Our first winter in Mexico!
  • Day27

    El Faro

    January 8, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    This morning, rather than go for my usual jog along the Malecon, I decided to visit one of Mazatlan's top tourist attractions, El Faro.

    This lighthouse is located at the peak of Cerro del Creston on the southernmost tip of Mazatlan's peninsula and is located three kilometers from our Airbnb. Piece of cake, right? Only six kms there and back. WRONG!

    Once you reach the entrance to the park, there is a steep 900 meter climb along a partially paved path, with several switchbacks, before you arrive at the 325 step staircase that takes you to the top.

    With a height of 157 meters, it is the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas, and one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world.

    The first use of the Isla de Creston as a lighted marine signal was in 1828. The installation was very modest, consisting of only a small stone structure on which fires, fueled by whale oil and wood, or coconut chips, were lit. This provided little visibility to ships at night, particularly in bad weather.

    El Faro became the answer to the problem. First lit over the Pacific Ocean in 1879, the lighthouse's original lamp was constructed in Paris. It was made of an oil lamp surrounded by mirrors, and a Fresnel lens to focus the light.

    In 1905, the lamp was converted to hydrogen gas, and was made to be able to revolve in a full circle. The final update of the light source came in 1933, when it was converted to electricity, which is what is still there today. In order to emit its powerful light, El Faro uses a 1,000 watt bulb, which is focused by a Fresnel lens.

    But the real attraction here is the 360 degree view of the city below. One can see the cruise ship port, the Malecon from the southern tip to the northern tip, the cathedral, all set on a backdrop of the Sierra Madre mountains.

    Needless to say, the hike down was much easier than going up, but I still had one more obstacle before I could have my shower: forty two more steps leading up to our apartment.
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    I love all this info. It’s on my list. Enjoy and hugs to you both ❤️❤️

    1/8/20Reply

    thanks for your share. b.boop

    1/9/20Reply
    Francie Palmer

    Wow, good on you for doing it! 👏👍

    1/23/20Reply
     
  • Day23

    Hasta Luego Ciudad de Mexico

    January 4, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Eleven days in Mexico City.
    207,742 steps, an average of 18,885/day
    179.11 kilometres walked, an average of 16.28/day

    We believe the best way to see and discover a city is by foot, exploring the neighborhoods, always taking new routes to and from our destinations and often getting sidetracked by unexpected points of interest.

    Mexico City has so much to offer and is a wealth of history, art and food. I have to admit I was a little concerned about safety, having heard negative comments and news reports, but the fact is we felt safer here than in many US cities we’ve visited. There are police literally everywhere you look and, consequently, the "bad dudes" appear to have moved on to less patrolled pastures.

    If we weren't walking we were on the subway which, although showing its age, is efficient, easy to navigate and cheap as dirt to ride at only five pesos ($0.35 CDN).

    We visited all the main tourist spots, had meals at almost all the vegan restaurants we had wanted to try and experienced life with the locals at a Lucha Libre event.

    There is much to love about this city, which is working on solutions to its severe air pollution problem, the only negative aspect of our trip that comes to mind.

    We ended our stay here this morning with two 16 oz fresh fruit smoothies at the Mercado Medellin for 25 pesos each ($1.75 CDN) and a slice of avocado toast with spinach and cherry tomatoes for 35 pesos($2.45 CDN).

    Our 1:45 PM flight back to Mazatlan left pretty much on schedule and landed about ten minutes ahead of schedule. Sadly, it seems the complimentary gin and tonic we were served on our outgoing flight must have been a Christmas special because all we got today was a bag of chips and a glass of water. Still better than Air Canada, though.

    In a nutshell, we loved every minute of our time here and look forward to a return visit and a longer stay sometime soon.
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    Francie Palmer

    Wow, I love the sculptures!

    1/4/20Reply

    love that mural. b.boop

    1/6/20Reply
     
  • Day22

    Rasslin'!

    January 3, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    If there's one thing that every tour guide and blog say you must do in Mexico City, it is to attend a night at the fights. Not just any fights, but the Mexican version of the WWF, Lucha Libre, where the majority of the combatants are masked and sport all sort of colorful costumes.

    Lucha libre differs from the WWF in that the majority of the matches were two or three member tag team, best of three fall battles. The referee seemed to be in the ring only to count "uno, dos, tres" as at times all the wrestlers were in the ring at the same time with no intervention by the ref.

