If an alien anthropologist would have landed on Earth and could visit only one city to learn about us, he would probably go to Mexico City. Walking its streets is traversing our story as humanity. The magnitude and scope of what it is here is breathtaking. So where do you start? You start by walking the Tacuba avenue – the oldest street in the city… and the entire continent. Continue reading “From Aztec Pyramids to Mexican Rock On the Oldest Street of Mexico City”
In Peter Greenaway’s recent movie “Eisenstein in Guanajuato”, the famous Soviet film director arrives to Guanajuato to shoot a movie. After spending a few days in the city, he has a severe diarrhea, on which he comments: “In Russia you are always constipated, but here it’s the opposite…”.
Having spent my childhood in Russia, and having traveled enough time in Mexico, I can attest to some truth in Eisenstein’s character’s words. Continue reading “Guanajuato, Maybe The Most Abundant City in Mexico”
The town of Atotonilco, just 20 minutes outside of San Miguel de Allende is mostly known for its church complex, declared UNESCO World Heritage. Called the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” due to the mural work that adorns it, Sanctuary of Atotonilco is probably the best half-day trip you can make from San Miguel. Since it lies on the main road to Dolores Hidalgo, you can see both sites on the same day, tracing the Mexican independence movement and its religious underpinnings. Continue reading “Sanctuary of Atotonilco, the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico””
On one of the weekends during our stay in San Miguel de Allende we took a bus to the nearby town of Dolores Hidalgo. Considered the cradle of Mexican Independence, it’s a great day trip for anyone even marginally interested in Mexican history. And chances are, you’ll see here more visitors from other parts of Mexico than foreigners. Continue reading “Dolores Hidalgo, The Birthplace of Mexican Independence”
Having spent a month and a half in San Miguel de Allende, I’m still not sure what to make of it. A beautifully preserved monument of history and architecture? A seductive refuge for artists? Or an overhyped expat colonia? Probably a little bit of each.
Becoming almost a ghost town in the beginning of 20th century, the town began to attract artists and writers in the 30’s and 40’s. After the WWII many U.S. veterans came to study in San Miguel’s art schools. Over the years, the city has become a sort of art colony in the heart of Mexico. Continue reading “San Miguel de Allende – A Beautiful Baroque City That Lacks Only One Thing”
After almost 2 months in Yucatan, we were ready to get back to central Mexico. Landing in Mexico City airport, the plan was to take a bus to San Miguel de Allende, and stay there for a month as the next anchor in our slow traveling drift. But the bus takes almost 5 hours to get there, so instead we decided to make a weekend stop in Queretaro, a city that lies right on the way to San Miguel de Allende. For some reason travel guides don’t mention it among Mexico’s highlights, but this one-time capital turned out to be one of the most stunningly beautiful cities we have visited in Mexico. Continue reading “Queretaro, Probably The Most Underrated City in Mexico”
Life in Latin America is easy, if you are an expat. The people are nice and friendly, the culture is rich and vibrant and living is usually cheap and with higher standards than those you are used to. But there are also grim sides to the Latin American story, that no one is talking about. Well it’s time someone broke the silence and told the truth.
On our last weekend before leaving Yucatan, we took a bus from Merida to Celestun, to visit the Celestun Biosphere Reserve, where flocks of pink flamingos come for the winter. While every hostel and tour agency offers a tour to Celestun, there is really no reason to take them. These tours are usually pricey, and don’t offer anything of extra value. Instead, we took a regular bus from the Noreste bus station in the center of Merida, where the buses leave every hour. Continue reading “Celestun – Flamingos and Mangroves on the coast of Yucatan”
“I can show you a little bit of my Yucatan. Where do you stay?” This was the message I received from Luis Fernando, a young yucateco that replied me on Couchsurfing, where I was looking for locals to meet and befriend. A few days later we were speeding in his car outside of Merida on our way to Izamal, a pre-hispanic city, known today for its yellow buildings. Continue reading “Yucatan Less Traveled: Yellow Izamal and Cenotes of Homun”
White sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean, ancient Maya city of Tulum, underground rivers, and freshwater caves of Sac Actun. It’s all here, on the Caribbean coast of Yucatan, a result of an astonishing collaboration of circumstances, nature, and pre-hispanic Maya culture. Continue reading “White Sands, Mayan Ruins and Underground Rivers: One Day on the Caribbean in Yucatan”
Having made Merida our base in Yucatan, for the first few weeks we limited ourselves to short day trips to Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Kabah. But it was time to venture farther east – where the white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea are the spectacular setting for an ancient Mayan city of Tulum. So Saturday morning we rented a car and headed to Quintana Roo for a long weekend on the Caribbean. Continue reading “On The Road in Yucatan: Colonial Valladolid and Mayan Coba”
Kabah is a small Mayan site, lying 22 km south of Uxmal. But what it lacks in size, it makes up in sheer eeriness. Empty of visitors, the silence isn’t broken by the large iguanas, embodying the solemn atmosphere of the place. We came here for a short visit, after spending half a day in Uxmal, and were glad we did. Continue reading “Kabah, A Maya City Where Iguanas Outnumber Visitors”
As everyone else visiting Yucatan, Chichen Itza was our first encounter with Mayan civilization. Advertising works – if something is recognized as a New World Wonder, you are going to go there first, no matter what. But while Chichen Itza may be the most famous Mayan site, the less-known Uxmal, in my view, is even more breathtaking. Continue reading “Uxmal, The Ancient Maya City You Have To See to Believe”
Having stayed in Merida for more than a month, we had plenty of time to explore the city. Beyond just taking a quick tour of the historic center, visitors often rush off to see the pyramids, which is understandable. But if you have more than a day or two in the city, check out these less-known spots, whose discovery was a pleasant surprise for us.
For the first time in my life I don’t have a physical home to return to. All the stuff that I ever owned is either in my suitcase, at my parents house or sold and given away. For 6 months now I don’t pay any monthly bills. I don’t have long-term rental contracts. I don’t receive spam calls – an unexpected benefit of changing the sim card every now and then. Continue reading “The Unexpected Side Effects of Traveling Slow”