02 April 2018

México 2.0: Revisiting Mexico City and Around

I am still in revisiting mode. So three months ago, I took a two-week vacation, spending it in and around Mexico City. I have been to Mexico City before, in 2011, so this is my second visit, seven years later. And somehow, it presented some challenges that honestly speaking, I didn't expect.

I had a flight booked with Lufthansa, so on Friday, January 26, I headed to the airport after work. I had a flight to Munich, where I then connected to a red-eye flight to Mexico City. It was quite a long flight: in fact, the 6,124-mile MUC-MEX route is the 4th longest route I have flown so far. I had a nice seatmate, who coincidentally knows a friend of mine, who is living in Mexico City. My seatmate was an academic, who knew my friend, as my friend is a faculty member in a university in the city, where my seatmate studies.

I landed in Mexico City early morning Saturday, January 27. The airport is well-connected with the surrounding cities, so I took a bus to Cuernavaca, where I was to spend three nights. I arrived in Cuernavaca in the middle of the morning, which I used to chill and explore. During my stay in Cuernavaca, I also did day trips to neighbouring towns, such as Tepoztlán and Xochicalco.

I must say that Cuernavaca was slightly challenging; I was staying in an apartment that was out of centre, so it was really an effort to go out. I either had to walk more than half an hour to go to the centre, or take a cab. Add to that the fact that it wasn't the most visually stunning city, so honestly speaking my motivation to explore was slightly low. I seriously considered shortening my trip, though thankfully I didn't do so. Anyway, looking back, it is most probably an issue of expectation management. Mexico doesn't give me a wow moment anymore, as I've already been there once. So things are sort of familiar even though they are not. And even though I was in my element, the novelty is not there, and therefore I was not too motivated to explore.

This all changed when I moved to Taxco, where I spent two nights. On Tuesday, January 30, I took the bus from Cuernavaca, and a couple of hours later I was in Taxco. It was a pretty town, and my hotel was also very near the centre of the Old Town. I definitely felt better here. I explored the very hilly city, and I did a day trip to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa.

On Thursday, February 1, I then headed to Mexico City, taking a bus from Taxco. I stayed in Mexico City for three nights. On one of those days, I simply hung out with friends: I actually have two friends who are currently living in the metropolis, so it was fun seeing them after so many years. One of them I haven't seen since 2005; we went to university together in Manila. The other I haven't seen since 2012; we went to graduate school together in Buffalo.

I explored neighbourhoods in Mexico City that I haven't checked out before, and here I realised that I have a love-hate relationship with the metropolis. I find it cool that there are so many things to do in the city, but I also find it sad that the city is very blue-collar in the sense that whenever I ride the public transportation, I feel so out of place. I then realise that the people who are more like me do not ride the metro, but they have cars, and they hide behind tall fences and gates, inside their secured neighbourhoods with private roads and dedicated security guards.

My first week was spent in the south of the city. My second week was in the north. On Sunday, February 4, I headed to Tula de Allende, and spent one night. My goal here was to check out the archaeological site in Tula.

My stay was short, and the next day, I headed to Pachuca de Soto, which I used as a base to explore some of Mexico's national parks. I did day trips to Mineral del Chico and Real del Monte, two areas that do not look stereotypically Mexican, at least in my opinion. These are Mexico's pueblos magicos, or magical villages.

On Wednesday, February 7, I then headed from Pachuca to Puebla, staying there for two nights. I actually have been to Puebla before, but I only spent an afternoon. It was a rushed visit, so this time, I took the time to explore. I liked Puebla enough that my original plan of making a day trip to Tlaxcala was abandoned, as there was enough things to do in Puebla, and I actually enjoyed the city. The foodie in me also enjoyed this place, as this is where the original mole poblano comes from.

After two nights in Puebla, I returned to Mexico City for one night. The last thing I visited was the National Museum of Anthropology, which was a fantastic museum. It was in this museum where I learned about all the different Mexican cultures, making me realise how rich this country is when it comes to its cultural heritage.

So yeah, after two weeks, it was time to return home. It wasn't a long trip, but it wasn't a quick one either. I had a long-haul red-eye flight to Frankfurt, and after a short connection, I was back at home.

Pictures of course will follow, so stay tuned.

2 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures!

    Did you have a nice landing experience in Mexico City? I remember landing at night, it was quite memorable and impressive, the city looked huge!

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    1. Zhu,

      I landed early morning, but yes I know what you mean. I was sitting by the window, and it was amazing to see the vast expanse of humanity as far as the horizon. In 2011 I landed in the mid-afternoon, so I was definitely able to see everything in broad daylight, but seeing it in night time was also spectacular.

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