Tag Archives: mexico city

Who said there is only one Mexico?

17 Jan

What is the first image you have when hearing the word ‘Mexico’?

“Beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters with summer temperatures almost all year-long”.

“Big sombreros and Mariachis”.

” The famous mouse Speedy Gonzales saying: andale, andale, arriba, arriba

Tulum ruins and beach

Tulum ruins and beach

Mariachis y sombreros

Mariachis y sombreros

 

“Mezcal and Tequila”. Right. (But probably you don’t know that it is actually considered the best cure for flu and other illnesses. Mexicans drink it at all times and with whatever excuse; it doesn’t matter if the day after they will have to go to work with the strongest hangover, which they call “cruda“).

A cactus might appear in your mind when someone says “Mexico”. And you might be right again, but you ignore that Mexican enjoy eating it with eggs, meat and tacos, and they call it “nopal“.

Cactus in Mexico City

Cactus in Mexico City

Cactus at sunset in Oaxaca

Cactus at sunset in Oaxaca

Guacamole with nachos is a combination loved all over the world; but don’t ask a local to get some for you, be aware that this is the North American translation for their beloved “totopos“.

You think you know Mexican cuisine until you arrive to Mexico and discover that its traditional flavours are kept hidden in the street markets.

I am not a burrito :-(

I am not a burrito 😦

Love for Food. In mexico, for sure. Lunch at "Delirio" in Mexico City

Love for Food. In mexico, for sure. Lunch at “Delirio” in Mexico City

You might feel disappointed to find out that burritos are not Mexican but you will fall in love with a huge variety of tacos and tortillas: Mexicans cannot delight a meal without this round flatbread made of corn or flour.

I loved to walk to the supermarket and observe locals queuing outside Tortillerias – old shops for handmade tortillas to be filled at home with the most delicious ingredients, especially meat, onion, corn and tomatoes.

A “torta” in Mexico is not a cake as in its usual meaning in Spanish. It is a popular, often cheap sandwich you might find both at the street vendors and restaurants, filled with res (beef), chicken, vegetables and so on.

Mexicans don’t put lemon in a Corona bottle as most of Europeans think. This is just a way to detect gringos – tourists. They would rather drink a michelada: a beer, which they call “chela” mixed with lime and tomato juice, salt and chili.

In Mexico they like to celebrate it all, even death. But I wrote an article dedicated to it, called Canta y no llores (on the day of the dead) , for if you want to know more about this peculiar celebration.

On 2nd November the most important woman in Mexico is actually the icon of death: an elegant female skeleton with a hat called “La Catrina”; here people “smile” at death with music and festivals, as no other culture might probably do.

La Catrina de Diego Rivera

La Catrina de Diego Rivera

Mexicans say “joven” – young – to a 70 years old waiter and “viejo” – old – to a 20 years old one.

But Mexico is in general a land of infinite contrasts, mysteries and surprises; between future and past, tradition and avant-garde, luxury and extreme poverty.

I took this picture in New Years Eve 2013, but the sign said Feliz 2012. I wish it was a better year for them

I took this picture in New Years Eve 2013, but the sign said Feliz 2012. I wish it was a better year for them

 

Different kind of landscape and environments meet in a 2 million square kilometres country of more than 110 million people spread out into 32 federal entities ( 31 states and a federal district ).

Chihuauan deserts, Yucatan and Chiapas jungles, stunning Caribbean beaches, beautiful colonial cities: Puebla, Oaxaca, Valladolid, Merida, San Cristobal de las Casas. Ancient Mayan and Aztecs pyramids. And so much more…

Me and Sandrine at Chichen Itza, Yucatan

Me and Sandrine at Chichen Itza, Yucatan

 

Playa de Mazunte, Oaxaca

Playa de Mazunte, Oaxaca

 

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You can never forget the first night sleeping in the jungle

Colonial house in Puebla

Colonial house in Puebla

When thinking about Mexico you might not associate it to “museums”; but Mexico City hosts more museums than any other city in the world, above all the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the most visited in the whole country.

