really square, and a LONG way down to the water if you lose the ball!

Basketball court on Isla Janitzia – maybe 20 feet x 20 feet, but not really square, and a LONG way down to the water if you lose the ball!

After all that traipsing around and eating, we were happy to stay at our Casa and have chicken soup from a previous night’s leftovers. Amazing what you can do with limited supplies!

Quiroga & Tzintzuntzan 27 Jan 2015

We are in an area famous for their carnitas …. which totally explains why we would hop in a collectivo taxi, then another taxi for a 23 k trip to eat them, right? Right? I’m sure anybody would do the same. What are carnitas you ask??? Pork! And, plenty of it. Basically, seasoned pork simmered in lard until tender. That simple explanation hardly does the dish justice though – you have to try it to believe it.

Following great advice from a couple of bloggers – Cristina at MexicoCooks! and Don Cuevas at My Mexican Kitchen, we indeed made the trek to find a specific carnita stand …. the one under the street light in Quiroga …..

The one stop light in Quiroga, Michoacan.  Carnita heaven.

The one stop light in Quiroga, Michoacan. Carnita heaven.

We wandered the length of the vendors, with each one offering a bite of their pork. Eventually we decided that our instructions must mean the one directly under the light, Carnitas Polo.

Every single one of the vendors had this much pork under cover - absolutely delicious and mouth waveringly tender.

Every single one of the vendors had this much pork under cover – absolutely delicious and mouth waveringly tender.

Here it is - your "go to" carnita cart in Quiroga, Michoacan - Carnitas Polo.

Here it is – your “go to” carnita cart in Quiroga, Michoacan – Carnitas Polo.

Yes, this is 1 taco.  30 pesos of the best carnita in Mexico.  Go to Michoacan and see for yourself!  Buy some guacamole from another vendor, a soft drink from the stand with tables and get set to be amazed.

Yes, this is 1 taco. 30 pesos of the best carnita in Mexico. Go to Michoacan and see for yourself! Buy some guacamole from another vendor, a soft drink from the stand with tables and get set to be amazed.

Obviously we needed to walk a bit after that, so we walked to the other end of town and hopped a collectivo taxi to Tzintzuntzan (pronounced roughly “seen soon san”), and it means Home of the Hummingbirds. Such a beautiful little village – all the buildings painted in the style of Patzcuaro in white and red.

Typical casa, most of the homes and buildings look just like this.

Typical casa, most of the homes and buildings look just like this.

Tzintzuntzan is so beautiful – Lake Patzcuaro is beautiful to look at, but unfortunately I don’t think you would want to swim in it now! There is something about these villages that have been classed as “Pueblo Magico”.

Lake Patzcuaro from Tzintzuntzan

We first toured the Convent of Santa Anna. The community itself is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of this site, and it is probably the most beautifully restored convent we have encountered, and we have seen more than a few! I’m not given to flights of fancy, being more of a linear thinker, and one that wants things to make sense but there is something about these convents or cathedrals that speaks to me and I either feel greatly peaceful or tremendous unrest, anxious and can’t wait to get out. Not predictable in any way.

This convent, built in the 1600's, obviously gave me a great sense of peace. I could have sat in reflection for some time, just looking at the ancient olive trees in the garden.

This convent, built in the 1600’s, obviously gave me a great sense of peace. I could have sat in reflection for some time, just looking at the ancient olive trees in the garden.

Interior courtyard of the former convent, it is easy to imagine the murmurs of voices past in here.

Interior courtyard of the former convent, it is easy to imagine the murmurs of voices past in here.

Typical comida (or kitchen) from days past - love all the pottery and cooking implements.

Typical comida (or kitchen) from days past – love all the pottery and cooking implements.

From the convent, we wandered through the St. Francis of Assisi Church, surrounded by the ancient olive trees (more than 500 years old).

The grounds are beautifully kept, so well maintained and filled with olive trees.

