San Pedro Cholula

dsc03134Once upon a time San Pedro Cholula was a city with evident boundaries … now it is hard to tell where Puebla ends and Cholula begins.  The largest pyramid (by land mass) was only discovered after the Spaniards decided to build a church on top of the best vantage point.  During construction they found artifacts suggesting previous inhabitants of the land ….. sure enough, the whole hillside is a pyramid.  The church remains, but it is now possible to go in through tunnels and come out the other side.  Interestingly enough for me, on another of my visits to this area I discovered my little brother Bruce is afraid of heights!  And this wasn’t even from a high vantage point, ha ha.  Still love you anyway Bruce.

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Another beautiful cathedral in Mexico, each with their own beauty.  I seem to photograph a lot of them.

Wilson:  You take a lot of photos of churches because it is all about you.

Me:  Blank look

Wilson:  You know …… Kathy-drals …..(yes, cathedrals)  yuk yuk

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No matter what church you find to photograph, you are also certain to find some sort of festivities going on.  Who knew what this one was, but they sure were loving it.

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The view from the grounds around the church.  It is easy to understand why the spaniards chose this location to build on … the vantage point is incredible.  In the foreground is an ex-convent.

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dsc03140The ex-convent is a beautiful spot to tour also, huge grounds and so peaceful inside.

Cholula is a short distance from Puebla itself and well worth the trip out for a few hours.  From the church grounds you also get a great view of the voladores climbing up their tall pole.

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These guys fling themselves off the top of the pole, backwards and with a rope wrapped around one ankle slowly spiral all the way around the pole, lowering themselves to the ground.  Not sure what their Workers Comp rates would be, but it would never fly in Canada!

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Puebla

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One thing is constant in Mexico, and that is cathedrals – each area uses the stone from that region, so they all have a slightly different colour to the rock but in all cases, they are beautiful.

 

 

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We have just missed “Day of the Dead” celebrations, and everywhere is evidence of the festivities.  Really, it might sound morbid, but it is a lovely and fascinating way of celebrating all those that have passed before us.  Family and friends gather to discuss and remember the loved ones, their favourite foods are cooked and the parties are endless.

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Our 3rd time in Puebla, and I finally bought a small piece of the pottery Puebla is famous for, Talavera Pottery.  The clay is sourced locally and most colors are also found naturally in local areas.  Blue is the only colour they import, from Morocco.  All colours are made from natural and traditional dyes.  They have over 100 employees in this building – we did a tour and the place just went on forever. It takes about 8 weeks for each piece of clay to become a piece of pottery, get fired numerous times, painted, glazed, hand marked with the year and then prepared for sale.  I asked about seconds, because I didn’t see any in the shop, but they don’t sell any seconds – instead the pottery is broken up and sold by the kilo for work in art pieces.

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Inside the Uriarte Gallery – established in 1824, and specializing in certified Talavera Pottery.  Until very recently it was exclusively managed by the Uriarte family, however recently it has been bought out and is now owned by 3 Mexicans and 1 Canadian.dsc03179This large stone goes around the rocks to crush them (in this case the blue stones) and once it is a fine powder they add the water to get their colour.  This stone is now powered by electricity but for years it was by a donkey going in circles.  Poor guy.

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Clay work stations, small pieces are created by hand on the wheel, (anything that is in size from fingertips to elbows) and larger pieces are created with molds.

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Pieces air dry first, before being fired in the kiln – now heated with gas where it was previously wood or coal.

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After being fired the pieces air dry again.

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Once fired, there are a couple of guys that spend all day correcting minor imperfections by sanding.  Before glazing anything they test each piece to see if it has survived the firing without any damage to the piece – the sound is amazingly bell like on a good piece, and very dull on a piece with a hairline crack that the eye can barely see.

dsc03168This guy attentively dips every single piece into the glazing.  We couldn’t believe how quickly it dried onto the pottery.  After this it is ready for another firing.

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Talk about dedication – this sole employee is responsible for hand signing (with a donkey hair brush) each and every single one of the pieces produced.

dsc03175First painting – then more firing.  The firing changes the colour significantly – the light blue turns very strong, and the orange turns yellow.

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This definitely requires attention to detail.

We loved the tour and each came home with a small piece.  Difficult when travelling – it would have been nice to come home with more!

Puebla is known for food, and one of their specialties is the cemita.  A sandwich, to end all sandwich dreams.  dsc03137

Piled high with (traditionally) pork Milanesa style, avocado, cheese, lettuce, onions and served in a special bun, which is what makes it a cemita, other than a “torta” (sandwich).

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Fusion has hit Mexico and these are upscale cemita’s.  Served with some delicious dipping sauces that really hit the spot.

