Tag Archives: Mexico

Mexico en la piel

19 Feb

“…[Puebla] is much more than a city to meet, it is, above all, a place to live and feel a way of life, the lifestyle of the citizen of Puebla, and become captivated by it.”
~ Puebla Capital the essential (tourist brochure)

It’s been a jam packed couple of days in Mexico so far. I arrived in Mexico City at 5:00am on Friday morning. After breezing past all those waiting for their luggage at the carousel (I am loving travelling only with one carry-on bag) I arrived at the bus station just in time to get the 6:15am bus to Puebla.

Puebla is two and a bit hours south of Mexico City and is where I lived for 6 months on a university exchange in 2005. After only 4 hours sleep I could barely keep my eyes open on the bus, but as soon as I started recognising streets I’d travelled on before my excitement overtook my tiredness.

I can’t describe how good it is to be back in Puebla after all this time. Last year the historic centre of town celebrated it’s 25th anniversary of receiving a World Heritage listing so there’s been lots of renovations done to what already was a stunningly beautiful city centre.

I spent a good two hours people watching in the Zocolo today. You can see Puebla’s famous Catedral peeking behind the trees in this photo:

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When I lived here the Catedral (which took more than 300 years to build) wasn’t lit up at night like it is now. It’s just gorgeous:

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And here’s one side of the restaurants, cafes and shops etc. that border the Zocolo:

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But the best best part of being back isn’t seeing the familiar sights again, it’s seeing the familiar faces again. I’ve been having an absolute ball catching up with old friends. So far I’ve been to a birthday party, to a baby shower, to local markets, to a football game, to the movies, to breakfasts, lunches and dinners, and even to a press conference. It’s been awesome.

And the food! I’m loving the fact that I’ve been able to revisit some of my favourite dishes. I arrived with a list of things I wanted to eat again and I’ve been working through it dish by dish.

So far I’ve had tacos al pastor (my all-time favourite), quesadillas, mole poblano, churros, horchata, and nieve de maracuya con chile. Mmm mmmmm.

Probably not helping me maintain my weight loss, but I figure I’m only here for a week, so surely I can’t do too much damage in such a short space of time. *fingers crossed*

I have bought myself some fruit and vegetables to snack on or to eat for meals instead of eating out all the time. A lot of the dishes here are tortilla and meat-based so I thought supplementing some meals with veges would be a good idea.

Here’s some snaps of my first Mexican breakfast: quesadillas con carne enchilada and a dish (I can’t remember the name) with mole poblano–the traditional sauce from Puebla made with chocolate and lots of other spices. My plate looks a bit of a mess, but trust me, it’s delicious.

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South America or bust!

7 Nov

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
~ Dr. Seuss

Over the past few weeks Vic and I have been researching trip options with gusto. Vic being the BFF I  mentioned earlier who is joining me for the backpacking segment of my big adventure.

During one of the first (of many) times we have caught up to discuss the trip, she bought the Peru Lonely Planet guide and I bought the one for Ecuador. We then went through and highlighted the places we’d like to go in our respective books before swapping and repeating the process.

(There was some momentary confusion about what our highlighting protocol should be, but we quickly moved past that and got on with the job of planning the trip of a lifetime!)

Vic and I both have similar approaches to travel, in that we would prefer to spend a little bit longer in fewer locations, rather than rush from place to place.

As tempting as it is to keep adding and adding to our itinerary, we have settled on spending nearly two weeks in Ecuador, one week in the Galapagos Islands, a little more than two weeks in Peru, and then, following a tour of the Iguassu Falls, heading to Rio de Janeiro for a couple of days.

It’s there we will say our goodbyes and Vic will continue on to Europe. I will spend the next week visiting my Brazilian host family, and then it will be time for me to head back home to Australia.

I’ll also be spending a week in Mexico on my way to Honduras so that I can catch up with friends in Puebla. All up I’m looking at about eight weeks of independent travel before and after my AFS Volunteer Abroad program.