It contains significant archeological and anthropological artifacts from the  pre-Columbian heritage of Mexico, such as the Piedra del Sol (the “Stone of the Sun” or Aztec calendar stone)

Me and THE  Sun Stone

Me and THE Sun Stone

In this Museum there is also 16th-century Aztec statue of Xochipilli:  the god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song in Aztec Mythology. As well as in modern times, bon-vivants, life lovers are usually more open minded to diversity and people with diverse tastes and way of seeing life; Xochipilli was actually also the patron of both homosexuals and male prostitutes , a role possibly resulting from his being absorbed from the Toltec civilization.

Going back to museums and Mexico City, I can tell that this city has fascinated me with its beautiful buildings from several centuries ago and the most avant-garde architecture, full of contemporary art galleries, theatres, large avenues, upscale stores, trendy restaurants, exclusive bars and nightclubs;

The statue of Angel of Indipendence, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City

The statue of Angel of Indipendence, Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City

A lovely cafe in Polanco, Mexico City

A lovely cafe in Polanco, Mexico City

 

 

Mexico City downtown

Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City

And Bosque de Chapultepec is right in the middle of the town, it is the largest urban park in Latin America, as big as some of the greatest in the world, such as Bois de Boulogne in Paris and Central Park in New York City.

There is just one thing you can’t do in Mexico and that is skiing; unfortunately this amazing country lacks of snow.

But you can’t have it all in life, in general. You have to make do with what you have. No one or nothing is perfect and believe me, you will still need many months to visit and experience the big variety of wonders that this country has to offer.

And through my travel experiences in Mexico, I hope I will let you discover the most hidden secrets and surprises of this mysterious country called MEXICO so that you can fall in love just like I did.

 

 

View from my 15 USD cabana in Mazunte, Oaxaca

View from my 15 USD cabana in Mazunte, Oaxaca

 

A walk in the jungle nearby Palenque ruins, Chiapas.

A walk in the jungle nearby Palenque ruins, Chiapas.

Gran cenote, Tulum

Gran cenote, Tulum

Street vendor at Oaxaca local market

Street vendor at Oaxaca local market

 

Canyon. Canon del Sumidero, Chiapas

Canyon. Canon del Sumidero, Chiapas

Guadalupe Church, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Guadalupe Church, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Making new friends in Cholula, Puebla

Making new friends in Cholula, Puebla

Afternoon laundry in Tulum

Afternoon laundry in Tulum

 

