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!
I admit it. It’s a weird and morbid thing to do. Most people stick to famous landmarks, museums and music. But yours truly also likes to wander through cemeteries, especially old ones. And there are some amazing ones here in Mexico.
Typically I seek out a cemetery on Day of the Dead when I’m in Mexico. This year I went to the Tlaquepaque cemetery.
I’ve been in San Ciro de Acosta for almost a month. On my walk one day I came across a cemetery in this town. While it was quite a bit smaller than the one in Tlaquepaque, nonetheless it was interesting.
I’ve seen a number of smaller cemeteries along the road on the drive in to Rio Verde. I hope to some day have the opportunity to explore these in the future.
I’m back in Tlaquepaque enjoying one of my favorite Mexican celebrations…..Day of the Dead. This is a time when family and friends gather together to pray for and remember family and friends who have passed away. Altars are constructed and food and photos are prominent. Personal possessions are also displayed. Faces are painted and traditional dress is also featured for both adults and children alike. Brightly colored marigolds are everywhere and the cemeteries are alive with celebrations of the spirits of the deceased.
I spent hours walking down Calle Independencia and Calle Juarez taking photos of altars. It was fascinating watching the various artists painting faces of children and adults. The costumes were outstanding and Catrinas were everywhere.
In the evening I checked out the amazing altar outside El Parian in the square. An added delight was the celebration inside the government building which featured altars, catrinas and mariachis. In the Jardin Hidalgo a stage had been set up and various singers and dancers performed.
The vendors were out in full force. Food ranged from tortas ahogadas to churros. Other vendors sold everything from leather goods to jewelry. Needless to say, the people watching and photo ops were plentiful. Here are a few:
Last month I was in Guadalajara four times related to my cataract surgery. And I took advantage of every moment to spend time with friends and to visit some of my favorite places. I loved living in Guadalajara and if it had an ocean I’d still be there.
On my first trip, I headed out to Parque Mirador for the afternoon. The view of the canyon is breathtaking, and I used to spend hours here gazing out at the spectacular scenery and writing, while sipping my favorite Bohemia.
I spent a fair amount of time in the Jardin Hidalgo in San Pedro, the area where I used to live. It is so peaceful there early in the morning and the pigeons are a delight to watch. The two churches are busy places with people coming for early mass. The man selling cheese and the lady selling bread have their usual spots. The shopkeepers have not yet opened their doors and the garden is a perfect place to relax.
In the evening the Jardin Hidalgo is a busy place. Salchichas, tortas, churros, ayot and hamburguesas are only a few of the offerings here. What I enjoy is plopping down on a bench and watching people. And of course there is the added spectacle of the churches lit up at dusk.
I stayed with my friend Pedro and his family and it is always a delight to visit. Pedro is a former student and we used to get into quite the conversations in the classroom. My students always tell me that they are so grateful to have a native speaker of English teach them, but I feel privileged to have students like Pedro as I have learned so much from them. Here is a shot of Pedro, an avid cyclist.
On a sad note, my favorite coffee shop closed down. Claudia and her mom ran this place for eight years and their lease was not renewed. The ambiance was awesome and I treasure the memories of hours spent there with friends over the years. The food was outstanding and always cheerfully served. I was able to enjoy one last meal there in February just before it closed.
Another one of my friends opened up a cantina and I spent an enjoyable night there with friends. I highly recommend Alaz Luchas for cold beer, great music, interesting decor and of course wonderful food.
I enjoyed a morning in the Centro Historico although the main street was ripped up by the construction for the third line of the Tren Ligero. Here are some shots I took of the cathedral and the area nearby.
One morning I headed to the mercado for a delicious breakfast of pizole and tacos. The lower level is where the crowds of locals come for traditional Mexican fare.
I also squeezed in a quick trip to Forum Tlaquepaque, one of my favorite shopping malls in the area. I had planned on seeing a movie, but time just got away from me.
The main purpose of all these trips was the cataract surgery. The following photos are of this amazing clinic in Zapopan where I saw the opthamologist and had the surgeries done.
I miss you Guadalajara. If only you had an ocean. I look forward to returning again soon, but this time it will be all pleasure and no medical issues to contend with. I intend to spend time with friends and revisit my old haunts.
I was talking to my son last night and he remarked that I am a nomad. Apparently what I consider a long period of time and what he considers to be a long period of time are miles apart. Fourteen months in Mazatlan to me is a long period of time. The move to Leavenworth for three months is a much needed change.
I glanced back over my blog posts and noted that I had already published Am I A Nomad back in January of 2014. And I have been on the move since then. Therefore I have titled this post Still A Nomad.
I actually did remain in the same house in Tlaquepaque until April of 2015. The plan was to visit my Mexican family in Culiacan and then fly to Winnipeg out of Puerto Vallarta. I was having a book launch for Alive Again and had a few medical appointments scheduled. Then I would return to Guadalajara.
While I was in Culiacan, I received a job offer in Mazatlan. So I decided to check it out. I stayed with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, and it was a great reunion. On the way to Puerto Vallarta, I spent a couple of days in Sayulita with a former housemate from Guadalajara.
Back in Winnipeg, my 10 days soon became five weeks. I stayed with my son and a variety of friends and lived in various areas of the city during that time. By the time I returned to Mexico, I’d been living out of suitcases for almost eight weeks.