    But what sets this variety of the sport so far apart from the Hulk Hogan version is the level of acrobacy practiced by the fighters. These very large men and women were continuously flying through the air, turning cartwheels and leaping from the top rope to crush their opponents. They would fling each other about the ring, delivering thunderous slaps to the face and wrapping their legs around each others necks before performing a twisting maneuver to spin their adversary to the mat.

    The Mexican fans are rabid for the sport. About half of the crowd in the jam-packed arena was wearing a replica mask of their favorite fighter. When the bad guys would win a fall, there were loud choruses of boos and whistles, but when the good guys took a match, the cheers were deafening.

    We were seated next to the broadcast booth and even one of the commentators was masked. We figure he must have been a retired wrestler who provides insider color commentary for the broadcast. Of course. His true identity must remain a secret.

    In fact, the worst thing that can happen to a luchador is to have his mask removed. This occurred on two occasions on this night and both were met with audible collective gasps from the audience as the fighter struggled to conceal his face while attempting to retrieve his mask.

    The women wrestlers may have been female, but they surely were not ladies. The bad gals were every bit as vicious, acrobatic and ruthless as their male counterparts.

    The whole spectacle lasted just a little over two hours and provided the best entertainment bang for the buck I've ever had.

    I will surely return to the arena on my next visit to Mexico city and, who knows, maybe I'll even spring for a mask and call myself "The Roch"!
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    Love your essay on the Rasslin' experience, i feel like i attended the event. b-boop

    2/23/20Reply
     
  • Day22

    Veguisima

    January 3, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Before we came to Mexico City, Brenda had prepared a list of 4.5 star rated vegan restaurants she felt we must try before we returned to Mazatlan. By the time our last full day here rolled around, we had managed to eat at all but two of them and even made return trips to two of those visited.

    We knew before coming to Mexico City that there was a wealth of vegan eateries, but the longer we stayed, the more vegan-friendly places we discovered. Alas, by the end of our stay, we were faced with the age old dilemna: so much food, so little time.

    After taking a second look at reviews of our two remaining "must dine at" restaurants, we decided the food at Veguisima looked better than our other choice, Gatorta.

    And what a good decision that was. Brenda ordered the chilaquiles, tortilla strips with refried beans, potatoes sauted with oil, onion and spices, smothered in a mildly spicy green salsa. I had the drowned burrito, which the menu noted, "is big". It was a large flour tortilla stuffed to bursting with rice, quinoa, carrots, red cabbage, caramelized onions, chorizo spices cauliflower and cheez. The whole things was pan fried a d covered in green salsa and almond cream. It kinda looked like a gargantuan caterpillar, but tasted like heaven. Needless to say, by the time I made my way through it I was begging, "no mas".

    The food here was refined and quite different from most of the other places that were on our hit list. There was very little usage of soy protein imitation meats or seitan with the majority of the dishes being entirely plant based.

    This was certainly the right choice for our last meal in CDMX.
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    Looks amazing! I'm not sure what "cheez" is exactly (but I'm sure it really can't replace real, honest to goodness "cheese"...), but it looks damn tasty!

    1/10/20Reply
     
  • Day21

    Happy Birthday To Me

    January 2, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Another year has flown by and I awoke today to find myself only one year away from official senior citizenship everywhere on the planet and receiving my CPP and OAS benefits. Unbelievable!

    Brenda's gift to me this year was this getaway to Mexico City, and what a great gift it's been. We've both fallen quite hard for this metropolis with it's vibrant colors, rhythmic music, warm people and great food. We will surely return for a longer stay someday soon.

    Today started out with a birthday card in which Brenda promised to keep sending me Valentines, birthday greetings and bottles of wine. We then headed out on our second attempt at a tour of the pyramids at Teotihuacan, which turned out to be most enjoyable and awe inspiring, despite the lousy tour guide. To think these enormous structures were erected 2000 years ago boggles the mind.

    We then went for a birthday dinner at Por Siempre, which was in fact our return visit there because the food is so good. Our last meal there was tainted by a horrid server, but we got the good server this time and everything was perfect. Five tacos and a Champequeso (mushrooms sauteed with vegan cheese) later, we left with full bellies and a chocolate covered donut to eat later in lieu of a full sized birthday cake.

    As I type this we're in our hotel room sipping on the second bottle of Champagne that we bought during our Costco visit. We decided to try the Kirkland brand which is quite delicious, however, the bubbles are sorely lacking in finesse. BURP!!!