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Moles are another big thing here, and I don’t mean little critters.  Pronounced “molay”, it really just means sauce.

fullsizeoutput_46f9Enchiladas tres moles.  Means, enchiladas served with the 3 traditional Mole sauces – the red is Colaradito pepper sauce, the black is mole negro, made typically with leftover tortillas cooked until they are black and ash like and chocolate.  The green is a pipian mole, made with pumpkin seeds.  That sounds simplistic and it certainly is not a simple sauce.  Each one has many many ingredients, and every cook/chef is very protective of their recipe.

fullsizeoutput_46faMixiote (pronounced misheeote).  Really fabulous meat dish cooked low and slow in parchment paper, in this case lamb.  The flavour is out of this world.  In days gone by the parchment paper would have been ant larvae, but now they settle for parchment.

fullsizeoutput_46f8Tinga.  Sounds easy, and looks kind of boring, but one bite and you will wake up.  Honestly, so frickin delicious.

fitbitYes, that really does say we walked 15.89 km in one day.  At that rate we can eat and drink whatever we want!!

churro-lineupSo, needless to say in Mexico, that means Churros.  This place had a line up every night and it was easy to see why.  Delicious, no really really delicious.

got-the-churrosFinally made it to the front of the line.

churros-yumThe best …. sorry, photo is blurry.

dsc03159Taken through the window, this guy works incredibly hard hand stirring this massive pot of churro dough – SUPER impressive.

dsc03158If you haven’t done enough walking in a day, there are always other snacking options too ….. every street will have vendors selling fruit or vegetables.  Our favourite is jicama and cucumber,  sprinkled with salt,  lime squeezed over and lightly drizzled with hot sauce.

snacksPuebla is a beautiful city, in fact probably one of the cleanest and home of the most courteous drivers!  They stop for yellow lights and pedestrians…. amazing.

Petroglyphs and more

We decided that we really had to do a bit of exploring in this area, particularly knowing that a short distance away, and a very decent hike …. are petroglyphs over 2000 years old.

Heading towards Alta Vista we set off on a 3 km hike into the jungle.  This area is unbelievably lush, and once you get off the beach I think the vines would threaten to cover everything if left unattended.  I truly expected Mowgli to come along, swinging from the tree tops on those long vines.  Vivian was more than a little nervous …. a few squeaks out of her as she claimed that she was WAY out of her comfort zone.  I think she was afraid that it would be Ka she saw, not Mowgli.

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We were very happy that it was a bit overcast today, and we were  thankful to be in the jungle for enough of it that we weren’t collapsing with the heat.  (just the humidity)

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The trail led us through citrus groves and guava orchards – incredibly beautiful.

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The most colourful butterflies kept us company along the way.

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Love the way this little guy blends in with the flowers.

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Orange trees everywhere.

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We did try one that LOOKED ripe …. it most definitely was not.

More than a few cows wondered where we were going …

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It was 3 km in for this hike, and so lush in that jungle setting.

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These “strangler” trees wrap their way around other trees until they have virtually taken over!

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Some of the petroglyphs were moss covered, others very easy to visualize.

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So many spots in Mexico contain areas like this – something created by the human hand thousands of years ago – still here for us to view.

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Hot, tired and happy – perfect photo opportunity.

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It was quite a strange feeling in this area, where people lived and worked thousands of years ago, and it still contains a bit of that mystical feeling.  This is certainly one of those moments that stays in the memory bank.

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We really had to wonder if an earthquake sometime in the past scattered all these boulders.

This area is well known for pineapples, bananas, and salt production …. the sea salt definitely has the taste of the ocean, unlike sea salt we have purchased in the stores at home.

Just as critical as salt …. sweet!!  Mexicans love their sweet treats and they are in abundance everywhere.

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Sweets galore, mostly made of coconut or tamarind.

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Bags of sea salt for sale.

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I forgot … limes also!  They are growing everywhere.

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Far off in those hills they also have coffee plantations.  We bought some today that was roasted last night!

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Fresh pineapple here never seems as acidic as it is at home.

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If you haven’t had fresh ceviche at a beach, or beach town … what are you waiting for?

We’ve certainly had a few adventures trying to find beaches  ….. signs stating that a beach is ahead, however we come to a locked gate or such a big puddle we can’t progress any farther.

I think we we would all agree that Chacala is a wonderful destination for a relaxing beach holiday.  If you do happen to see a beach vendor, go ahead and buy those peanuts – they are amazing!

This is a very small village, our casa is right beside the kindergarten – naturally a family lives there also.

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These kids are probably 6 and 4 – they have been busy folding their own laundry off those clotheslines!

After tonight it is time for us once again to say:

Hasta la vista la playa (see ya later beach) and head back to a cold winter at home …. until January!

Beach life at Chacala

Life at the beach quickly settles in a rhythmic system ….. it goes something like:

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Casa Monarca, Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico  ….. Our home for 8 days and a great place for relaxation.

Wake up, make coffee and breakfast and relax

Sit beside the pool and read and relax

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Go to the ocean to bob in the waves, read, maybe have a soda water and relax

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This beautiful bay at Chacala is perfect for bobbing in waves, with water as warm as the air.  Sometimes the waves get a big bigger when the tide is coming in, but overall a relaxing place to swim – yep, even for me.

Head back to the pool for a refreshing dip, (pool water is cooler than the ocean), read and relax

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Yes, by this time of day we are relaxing with wine …

Make guacamole and salsa to enjoy on the rooftop deck and relax

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Fresh salsa and guacamole on the rooftop deck, with an incredible view of the ocean – fabulous sunsets.

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Prepare and eat dinner in our well stocked kitchen

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I know, you are probably thinking that blender is whipping up margaritas, but nope.  So far it has been used for salad dressing, achiote marinade for pollo pibil, and salsa roja.