I moved in with a family from Mexico and stayed there for 5-1/2 months. I then stayed with a friend for three weeks until I was able to move into a condo. I remained in the condo for eight months before arriving here in Leavenworth almost three weeks ago. I plan on staying here until sometime in October when I will return to Mazatlan for the winter.
I still haven’t found that perfect place yet where I might settle down. And I don’t know if I ever will. But it has been the most amazing experience traveling and moving around after spending decades in Winnipeg. Obviously there doesn’t appear to be any real stability in my choice of lifestyle unless you categorize change as stability. And that is an interesting thought to ponder as I sit out on the deck and enjoy this view:
I can’t believe it’s December already. The months have flown by quickly and 2015 has been quite a hectic year filled with activity. In reality, the older I get the faster the time flies by.
In January I was living in Tlaquepaque and teaching at Avery Franz De Witt. I was working on the final edit of my second book, Alive Again. And I bought a pair of mitts and a headband because it got so cold at night in Guadalajara with lows of zero degrees. But the fountains still flowed with water in the daytime.
February was another busy month of teaching and writing. I celebrated Valentine’s Day with Carlos. Then I found myself traveling to Manzanillo for a few days by the beach.
When I returned to Guadalajara I began the arduous process of preparing for a book launch in Winnipeg. March was the first of many stressful months. I had to book flights to Winnipeg and arrange a variety of appointments while I was there. I had medical matters and financial issues to deal with in addition to the book launch. I had to sort out accommodations and ensure that I had time to see my friends.
April was insane. Right after Easter, I headed to Culiacan for a visit with my family. Off to Mazatlan next where I reunited with Larysa whom I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. I also accepted a teaching position at a language institute. I headed south to Sayulita to visit with Debbie who now owns a bed and breakfast there. We also spent a day in Bucerias before I headed back down to Puerto Vallarta to catch my flight to Canada. Yes, four different beaches in just one week!
I flew to Winnipeg via Calgary. David met me at the airport and I moved in with Donna and Loris for a few days. Next it was Audrey, Nancy, Kyle, Carolyn, Kyle, Donna and Loris, then back to Mexico. I had my book launch at McNally Robinson, spent time with my friends and had a myriad of medical and other appointments.
I flew back to Mexico at the end of May and rented a room with a Mexican family in a working-class Mexican neighborhood. It was a fabulous opportunity to get immersed in the culture and practice my Spanish skills.
In June I taught staff English at Hotel Torres. July was a holiday month from teaching and left me time to explore Mazatlan and do quite bit of writing. I also volunteered at The Vineyard Church making sandwiches to distribute to the poor people out near the dump.
The months flew by and I was soon on my way to Toronto. I spent a couple of days with my friend Deb whom I hadn’t seen in years. I then joined my daughter Kimmy and the rest of the group at the airport and was on a flight bound for Punta Cana, the destination for her wedding.
What an amazing week that was! I spent many happy hours by the pool with my daughter and her friends and new family. Kimmy had organized a fabulous group event that included everything from cigar-making displays to horseback riding and everything in between. There were also family dinners, a bachelorette party and then finally it was the wedding day.
A friend of Kimmy’s performed the ceremony on the beach Thankfully the rain held off until after the big event, but the dinner on the terrace was moved indoors. And then it was off to the disco for dancing.
One more day of relaxing by the pool and then we were heading back to Toronto. Except that WestJet had mechanical problems so our return flight was delayed by a day.
I returned to Mexico and had a very busy November. I started teaching again and then made plans to move into a condo with another woman from Canada. But the condo wasn’t available until early December, so I wound up moving in with another friend for three weeks.
December was another busy month. I moved into the condo and began to settle in. There is a pool so it has been nice to get back into the water again. And of course there is another new neighborhood to explore. Christmas was approaching and I found myself traveling again, to Guadalajara and Tototlan.
I am now back in Mazatlan and happy to be home. I’d like to wish everyone all the best for an amazing 2016, a year filled with peace, happiness and good health.
This year I took an overnight Turistar to Guadalajara. I arrived early in the morning and headed to the Jardin Hidalgo. The shops surrounding the square were just opening up as were the vendors’ stands. It was very peaceful and I have missed this pastime.
Next I went to Jahanve, a coffee shop I used to frequent. It was great to see Claudia again and I enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast. My friend Steffie was visiting from Switzerland and we hadn’t seen each other in three years. Another friend, Monica, also joined us.
That night I stayed with my friend Pedro, a former student, and his family. Pedro and I used to get into sparring debates in Conversation Club, and it was great to converse once again. Here is a photo of Pedro and his wife Mary.
The following day I headed out to Parque Mirador, my favorite place in all of Guadalajara. The canyon is amazing, and I have spent hours gazing out at the beauty of this marvelous creation of nature.
That night we headed to Indio Rock to hear my friend German’s band play. Barbershop is an awesome band with fabulous renditions of 60’s and 70’s English rock. The guys posed for a photo before their performance.
The next morning found me on a bus to Ocotlan, where I met my friend Omar. We went grocery shopping and then headed to his home in Tototlan. We enjoyed a traditional turkey Christmas dinner, visited, watched movies and relaxed.
We also ventured out around town on his moped. We had a delicious lunch one day near the plaza. Omar has a large family and we visited with his aunt and several of his cousins. We then headed up the mountain to the temple and the view of the town was spectacular.
All too soon I was headed back home to Mazatlan. The days had flown by far too quickly. It was indeed a Merry Christmas.