Cataratas de Agua Azul, Blue waterfalls in Chiapas

Cataratas de Agua Azul, Blue waterfalls in Chiapas

Fear and Love. D.F. again

10 Dec

Sometimes we fall in love at first sight, others it takes time to appreciate something or somebody; some other times we see somebody and we just disregard it, to discover few hours later that we like it instead.
That is what happened to me with Mexico City. It has worldwide a bad reputation, that I am sure it will not last long anymore, but it is true that it is known for being polluted, trafficated, corrupted and even ugly. A scary city where walking alone can be often a problem and not recommendable.
I feel so lucky to be here now writing about this amazing city; it enchanted me and that is probably why I am still here after 40 days instead of couple of weeks, among the not so many young foreigners to have decided to discover a little bit more the Mexican capital.
I have been here few days last month before to start my adventurous trip through the country, passing by Puebla, Oaxaca, Mazunte, Puerto Escondido, San Cristobal de las casas, Palenque, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Isla Mujeres.
I enjoyed the tour so much and every day I was kind of falling more and more in love with the culture and the places I was seeing.
I think that Mexico has it all: a megalopolis offering all kind of leisure every big city in the globe offers, stunning white sand beaches with turquoise Caribbean seas, waved oceans, mountains, hills, unique waterfalls; crazy nightlife, music, art and literature; innumerable arqueological sites, thousand years of history and civilization. Yummy food and exquisite drinks.
And this is why I felt the need to go back to Mexico City and have a break from the continuous movings and changes. I needed some rest; some home feeling and I knew for sure that I would have found it here.
Of course I came back to my favorite place ever in Colonia Condesa at the Stayinn Barefoot hostel. I found it even more beautiful than when I left it about a month ago, this time decorated with a lovely Christmas tree with multicolored figures of the holy crèche replacing the skulls and Day of death adornment.
Plus, it has now opened a cozy little bistro where also people not accommodated at the hostel can eat. And there is a new entry: Carlos, an anti-Mexican prototype – 1.92 tall guy who you would bet that comes from Bergen or Goteborg, who would cook exquisite food inspired from the different countries he has lived in as a chef.
Furthermore, just beside the bistro inside the hostel they are opening a “mezcaleria”, or canteen, and the roof terrace is going to be soon a hangout place with a cool bar, all opened to the public.
If before I was loving this place, now I seriously find it unique and a must see place where to stay when in Mexico City.
It is still a hostel, with an excellent location and service but of course limited facilities not being a proper hotel. But I wish you all would come here once. There are spacious dorms with 6 comfortable beds and stylish, simple and shared bathrooms, but there are also private bedrooms for those who might be skeptical towards sharing.
I was welcomed again from the pretty smile of the two guys at the reception: Delphine and Enrique, it was nice to see them again and tell them all sort of stories lived during this month travelling and sharing with them my increased love for Mexico.
I visited marvelous places and met gorgeous people, but DF was calling, and I could not resist taking the first flight from Cancun and coming back.
Even if there was a “colder” weather here, I still wanted to move from a beach paradise to this crazy busy city.
It is like with people. You might meet and like different ones, but normally there is one who deserves a place in your heart, no matter if it was just an adventure, that feeling exist, and you have to follow the instinct.
Shame for those who live not expressing themselves for fear or for thinking not to be able to love or deserve to be loved. It makes me think now of a beautiful song from Morcheeba – ” Fear and Love: Fear can stop you loving, love can stop your fear”.
If I would have continued to be fearful towards DF I wouldn’t have loved it the way I do now, and since I love it, I am enjoying it with no fear. It is still risky but worth it.
I am not convinced that the way I am is the best one, I am a big romantic and an endless dreamer, and if I like something or somebody I will not hide it.
So, Even though I had “met ” DF at the beginning of my Mexican trip, I had been faithful to her somehow in the heart and although the other places were amazing, none of them had really given me that little fluttery feeling in the stomach.
So, referring to cities, DF made me want to return, and like a Gotan Project song says: “vuelvo al sur como se vuelve siempre al amor” and here I am, back and happy.
I found the city even more beautiful, I had left it one month ago in a rush because I was excited to see new places but also because it was rainy and cold. Luckily I found a warm December here, with an average temperature of 20 degrees. Awesome.
This time I felt much more confident walking on my own, I remember my first night here when I was inexplicably frightened even to be smoking alone outside a building door.
With this I don’t want to say that it is the safest city in the world, but it is like major big cities with good and bad aspects, where it is true that you can hear story somebody who has been robbed or assaulted, which is horrific. But I have been walking alone even at night, always watching out and careful, but in the end it is definitely not that scary.
I have lived many years in Barcelona and I have never seen more bags snatching than there, even more than the so much maligned city of Naples, my hometown. While travelling, when I say to the people that I come from Naples there’s few one who don’t reply: “really? I heard it is very rough over there! ”
Come on, yes, it has bad reputation because it is not that unusual to be robbed there but that not happen everywhere, there are certain areas to avoid, a little common sense and codes to be respected; but if you never try you will never know that it is one of the most beautiful cities with a heartbreaking views on the sea from nearly wherever in the city.
We have to give chances to the places and to the people, as well as to the movies for example.
Has it ever happen to go to the cinema to watch a movie everybody told you not to or vice versa, but once you go out from the hall you find it just the opposite of how the others has described it?