Go for a post dinner walk and an ice cream bar

Come home to relax before bed

Repeat that again the next day ……

If we break out of our relax mode we might just make it to the petroglyphs and the major market in La Penita … stay tuned (I know, you are on the edge of your seats).  We have to be on the edge of our seats, it is too hot to be anywhere else, we stick.

Chacala, Nayarit, Mexico

Beach life ……

Thursday began with a rude awakening at 5:30 a.m., in order to meet our driver down at the Teatro Principal for the journey to Guadajuanato Airport.

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Through sleepy path ways our suitcases rattle along.

At this point we feel like the only people in Guanajuato awake.

However, of course not!  Right at the steps of Teatro Principal we found our driver, Israel.  Off we went …..

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If possible, the tunnels seem even more eery when we are the only car driving along …..

The flight itself was smooth and quick, a far cry from our lengthy journey by bus to get inland.  Oh, if only that volcano hadn’t been acting up!

My brother Bruce and our cousin Doug met us at the PV airport.  Bruce seemed to think that we were all going to fit into that VW bug, along with our luggage.  Not a freaking chance.  I ended up with Bruce and the luggage and the rest of the crew went in a taxi.  Doug had his own version of a Mexican Harley … his scooter.

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This does look a bit like a cartoon ……

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A far cry from the world of Mexican VW beetles, we stopped at Doug and Mona’s swanky condo …… However, that world is out of our budget and so off we went.

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At long last … the beach!  We have arrived in Chacala, which will be our home for the rest of the trip.  Time to relax, swim and just soak up some vitamin D.  So fabulous to have a visit with Bruce.  After lunch he and the VW bug made their way to PV, but we know he will be back!

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Our first sunset from the deck at our home, Casa Monarca.

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No groceries purchased yet, so we wandered down to the beach for dinner while listening to the waves crash on the beach … these coconut shrimp were just delicious!

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Waiting for the collectivo to take us into Las Varas, the largest centre to get some groceries.  Chacala has a decent assortment of small spots to get fruit and vegetables, but that is about it.

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As you can see, it is really busy here, not sure we can handle the crowds.

With about 300 full-time residents, Chacala is a small fishing village – very rustic and quaint.

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As  we arrived in Las Varas the parade celebrating the Revolution of 1910 had just begun.  Or, as Grant would say, it was his planning that had us arriving there in time for the parade!  In any case, this is a big deal down here, with people of all ages taking part.  Probably the longest parade we have ever seen.

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We missed the youngest children, but the kids of all ages were wearing the most beautiful outfits.  I had to feel sorry for them as we were sweating without wearing elaborate clothing!

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Just loved the way this group were dressed in the traditional regional attire from around Mexico.

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Cutest little daycare group sitting watching the parade, needless to say their favourite part was having candy thrown at them from the floats.

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Although worn in the parade as depicting the traditional attire, don’t think it isn’t still used as such – when we are in rural Mexico, in small villages, this is still what people are wearing.

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It’s not all traditional though ….. these little cheerleaders were high energy and very good.

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Unless you live in Mexico, I am sure you haven’t seen this in your local parade – teenagers making margaritas and passing them out to other teenagers!

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Sorry Vivi, but I had to include this photo …. It makes me think of that expression that goes something like “a picture is worth a thousand words..”  Hot, tired and hungry all Vivi wants is to be fed, not try and understand a menu.

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Taken from our balcony, after a strenuous and exhausting day getting groceries, parade watching and bobbing in the Pacific Ocean it is very nice to be able to come home and sit on our loungers while still listening to the waves crash behind us.

Chacala is about 1 1/2 – 2 hours north of Puerta Vallarta and a great place to come if you want to get away from it all.

 

Guanajuato

Tuesday morning it was time to leave San Miguel de Allende and move on to Guanajuato.  That trip turned out to be pretty simple!  We walked out our door, dragging our suitcases and walked down to the main drag, literally 7 minutes (down, 15 back up Vivi says).  We flagged down a taxi to take us to the bus station, but then asked him how much to take us directly to Guanajuato … 600 pesos and the deal was made.  Off we went.  Things were super easy until we got into Guanajuato and it became apparent that our driver had never been into the big city of Guanajuato.  Thankfully he had no problem flagging down any and all pedestrians to ask for directions to “Teatro Principal”.  Eventually, many tunnels later, we found it, much to his relief but I think he was a bit worried about getting out of the maze.

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Strangely enough, the last time Grant and I were in Guanajuato, we were also dropped off at Teatro Principal by the taxi driver.  That time we argued with him that it was not our address, and after much gesticulation, we understood that our driver could NOT drive to the destination, this was as far as a car could go.  Pretty funny this time when the same thing happened, and we were met by our hosts in order to walk up and up and up.

Guanajuato is built with most of its road system underground, in tunnels that were formerly underground rivers.  Above ground there are very narrow streets, single lane with SUPER skinny sidewalks, single file if you are thin.  I don’t know how anybody builds a house here, or even buys a new fridge.  Very few roads, with all the houses built up on the hillsides, and only narrow pathways or stairs to get to them.

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We took a few photos of our path down to the centro, just so we could find our way back through the maze!

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This is the University of Guanajuato – 25,000 students here really give the whole area that student buzz.

