April 22nd, 2010 § Comments Off on Comida § permalink

Sopa Azteca (Tortilla Soup) | La Esquina de San Fernando, Guanajuato (35 pesos, $3.00)

Totopos (tortilla chips) | Café Olé Olé, San Miguel de Allende

Brochetas de Pollo y Res (skewers of grilled chicken & beef) | Café Olé Olé, San Miguel de Allende (100 pesos, $8.33)

Fajitas de Avestruz (Ostrich Fajitas) | Café Olé Olé, San Miguel de Allende (130 pesos, $10.83)

Trying to buy bus tickets online…

April 18th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Even though there’s an English language option on the site, most of it’s still in Spanish. Using Google translate to figure out what some instructional copy says, I get this:

Buy your tickets without signing the voucher, and submit the plastic box office by using the 3D WITH CREDIT CARD SECURE, Learn more HERE!

Breakfast at a bus station and lunch at the pyramids

April 17th, 2010 § Comments Off on Breakfast at a bus station and lunch at the pyramids § permalink

Pan de Dulce de Leche | Got this at the bus station this a.m. on our way to Teotihuacan, the giant pyramids an hour away from México City. Yum! (15 pesos each, $1.25)

Sopes de Cochinita Pibil (fried dough with slow-roasted pork) | Lunch at Los Pirámides (69 pesos, $5.75)

Mixiote el Cordero | This is a traditional Central Méxican dish. It's pit-barbequed meat (in this case lamb) that's been seasoned and wrapped in the semi-transparent outer skin of a maguey plant leaf. Had it for lunch at Los Pirámides, and loved it–but the the portion was way too big (167 pesos, $14.00)

Los Pirámides: it's in a subterranean cave!

Ciudad de México

April 16th, 2010 § Comments Off on Ciudad de México § permalink

México City has a gritty side. The zócalo, or city square (said to be one of the largest in the world), has a vague down-and-out vibe. It has nothing to do with the fact that its palatial colonial buildings are sinking into the ground–México City used to be a lake. The feeling comes more from a certain indescribable heaviness to the place, despite–or perhaps because of–the odd, carnivalesque music coming from the organ grinders who stand in front of the Cathedral with hats in hand, hoping for a few pesos. Or maybe the feeling is residual energy from the human sacrifices made here, when the city was called Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs, and the zócalo was the location of their temple dedicated to the gods of war and rain.

In between the square, which is located in the historic district where most tourists stay, and the neighborhood where Benjamin and I are staying–Condesa–I see places I would not want to be walking as I look out from the window of the metro. Even the prostitutes look menacing. Our travels around the city are hampered by the fact that getting into a taxi off the street could result in a robbery or kidnapping. Police and ambulance sirens are in abundance, enough to become white noise. There is plenty of information online about the dangers and crime of México City.

But there is also plenty of charm to be found here, in neighborhoods like Condesa, which travel magazines and guide books describe as hip and bohemian. There are placid parks, wide leafy avenues, bars, cafés, and restaurants with roving musicians and ebullient conversation that flows up and down Tamaulipas Avenue, keeping pace with the hectic traffic.

There are neighborhoods like Coyoacán, the location of Frida Khalo’s Blue House (which is now a museum; a glimpse into her home and private life costs less than five dollars). Here, the tranquil, cobblestone streets are punctuated with the electric fuchsia of bougainvillea and the purple spark of jacaranda trees. With its Spanish colonial-style buildings colored ochre, saffron, azure blue, and lavender, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve traveled to another city altogether. Actually, it used to be this part of town was not in México City–it’s 10 km south of downtown–but as the city constantly expands, the sprawl has consumed this once-village and others.

To get there, we walked through the Viveros de Coyoacán, the main nursery for all of México City’s parks and gardens. It’s like a densely forested park itself, but the vegetation here ranges from seedlings to more mature plants and trees, is all labeled with species names, and kept in tidy rows out in the open or in discreet greenhouses. The city virtually disappears the moment you enter the gate.

Dos comidas a Taqueriá El Califa

April 16th, 2010 § Comments Off on Dos comidas a Taqueriá El Califa § permalink

Tacos de Al Pastor (tortillas with spit-cooked pork) | Today's lunch! These tacos are from El Califa in Condesa, which is noted by our B&B as having the best tacos in all of Mexico City (11 pesos each, $0.90)

Tacos de Pastor Pollo (tortillas with spit-cooked chicken) | Also today's lunch (at El Califa) and muy delicioso! (12 pesos each, $1.00)

Tacos de Costilla (tortillas with rib meat) | Yes! From El Califa! We had these for dinner last night–not pictured are the grilled onions and the four types of salsa on the table. This is a unique way to serve tacos (not dicing the meat), and the tortillas are home made (22 pesos each, $1.80)

Queso Fundido (melted cheese appetizer) | Dinner (El Califa) last night started with this pot of melted cheese–a mix of gouda and something else...way better than the melted Velveeta version served in the states. Must start eating roughage soon...

Let the food porn begin!

April 15th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Mexican style beef

Cecina de Res (Mexican-style steak) | This was my first dinner at a restaurant called Checandole in Cancun (96 pesos, $8.00)


Benjamin and I both had one of these steaks at a cool place called El Diez in the Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City. It was an Argentine-style steakhouse (of which there are plenty), but sadly, they serve US beef (approx. 100 pesos for a 1/2 pound steak, $8.30)

Chicken Soup

Caldo de Pollo (chicken soup) | This was Benjamin's lunch at Puro Corazón, a restaurant overlooking the zócolo (city square) in Mexico City (43 pesos, $3.60)

Two Loves Salad

Ensalada Dos Amores (Two Loves Salad) | My lunch at Puro Corazón: octopus and cactus salad (63 pesos, $5.25)

Tortillas with sauce, cheese, and crema

Chilaquiles (tortillas covered in sauce with cheese and sour cream) | My breakfast at the B&B, Casa Comtesse, in the Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City

Fried dough patty topped with chicken and cheese

Sopes de Pollo (thick, fried dough with chicken and cheese) | Benjamin and I both had Sopes for lunch in the Coyoacán neighborhood in Mexico City (25 pesos for 2, $2.00)

Desayuno (breakfast)

April 14th, 2010 § Comments Off on Desayuno (breakfast) § permalink

Huevos a la Mexicana
Scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, and chili (the colors of the Mexican flag), served with a bit of refried beans.

Me No Speak already making life easier

April 12th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

In Mexico less than 5 hours, and have used our Me No Speak prototype book to have a lamp in our room fixed (which was done with short term results by jiggling the light bulb) and to get the Internet password for wifi. Also, to say, “Delicioso,” about our dinner.

Packing for six weeks…

April 11th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

People always want to know how I pack for long trips. But just because I’m going away for a long-ish period of time doesn’t mean I need to take more stuff. I take what I would need for 1 week, and have laundry done along the way.

It’s easy to pack if I’m going someplace hot or cold but not both, which can happen if you travel during times when the seasons are changing. It’s also easy to pack if I’m pretty much doing the same type of travel the entire trip. Mixing a camping trip in Mongolia with an urban stay in Seoul a few years ago was a tough one.

What people might be surprised about is how light I pack. Unfortunately, my camera equipment takes up more space than my clothes. It’s unfortunate because while I pack light, once I get all my gear together it’s as if I have packed for a month. Except for a pair of flipflops, Keens, and toiletries, here’s what I’m taking for 6 weeks in Mexico. And, when put into a travel compression bag, my clothing isn’t much bigger than my guidebook!