    Today I received dozens of well wishes and loads of love from friends and family and got to spend the day exploring this great big world with my favorite person in it.

    What more could a 64 year old ask for?
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    Lovely day you had. b.boop

    1/2/20Reply
    Roch Pelletier

    Indeed!

    1/2/20Reply

    Sounds like an amazing day and a wonderful adventure. Happy happy birthdsy 🎉🎉🎂🥂may there be many more with many more adventures. Hope to see you guys in 2020😎

    1/5/20Reply

    I wasn’t done!!

    1/5/20Reply
     
  • Day21

    Dusty Town

    January 2, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We came to Mexico to escape the wet gray winter of Vancouver and we haven't been disappointed. We haven't seen any rain since arriving in Mexico City. The air is dry here and we feel the effects in our nostrils. We've both developed chapped lips. The streets are always dusty.

    Every couple of days, we use the shoe cloth the hotel provides us to clean our sneakers but since we average 20,000+ steps per day, it's a bit of a losing battle. No wonder there are so many shoe shine stands in this city.
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    Put some vaseline on a Q-tip and swab your nostrils - it really helps. Vaseline on lips is great too (don't use the nostril swabs though LOLOL!!!). Mabel....of course, who else would write such a thing?! LOL!!! Soon your lips will be luscious and moist and ready for smooching again!! Have fun!! ;)

    1/4/20Reply
     
  • Day21

    Teotihuacan

    January 2, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Today we picked up where we left off on Monday and finally made it out to see the awesome pyramids at Teotihuacán. Our first brief stop was within Mexico City at Tlatelolco, which was the marketplace dating to the same period as the Templo Mayor in Centro Histórico. Next, and as is the case with most tours in Mexico, we made a pit stop for tequila and mezcal tasting and a demonstration of obsidian sculptures. We were then shown the importance of the agave cactus to the indigenous people. The point of the blooms were used as weapons and as sewing needles with the fibers of the plant acting as thread. Both the inner and outer layers of the leaves can be peeled off and used to write upon.

    Then we drove the 40 kilometres to the pyramids at Teotihuacán, which is known today as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas. At its peak it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population estimated at 125,000 or more, making it at least the sixth-largest city in the world during its era.

    The city covered 8 square miles and is thought to have been established around 100 BC with major monuments continuously under construction until about 250 AD. The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, but its major monuments were sacked and systematically burned around 550 AD.

    We climbed the 217 treacherous steps to the peak of the sun pyramid and walked down the avenue of the dead toward the pyramid of the moon, flanked on both sides by a array of imposing altars. Not only is the architecture and size of these ancient structures impressive, the degree of detail that went into the builds is difficult to fathom. All the mortar between the large stones in the walls contains smaller decorative pebbles of volcanic origin, evenly spaced to be as appealing to the eye as possible. Walking down the avenue, one is almost transported back in time and imagines what the hustle and bustle of the day may have been like.

    We visited an ancient home and place of worship where many of the murals on the walls have survived the centuries, with their vibrant colours fully intact.

    When we left the pyramids we stopped for a quick lunch before completing the tour at the shrine to Our Lady of Guadeloupe, where it is said the Virgin Mary appeared to an indigenous man in 1531. The original shrine, which is astonishingly beautiful, is unfortunately sinking into the clay and was replaced in 1978 with a new basilica that has a capacity of 10,000 worshippers.

    We still have one day remaining to explore this fascinating city and I feel we’ve barely scratched the surface. There is no doubt in my mind that we will return here in the not too distant future to continue our exploration of this vibrant metropolis.
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  • Day20

    Ridin’ Along on a Carousel...

    January 1, 2020 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Each winter that we're in Vancouver, Roch and I go to the Vandusen gardens to see the Christmas lights, courtesy of Vancouver Coastal Health for my volunteer services. We bundle up in many layers, don our hats and gloves and scarves, and walk in awe through the twinkling winter wonderland. As beautiful as the lights are, the highlight for me is riding the carousel.

    So during our New Year's Day stroll through the Bosque de Chapultepec, how perfect to find a carousel so we didn't have to give up our tradition... but how much nicer to go riding in t-shirts and shorts.
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  • Day19

    Centro Historico Take 2

    December 31, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Other than in Thailand, it's always a challenge being in a faraway place over the holidays. We try to plan out our days, but inevitably the plans get thrown out the window as soon as we get started.