It worth’s a try in this life, it worth to make some effort sometimes. It worth to live it with no fear, you might not regret about it.
Sometimes can happen that you change your mind. That for example you are in a bad mood and watch a movie finding it ugly. Then after few years you see it again with the lovely company of a friend or partner and you find it amazing, like it was another movie.
It happened many times to me.
And I am sure that it happens when we visit places. We might love a place more than the usual because we found an amazing sun shining instead of a cloudy grey sky. We might have fun at a party even if the venue is crap, but you talk with somebody who makes your night more pleasant.
It is the case of what happened on my birthday in Patzcuaro, I had an amazing fun time in this little hidden corner of the earth and had more fun than the one I had in the fanciest club in New York few weeks before.
Most of us have probably travelled a lot, seen many things; most of us live in beautiful countries, our eyes and our heart is used to beauty, but we keep looking for genuine, real things, places and people who have a soul and emotion us. And we find a compatible soul only rarely. That is why we should catch it when it happens, and always listen to the heart.
I am probably turning too romantic now and as always lengthy. So I would like to go back to my love for Mexico City especially of my favorite areas, Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa.
This morning I prepared a nice playlist on my iPhone, I walked on Juan Escutia, then Mazatlan, turned on MichoacĂĄn where I could see appealing bars and restaurants that made me want to stop to any of them.
But this time I was not just wandering around, but actually looking for a specific place that had been recommended me by Carla, one of the five young guys who run the Stayinn Barefoot Hostel.
I had asked her a local tip on a cozy cafe where to chill, have some drink or food, and she suggested a place that through its description sounded like similar to my favorite place in Puerto Escondido, Casa Babylon.
But this one in Mexico City was named “El pendulo” defined as a cafebreria, a mixed word between cafeteria and libreria, bookshop in Spanish.
Thousands of books spread on shelves and counters on two levels, with homey and comfy armchairs and smiley “meseros”, waiters in Spanish, welcoming you and giving you great service.
The menu is wise: has a vegetarian and light option, with vegetable crepes with cheese and tamarind sauce. Then soups, salads, sandwiches, gyros, strawberries Shiva lassies, espresso cafes and juices.
The menu offer pasta, with a “lassagna” in the list, which was not really appealing just for the fact that it was misspelled. Come on chef, even if you are not Italian you might have noticed the error! For lunch there is a 140 pesos (about 10 us dollars) daily fix menu with 3 different options to be chosen, a fresh water of the day and a cafe. Good deal.
I had just delighted a breakfast at the hostel so I only ordered a cafe and a delicious “narahoria” juice, a mix of orange (nara- nja) and carrot (zana-horia) juice. Fresh and savory.
I loved that cool place, I relaxed and enjoyed it, I wrote few lines on my EDF orange notebook, given me as a gift on my last day working at the Olympics, and I really care for it.
After “El Pendulo” I walked few meters to reach a place specialized in filled baked potatoes.
You might not all know that it is among my favorite meals, and I really wanted to try it. I went to a little bistro called “Papa rellena” just off Nuevo Leon, and ordered a potato filled with Gouda cheese and beef.
The filling was really tasty. Such a shame that the potato was too hard and not really good. I prefer it when it is so soft that you can eat it with a teaspoon.
Nuevo Leon is a street full of fancy bars, bakeries and restaurants, and accidentally came across Bonito, a place I had been for a nice dinner last month; I took a look at it, had a nice memory but I proceeded the walk.
I spotted a trendy restaurant called “la Capital”, I was captivated by its design and good ambience.
I might have to go and verify the reliability of my first nice feeling on it.
While walking Parque Espana I saw a funny vintage car parked outside a fancy boutique hotel called Condesa DF. I walked in and saw a nice restaurant in a whitey patio with warm colors; I also visited the sushi bar situated on the roof terrace decorated with green and white modern furniture and offering the guests nice views.
Apparently on Sundays there is a dj playing until late.
I left the hotel and continued my walk.
I stopped in the front of a nice French bakery called La Balance with succulent products displayed, just to take a look at the route and look for Colima, a street I had walked last time and I had liked it a lot. It was just few minutes from there, I saw one of the popular men who polish shoes in the street corner, and it was nice to notice that he was barefoot and was cleaning his own shoes.
I walked a big part of Colima Street, finding on the pavement a lovely graffiti “I love Mex”. I took a very cool picture with my red all-star matching the red heart. Colima has trendy clothing, design and antique shops and restaurants, and actually I stopped by an Asiatic restaurant called Omiya, mainly Japanese and fusion food. It had really high ceilings decorated in a tangible Asiatic style. I might want to go there as well before to leave.
Another spot I wanted to see in Colonia Roma was a gallery called Border: I had read nice things about it so while getting to Zacatecas street I came across another familiar place: Belmondo, a lovely sophisticated cafeteria and restaurant I had been last month, when I enjoyed a corn cake and a superior cafe. I could not avoid stopping again.
It was disappointing to figure out that Border had no exhibition at the moment and that wouldn’t have any until February, but the space itself looked cool.
On the way back to the hostel I remembered that at Palacio de Hierro, a popular Mexican department store last time I had noticed a nice Spanish delicatessen. I was craving familiar tastes and I bought some Jamon Serrano and provolone cheese. Spain and Italy together better than ever, also among my favorite food combinations.
And here I am, exhausted, on the colorful stylish sofas at the hostel, surrounded by vinyl, a small guitar and a vintage LP player. Delphine is reading a book, speaking with people and whenever she laughs I love it, it is so hilarious and contagious: it makes me laugh even if I don’t know why she does. Enrique just arrived to swap the shift with Delphine, they are now laughing together for some funny reason. They are lovely!