The grounds are beautifully kept, so well maintained and filled with olive trees.

I'm not sure whether it is because worshippers raise their eyes to the heavens when in the building or not, but all cathedrals have such beautiful hand painted ceilings.

I’m not sure whether it is because worshippers raise their eyes to the heavens when in the building or not, but all cathedrals have such beautiful hand painted ceilings.

To this day they still ring this church bell in call to service.

To this day they still ring this church bell in call to service.

In the courtyard we were instructed to look to the corner of the structure and we would find a master of ceramica (or pottery) in the traditional methods of Michoacan. We did indeed find his rickety studio, part of the original structure built in the 1600’s, and he is still creating the most beautiful pieces of art.

Ceramica Tzintzuntzan

the master himself, at work in the same manner they have been doing for years

the master himself, at work in the same manner they have been doing for years

From lumps of raw clay brought in from the surrounding areas, he creates this workable clay.

From lumps of raw clay brought in from the surrounding areas, he creates this workable clay.

His oven - built over 30 years ago.

His oven – built over 30 years ago.

Tzintzuntzan has an archeological site also (honestly, I often think that every mound in Mexico is probably hiding a ruin of some sort!!) This one wasn’t very large but since we needed a walk, we hiked up the hill to view it. First time we have seen one like this – kind of a long straight stretch with rounded fingers coming out from it. Set on the hillside overlooking Lake Patzcuaro it would have been quite a beautiful spot.

Photo of an aerial view of the structure at Tzintzuntzan.

Photo of an aerial view of the structure at Tzintzuntzan.

Typical indigenous fishing family in dugout canoe.

Typical indigenous fishing family in dugout canoe.

It is easy to see why they chose this site.

It is easy to see why they chose this site.

Every region is specific for their handicrafts, and often when you see something in one spot, that is the ONLY place you will see it!

Every region is specific for their handicrafts, and often when you see something in one spot, that is the ONLY place you will see it!

Stay tuned for Morelia!

Uruapan 2015 Jan 25

Pronounced ….. “oo rah pan” …. We took a bus from Zihuatenajo here yesterday morning, and checked into Hotel Mi Solar, a beautiful old hotel built in the early 1940’s to accommodate all the tourists flooding into town to view the site of the newly erupted Volcan Paricutin.

Entry of Hotel Mi Solar

Entry of Hotel Mi Solar

Our beautiful carved headboard

Our beautiful carved headboard

Cozy seating area right outside our room

Cozy seating area right outside our room

Uruapan has a couple of other qualities that make it worth a visit – namely the location of the primary avocado growing! Lining the roads are avocado orchards (groves??) everywhere you look. Some of the trees are so massive I don’t understand how they harvest them.

The next big claim to fame here is Parque Nacional Barranca del Cupatizio – an absolutely enormous natural park in the midst of the city. Waterfalls cascade over boulders and down hillsides in an amazing array of waterfalls. They have also constructed many areas for water falls to allow different paths and it is so beautiful. Very lush and jungle like in the park, many cobbled paths to walk along with a multitude of birds and butterflies. We spent about an hour wandering around and just loved it.

Beautiful water, cascading everywhere

Beautiful water, cascading everywhere

It felt like walking through a jungle along these wide cobbled pathways - so beautiful - very difficult to imagine a big city outside the walls of the park

It felt like walking through a jungle along these wide cobbled pathways – so beautiful – very difficult to imagine a big city outside the walls of the park

El Parque National Uruapan

Kathy @ el Parque National

This is definitely a poor area of Mexico – we have never seen such an amount of graffiti, and vacant buildings just waiting to crumble. Yesterday we did spot a couple of Gringos – but not today. I think few venture into this region.