    This year was no exception. We set out this morning intending to revisit some of the sites we couldn't get to on Saturday because of the crowds. We had planned a lunch at Comedor Vegetariana, which is located just south of the old city.

    On our way, we got sidetracked by a boulevard lined with tech shops and spent a little time finding a new screen protector for Brenda's cell phone. By that time I was getting a little peckish so we decided to stop at the restaurant before starting our touring. But when we arrived at the restaurant, we found it to be closed. Brenda then suggested we go to Gopal, a vegan Indian restaurant, but it opened at 1:00 and we had some time to kill. We stopped in at a museum showing the works of local artists that was at times whimsical and at times impressive, particularly the carvings.

    From there, we went to Sears, not to shop but because of its strategic location across the street from the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The Sears café on the ninth floor made for a perfect photo op of the Palacio, by far the most beautiful building in the city.

    Then off we went to Gopal only to find it closed as well. We made a couple of phone calls and found that VEGuerrero would be open until 4:00. OK, it was almost 2 kms away, but we had to eat, and we really enjoyed their food the other day. We arrived hungry and altogether we ordered seven tacos, a torta (sandwich) and two beers for the princely sum of $14.00.

    With full and happy bellies, we walked the two kilometers back to the old city.

    We wrapped up our tour with a visit to the ruins of El Templo Mayor, the main temple of the Mexica peoples. The construction dates back to 1325 and was expanded in seven different phases over the next two centuries. In 1521 the temple was sacked by the Spaniards, Cortes ordered the destruction of the pyramids, and built a Mediterranean style settlement on the site.

    The Aztec architects designed such good foundations for their structures, the buildings erected on them are still standing straight while the surrounding properties not built on Aztec bases are all sinking into the ground.

    The photos below show just how much many of the buildings in the old city have shifted.

    By the time we made our way back to our hotel this New Year's eve, pretty much everything but the convenience stores had closed.

    But it's ok. We're well stocked with snacks and goodies with a bottle of bubbly sitting on ice as I write this.

    Let's see how our plans for New Years day pan out.

    Happy New Year!!!
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  • Day18

    The Day That Wasn’t

    December 30, 2019 in Mexico ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Today was just one of those days where everything goes awry. We spent the day sorting out messed up tour plans and phone plans. All I can say is, thank goodness for the comfort of food!

    We had booked a tour to see the pyramids at Teotihuacán, the most important and largest pre-Columbian city in Mexico.

    We arrived at the address given in our instructions ten minutes before the start of the tour but despite our best efforts and ten attempts to call the number provided, we were unable to locate the office. We finally, at 9:10, entered a luggage storage facility to ask for help, but the woman behind the desk spoke no English. She made a few calls and eventually a young man showed up to tell us we arrived too late to take the tour and there was no way to take it today.

    Dejected and a more than a little disappointed, we went back to our hotel and made last minute alternate plans.

    We had lunch at "Gold Taco", located in Mercado Roma which is not really a market but rather a gourmet food hall. Although the prices here are higher than at your typical taqueria, the quality of the food justifies the price.

    We ordered mushroom tamales, quesadillas, and a few tacos. Although everything was delicious, the tamales were the highlight. They were "elevated", and truly the best tamales we'd ever eaten.

    We then strolled around and made another visit to the Mercado Medellin where we picked up a few snacks and goodies lest we find ourselves feeling peckish (fat chance of that happening in this city).

    Then for dinner we went from gourmet to street food. We ate at "Gracias Madre" a popular neighborhood vegan taco stand. Roch ordered 3 different types of tacos, arrechero, chorizo rojo and salchichas a la mexicana, and I ordered the volcanoes (similar to a tostada) with a red chorizo topping. I found the red chorizo a tad salty but otherwise delicious. As we were paying the bill, we spotted a little chocolate tart in the display case. Once I learned it was gluten free, it got added to the bill and taken home with us.

    Roch asked the owner why they were called "Gracias Madre" and he was told that the name reflects the gratitude for the work they love to do, and Madre was in honour of mother Earth, who provides all the bounty for the food they serve.

    In the end, we re-booked our Teotihuacán tour for my birthday on January 2 and managed to cross a couple of eateries off of our to do list. Not a total loss.

    There's always a silver lining.
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    good food always saves the day! b.boop

    12/30/19Reply