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Food, tattoos and whatever makes you happy in Chiapas

27 Nov

On our first day in San Cristobal we had breakfast in a nice colonial place and reached the Zocalo, the main square of the town with gardens and a big Kiosk in the middle.
The historic center of San Cristobal has a Spanish colonial layout, with Baroque to Neoclassical style, beautiful buildings painted in various colours with Moorish hints.

The majestic yellow Baroque Cathedral with its red ledges and the big white building as the City Hall are the main attractions of this square.
I loved that fresh mountainous air of San Cristobal and the fact that wherever you are you will notice to be surrounded by hills.
Even if it is situated in a tropical zone, its climate is temperate and humid due to the altitude thus you need to carry some winter clothes, which I didn’t really have. I felt like when walking in February in Barcelona, when it is pretty cold there, I looked at the North European tourists walking with Havaianas and other flip-flops. nd I used to find it ridiculous.

Well, I am sure somebody has thought the same of me when walking the street with spring clothes with 7 degrees. What goes around comes around, no?
That morning we walked through the large open-air crafts market, with colourful and nice stalls mostly of textiles, amber and food and I saw many “sabrosas” – macadamia nuts vendors.
I had fun taking pictures of Dora with the ” Marcos”, little dolls representing the Zapatista activists with their typical black dresses and also a nice photo with a bunch of artisanal dolls that would be considered new little friends for her.
Paul and I noticed a tattoo shop, walked in and we both decide to have one. All happened so fast! I change my mind often but I surprise of myself that I never regret things. That’s why I love tattoos. I will always consider special regardless what could happen “tomorrow”.
I finally had a tattoo I was about to do in London few weeks before to leave, ” Fernweh “, a German noun that means, “crave for travelling, homesickness from a place you have never been”. I had always loved that word which apparently has never been properly translated with the same meaning.

Some would translate it as ” wanderlust” but that did not convince me. So I decided to keep it as the original noun.
Paul wanted to write on his arms “whatever makes you happy” but he finally had it in Spanish so to give more value to it being in Mexico. His tattoo was finally “lo que te hace feliz”. One has always to do whatever makes us happy. And I have probably chased this need all my life.
We were both happy and satisfied for our new inscriptions on the body and went back to the hostel for some rest.
At the Iguana hostel we met nice people, we first had some beers and then went for a walk and to a popular “Tacos” place. We talked about random things and even played cards, Asso. I don’t like cards but enjoyed it anyway.
We were a group of people from Italy, Australia, Germany, Holland, Canada, Usa and Israel.
That night I started to feel my cough was getting worse, and since I didn’t feel in shape I decided to stay at the hostel writing the blog and having a nice conversation with a nice Dutch guy who perfectly spoke Italian.
Of course he reminded me of my lovely other half and friend Sandrine and I imagined her to be fluent in Italian soon after the big efforts and Italian classes she is taking.
The day after we decided to move to another hostel; we had seen it just in photo when we had arrived at the bus terminal: Puerta Vieja hostel, and actually it turned to be an incredible place! We loved it immediately.

It had opened since few days, you could smell the brand new flavour everywhere, the dorms were amazing, rustic, country-style with colourful blankets.
We had a huge room for us and slept in mattresses that had never been used before. It was like being on a family trip, and I loved laying on the clean, fresh and comfortable bed and listening to Paul or Kevin playing the guitar just outside the room.
The kitchen was amazing and I was glad I could cook a little bit since I was missing it.
I cooked for two nights in row pasta for dinner for the five of us and a lovely German girl friend of the guys called Greta.

She had just been in Brazil for an interchange and was now travelling Central America. She had such a sweet smile, incredibly funny and looked really smart too.
In the morning I prepared often breakfast with my (modestly) delicious scrambled eggs.
I was happy to taking care of the guys in terms of food and I was also the official guide of the tour. But they were taking care of me so bad. I like the fact that I am independent from any human being, and I learnt to live on my own and do things despite the fact you have company or not. But I love good company, I love to forget how good I can stay alone when there’s good people to protect me and taking care of me. They were always taking care of me and never let me alone especially at night.

