Puebla, Cholula and a Vernissage

2019 January 31 – February 4 (better late than never)

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Stores and cafes line the zocalo

Who knew the annual celebration of “Cinco de Mayo” (5th of May), and the thousands of streets throughout Mexico named the same, originated in Puebla. As recorded by the historians, the Mexicans defeated French invaders in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, a rare Mexican military success. Unfortunately the French took back Puebla the following year and occupied it unti 1867. This is also the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution-history abounds here!
Puebla is sometimes referred to as the “City of Street Lights” due to the numerous decorative street lamps crafted by the French. The French legacy can also be seen in the city’s elaborate wrought iron balconies, azulejos (painted ceramic tiles) on many buildings, and the fine crystal chandeliers adorning historic buildings. Very colonial with a wonderful historic center, we were actually quite taken with the city and loved wandering  the streets and exploring not only Puebla but also nearby Cholula with its ancient pyramid and still active Popocatepel volcano.

It seems we are always surrounded by churches, some more ornate than others and often wonder how the upkeep can be afforded.   There is no lack of several notable ones in this city. 

We started off with the huge and impressive Puebla Cathedral which takes up the entire block on the south side of the zocalo. The cathedral is actually featured on the blue M$500 bill.

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Church tower is magnified in this $500 peso bi

 

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Large fountain in the zocalo

 

Cathedral at night

Templo de Santo Domingo is famous for its stunning Capilla Del Rosario (Rosary Chapel) and known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. One of the most glorious examples of Baroque architecture, the gold appearance is actually gold foiled plaster and carved stone. We had to make a second visit to see the chapel since a wedding was about to take place the day of our first visit.

Main altar in church
One of six large paintings in the Rosary Chapel depicting the life of Christ
Dome over the altar of Rosary Chapel

The “Virgen del Carmen” church was just just around the corner from our Airbnb. Beautiful ceramic tiles adorned the exterior.

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February 2nd  may be Groundhog Day in the Canada, and also our son Michael’s birthday, but in Mexico there is a completely different celebration on this date. This is the religious holiday known as Día de la Candelaria (or Candlemas in English). The tradition recalls that forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph took the child to the Temple to present to the priests.

Throughout Mexico on this date, people dress up figures of “Nino Dias” or the Christ Child in special outfits and take them to the church to be blessed, followed by celebrations with family and friends.

As chance would have it we were in Puebla on this feast day and were curious seeing so many people carrying dolls into a church, so we followed them.  Seeing our curiosity a kindly man approached us after mass to explain what was going on and the tradition behind it. He then told us to head to the zocalo as we weren’t in a particularly safe part of town! 

The Centro Historico, a UNESCO site,  has many colourful streets. Although not its official name, Candy Street is lined with pastel storefronts with traditional sweets and cookies displayed in glass cases. Many shops also sell the handmade and painted Talavera pottery crafted exclusively in the region. Authentic Talavera is distinguished from imitations by the raised design and gloss of the finish. And yes, I am now the proud owner of one such piece!

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Candy Street, colourful, ornate buildings with lots of wrought iron

 

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Talavera Pottery

The Barrio del Artists or Artist Quarter with its tree lined pedestrian walkway is dotted with quaint cafes and studios. Works of art and open galleries are intertwined with small market stalls. Just around the corner we found a small plaza with several musical groups mulling about and practicing for an annual competition.9CF42FC5-A4BF-4D93-8B65-596A16BC5FC7

Fine example of a building with azulejos (painted ceramic tiles) on the exterior

 

 

We couldn’t miss a visit to Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the first and oldest public library in the Americas. The library’s original ornate shelving holds the intact collection of books from the Spanish Colonial period.

 

The church on top of the pyramid

A day trip to Cholula to see Piramide Tepanapa, the widest pyramid ever built, yes wider than any in Egypt, couldn’t be passed up. Unfortunately this pyramid, dating back to 600 AD, has been badly neglected over the centuries and one would be hard pressed to recognize it as such. The south side of the pyramid has been excavated and there is a network of tunnels inside.  Today, only about 800 meters of these tunnels are open to the public.

What is amazing though and the towns biggest drawing card is the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de los Remédios. This church tops the pyramid and provides a great panoramic view.

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Panoramic view of Cholula

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We were the only visitors creeping through the tunnels at the time of our visit, kind of creepy especially when our cab driver told us there were several small earthquakes the day previous.

