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Mexico

Curious what backpackers do in Mexico? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • In the end I stayed a day longer in Mazunte than I had planned, since all busses were full due to the Easter holidays. In retrospective though, that was even better, as now I could travel together with Alex from Barcelona. I had already been hanging out with him and Francesco (Italian) in Mazunte all the time, mostly somewhere in between beach and the shady hostel.
    In San Cristóbal we spent the first two days walking through the town. In addition, there were many activities in the hostel, for example pizza / sushi / burger nights, parties, ping pong or just curing your hangover in a hammock in the garden. We had to get used to the cold though: since San Cristóbal lies at 2100m, temperatures vary extremely throughout the day.Read more

  • During my time as a waitress in Cologne, I had met a really nice couple from Tuxtla Gutiérrez that invited me to stay with them. As my flight was already the next morning, I couldn't stay long, but it was enough to grab a michelada in town.
    In their house I felt like in a luxury hotel: I had my own, huge room with tv, couch, bathroom and home trainer, a big terrace, their was a pool and high tech doors.Read more

  • After many months of sloathfulness on the beaches of Baja & the mainland, we thought we'd better stretch our legs & get some miles under our belts in preparation for our volunteering in Guatemala. So we visited one of the newest volcanos in the world which started to pop out of the ground in a farmers field in 1940. Coming into town we got chased by dudes on horses wanting to take us the easy way, but we really needed a proper workout and a lovely guy at our camping area got one of his mates to take us on foot instead.

    We started high, at just over 2,000 metres above sea level, and it was clear of overnight but soon warmed up. It was an incredibly tough hike - first an hour & a half over rough smoking lava fields & then an hour up a scree slope. Our guide Petro bounded up the slope as if it was flat, but he was used to the attitude, and more importantly was only 17. It was incredible to get to the top around 2,800 metres and look down into the deep crater. Coming down the steep ash field scree slope on the other side was much more fun & took about a quarter of the time!

    On the way back to the campsite we visited what remains of one of the villages consumed by the lava flow, and it was amazing to see a church spire sticking up out of a lava - nature is awesome...
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  • Patzcuaro is a beautiful old colonial town, and we had a lovely tranquil camp site just on the edge of town. We're still high at around 2,000 metres meaning its gorgeously warm in the sun but drops down to a few degrees overnight. This doesn't bother us as we have an electric heater (thanks for buying that on your trip mum & dad!), as well as a gas heater for when we are camping without a hookup, so we are nice and toasty overnight.

    We spent a couple of days exploring this large town and its multitude of plazas and artisan craft shops. We managed to buy lots of pressies, promptly filling the space we just created by sending a parcel home. We even found a Chinese restaurant, which made a nice change from tacos, tacos and more tacos, and cost us a whopping 3 bucks for a huge plateful!

    On the 3rd day we drove a few minutes to the dock and caught a little boat over to the island of Janitzio. Our boat was worryingly called the Titanic, but it managed to get us the 25 minutes over to the island. We wound our way up the small island, with large steps covered on all sides with stalls selling mostly tack. At the top was a cool monument which you could climb to get great views over the lake and beautiful rolling hills.

    We could have easily spent longer exploring the area but we felt we needed to keep momentum otherwise we will never reach Guatemala.

    We heades towards the butterflys (check next blog post) and decided to make a stop off at some hot springs. There are great roads here, but they are tolled and boy are they expensive. We've paid 30 bucks for an hours drive before, so we decided to take the Libre (free) roads. This can be a bit of an adventure, with rough surfaces and hundreds of topes (speed bumps) suddenly appearing on 50mph roads. Sometimes you do get to go along some beautiful sections, particularly up in the hills, which (just about) makes it worthwhile. As we were drawing near we started heading up a windy road, which went up and up until we leveled out about 3,000 metres. The whole area is geothermal and we found a great campsite with amazing hot pools, and spent a lovely afternoon lounging around. We had a camp fire to keep away the cold, and we could hear the nice white noise from the steam power plant next door.
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  • We couldn't resist another dip in the hot pools before we left, then we drove a couple of hours to the Cerro Pelón, a place famous for its butterflies. Each year they gather here and 2 other places nearby to mate in their millions. The males then die but something truly remarkable happens; the pregnant females fly north in March and lay their eggs in southern eastern USA, their offspring metamorphose in May and then fly all the way to the Great Lakes where they breed and then the next generation starts the whole process again - a journey of some 4,500km over 3 generations.