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The view from our balcony at Guanajuato.

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I think we have certainly had our fair share of odd things to check out in Mexico, but this was right up there in bizarre stuff …… We went to the mummy museum.  The first mummy dug up was in 1865, and there are more than 100 remains on display. Authorities were shocked to find not skeletons, but mummified bodies, complete with clothing and shoes intact. Somehow the lime in the soil kept these mummies preserved.

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Just weird.

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The buildings are colourful, and just beautiful – every street is so pretty.  A really clean city as well.

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Pretty much the first order of business when we get to a new location is to purchase fresh tortillas – ready for breakfast.

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The streets are lined with sculptures.

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After our long hike UP UP UP to the mummy museum we stopped for a coffee, hot chocolate and pastry ….. Wilson was a little disconcerted to realize that glass in the floor beside him was a view of the tunnels and road system below the city.

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Our living room (salon) in Guanajuato, and yes, another night of salsa and guacamole before going out for dinner.

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Basilica interior – the churches are often very ornate, but this was incredible. . . chandeliers everywhere and absolutely stunning.  A real sense of the wealth behind the Catholic church, yet incredibly peaceful.

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I know, I can’t get enough of the house colours around here …. but I think it might be time to paint my kitchen this shade of blue!

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I love the way each little neighbourhood has its own courtyard for socializing.  The further away from the centro that you get, the quieter it will be.

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We went to Diego Rivera’s home, where he lived in his early years.  It has been restored beautifully and not only houses much of his own work, but two of the floors are used as art galleries.

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Honestly, sorry, can’t remember the name of this artist, but impressionist art is a bit lost on me ….

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However, this one of his we both loved.

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One floor was devoted to photographs of life in Angola, and these photos were so captivating I just couldn’t believe it.

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These would have made amazing prints to purchase and take away, but there weren’t any for sale.

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There is simply no reason to be hungry in Mexico – without looking too hard it is easy to find a vendor selling cut up fruit and vegetables – sprinkle on a bit of chile, lime and salt and find yourself a park bench to sit on.  Those are plentiful too!

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We made it to the top of the look out – a monument to El Pipila overlooking Guanajuato – quite a steep climb.  We had planned to take the funicular (tram) but it wasn’t working.

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I’m really hoping that one of the many photos I have taken of this picturesque city will turn out well enough to be enlarged and hung on a wall – it is truly one of the most beautiful cities.

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Waiting for our “comida” – the mid day meal is the most economical way to eat in Mexico.  This four course meal is usually around 70-90 pesos and is pretty much always a great idea.  Today turned out to have a bit of a surprise …. one of the words in the first choice was unfamiliar to me.  I did recognize tomato, peppers and onions so I thought it might be a vegetable dish, and since I knew the next course I was choosing was pork, we went with that.  Sure, there were a few of those vegetables in there ….. but it was mainly cut up weiners!!!

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Really??  says Vivi …… these last few steep steps into our home almost do her in …..

 

On Thursday morning we say Hasta la vista to Guanajuato and fly from Leon to Puerta Vallarta, and from there to beach life at Chacala, where Casa Monarca awaits us …..

 

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

One thing I don’t think (no, I’m sure) I’ve ever had to prepare for in travel plans is for volcanic activity delays …. We started out our trip in Vernon at 8 ish on Wed morning – all flights looking like they are just fine and dandy ……. Flight to Calgary was smooth and simple – got there to find out we had a 2 hour delay before our next flight to Puerto Vallarta. Next thing we knew it was cancelled altogether due to the volcanic ash in the air from activity in Colima, Jalisco, Mexico. It was a definite no fly zone. I suppose we could look on the bright side and be grateful that we weren’t on the flight the day before – they flew all the way to 30 minutes from Puerto Vallarta before being turned around, and came all the way back to Calgary. Now, that would have been frustrating.

In any case, we found ourselves spending the night at the Clarion Hotel in Calgary before again leaving for the airport at 5:30 a.m. This time it was clear and sunny in Puerta Vallarta, so the flight went off without any issues. Sadly for us, this meant we missed our flight to Leon in Guanajuato state.

Not to be deterred we got off the plane, walked across the street for a marvellous taco and hopped into a taxi to go check out the bus schedules. Two buses later and a night in Guadalajara we arrived in San Miguel de Allende. Simple, right? Maybe, but it took 52 hours of travel time!

Right across the street from the PV airport, these amazing fish tacos are huge and will immediately satisfy your craving for a taste of Mexico.

Right across the street from the PV airport, these amazing fish tacos are huge and will immediately satisfy your craving for a taste of Mexico.

This was my dainty little shrimp taco (camarones), and it was anything but dainty - however it was delicious!

This was my dainty little shrimp taco (camarones), and it was anything but dainty – however it was delicious!

Our Mexican dining room in San Miguel de Allende, we love it here!

Our Mexican dining room in San Miguel de Allende, we love it here!

As the sun starts to set over San Miguel de Allende you can see the pastel colours and the amazing view from our rooftop deck.

As the sun starts to set over San Miguel de Allende you can see the pastel colours and the amazing view from our rooftop deck.

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This is the most beautiful office I’ve ever  worked, and done my blog from, and it looks out over amazing flowers and garden area – the wall is all window.