Pyramid excavation site

 

Internet upload photo of The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for “artificial mountain”)

Serendipity was again at play during our Puebla visit. Bob’s sister Martha sent us an invitation for a vernissage she received from fellow artists/friends from Montreal. She suggested we drop by to say hello on opening night. We represented Canada that evening, met some lovely, very talented artists and of course enjoyed the wine and hors d’oeuvres.

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Photo op with the artists

 

We had planned to head further south towards Chiapas and San Chrisobel but a nasty cold I couldn’t seem to shake was slowing me down so we decided to head to the coast. Nothing like warm ocean breezes, endless sunshine, and heat to cure what ails you. Back to Mexico City and only a short flight away – Hola Hualtuco!

Muros en Blanco (Blank Walls) Project – San Miguel de Allende

You have no doubt noticed that there is a common colour theme in San Miguel’s buildings. The mandated colour scheme for painting the outside of homes and businesses in El Centro range between nine distinct, vibrant earth tone colours As mentioned previously, the effect this has on the cityscape, as the light changes throughout the day, is amazing.

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Great representation of colour

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The oldest gas station in SMA-another iconic/vintage photo-op

This wasn’t quite as prevalent in the area we chose to stay.  It is always a crap-shoot when booking a place, but this time we scored big. Our beautiful Airbnb was about a 10-minute walk to Centro in one of the oldest neighbourhoods of SMA, Colonia Guadelupe. Not only were our accommodations absolutely beautiful and one of the best in all our Airbnb stays, vibrant Mexican colours washed the walls making the space cozy, homey, and very comfortable. Here the facades are cobalt blue, lime green, mauve, pink or lemon yellow and how appropriate it all seems.

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Mosaic design on Posada beside our Airbnb

Our neighbourhood had some other hidden gems as we soon discovered. The area is full of street art so of course with our long-standing love affair of this art form we were game for the  hunt. With fond memories of our street art excursion in Georgetown Penang in Malaysia we hit the streets one day and certainly were not disappointed.

Another interesting story here that definitely needs sharing. In 2012, Colleen Sorenson, an American expat living in SMA, saw an explosion of illegal ‘tagging’ on the walls of homes and businesses in SMA. Wanting to deter local youth from vandalizing the town’s unadorned walls with graffiti she lobbied for a project to channel youthful energy and talent, from graffiti to vibrant art that both artists and the community could take pride in. She saw the walls as an opportunity for art rather than defacement; her vision was to legalize graffiti. After more than a year of deliberation with the various authorities, and local residents, the first street art festival was held in Guadelupe in 2013. The urban street art project showcases over 100 works of young artists from around Mexico and from other countries, (Chile, Argentina, Canada, Germany and the United States), who participated in conjunction with local artists to promote the new art district. Guadalupe has since been named a Districto de Arte, and the Festival, is now known as Muros en Blanco or The Festival of White (or blank). The festival is held twice a year, spring and winter, and with other visiting artists painting in-between, the art is continuously changing.

As we stroll along the streets we see hummingbirds, butterflies, cars, people, saints, dragons, flying fish, flowers, ducks, bulls, skeletons, seahorses, trees, musicians, a school bus, and much more. At every turn there is something different to see. Different styles, colours, content; some beautiful, some surprising, some puzzling, but all fascinating. Here is a small selection of our discoveries (look closely, people just blend into the art).

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The other area we were very close to was Fabrica La Aurora Art and Design Centre.  In the early 20th century this building housed a textile factory where mana (cotton) was produced. For over 90-years it was the main source of work in the city. There is a great photo gallery showing the glory days of the factory and a huge weaving machine remains on-site.

This fascinating art space with more than 50-art studios and galleries is ideal if you want to purchase art, browse the artwork or simply enjoy a drink and some light lunch in a creative ambience.

Apart from paintings and sculpture, there are also works by Mexican photographers, glasswork, ceramics, woven goods, and antique furniture for sale. On the day we visited we were fortunate to see some talented artists at work. Martha you would love it here!

Always on the move our next stop is Queretaro, about a 2-hour bus ride away.

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This cheery ceramic wall plaque  greeted us every time we entered or exited our Airbnb 🌞

San Miguel de Allende – A Pleasure to Finally Meet You!

As you may or may not recall, we had planned to visit this city in the north central highlands of Mexico last year until a chance meeting with a fellow Canadian convinced us otherwise. We were told there were many more interesting places to visit than, what she described as, a “Mexican Disneyland” for mainly American, Canadian and European retirees as well as Chilangos (people from Mexico City).img_2155

We loved our travels last year and probably would never have visited the areas or saw the marvels we did, fate has a habit of doing that!! But curiosity was still nibbling so we decided to go with the previous years plan while wandering this year, great move on our part.