Today we hopped onto a bus again, to go tour the area of the volcano. This is actually the only known volcano to have erupted while being witnessed. Some poor guy was going about his business in 1943 – just tilling his field (by hand of course) and a bit of his field started to quake, spit bits of fire and steam. He tried to put it out himself but soon realized the futility of it as it just kept growing. Thankfully he alerted the residents of the village and once they realized what was happening, and that they couldn’t control it – the village and the next village both evacuated with haste, taking all their belongings. The volcano erupted for 9 years, and within the first year grew to a height of 410 meters. During this time the lava flow completely obliterated both villages and left only the upper portion of a church uncovered.

After the bus trip, and the long walk to the base of the climb, I was pretty lucky to find some banos ….

After the bus trip, and the long walk to the base of the climb, I was pretty lucky to find some banos ….

Hmmmmm … was I lucky to have found banos …??

Hmmmmm … was I lucky to have found banos …??

Lava rock all around the church, the lower levels completely submerged but this upper portion remained - with the altar intact inside

Lava rock all around the church, the lower levels completely submerged but this upper portion remained – with the altar intact inside

Climbing up the lava rock …. up up up

Climbing up the lava rock …. up up up

DSC01371

The town of Angahuan is the closest to the church and where we went to go tour the area. As soon as we got off the bus we were met by a couple of caballeros (cowboys) with horses trying to talk us into taking a tour. Somehow the idea of a minimum of 6 hours on horseback did not appeal to either of us. A person just needs to be conditioned for riding in order to do that – particularly given that those saddles may be polished enough to look like leather but they are in fact wood!

Horses all over town

Horses all over town

Eventually one guy talked us into letting him guide us for 150 pesos. I am not sure we really needed him, we could have found our way on our own, but he did speak some English and it is always interesting to learn about a village. This village of 12,000 still speaks their native indian language, along with spanish. We thought Uruapan was poor, but this is really a poor village. We weren’t sure if it was prosperous at one time because there seemed to be evidence of larger buildings. All dirt streets or cobblestone, most people get around by old trucks or horseback. Women and children walk everywhere, with all the women still dressed in the traditional fashion, which is very colourful and elaborate. Needless to say I did try to get some photos, but it just isn’t easy to do when in stealth mode.

typical street in Angahuan

typical street in Angahuan

Angahuan street

We went into one village home - hard to see across the room with wood used for heat as well as cooking and poor ventilation - blue corn hanging everywhere to dry.

We went into one village home – hard to see across the room with wood used for heat as well as cooking and poor ventilation – blue corn hanging everywhere to dry.

Jesus, our guide, took us on the 1 hour hike to the base of the lava, over a wide path that manages either trucks, horses or the odd walker (and believe me we were considered odd). The path may be wide but it sure wasn’t easy. I couldn’t decide if it was tougher trying to walk on the lava stone cobblestones which were very jagged and uneven or the lava sand that was literally like walking on a black sandy beach either up or down hill. We made our way through that to the area where you can see the church as it remains. Apparently the lava stopped right at the altar! It was quite amazing to see – and you can see the top of the volcanoes right behind the churches. Eventually there were 2 volcanoes erupting, one spewing lava and one spewing ash.

After making our way down to the base we had a blue corn gordita, which was delicious and then started our hike back to the village.

Maria, making us gorditas from blue corn flour - traditional methods and traditional clothing used in this village.

Maria, making us gorditas from blue corn flour – traditional methods and traditional clothing used in this village.

Quite the stove set up Maria has ….. and no cutting board, just cut everything right into her hand and then the pot.

Quite the stove set up Maria has ….. and no cutting board, just cut everything right into her hand and then the pot.