    We again declined the use of horses to get our lungs and legs back in shape, and set off up an extremely steep and incredibly dusty trail. An hour and a half of hard slog up to 3,000m and we saw our first butterflies fluttering by. Another 5 minutes further on and our guide Emilio stopped us and pointed at the trees - at first you just see a few hundred butterflies sunning themselves on the branches, but then you realise that what you thought was normal tree was in fact millions and millions of butterflies crammed together and weighing down the branches much like frozen snow does. We sat there and watched them in wonder for half an hour, before making our way back to the community campground and a meal in our guide's aunt's restaurant (in fact the only restaurant in town).

    It was an amazing experience and the photos/videos don't don't come close to doing it justice.
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  • It's definitely a bit of a tongue twister, but this place is AMAZING, and worth the $30 US in toll roads around Mexico City to get here. After a morning of catching up with a Bulgarian family we'd made friends with back in Etzatlan & one false start (as no pets allowed - even though there are stray dogs evereywhere) we made it into the site.

    The city was established around 100 BC and lasted for about 8 centuries until its demise. At its zenith it was the largest city in North America & about 6th in the world at that time. There are two massive pyramids, the Temples of the Sun & Moon, although these were named by the Aztecs who discovered the abandoned citadel and they know almost nothing about the people who lived here or their culture.

    We spent a good few hours exploring and climbing the pyramids in the hot afternoon sun, and a great deal of time trying to understand where to pick up our tickets for the evening show, which incredibly and infuriatingly was only available on TicketMaster (which has wasted days of my life in the past trying to get Glastonbury tickets!)

    Eventually we figured it out and returned that evening to be issued with an iPod (remember those? Basically and iPhone without the phone). The 2km long Avenue of the Dead was lit up, and we wandered down to the Temple of the Moon listening to the interactive show. We then settled on the steps opposite the larger Temple of the Sun and were treated to an amazing light show which was projected onto the pyramid as the backdrop. Being high (~2,500m) the temperature dropped quickly but the light show was so incredible we barely noticed.
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  • Ceynotes, Tacos and Superbowl Sunday!

    Tulum is famous for it's numerous ceynotes (caves) and that was right at the top of our list. All around the town these geological wonders have been commercialised with compulsory guided tours on land and by snorkel and SCUBA. Fair enough, you wouldn't last long lost in an underwater cave. Of course, with that comes the tourist hustle which we are becoming evermore used to.

    We chose Cenotes Dos Ojos for our exploration of the underworld, based on a friend's recommendation and I will back it up with my own - this was a big highlight of the trip so far! Foolishly, we decided to cycle the 20 odd km from our hostel to the entrance in the heat of the day (our hostel came with the free use of beach cruisers). After an early morning food poisoning scare, and a few cookies in the toilet, Mike rose to the challenge and led the peleton in. We arrived in a bit of a state, but grateful not to be road kill and for the pennies saved on transport.

    The Dos Ojos (literally: two eyes) is a series of partially submerged limestone caverns. We donned masks, snorkels, fins and torches (and wetsuits for the ladies) and plunged into 24 degree water at the mouth of the cave. It was crystal clear. From underwater the natural backlight created black silhouettes on an awesome crystal blue backdrop. Rays of sunlight too, beamed through from the surface to create some truely remarkable lighting.

    We spent just under an hour following our tour guide over, under and around the stalagmites and stalagtites, sneaking off to dip down through swim throughs and the like. He led us to a chamber called the Bat Cave, where we emerged to witness hundreds of bats, unflustered by our presence.

    It was a hurried tour, I would have liked to stay longer but my body was grateful to return to the warm of the sunlight. On our way out of the park we stopped by another open ceynote for some phat mangeres and some more cool swim throughs. On reviewing our camera work, we were gutted to find the go pros had been battling with the dark light and all of our footage and photos are really bad quality. Noooo!

    We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out at our hostel and having some refreshing beverages. Casa dol Sol is an unusual hostel. It's run by a tiny mexican man and his wife (I think) and their young son, who had a habit of confusing me with his spanish. It was a partially complete, three storey concrete building. It had absolutely no soundproofing and wall mounted fans that put Boeing to shame. The second level was for camping (on a bare concrete floor) or you could opt for just a bed (no walls - internal or external) and the top floor was a construction site which appeared abandoned. The beds however, were the comfiest in a long time. Ahhh for a good nights sleep!