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Our first day we walked about five hours, and no I’m not exaggerating ….. in these areas you are either walking up or down hill – no flat areas.

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Yes – we walked all the way up from San Miguel to El Charco – the botanical gardens.  About 1.5 km up and then it was about 3 km walk through the gardens before heading down.

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Amazing cactus throughout the botanical gardens.

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Having heard that these red fruits on the cactus plant are edible, Grant plucked one off … trying to avoid the spikes (not totally successful in that), broke it open and we all had a taste.  Not very flavourful, and what we didn’t notice was all the teensy tiny barbs on the fruit itself.  Everybody was having mini barbs stuck in their lips for quite a while …..

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Always a cathedral handy – every barrio (neighbourhood) has their own, and even in some small towns the church will be very elaborate.

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After all that walking we rewarded ourselves with dinner at “Aperi” … and thoroughly loved the 7 course tasting menu, accompanied with wine pairings …. no Grant did not do the wine pairings.  It really was a “foodie” dream come true.

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Sadly, this photo does not do the pork belly justice – arrived with the upended margarita glass leaking smoke, and the hickory scent wafted up as the glass was lifted away.  That pork belly was out of this world delicious.

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Just a few of the other courses – unbelievably beautiful and delicious, every plate was dreamy.

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Gorditas – slightly thicker tortillas, and then stuffed with your choice of many fillings – a great quick lunch.

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Just enjoying another church plaza, coffee break and munching churros.  Grant decided to prove to us that we don’t need that selfie stick we see everybody using.  Or is he disproving that theory??  For some reason everybody wants their photo taken with that small fountain …

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These ladies sit in the parks all day stitching up “Lupita” dolls.

The next day we played tourist and went on a couple of tours – Wilson went “birding” and Viv and I took in a house tour.  Grant …. had lime ice cream and walked around. During edit stage of this blog, Wilson wanted it mentioned that he saw some birds.

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One of the beautiful bedrooms on our house tour.

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Most Mexican style homes are centered around a courtyard – and this one was amazing – so lush. It is hard to believe what is behind that doorway right off the street.

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Morning mist over San Miguel de Allende – floating away to leave a beautiful day for us.

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Hotel Rosewood had a beautiful roof top bar to enjoy a sunset.  San Miguel de Allende is truly a gorgeous place, and it is easy to see why it becomes home to so many ex-pats.  Primarily US but a good showing of Canadians as well, along with a sprinkling of the rest of the world.  Actually …. a few years ago it was voted by Conde Naste as the Number 1 place to live, in the whole world.

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Vivian’s drink – gin/watermelon/basil/cucumber – delicious

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My drink – mescal, cucumber, lemongrass, and soda water.

I’d like to post Grant’s drink (beer) and Wilson’s (red wine) but they are boring.

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Main salon at our Casa, and home of the nightly crib match for Grant and Wilson.

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Whipping up a dinner of carnitas (slow roasted pork), potatoes and zucchini, green beans and salad.  The joys of having your own kitchen.

While we all thoroughly enjoyed San Miguel de Allende, it is time to move on ….. and we have to say that this whole Air BNB gig is the best.  We just love having a place to lounge in the morning, relax with your coffee and take your time getting going – eat in or out as your mood dictates.

Time to move on to Guanajuato – only 2 nights there to explore a beautiful silver city.  More on that to come …..

 

 

More to love about Mexico City 08 Feb 2015

We have finally hit on the perfect hotel – it works with Grant’s budgetary restrictions and my level of comfort. To top it all off, it is in the perfect Roma Norte/Condessa area. Full of fabulous restaurants and art everywhere you look. Such beautiful neighbourhoods to walk through, all from Hotel Milan on Avenida Obregan. We’ll be back here for sure.

Obregan is a pretty big street, but as you will often find in Mexico, the centre divider is like a walking park - full of statues, fountains, and ongoing art projects.

Obregan is a pretty big street, but as you will often find in Mexico, the centre divider is like a walking park – full of statues, fountains, and ongoing art projects.

In any direction, within a few blocks, you will find a park.  Again - statues, art installations and fountains.  This one provided a rainbow today.

In any direction, within a few blocks, you will find a park. Again – statues, art installations and fountains. This one provided a rainbow today.

Mexicans love their dogs, and this dog park even has snack stands to buy dog treats.  You wouldn't believe them lined up patiently to get their treat.  You also wouldn't believe the number of well behaved dogs in the park without a single problem.  Oh - and one pig, but I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of the little porker.

Mexicans love their dogs, and this dog park even has snack stands to buy dog treats. You wouldn’t believe them lined up patiently to get their treat. You also wouldn’t believe the number of well behaved dogs in the park without a single problem. Oh – and one pig, but I wasn’t fast enough to get a photo of the little porker.

in this district, you can find anything including a plethora of hair stylists.  We took a chance and armed with minimal spanish (and a photo from Shae) I decided to get rid of a bunch of hair, and a lot of grey …. turned out pretty darn fine.

in this district, you can find anything including a plethora of hair stylists. We took a chance and armed with minimal spanish (and a photo from Shae) I decided to get rid of a bunch of hair, and a lot of grey …. turned out pretty darn fine.

When in el DF we usually make good use of the subway - fast, efficient and super cheap.