Our friend wasn’t far off the mark about the number of expats; we were amazed to see so many septuagenarian/octogenarians, (hey wait a minute, got one of those with me), garnering canes and walkers. I thought we had time-warped back to my parents retirement facility!!

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Twilight street scene

Joking aside it is difficult not to be instantly taken with beautiful San Miguel with its compact Centro historico, cobblestone streets, and beautiful colonial architecture. Colour is everywhere, this is Mexico after all, and it really is a photographers playground, so much inspiration especially with the changing light throughout the day.

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Bougainvillea bloom everywhere 🌺

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Chimney cleaning brushes for sale.

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Colourful burrow

While the foreign influence is strong, approximately 12,000 expats live here, the area is blessed with a wonderful climate year round – dry, no humidity, warm during the day and cooling off nicely in the evening. SMA been drawing foreigners here since shortly after World War II and boasts countless contemporary attractions — many art galleries, chic cafés, elegant restaurants, and quaint colonial hotels. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Pueblo Magico (Magical Town), it really is the “corazón de Mexico” (the heart of Mexico).

The centerpiece and focal point and one of the best things to see in SMA is the La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel or the Church of St. Michael the Archangel, it is as impressive as it is massive. This is arguably the most photogenic spot in the city inside and out. You are able to stroll inside the church as long as a mass isn’t going on, and while pictures aren’t really allowed I did sneak one photo inside (my old adage’ ‘better to beg forgiveness than ask permission’, was at work here).

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Gazebo & fountain in the Jardin Principle

 

The neo-gothic 17th-century structure is one of most photographed churches in the country and once you cast your eyes on it you can understand why. We enjoyed the view from the well-manicured Plaza Allende, popularly known as Jardin Principle, (main garden), in the plaza directly in front of the church. It was designed in French style, with wrought iron benches and filled with lush laurel trees.

The other three sides of the plaza are surrounded by restaurants, vendors, and various businesses with a lovely shaded walkways.

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Siesta time

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What’s behind this door? Don”t you love the door knockers?

 

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A mishmash of colour & it works!

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So many churches!

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Winding streets.

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One of the best parts of this city is that around every corner there is a new adventure and behind every door there is a secret courtyard. We let ourselves get lost while exploring always using the massive central cathedral as our guide to get back to the square.

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Getting lost on the way to the mirador.

A good set of legs and healthy lungs certainly helps once you leave the city core. Did I mention how hilly SMA is? One day we decided to head to the mirador to get that perfect birds-eye view of the city. Snaking through the back streets and alleyways we tested our stamina and finally made it. Beside getting a little extra exercise climbing up the hills, we also got to see some of the most beautiful and finest properties in the city.

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Beautiful gardens everywhere.

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This little girl entertains herself while mom is busy selling her wares. 

One thing we didn’t expect to see in SMA were botanical gardens. The Jardin Botanico El Charco del Ingenio is northeast from the main part of town. This 170 acre area is not only a garden, but also a recreational and ceremonial space with a wildlife sanctuary. This environmental conservation project was established in 1991 and is privately funded. Why even the Dalai Lama has visited here and declared it a ‘Peace Zone’.

 

Cacti, many huge, and other succulent plants make up the botanical collection, many are rare, threatened or in danger of extinction. The area is very tranquil and perfect for an afternoon hike in nature.

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Don’t want to get too close!

Taking the local bus as far as we could, we hike the remaining 1.5 kms and spent the afternoon exploring the various paths that surround a very deep canyon.  Depending on the path you take, there are some gorgeous views of SMA.

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View of SMA from El Charco

There is a bit more of San Miguel we want to share with you, stay tuned for part two.

Life Is A Highway…Portugal Style 🇵🇹

Driving throughout Portugal has been relatively easy. Toll highways are pristine, have little traffic, a speed limit of 120km/hr., (although many exceed this and have a tendency to tailgate), and makes Hwy401 pale in comparison. Fertile farmland with red soil, fields of eucalyptus, olive, and cork trees, depending on the region, not to mention the huge number of vineyards that seemingly covers the whole mid to northern region

The Portuguese are the masters of roundabouts, they are absolutely everywhere! Navigation is tricky at the best of times, especially in smaller villages (more roundabouts!). Bob has definitely met the challenge driving the VERY narrow cobblestone streets of the cities/towns/villages we have visited, nothing to do with the excellent navigator, I might add!!🤣

Heading out of Obidos to Coimbra, we stopped to check out the popular fishing and beach town of Nazaré. The town is split into three main districts – Praia (beach), Pederneira (main lower town), and Sitio (upper town ). Located on a rocky outcropping over 100m above the main part of the town, Sitio provides wonderful views over the bay and beach. Parking down near the beach we took the funicular to Sitio and walked the promenade enjoying the spectacular views below. This area also attracts some of the world’s best and bravest surfers and has recently put itself firmly on the global map with the biggest recorded breaking waves ever being ridden here.