    Strolling the main drag in search of dinner, we stumbled across Antojitos La Chiapaneta, an open kitchen tacqueria. It was unanimously absolutely delicious! Service was prompt and the staff knew how to keep the food coming. At seven pesos per taco (under 50c) we couldn't help but dine there three nights in a row, and if you asked me what I wanted for dinner tonight, I'd still go back. We'll be using some special words in our reviews for this one, that's for sure.

    Sunday, lazy Sunday, was exactly that until an earlier suggestion of reigniting MERC sprung into action. The Mt Eden Running Club has a long and dyer history. Built for drinkers with a running habit, the core foundations of the club are rife with problem. Many men have suffered in its days, and completing a run is always far from a sure bet. Nonetheless, inaugurating two new ladies to the club (Cat and Char) was an inticing prospect. So the team geared up and set off to the beach in the beating heat of the day.

    First to be dropped was Char, easing off to a brisk walk under the inhibiting pain of a tight ITB. Shortly after, Cat tripped on what she claims to be a twig (MERC Fall Investigations later proved no such twig existed) and gracefully grazed ankle, hip and palm on the asphalt. Eventually the heat got to all of us and we regrouped to walk the final kilometer to the beach. Such a good swim! Another of many in the Caribbean Sea. After re breaking Mikes rib, Scott and Mike ran home again under duress while us ladies caught a cab and bought a well deserved lunch for the team. Let's hope the next one goes a little better...

    Lazy Sunday continued that afternoon, as we spent our time blogging, reading, researching and learning spanish. We headed to a bar in the early evening to watch the Superbowl which turned out to be another great game of sport - the Patriots coming back from over 20 points down to beat the Falcons in overtime! Only one drunken Mexican interrupted our viewing, spitting on the floor and creepily ogling Char before being removed by security and sneaking back in three or four times. Such fun!

    It's been too short, Mexico. I've barely touched the east coast, and certainly haven't begun to see the rest, but the country is so big and diverse it might just have to be done by itself. Another time. In the meanwhile, we're on a bus to Chetumal before a boat to Caye Caulker, Belize. It smells worse than a portaloo and we've been holding cloth over our faces for the last three hours. The joys of travel, am I right?
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  • Hurrah - we finally managed to leave Teotihuacan (after over a week!) & headed for Cholula. This is an interesting town which was an important spiritual place for the pre-hispanic indigenous people & there are layers of different pyramids which they've excavated. Sadly this was also the site of a massacre of the indigenous population by the Spanish & they either utilized the materials from lots of the 'pagan' temples to build churches, or simply built on top of them. Supposedly there is a church for every day of the year, although fortunately we only saw a tiny fraction of them.

    Two volcanos, one if which is currently smoking,
    tower over the very elaborate church perched attop a huge pyramid (bigger then the eygption pyramids) does make it a spectacular city.

    We took it in turns to see the pyramids as no dogs allowed - but Phil was happy as he got to sit in a bar watching England vs Wales in the rugby. We were then delighted to find Pakistani restaurant run by a Sri Lanka who used to live in London! Excellent curry and even pakora & naan, the owner also sold us some good tea which he gets imported. So not only a day of culture & history but rugby & a cuzza as well :) This country is still surprising us!
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  • We weren't originally planning on visiting this site, but when we saw it was founded before Teotihuacan and outlasted it by a century we figured it had to be something pretty special.

    We found a beautiful area to camp half an hour to the north of Oaxaca, and cruised down to Monte Alban early (for us!) in the morning. It's on much smaller scale than Teotihuacan, probably as it's built on a mountain top with tremendous 360 views over 3 valleys, but they have a lot crammed in. It's an incredible spot and apparently the earliest form of written language in meso-america and they had a solar calendar too. They had some really impressive engravings showing castrated and decapitated leaders of the tribes they had conquered, and even one of an Asian guy from before the time of Christ.

    After a couple of hours we headed back towards camp, but with a diversion to a glorious swimming pool complex to while away the afternoon (oh yea, and apparently exercising my back!). We also visited an arts centre in an old warehouse which had some very modern sculpture & some beautiful water features.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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