When in el DF we usually make good use of the subway – fast, efficient and super cheap.

Wandering down towards the main zocalo we spotted a group of indigenous women setting up the knitting they had brought in from their village.  Sloan bought a sweater from these exact women a couple of years ago.

Wandering down towards the main zocalo we spotted a group of indigenous women setting up the knitting they had brought in from their village. Sloan bought a sweater from these exact women a couple of years ago.

Also near the zocalo a group of nuns are famous for their massive paella.

Also near the zocalo a group of nuns are famous for their massive paella.

Only in Mexico will you be treated to a fish taco joint that has such a selection of salsas and toppings for your tacos.

Only in Mexico will you be treated to a fish taco joint that has such a selection of salsas and toppings for your tacos.

And - the tacos.  Absolutely delicious.

And – the tacos. Absolutely delicious.

This Sinaloan style ceviche served on a tostado was equally fabulous.

This Sinaloan style ceviche served on a tostado was equally fabulous.

We had lamb consomme (which really just means soup here) along with our lamb tacos for breakfast.  Grant's bowl had some body part we truly couldn't identify - but the soup was outstanding!  (No, neither of us gnawed on it)

We had lamb consomme (which really just means soup here) along with our lamb tacos for breakfast. Grant’s bowl had some body part we truly couldn’t identify – but the soup was outstanding! (No, neither of us gnawed on it)

I think this is one of the best photos I have managed to get of the cathedral at the zocalo in Mexico City - no protests going on, no ice hockey set up, no crowds.

I think this is one of the best photos I have managed to get of the cathedral at the zocalo in Mexico City – no protests going on, no ice hockey set up, no crowds.

No matter what your sweet tooth is craving, you will find it on the streets of the city.

No matter what your sweet tooth is craving, you will find it on the streets of the city.

Rather have some savoury snacks?  Here you go.

Rather have some savoury snacks? Here you go.

Whatever you do, shop in the mercados - the best and most amazingly fresh fruit and vegetables are found here.  (or trucks on the side of the road)

Whatever you do, shop in the mercados – the best and most amazingly fresh fruit and vegetables are found here. (or trucks on the side of the road)

We are going to miss the plentiful and fresh avocadoes.

We are going to miss the plentiful and fresh avocadoes.

Still in the mercado?  Pick up anything from the rotisserie master - pork shanks and chicken grilled to perfection.

Still in the mercado? Pick up anything from the rotisserie master – pork shanks and chicken grilled to perfection.

On pretty much any street it is easy to find Tacos Al Pastor, grilled pork with pineapple and onions, alongside the rotisserie chicken.  Don't be afraid to try any of this - you definitely won't be sorry.

On pretty much any street it is easy to find Tacos Al Pastor, grilled pork with pineapple and onions, alongside the rotisserie chicken. Don’t be afraid to try any of this – you definitely won’t be sorry.

Con Sabor y Tixtla - just another fabulous restaurant that presents their salsas and grilled tortilla chips to start your meal.

Con Sabor y Tixtla – just another fabulous restaurant that presents their salsas and grilled tortilla chips to start your meal.

Con Sabor y Tixtla.  If a restaurant looks this inviting, you just know the Guerrero style food is going to be as much of a treat.

Con Sabor y Tixtla. If a restaurant looks this inviting, you just know the Guerrero style food is going to be as much of a treat.

The organic, upscale craze has hit the wealthier regions of Mexico City also - this incredible market has the best of everything.

The organic, upscale craze has hit the wealthier regions of Mexico City also – this incredible market has the best of everything.

Did I mention the best of everything?  These Portugese tarts are a mouth watering combination of the flakiest pastry I have ever had and the creamiest custard like filling.  Carmelize the top and it is worth dreaming about.

Did I mention the best of everything? These Portugese tarts are a mouth watering combination of the flakiest pastry I have ever had and the creamiest custard like filling. Carmelize the top and it is worth dreaming about.

Jugo Verde - can be bought almost anywhere, and slightly different everywhere.  Fruit and juice combo loaded with refreshing goodness.

Jugo Verde – can be bought almost anywhere, and slightly different everywhere. Fruit and juice combo loaded with refreshing goodness.

Okay, not in Mexico City - this was in Eronga - but how can you not be entertained knowing these guys might be behind or in front of your vehicle.  Truly, we have seen a live goat loaded into a trunk in a very busy section of Mexico City though ….

Okay, not in Mexico City – this was in Eronga – but how can you not be entertained knowing these guys might be behind or in front of your vehicle. Truly, we have seen a live goat loaded into a trunk in a very busy section of Mexico City though ….

That taxi will be arriving for us before 4:00 a.m. (yes, I do mean in the morning) and it will be Hasta La Vista Mexico … but certainly Hasta luego – we will be back. With all that Mexico has to offer we have barely scratched the surface. Having spent our few hours back in el DF eating and looking at all our favourite spots we are ready to go home. Well, I am. As much as I love the travel, I look so forward to what we have waiting at home even more.

Hope you have enjoyed our sights, and certainly the flavours of Mexico.

Mucho amore

Eating our way around Michoacan and Guerrero, Mexico Jan Feb 2015

We travel for lots of reasons, but a lot of those reasons are food. Here are a few of our highlights in the Michoacan and Guerrero States area that are food related …… WARNING – you will either be hungry or booking flights to Mexico!