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A quick stop at the huge gothic monastery in Batalha was impressive and provided a great photo op.

We passed several groups of pilgrims walking to Fatima for the 101st anniversary, (October 13, 1917), of the last apparition of Virgin Mary to three local Shepard children. More on Fatima in an upcoming blog.img_02571.jpg

Coimbra, a well-preserved medieval center and the historic University of Coimbra was the next stop for a couple of nights. This is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, the oldest university of Portugal, and one of the country’s largest higher education and research institutions. Impressive!! The campus is beautiful and the historic centre full of narrow winding streets to get lost in.

This city along with Porto were the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter book series. Everywhere you look upper year students are dressed in the same Hogwarts garb-black suits and cape.

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We happened upon the town during Recepção ao Caloiro (The Freshman’s Reception) or what is known as ‘homecoming’ back home. Lots of festivities were happening the weekend we visited with freshmen wearing interesting costumes,  displaying each faculty’s colours. The garb was made up according to the creativity and imagination of their ‘godmothers’ or ‘godfathers’ who are upper class men. img_0338-1

We also witnessed the special parade known as the Latada. After marching through the streets of the city, the new students are baptized in the Mondego River thus entering into the Coimbra academic fraternity. Sounds similar to like the kind of indoctrination at Queens U. but much more traditional.

Aveiro, aka the ‘Venice of Portugal’ was another short stop to see the colourful gondola style boats gliding tourists through the canals that crisscross the city. The boats, (barcos moliceiros), were traditionally used to harvest seaweed in the lagoon that feeds the canal which was then used to fertile the surrounding farm fields.img_0350

On to Porto my friends, AND the 🚗 is still intact (as well as my nerves).

Oaxaco: Finding Shangri-la

From Playa del Carmen we flew to the beautiful state of Oaxaca (wha-HAH-Kah) starting our sojourn in the city with the same name. Earlier in our travels we entertained ideas of perhaps heading to Belize and Guatemala but as they say, “all the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. So we came up with Plan B, better to err on the side of caution, slow down, and head back to the Pacific Coast. Bob was marginally better so we decided not to push our luck.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any better, you come across yet another absolutely beautiful place and you fall in love all over again!! The state of Oaxaco has everything one could dream of: a beautiful colonial city, indigenous towns, rolling mountain ranges, lush valleys, unbelievable weather, and gorgeous beaches. IMG_2900Oaxaco City- beautiful buildings, zocalos bursting with people, art galleries, gorgeous  woven blankets, hand embroidered shirts, musicians, so much talent. It truly is a cultural and culinary epicentre where trying to choose a restaurant, bar or coffee shop is nigh on impossible. Mole, a traditional sauces that comes in 7-distinctive flavours are a Oaxacan signature. We only tried the mole negra on pollo (chicken); rich, smokey, spices and flavoured with chocolate.

In the beverage department, aside from the ever popular mezcal (another agave based liquor), Oaxacan favorites include chocolate con leche (steaming hot chocolate spiced with cinnamon), jamaica agua fresca (hibiscus flower drink), and aqua horchata, (cinnamon rice drink). I will definitely be making these when we get home and have stocked up on the ingredients to do so. For my Kombucha making compadres, the hibiscus flowers are sure to make a wonderful tasting brew. 🌺

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Balloon vendors in the zocolo

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Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, at one time a monastery

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Colourful buildings

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We crossed paths with these guys a few times as they hauled their wares uphill

We spent several days enjoying Oaxaco City before heading to the Oaxacan coast opting to fly on a small 12-seater plane. We had read the alternative, busing it for nine gruelling hours on a narrow switch-back mountain highway is terrifying! Life is too short to be whiteknucking it for that length of time. Bob got to sit up front in the right seat and was in his glory chatting with the pilot as we flew between the mountains during our 40-minute flight.IMG_2462

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Part of the long & winding road we passed up!