Blue corn gorditas stuffed with potato and chorizo

Blue corn gorditas stuffed with potato and chorizo

As we got through the village and close to the highway we saw the bus pull away ….. meaning just sitting there to wait for the next bus and that is always a questionable idea. Within minutes a collectivo came along – a van type bus that people just pile in and out of. We were able to fit in, and thus began our most harrowing drive of this trip ….. speed limits being mere suggestions and all of this over crazy winding roads. At one point he even moved over to the right (in a 40k zone) in order to go PAST 2 police trucks at 80 k!! Before we knew it, the little adorable snotty nosed sleeping 2 year old girl in the seat next to mine started doing a familiar sounding cough ….. obviously the next step was listening to her vomit. Grant convinced the guys up front to open the window and for the rest of the trip to town I practiced “mind over matter” in an effort to not do the same. I can handle all sorts of crap, but that is not one of them. I was afraid the guy behind the little girl might start next as he started to do that kind of cough thing but he held onto it.

Once we were out of the van I was so happy to be walking – stepped into the first bodega and bought a bag of lime chips and then we headed to a tea shop for a bracing cup of manzanillo tea. Whew.

Tomorrow we are headed for Patzcuaro, and staying at an AirBNB place where hopefully I can do a little cooking and we can get our clothes laundered as well.

Hasta la vista

Barra de Potosi and Playa Blanca 2015 Jan

White sands, whales spouting, waves crashing – a little piece of
paradise just outside the hustle and bustle of Zihuatenajo. An easy
local bus took us to La Chote from Zihua, then we hopped into the back
of a truck for the 10 k trip down to the beach area. The village (or
Barra) is called Barra de Potosi, and the long white sand beach is
Playa Blanca. Talk about a sleepy little village. There are 4
“roads”, each about 2-3 blocks long, and one of them is even
concreted! Everything is referenced by “the concrete road”. We got a
room at Villa Tuparaiso, which is just perfect – well almost perfect,
truly perfect would include a pool. 4 units are side by side, with
lovely grounds and a communal kitchen that is better stocked than any
shared kitchen I have come across on our travels through Mexico.
Towels are plump, bed is comfy and the rooms are cleaned daily; if
anybody is looking for a business venture down south – the German that
owns the place is ready to retire.

Best shared kitchen we have ever experienced on our trips in Mexico.  Villas Tuparaiso is so well looked after.

Best shared kitchen we have ever experienced on our trips in Mexico. Villas Tuparaiso is so well looked after.

After arrival we sat in lounge chairs or hammocks under a palapa at
the beach – eating avocado stuffed with shrimp and drinking lemonade –
honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this for lifestyle.

Today we used the communal bikes and went for a 3 k cycle down the
paved road and veered off to follow the beach on a dusty dirt road –
easy riding as it is so flat, and if anybody is looking to buy a place
we did see a lot of “si vende” or FOR SALE signs. Coconut groves on
one side, and the white sand beach on the other – not a bad place for
a bike ride.

10 miles of white sand make up this bay - Playa Blanca

10 miles of white sand make up this bay – Playa Blanca

Once we returned to our villa (which is housing 2 other Canadian
couples and 1 couple from US) I squeezed up some fresh orange juice
and we set off down the beach for a 2 k walk to Cabanas Chula Vida,
which apparently means the good life, and that it is.

Looking for a relaxed, quiet spot on the beach to swing in a hammock, listen to waves crash, and watch whales spout??  This is your spot … Cabanas Chula Vida

Looking for a relaxed, quiet spot on the beach to swing in a hammock, listen to waves crash, and watch whales spout?? This is your spot … Cabanas Chula Vida

Boy oh boy, it's a rough life.

Boy oh boy, it’s a rough life.

We read in hammocks, and then had the best beach meal ever in Mexico – dorado
with guajilla chiles and garlic grilled and served with perfectly
grilled veg, tomatoes, red pepper, zucchini and nopales (cactus).

Grilled over an open wood fire, dorado served with a guajillo chile sauce and perfectly grilled veg - not something we see often down here!

Grilled over an open wood fire, dorado served with a guajillo chile sauce and perfectly grilled veg – not something we see often down here!

Another table ordered the tuna carpaccio, and if we were staying another day I would have ordered that in a heartbeat it looked so fabulous and it was described as absolutely devine. All the while we were watching whales surface, blow a bit, perhaps toss their tail or shoulder up, and continue on. I was surprised how close to shore they were.