Whenever possible, if we are eating out for breakfast - this is it.  Chilaquilles solo, in other words no chicken or eggs, beans,  fruit with yogurt and granola, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee.  Doesn't get much better than this!  p.s.  I have discovered that it isn't "beans" I dislike … it is kidney beans!

Whenever possible, if we are eating out for breakfast- this is it. Chilaquilles solo, in other words no chicken or eggs, beans, fruit with yogurt and granola, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Doesn’t get much better than this! p.s. I have discovered that it isn’t “beans” I dislike … it is kidney beans!

If we are not eating out for breakfast, the way to start the day is with mango and avocado on toast … yum yum yum

If we are not eating out for breakfast, the way to start the day is with mango and avocado on toast … yum yum yum

Have you ever seen such cute little red potatoes?

Have you ever seen such cute little red potatoes?

Churros!  Eating at least 1 a day keeps everybody happy.  I honestly think the best ones are found in Patzcuaro.

Churros! Eating at least 1 a day keeps everybody happy. I honestly think the best ones are found in Patzcuaro.

We walked for ages trying to find this place in Patzcuaro - mainly because we took a few wrong turns.

We walked for ages trying to find this place in Patzcuaro – mainly because we took a few wrong turns.

Camerones cooked with guajillo chiles and garlic at Mariscos La Guera - so delicious.

Camerones cooked with guajillo chiles and garlic at Mariscos La Guera – so delicious.

Camerones al la Coco - I think the best coconut shrimp we tried.  Lightly coated in coconut and such fresh shrimp.

Camerones al la Coco – I think the best coconut shrimp we tried. Lightly coated in coconut and such fresh shrimp.

First time we have ever seen onion rings on a Mexican menu - given that onions are so delicious here we gave them a try and it was worth it.

First time we have ever seen onion rings on a Mexican menu – given that onions are so delicious here we gave them a try and it was worth it.

Pretty much every time you sit at a restaurant in Mexico you will receive some version of this … chips, lime, salt and various salsas.

Pretty much every time you sit at a restaurant in Mexico you will receive some version of this … chips, lime, salt and various salsas.

Now, not saying that Sabrita and Lays don't make awesome lime chips, but these fresh chips, with lime, salt and chile if you want it drizzled over top are the bomb.  Nothing beats them.

Now, not saying that Sabrita and Lays don’t make awesome lime chips, but these fresh chips, with lime, salt and chile if you want it drizzled over top are the bomb. Nothing beats them.

The Michoacan version of tortilla soup is indeed different, and we found a delicious version at Lupitas in Patzcuaro.

The Michoacan version of tortilla soup is indeed different, and we found a delicious version at Lupitas in Patzcuaro.

This beef based soup arrived loaded with vegetables and served with a small tamale.  It was so good I wish I could remember what it was called.

This beef based soup arrived loaded with vegetables and served with a small tamale. It was so good I wish I could remember what it was called.

Markets are full of amazing ingredients, make sure you shop here whenever you have the chance.  Here is dried red corn, ready for use.

Markets are full of amazing ingredients, make sure you shop here whenever you have the chance. Here is dried red corn, ready for use.

Fresh chicken is everywhere, usually with a yellow tint.  They feed them marigolds for that vivid colour.  You can have it as it, or they will chop it however you like - including trimming the nails.

Fresh chicken is everywhere, usually with a yellow tint. They feed them marigolds for that vivid colour. You can have it as it, or they will chop it however you like – including trimming the nails.

Right beside the chicken, you can pick out your favourite fish - again, they will prep it any way you like.  Go early in the day for the best, freshest selection, but don't be afraid to go.

Right beside the chicken, you can pick out your favourite fish – again, they will prep it any way you like. Go early in the day for the best, freshest selection, but don’t be afraid to go.

Just to confuse your nose a bit, these gorgeous flowers are right across from the fish and chicken……..

Just to confuse your nose a bit, these gorgeous flowers are right across from the fish and chicken……..

Gazpacho in Morelia is a bit different than what I was expecting, no tomato soup here.  This truly amazing and refreshing dish is finely diced fruit topped up with lime and orange juices, chiles, salt and cheese.

Gazpacho in Morelia is a bit different than what I was expecting, no tomato soup here. This truly amazing and refreshing dish is finely diced fruit topped up with lime and orange juices, chiles, salt and cheese.

The plastic cups are filled with an endless variety of minced fruits and vegetables.  We chose melon, jicama and mango and skipped the cheese.

The plastic cups are filled with an endless variety of minced fruits and vegetables. We chose melon, jicama and mango and skipped the cheese.

don't step on the kids in mercado

We came back to stay in Uruapan another night, primarily to go to La Mesa de Blanca – a restaurant we had heard about from many sources, and most primarily from “Mexico Cooks!” and “My Mexican Kitchen” … both proven reliable sources. This restaurant is incredible – up a dusty little road in yet another tiny Mexican village, Ziracueretiro. The food was amazing (I know, you’ve heard me say that before …) but it truly was.

This beautiful restaurant fills up in no time - only open Thurs - Sunday.  We got there ahead of the crowd, just as they were preparing to open.

