I’ve traveled a fair amount in my years in Mexico. The culture and food vary greatly from area to area, as does the geography and climate. People often ask me about my favorite places and foods, so I’ve decided to write a post about some of my favorites.
Tlaquepaque is still in the lead. It is a quaint typically Mexican area only 20 minutes away from central Guadalajara. The Jardin Hidalgo, Calle independencia and Calle Juarez were my favorite haunts. Dia De Los Muertos is amazing. The best churros, rotisserie chicken and pizza are found here. The shops are quaint and ATMs are plentiful. But best of all, the locals are all friendly and there is always music in the air night and day. Uber and public transit are accessible, making commutes to Parque Mirador, Tonala, Zapopan, museums, art galleries and parks easy. Lots of day trips to smaller pueblos in Jalisco are most enjoyable.
I’m about to begin my third month here in Aguascalientes. I live in Las Flores, a neighborhood adjacent to the Centro Historico. People are friendly and I have found a wonderful church two blocks from where I’m staying. The best gorditas are two streets over. My favorite coffee shop, Buenos Aires Cafe, is close by. The woman who runs it is from Argentina and the food she prepares is outstanding. The best omelets are at Loncheria Fer, run by my friend Fernando. Day trips to Leon, Zacatecas and the three magic towns are great. There are museums, art galleries and churches to explore.
I spent two months this winter in San Ciro de Acosta in San Luis Potosi. This small town didn’t even have a bank. People are friendly and collectivos are available to Rio Verde, a larger town that even has two museums. Christmas celebrations in the plaza were most enjoyable. Day trips to other areas in the state as well as in Queretaro are best done by car, as buses and collectivos don’t go to many of them. I found the food very greasy as everything is fried. Finding fresh vegetables was difficult as beans, rice and tortillas were the norm to accompany the main course. I did find one place that made Chinese food, but it too was quite greasy and used frozen vegetables in their dishes.
Culiacan is probably the most dangerous city I’ve lived in here in Mexico. It’s also home to the best tamales and incredible bakeries. I go back there often as my Mexican family live there. The first school I taught at in Mexico is also here, and occasionally I go back to visit. Culiacan has some lovely parks and the main cathedral is beautiful. I also explored art galleries and museums when I lived there.
I first went to Mazatlan in 2010 and dreamed of retiring there at some point. I moved there in 2015 when I was still teaching. But after three years, it was time to move on. The quaintness is gone and the city has become far too touristy for me. But Mazatlan has the best beaches and the most beautiful sunsets, and I’ve been to quite a few beach towns along the west coast. When I lived in Guadalajara I even preferred Mazatlan to Puerto Vallarta. Carnaval is the third largest in the world. Fabulous concerts are found at the Angela Peralta Theater. Motorcycle Week and Semana Santa I can easily do without.
I think my favorite park is Chapultepec in Mexico City. It boasts a castle, a zoo, botanical gardens, boats and more. The city itself is much too large for my liking, but it does have so much to offer in terms of art galleries and museums. The pyramids in Teotihuacan are awesome and are a must for visitors. My least favorite place in this city is definitely the airport which desperately needs more than a face lift.
I was very disappointed in Rosarito in the Baja. A few years ago I had planned on spending the winter there. After one week of a very dirty beach and warnings of not to go out after dark because of the high crime rate, I headed back to Tijuana, another not so great place, and then found my way back to Guadalajara.
I also lived in Irapuato, Guanajuato for a few months. This is another area I wasn’t too fond of. Day trips to Leon and Guanajuato City were good escapes. There really wasn’t much to do in this town. Even the Centro are was disappointing.
Let’s end this post on a positive note. A ride on El Chepe in the Copper Canyon is the train ride of a lifetime. The spectacular views made this quite the experience. I opted for a five day tour with overnight stays in four towns along the way. I actually hope to do this again someday.
Mexico is one huge country and there is so much more I want to explore. My plan is to explore the Yucantan next winter. I also still want to go to Oaxaca, Chiapas, Morelia………the list is endless!
As I write this, my daughter has just returned from New York and Broadway plays, and my son is in Las Vegas. And I am here in Guadalajara planning my holiday travels.
I am spending Christmas with a friend in Tototlan, a small pueblo about an hour away from here. It’s a quaint little place, and I’m looking forward to returning there again. It will be interesting spending Christmas in a small Mexican town and will be a different experience from the other tourist areas or large cities where I have celebrated Christmas in the past few years.
The first stop will be for grocery shopping in Ocotlan, another pueblo, as we are planning on having a traditional Christmas dinner rather than the pisole and ponche that are common here in Mexico.
My current housemates and I are planning on spending New Years together on the beach somewhere. Yes, somewhere, because we haven’t decided exactly where yet. We know we don’t want to encounter the frenzy of snowbirds that flock to Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan.
Possibilities include Sayulita, Bucerias, Guyabitos or maybe even Manzanillo. The inevitable snowbirds will be there, but hopefully fewer in number.
One of my housemates lives near the beach in Australia, and my other housemate is from The Netherlands. We are all looking forward to leaving the hustle and bustle of Guadalajara behind for a few days.
Living here in Mexico, the possibilities for travel are endless. This is a magnificent country, and every area boasts its own treasures.
The highlight of my time up north was a train ride up in the mountains to Chihuahua.
The pyramids outside of Mexico City were amazing.
My favorite beach so far is still Mazatlan, although I have yet to explore the east coast of Mexico.
And I hope that my travels will take me to the jungles of Chiapas this coming spring.
My students constantly suggest new territories worthy of exploration, and my list continues to grow.
I will be returning to Winnipeg for a launch of my second book, Alive Again, on May 5th. While it will be nice to see my family and friends again, my heart is in Mexico and the many adventures that still await me here.