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El Captain & 1st Officer Bob

Bahias de Huatulco, or just Huatulco (wah-TOOL-coh), was our first and ultimately last stop and is actually an area, not a town per se. It is Mexico’s youngest planned resort and is made up of a series of 9 bays and 36 pristine white sandy beaches along a 26km jagged coastline. The main areas include the marina/port area of Santa Cruz where the cruise ships pull in about 4-times per month, the all-inclusive resort area of Tangolunda, the Marina and smaller hotel/condo Bahia Chahue with its “Blue Flag” beach designation, and the small town of La Crucecita with restaurants, numerous shops, markets, etc.

The weather here is outstanding, nothing but sunshine and blue skies. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Eco-friendly, safe, very clean, no building is higher than 4-stories, (aside from the all-inclusive resorts), and has a very laid-back vibe; definitely a haven for Canadians, especially from the western provinces. It maintains its Mexican culture and has avoided all the big North American franchises. Pssst, now the word is now out!!

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Great map showing the bays

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Bahia Maguey

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La Crucecita zocalo with Virgin of Guadalupe church in the background

Renting a car we headed further up the coast to the towns of Puerto Angel, Zipolete, San Agustinillio, Mazunte and Puerto Escondito. We met up with my gym buddy and friend Joanne and her husband Fred in the San Agustinillio/Mazunte area and enjoyed a laid-back, fun-filled week. These are small ocean-side beach towns where you can enjoy watching hump-back whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Puerto Ángel, a small fishing town and naval port, wasn’t too impressive, Zipolite is known for its nude beaches, San Agustinillio for its tranquility, and Mazunte named a Pueblo Mágicos in 2015.

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Road that passes through Mazunte. Truck taxi in background.

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Mazunte, considered the bigger town of the four, is especially interesting, lots of new-gen hippies, yoga enthusiasts attending a world famous yoga instruction facility, backpackers, and options for those who enjoy….well let’s just say other diversions! What happens in Mazunte stays in Mazunte (right Joanne?).😇

The Santuario de las Tortugas is also in Mazunte and was developed over concern with the declining number of sea turtles. Up and down the coast, but especially in the Mazunte area, marine and some freshwater turtles come to lay their eggs each year. The major income for the families at one time was hunting turtles for their meat. All that changed in 1970 with a ban on turtle meat and eggs and was replaced by ecotourism based on the conservation of turtles and a cooperative natural cosmetics industry was developed. Interesting fact, the Body Shop founder visited Mazunte in the early 1990s and impressed with the sustainability efforts agreed to distribute cosmetics made here with local ingredients.

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Open air bar and Kombucha!

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What about Bob? As close as he got to the 2018 Zipolite Nudist Festival!

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Enjoying the gorgeous sunset with Joanne, Fred & Bob

Bob has always been interested in visiting Puerto Escondido to have the experience of watching surfers ride the “Mexican Pipeline”. Being so close, (~67km), it only made sense to head up the coast to Playa Zicatela. A very wide 3km long beach, we watched as surfers hit the big, very scary waves as the sun was setting. Again there are several bays to dip your toes into.

While walking the beach late one afternoon we were fortunate enough to join in on a turtle release. The baby turtles hatched earlier in the day and after a short educational overview we watched and cheered them on as they scurried into the surf, some tumbling back as the waves crashed down on them and finally sweeping them into the big, vast ocean waters. This is a common practice up and down the coast and one can only hope they survive.

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Surfers-Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido

On one of our last days in Huatulco we treated ourselves with a day pass to the adults-only/all-inclusive Secrets Resort and Spa.  Such a nice treat!!

Other than meeting up with our kids and friends in Playa, we certainly didn’t plan a beach vacation this year. But life had other plans for us and we wouldn’t change a thing. I am a firm believer that life unfolds the way it should, and yes Bob is back to normal (whatever that is!). Tincture of time is a wonderful thing.

Hands down, the best location we visited this year was the state of Oaxaco and we would definitely come back in a heartbeat.

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Our hotel pool, just perfect for cooling off 🌊

Morelia es el Alma de México!(Morelia it’s the soul of México)

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The sign says it all

We were looking for butterflies, Monarch butterflies to be exact. I had read about this marvellous feat of nature where millions of butterflies make their long journey from eastern Canada and the US to winter over in Mexico. Setting out on our journey this year little did we realize we would actually be seeing this marvel up close and personal.