This is a little more than the two weeks I had originally envisioned, but I’ve never been one to do things by halves. In for a penny, in for a pound. Or in for eleventy-one million pajillion pounds as it may be in this case!

But a trip like this is worth every penny. I am incredibly excited about all the wonderful adventures I’m sure Vic and I will have together.

I think we’ll make great travel companions. We’ve worked and lived together previously and, while some may disagree, I’d say we’re both pretty easy going. If there are any differences of opinion I’m sure we’ll be able to sort them out without resorting to professional mediation.

Em and Vic

Look at those happy faces. They would never get tired and grumpy with each other. Right, Vic?  😉

The ever-expanding itinerary

14 Oct

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.”

~ Susan Sontag

At first glance, you may not realise it, but I am currently sitting on a throne, a world of possibilities at my feet.

A veritable plethora of travel plans, destinations, itineraries, locations, and journeys. Every time I think about it, I feel a little giddy thrill of excitement.

I’m in that wonderful phase of having made up my mind to travel, but not yet having made any bookings.

After my 5 months in Honduras, I have about 6­­–8 weeks free before I need to return home to my job in Australia.

I initially started out with the idea of one week in Mexico to catch up with friends and two weeks in Brazil to catch up with my Brazilian host family.

But then, when thinking about how close I’d be to Ecuador, I decided that I really should try to arrange a visit to my World Vision sponsor child’s community.

And then if I’m going to be in Ecuador I can’t miss out on going to the Galapagos Islands, right?

One of my BFFs mentioned that she would like to come travelling with me too, so all of a sudden, not only do I have travel plans, I also have a travel buddy. Awesome!

And when she mentioned she’d love to go to Peru and see Machu Picchu, well, that sounds like a great idea. Add it to the list!

Before this little backpacking trip of mine becomes bigger than Ben Hur, there are a couple of hurdles to cross. I need to make sure I get approval from AFS to travel both before and after my volunteer program, and I need to make sure I can afford all these little extra journeys on which I’d like to embark.

But for now, I’m sitting on my throne, surveying my kingdom of possibilities, and they stretch as far as the eye can see.

This makes me incredibly happy, and yes, maybe a little smug, but let’s blame that on my over-excitement about the trip.   😉

Seeing the world with purpose

12 Sep

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~ Mark Twain

When I was 17, I spent a year in Brazil on an AFS high school exchange. Not only was it the trip of a lifetime (I could write a whole other blog about the amazing time I had) but it also gave me the travel bug. Big time.

In 2005, when the opportunity presented itself to do a university exchange to Mexico I grabbed it with both hands. Once again I was blessed with a fantastic trip, but that travel bug is an itchy thing, and as soon as I was back home I started looking for the next adventure.

When I first realized that AFS also ran 18+ Volunteer Abroad programs, about 5 or 6 years ago now, I immediately had my heart set on completing one some day. The idea of working on a project that would benefit the community I was living in was really exciting. I’ve done volunteer work previously, including in Brazil while on exchange, and found this to be very gratifying.

I had initially planned on completing one of the Volunteer Abroad programs in 2007 or 2008 but, as with the best laid plans of mice and men, life got in the way and the trip never eventuated.

In June this year I suddenly became single again and ‘temporarily’ relocated to my dad’s house. (Thanks dad!) With no partner, no kids, no lease, no mortgage, and all my worldly possessions neatly packed up in boxes, I realized that if I was ever going to seize the moment and do this, now was the time!

So here I am. Getting ready to set off on what will hopefully be another fantastic overseas experience. I’m thrilled that on this trip I’ll be able to combine two passions of mine: travel and volunteer work. The idea of ‘seeing the world with purpose’ is a philosophy that very much appeals to me.

I’m not 100% sure exactly what sort of project I’ll be working on, or where I’ll be living yet, but as soon as I have those details I’ll update the blog.

More info on AFS Volunteer Abroad programs can be found here.