This beautiful restaurant fills up in no time – only open Thurs – Sunday. We got there ahead of the crowd, just as they were preparing to open.

Grant's chile relleno was the best ever.  Filled with a Mexican version of chile that was outrageously flavourful.

Grant’s chile relleno was the best ever. Filled with a Mexican version of chile that was outrageously flavourful.

On a valued recommendation, I went with Huchepos con costilla y credo.  These "tamale like" creations are lighter and fluffier than a tamale, and those little pork rib lets were fantastic.

On a valued recommendation, I went with Huchepos con costilla y credo. These “tamale like” creations are lighter and fluffier than a tamale, and those little pork rib lets were fantastic.

No, we didn't also order conejo (rabbit) but this grilled conejo just looked too good to not get a photo!

No, we didn’t also order conejo (rabbit) but this grilled conejo just looked too good to not get a photo!

Totally unusual for us, but we ordered this yummy strawberry volcano and it was well worth it.

Totally unusual for us, but we ordered this yummy strawberry volcano and it was well worth it.

Famous for their fruit water, this zarzamora fresco (blackberry) was so refreshing.

Famous for their fruit water, this zarzamora fresco (blackberry) was so refreshing.

I’m not sure why we don’t cook pork shank as often as we do lamb shank at home, but after trying it in Mexico we sure will now.

Chamorro Adobado in Patzcuaro - pork shank in adobe sauce.

Chamorro Adobado in Patzcuaro – pork shank in adobe sauce.

Back in Barra de Potosi for a few days, and fortunate enough to stay with Eugen and Rita at Villas Tuparaiso – definitely our new friends. Their villas were full, but they have 2 rooms at their home which we were very happy to share with them. Such warm, welcoming hosts go a long way towards creating a great place to spend some time to relax, enjoy the beach and generally live a little bit of Mexican life.

One amazing reason for cooking yourself in Mexico is the abundance of fabulous ingredients. These shrimp cost 90 pesos for 1/2 a kilo – cleaned and ready to go.

Camerones con cebolla y ajo …. or shrimp with onions and garlic.  When you start with something so fresh, you just know it will be delicious.

Camerones con cebolla y ajo …. or shrimp with onions and garlic. When you start with something so fresh, you just know it will be delicious.

Add those shrimp to some grilled zucchini and the meal is perfecto!

Add those shrimp to some grilled zucchini and the meal is perfecto!

Should you have an opportunity to use one of these mocaljetes to create your salad dressing. or sauce of any kind - go for it!

Should you have an opportunity to use one of these mocaljetes to create your salad dressing. or sauce of any kind – go for it!

Or … grill up some tomatoes, habanero pepper, onions and garlic.  Use this to crush it into a salsa or sauce and pour it over grilled veg and pasta.

Or … grill up some tomatoes, habanero pepper, onions and garlic. Use this to crush it into a salsa or sauce and pour it over grilled veg and pasta.

Both a mango and papaya trees created shade on this screened porch for restful reading in the hammock … someone needed to be using it while I created in the cocina … (kitchen)

Both a mango and papaya trees created shade on this screened porch for restful reading in the hammock … someone needed to be using it while I created in the cocina … (kitchen)

Surf behind me … perfect pool to float in after riding the bikes for 30 minutes to this beautiful little spot.

All along Playa Blanca you will find little spots like this to rest, swing in the hammock or float in the pool with the waves crashing on the beach.  If you are looking for more people …. just go to the centre of it all in Barra de Potosi - lots of palapa restaurants there - especially busy on long weekends with Nationals hitting the beach.

All along Playa Blanca you will find little spots like this to rest, swing in the hammock or float in the pool with the waves crashing on the beach. If you are looking for more people …. just go to the centre of it all in Barra de Potosi – lots of palapa restaurants there – especially busy on long weekends with Nationals hitting the beach.

From Villas Tuparaiso we would walk the main drag to pick up vegetables, fresh seafood or chicken …. pretty easy to find anything you want within this little stretch.

From Villas Tuparaiso we would walk the main drag to pick up vegetables, fresh seafood or chicken …. pretty easy to find anything you want within this little stretch.

Miles of white sandy beach at Playa Blanca.

Miles of white sandy beach at Playa Blanca.

Eugen (host of Villas Tuparaiso) and his lovely wife Rita graciously hosted the Superbowl in their bedroom - the only place in Barra de Potosi where the boys could watch the game.

Eugen (host of Villas Tuparaiso) and his lovely wife Rita graciously hosted the Superbowl in their bedroom – the only place in Barra de Potosi where the boys could watch the game.

Now, this is my size pool - as much as I hated to miss the Superbowl game …. I managed to console myself by floating around on the air mattress.

Now, this is my size pool – as much as I hated to miss the Superbowl game …. I managed to console myself by floating around on the air mattress.

Every beach you go to in Mexico will have musicians entertaining the locals at the palapa restaurants.

Every beach you go to in Mexico will have musicians entertaining the locals at the palapa restaurants.

Hasta la vista la playa …. we are leaving Zihuatenajo area and heading back to Mexico City for our final couple of days.

Hasta la vista la playa …. we are leaving Zihuatenajo area and heading back to Mexico City for our final couple of days.

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.