A 2 mile walk from our place in Barra de Potosi to Cabanas Chula Vida, in the sun, waves and whales.  Not a bad day at all!

A 2 mile walk from our place in Barra de Potosi to Cabanas Chula Vida, in the sun, waves and whales. Not a bad day at all!

Tomorrow it is off to Uruapan – more inland, so we will be leaving the
beach lifestyle for a bit – but certain to return!!

Hasta la vista.

Zihuatenajo

Something about beach life just makes everything slower …. like sleeping 9-10 hours a night …..

The sun slipping over the horizon in Zihuatenajo

The sun slipping over the horizon in Zihuatenajo

In the past we have stayed at Angela’s Hostel – it is now named Angelita’s Hostel – but closed and up for sale. We chose a smaller hotel right down the street – Fiesta Paraiso. The beds are super hard, but otherwise the rooms are comfy and clean – and the pool is delightful. If we only had a kitchen it would be great for a longer stay. And – 400 pesos per night which is pretty close to perfect.

Poolside at Hotel Fiesta Paraiso - pretty easy way to relax after a busy day at the beach ...

Poolside at Hotel Fiesta Paraiso – pretty easy way to relax after a busy day at the beach …

Along with beach towns comes a more limited menu and every little beach palapa will pretty much have the same thing on the menu, so pick the place with the comfiest looking chairs! We did yesterday – at Los Gatos beach and enjoyed a great day in the sunshine, swimming, reading and chatting with Canadian neighbours … yes, only Canadians at our little chosen spot. The couple next to us – Alison and Rauz, are a retired couple from Kelowna and they stated we have given them the encouragement they needed to explore a bit more, in particular Mexico City. No doubt we will get together at home to share a few notes! (and maybe a glass of wine)

The beach at Los Gatos - an easy water taxi ride over from Zihuatenajo - beautiful water, lots of loungers to relax in - just watch out for those guys trying to help you in and out of the boat - they are not official in any way, and will want a tip for helping you!!  (whether or not you need it) :o)

The beach at Los Gatos – an easy water taxi ride over from Zihuatenajo – beautiful water, lots of loungers to relax in – just watch out for those guys trying to help you in and out of the boat – they are not official in any way, and will want a tip for helping you!! (whether or not you need it) :o)

After our return from the beach we wandered up to a place recommended – Taqueria Papas Loca. This place takes baked stuffed potato to a whole new level. They had a whole row of baked potatoes ready to go, which they then stuff with your choice of fillings; I chose bacon, shrimp and tomato, Grant chose tacos al pastor, pork and pineapple. They were delicious! Huge too … we really should have shared!

These guys work crazy fast - choices of toppings go onto the grill surface, cooked up and diced while the other guy opens the potato, stirs in sour cream and butter, mixes it all in together, toppings applied, cheese applied, lid on to steam it a bit, and presto … whew.

These guys work crazy fast – choices of toppings go onto the grill surface, cooked up and diced while the other guy opens the potato, stirs in sour cream and butter, mixes it all in together, toppings applied, cheese applied, lid on to steam it a bit, and presto … whew.

As you can see - you are pretty much sitting in a parking lot.  There is some seating indoors also thankfully under a fan.  This place is crazy busy and the staff work like frantic bees rushing around.  Just as many takeouts as eating in.

As you can see – you are pretty much sitting in a parking lot. There is some seating indoors also thankfully under a fan. This place is crazy busy and the staff work like frantic bees rushing around. Just as many takeouts as eating in.

Today’s activity was much like yesterday …. beaching it! We walked to La Ropa beach and sat ourselves on the lounge chairs, much like the other Canadian and American tourists and sunned ourselves, swam in the waves and read our books – this after a 10 hour sleep!! When we were exhausted form all that activity we dragged ourselves upstairs and enjoyed a massage with the sound of the waves crashing while we had a very therapeutic massage – those girls really knew what they were doing.