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Making our way from Guadalajara, on our sojourn to experience the butterflies, we travelled into the heartland of Mexico, and stayed in lovely under the radar towns; what treasures they turned out to be. Pre-Hispanic traditions and colonial style architecture meet up in Michoacán state. Now for those of you who read the travel advisories, Michoacán is a region of Mexico that has gotten a particularly bad rap. For the past several years, whenever Michoacán has made headlines, it’s been related to drug cartels and narco insurgencies, and as a result the travel advisories have warned visitors to stay away. Yes, there are definitely areas to be avoided, primarily deep into the countryside, areas tourists are not likely to find themselves in. We did our due diligence, made several inquiries regarding safety in this area and were reassured that a lot of the problem are now in the past and we would have no problems with the towns we planned to visit.

Now this is authentic Mexico, no habla the English from the folks in these towns and often it seemed like we were the only gringos in town. Curious stares often confirmed the same and those who did know a bit of English were curious to know where we were from. What we do know is that the people are very kind, friendly and always anxious to help when needed.

Morelia, the state capital, was our first stop and such a delightful surprise, actually exceeding expectations. A UNESCO World Heritage site it is a beautiful, well-preserved colonial city with too many historic buildings to count. The focal point is huge cathedral that is absolutely spectacular, especially when illuminated at night. This city is blessed with gorgeous churches, museums, a perfectly preserved aqueduct, gardens with bougainvillea overflowing the high pink quarry-stone walls and perfectly trimmed lush ficus trees. This all makes the city a picture-perfect historic center that would put many a European capital city to shame. This is also a college/university town and at night the sidewalk cafes are buzzing, music fills the air and the zocalo oozes with the locals out and about eating, drinking, watching the street buskers or just hanging out. We were fortunate to be there over a weekend and enjoyed the weekly Saturday night fireworks in front of the cathedral. On Sunday morning the main streets are again closed and bicyclists are out gliding their way along the pathways.

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Supporting the cause

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Park with cafes

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Friday night and the cafes are jammed

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The masses were out enjoying the show

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Street vendors were everywhere

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Interesting fresco in a very old library (thought you’d like this Martha)

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Portion of the huge aqueduct in Morelia

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Street scene

Sunday morning biking.
IMG_5780One morning while out exploring we came upon a church square, away from the main cathedral, with a huge police presence, riot gear neatly laid out on the ground. The ever present shoeshine guys were conducting their daily business while others sat docilely in the square chatting and kids were running around. Curious I wandered over to a police officer enquiring que pasa? We found out that the striking teachers were in the capital protesting wages and benefits. Guess this is a common thread wherever you go!

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We decided to take a side trip one day to a nearby Pueblos Mágicos town. With a few enquiries we figured out the connections, hopped on a collectivo, (a van that picks up passengers along designated routes) then a local bus and an hour later we found ourselves in the beautiful city/historic town of Pátzcuaro. This quaint town is known as the arts and culture center for the State of Michoacán. Smaller villages bringing in their specialized crafts such as copperware, black pottery, musical instruments, and baskets. The adobe and wood houses have red-tiled roofs and cobblestone streets dominate the center of town. Unlike all the other towns and cities in Mexico we have visited the main church, Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Salud, does not face the main plaza. This church is built on a pre-Hispanic ceremonial hilltop overlooking the town. The church is grand and behind the altar is a statue of Nuestra Señora de la Salud, “Our Lady of Health” made in the 16th century out of corncob and honey paste called “tatzingue” by the Tarascan people. Pilgrims come from all over Mexico seeking healing and miracles have been cited. Small pictures of loves ones and amulets are pinned to the mystical Virgin Mary’s skirt.

We also stumbled upon a wedding while visiting the church and stayed to observe the ceremony, definitely different from North American weddings, very modest and not a lot of frills.IMG_5827

This is an exhibit of the masks made throughout the different states in Mexico, some are quite antique. We had fun figuring out which mask best suits our personality. Guess it could also depend on the day and how we are feeling!!!? 🤡

It was a Saturday and the markets were ready and waiting! There was actually a lot of holistic type of herbs available and we purchased some marijuana cream, but since pot is illegal in Mexico I doubt it is the real thing.  Oh well what do you expect for 40 pesos!

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Mexicans love their sweetsIMG_5842 One of my favourite pictures – quintessential Mexico!IMG_5819IMG_5818IMG_5814IMG_5812IMG_5798IMG_5796

We could have stayed longer in Morelia and the surrounding area but a bus ticket had been purchased and we were headed to Zitacuera to chase the butterflies.

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Busing it from Morelia to Zitacuera

Note – click on the individual picture to get a full screen view of each