They started to call me Mamita thinking that it was a name for a mum but on their side they were
I felt so protected and safe at all times. It was nice to notice that if I ever stopped to see a shop or taking a picture, one of the guys was always waiting for me with a smiley face.

One day I woke up later than usual and I found the breakfast done by all of them for me with wonderful croque madames. I felt lucky! They said I deserved it J
That hostel helped our experience in Chiapas to be even more magical. It was supreme, with wide common space, a huge and functional kitchen and many bathrooms. There is about a bathroom every 2 people with great and warm showers, which is not to be given for granted in hostels.
Its majestic patio with long white arches and beautiful pictures on the wall, the big large wooden table where to have a nice breakfast while listening to music, is just few of the great aspect place where everybody can feel a home.
There is also a bar on the top of the house, it is still under construction but I can assure you that it was already beautiful like that, with stunning 360 degrees views on the town.
There is a soul at Puerta Vieja hostel; it is a beautiful project of few young entrepreneurs with the help of a great young architect called Daniela.

I wish them all, especially Dani Fernando and another lovely guy (who helped me not to freak out when none of my travel companion came back to the hostel a morning after partying) the best of luck for this project and that they will be able to fill all the 50 people capacity hostel.
Puerta vieja location is great, being situated on one of the main street called Diego de Mazariegos: full of shops, a big supermarket and a couple of minutes walk from the Zocalo.
In the back of the hostel there is a big garden where every night people would gather and sit all around a bonfire, with an external sauna made of stone and a beautiful antique door hanged on the walls increasing the magic atmosphere of the place.
At night we had a lot of fun at the hostel especially for Daniela – the architect – it was her birthday, and the guys organized a surprise party with usual bonfire, a piĂąata and a lot of food and drinks.

There were people from different part of the world; I enjoyed talking to a sweet and easy-going nice guy from Israel called Itamar. He had beautiful, kind of grey eyes.

There were also 2 nice hippy girls from New Zealand and a vegan Australian who were sat in circle meditating and after that all of them jumped on the fire in order to “leave the past behind”.
Meantime Justin and me prepared delicious jacket potatoes that took about 3 hours to cook. But it was worth to wait! Patience is golden !
One day, wandering through the town we found a lovely cultural center called ‘Tierradentro’ and it would become our favourite spot in San Cristobal: a large patio with autonomous “Zapatista” cooperatives in inside.

I loved the giant world map at the entrance, I probably never saw such a big one and we had fun taking pictures kissing Mexico and the Aussies indicating their so far away country.
We would go there on a daily basis, sometimes up to 3 times a day delighting its amazing coffees, salads, meat and a delicious authentic pizza with Nutella, which would be my little daily whim.
In San Cristobal there is a great food choice; many foreign residents have opened up restaurants with specially Italian and French meals.

There is an amazing French bakery on Calle Guadalupe called Oh-la-la where I strongly suggest you to go and feel like you are in a patisserie of Les Marais in Paris.

In terms of shops there is a good variety going from the basic cheap artisan things to the most sophisticated handcrafts of a beautiful shop called Eklektic.
I was very sick during the entire stay at San Cris, taking antibiotics and syrups instead of the rivers of alcohol the guys were consuming all day long. But it was special anyway.
More than once I was told by locals to drink tequila and all the pain would leave, or at least it would help to forget about it for some hours.
It is so bad but frequent while traveling getting sick, maybe for the change temperature, the sometimes cold showers in the hostels, travel stress (yes, it exist), tiredness and the long rides in buses with air conditioning and no open windows, with easy access to viruses.
In Chiapas lives a large indigenous population, made up of mostly Tzotzils and Tzeltals, the most important ethnic groups. It was bizarre to find out that the two languages are pretty different and they don’t understand each other.
We were so comfortable at the hostel that we all turned into lazy, even more for me, as I was feeling pretty sick.

There’s a nice garden inside the Casa de la Cultura de Chiapas. It is worth a walk inside with big handlooms on a side, and big colourful Mexican canvas on the other.
It is very close to San Cristobal Church, situated atop a long staircase up the hill: 300 steep stairs. About its half way there’s a sign ” no tirar basura,” do not trash bins and on its right a little hut made of recycled bottles and its tops and corks: very original.