La Ropa Beach at Zihuatenajo

La Ropa Beach at Zihuatenajo

ahhhhhhhh

ahhhhhhhh

Walking back we noticed an Italian getting his place ready to go, so ordered a Napolitano pizza (he is from Naples, and this is his specialty), tomato sauce, anchovies and capers. It was delicious, and we ate that as an appie beside the pool.

Tomorrow we are heading out – perhaps to Barra de Potosi, a very small beach town not far from here …. if it has adequate internet access you will no doubt hear from us there!

Barbacoa por la desayuna .. .. ?? Si! si! More on Mexico City!

Barbacoa por la desayuna?? Si … Si!!

Our flight to Mexico City was a bit bumpier than usual, but nothing too bad. Arriving at Hotel Puebla around midnight we settled in to a familiar neighbourhood – Roma Norte.

In the morning we were up and on the streets before Mexico City (DF) really came alive. In Grant’s usual fashion we were walking to breakfast about 5 blocks away …. Really I am not sure how many increments of those 5 blocks we walked … maybe 45 minutes? We found El Hidalguense Barbacoa … .this place is only open on the weekends, Friday through Sunday, and usually sells out by noon to 2 ish.

Barbacoa La Higuedense - this lamb pit roasted all night resting on maguey leaves - mouth waveringly tender and delicious.

Barbacoa La Higuedense – this lamb pit roasted all night resting on maguey leaves – mouth waveringly tender and delicious.

The only thing on the menu is barbecued lamb and its accompaniments. Many of them ….
The lamb is butchered and put into a pit to roast and steam on top of maguey leaves (the plant that produces mescal or tequila). The entire lamb is put into this, along with seasonings. There is no testing for seasoning through the cooking process, once it is sealed up with the ingredients and covered with yet more maguey leaves the pit is sealed and the lamb allowed to barbecue roast overnight. In the early hours of the morning the lamb is removed from the pit, juices are poured off to create the soup, and the lamb pieces (included the stomach) removed to another maguey leaf lined wooden crate to keep warm. This is then sold in the restaurant along with all the accompaniments, or sold by the kg to go. This place is busy! With good reason too, the lamb was delicious, and those blue corn tortillas so perfect for serving.

el Hidalguense lamb barbacoa (incorrectly spelled on previous photo!)

el Hidalguense lamb barbacoa (incorrectly spelled on previous photo!)

Our appetites are not used to such a meat fest early in the morning though so we were not really able to do it justice in the form of eating a lot of it, but what we did eat we thought was fantastic. The broth of that soup was unbelievable.

We set out to walk it off and we found a new market – Roma Norte Mercado Organico. This place takes the usual Mexican Mercado to another whole level. What a beautiful building! Such tiny little spots sell a variety of amazing food and beverages. In this market we finally found the sea salt from Cuyutlan that we had walked blocks in search of on our last trip here … Wilson wanted that blog called “Salt of the Earth” ….

Just 1 shot of the magnificent interior of the newest market, in Roma Norte - Mexico City.  Amazing food.

Just 1 shot of the magnificent interior of the newest market, in Roma Norte – Mexico City. Amazing food.

Grant had read about the Mercado, and about the amazing Portuguese tart sold there … naturally we had to try it – yes breakfast dessert following barbecue … I’m still dreaming of the delicious crispy flakiness of the pastry combined with the luscious cream filling.

Exterior of Carlos Slim Gallery (dedicated to his wife), like a shimmering mirror.

Exterior of Carlos Slim Gallery (dedicated to his wife), like a shimmering mirror.

Next was a taxi to a swanky neighbourhood – Polanco. Definitely easy to tell just how swanky by the size of the Saks 5th Ave store ….. Our destination was an art museum built by an individual that was once the wealthiest man in the world – the owner of Telcel, Carlos Slim. Hard to even describe this building, looking like a mirror of unusual proportions … inside is an even harder to describe art gallery – totally round interior in white with wooden floors.