Also, we bumped into many chickens on the stairs and a lovely about 2-year-old kid that, as soon as Paul said “hola” started to scream and cry, as you would see in a candid camera show.
The church was closed but the panoramic views of the city were amazing.
Plus, we had fun among the vintage yellow gym tools in the backyard.
As during the previous day we had been quite lazy we decided to make a double effort and walk all the way to the Guadalupe Church on the Guadalupe hills. Quite a long walk but less stairs though.
We walked by many shops during the long walk; especially a winery called Proyecto 25, then a marqesita shop where I had one filled with Nutella, a nice “casa de te” called Lum and different homemade chocolate shops.
While walking by the cathedral I met again Lena, a young German girl I had first met at Cielo rojo hostel in Oaxaca and after few days by chance at Posada del arquitecto in Mazunte. Many many km away.

Again incredible to meet randomly travellers met before.
At night we made a rendez vous with her at another favourite spot: la Vina de Bacco, a kind of tapas concept bar, where you receive some little dish whenever you buy a bottle of wine. Its owners are Italian.
We had a lot of fun, and met other people from the hostel; we enjoyed some minutes of live music from a smiley and funny Romanian traveller.
I got a bizarre proposal from an American murals artist who offered me consultancy for my blog in change of some afternoons to spend together. He said he was also an editor. He might have been useful for my blog but he was a little bit awkward, I didn’t give him my email on purpose but he gave me his. I never wrote him back. I thought: I would never meet him again. But puff…. I didn’t know that I would bump into him face to face a week later in the streets of Palenque, 6 hours bus away.

The world is little, I felt a little bit guilty but I acted as I had not seen him.

And Chiapas is a place I would strongly recommend you all to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chapulines and Chapultepec

16 Nov
I am not  trying to make your reading complicated. The two words I used for this article title are extremely important in the Mexican culture.
The name “Chapultepec” means ” grasshopper hill” in Nahuatl language and “Chapulin” stands for grasshopper.
To me,  the word grasshopper, cricket, or grillo in Spanish makes me just think of the musician Paco Fernandez’ marvellous song.
Listen to this beautiful flamenco s” grillos” whenever you want to chill out, specially at night.
I am not a big fan of this jumping animals and I had never imagined  eating them as a snack, which in mexican slang  is called “botanas”.
There is a record for spanish conquistadores to eat chapulines back in the 16th century but it is now really popular among young and old locals as well as curious and brave tourist, except for me.
 The idea of biting the insect and feeling its crunchy noise makes me not want to be opened, just on this occasion, to the mexican culture.
After being  cleaned and washed, chapulines are toasted on a comal (clay cooking surface) with garlic, lime juice and salt with extract of agave worms; sometimes they are also prepared  with chile,  lending a sour, spicy taste.
On my last day in Mexico City I woke up early in the morning to go and visit the Chapultepec park, one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Bosque de Chapultepec is considered the biggest green urban area in all Latin America: it has 40.000 trees of about 100 different kind, especially Ahueuetes, the national tree of Mexico known worldwide as Montezuma Cypress.
At the park main entrance I found a really cool art exhibition dedicated to hearts;
I enjoyed it very much especially one heart called “corazon frito“, in english fried heart. I think I felt that feeling sometimes in my life.
In the park there are two big lakes, I saw just one and it reminded me of Hyde Park. Again, a big surprise from this city.
I have to admit that at very first sight I had not liked this city at all. I had committed the mistake of judging it too much at first sight. We should all give a second chance to things or people.
I crossed the park walking towards Polanco, listening to the XX’s Cohexist album and finding myself suddenly in a beautiful area in the northern part of Paseo de la Reforma.
In Polanco there are cool restaurants, embassies, boutiques, art galleries and corporate businesses. The streets look really tidy and clean with nice trees alongside.  I found it quite different from many other parts of the city.
Avenida president Masaryk is the street with the most upscale boutiques in Latin America; a kind of Sloane Street in London, via Montenapoleone in Milan or New York City’s 5th Avenue with brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Brunello Cucinelli, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany & Co.,Ermenegildo Zegna, Brioni, Burberry, Bulgari, Gucci, Hermès, Frette and Marc  Jacobs.
I had a nice coffee in a cozy patio surrounded by white arches called Paseo Polanco, with smaller shops and cafes. I set a little bit there observing the people wandering through the  streets of Polanco.
It’s official: I’m in love with Mexico City!
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