Interior - the entire upper floor filled with the most incredible sculptors work.

Interior – the entire upper floor filled with the most incredible sculptors work.


The first painting to greet us was a Van Gogh! In order to ascend the building, you walk up a sloped ramp along the outside perimeter. Not only are the walls sloping towards you (stay away from the outside edge or you’ll bonk your head) the floors have a slight slope as well. Totally disconcerting, and yes – a little vertiginous. The art housed in the gallery is just beyond belief – Salvador Dali, Monet, Renoir, and Rodin and on and on and on.

Renoir landscapes

Renoir landscapes

One of the many Salvador Dali pieces “Alice in Wonderland”

Italian sculptor - B. Lombardi created this phenomenal lady with a veil

Italian sculptor – B. Lombardi created this phenomenal lady with a veil


It is just wonderful that all this artwork is free to view, and not only that – not behind any type of glass or protective barrier aside from a few of the sculptures that are just to delicate to risk. Alongside all this prestigious artwork is an entire floor dedicated to Sophia Loren – her clothing worn in movies, as well as clothing worn on a daily basis. Again – none of this behind any type of barrier. The Oscar however was in a glass case.

One of the many Sophia Loren outfits from her movies.

One of the many Sophia Loren outfits from her movies.

Lunch was street tacos – pretty much guaranteed to be fabulous in Mexico – and for the grand prize of less than $5.00 we enjoyed shrimp, pork, and chicken tacos with some nice cold water. Served up in a jiffy you – feeling somewhat like you were at Subway – you chose your own toppings for the owner/chef to heap on.

Tacos la Hola - another favourite taco joint on the streets of Mexico city.

Tacos la Hola – another favourite taco joint on the streets of Mexico city.


Salsas and lime available for your own final seasoning and the whole thing was mouth watering, finger licking good. On our way back to Hotel Puebla we stopped at La Ceverceria for a drink – Grant got a cerveca and I got a gin – you should have seen Grant’s eyes pop at the amount of gin he watched the bartender free hand pour in – I was hardly able to get much soda water in there!

Siesta time for a bit – so nice to stretch out after walking a number of 5 block increments.

Dinner was at Yuban – we had been there with Hayley and the girls shortly after they opened a year ago. The place was a lot busier, and with a new team of staff members they are executing Oaxacan cuisine even better than previously.

Yuban Restaurant - absolutely fabulous Oaxacan cuisine.

Yuban Restaurant – absolutely fabulous Oaxacan cuisine.

Venison @ Yuban

Venison @ Yuban


My only concern was the price of a glass of wine – 150 pesos, which is hugely pricey when a top end meal is 236 pesos. Did I splurge anyway? You bet – twice. I’m worth it. We aren’t sure if they thought I was a famous blogger or not with all the photos I was taking but we sure were treated well, including a complimentary house cocktail at the end of the meal – without question the best mescal cocktail I have ever had.

Pretty darn impossible to not love a mescal cocktail that tastes as good as it looks!

Pretty darn impossible to not love a mescal cocktail that tastes as good as it looks!

Smoky mescal combined with refreshing cucumber is a great combo. The new house manager – a young guy, also offered to take us on a 4 hour drive to the smaller village in Oaxaca were they source all their ingredients to make their cuisine. I would have jumped at the chance but Grant remembers those roads better than I ……….. In the end, he also gave me his email and said that if I was ever coming back to be sure to let him know so that he was able to take good care of us … hmm – I’m quite sure he has never heard of http://www.chattykathychatsandcooks.com but you just never know.

After a good night’s sleep we had a quick 5 block walk (translate about 30 minutes) to Monica Patina’s deli – we’ve been there before with the family and you will all know right away how good it was.

Back to the hotel to catch a taxi to the airport and an Interjet flight to Zihuatenajo. Sunshine here we come.