with the advent of fall in Germany came my usual craving for sun and a getaway before returning to the cold in Germany. The journey this time brought me to Mexico, the Ciudad de Mexico CDMX to be exact, combined with a domestic flight to Cancun and the ferry to the Isla de las Mujeres to enjoy the flair of the Caribbean.
Right before that time in Mexico I had checked on my buddy in Los Angeles and spent some great days in that city again which is why I added to my blog entry from last year here. Overall, my thoughts and impressions from this journey left me absolutely stunned, enriched, shocked, and thankfully sun-blessed. Have a read and browse the pics taken on the Motorola 5G Plus.
The country of Mexico is actually the Estados Unidos Mexicanos, yes, the United States of Mexico with Mexico being both a state itself and the capital city (Ciudad de México) as well. Surprisingly, a lot of Mexico City reminded me of Madrid in Spain. Both cities are surrounded by mountains and are found in a valley. Also, both cities feature impressive architecture in a mix of classic, colonial, and modern architecture like comparable skyscrapers. Yet, Mexico is a second-world country and you can easily spot that in many parts of the country and the capital. Nice and lovely parts of town like e.g. Roma or downtown with the most skyscrapers portrait high culture and enjoyable first world impressions.
But walk some more blocks or drive a bit (get driven a bit that is!) out of downtown and you will see more and more poor people. Whenever they discover a tourist they will try to sell whatever they have to make money. Usually, popcorn, drinks, sweets, fruits, cheap sombreros, or friendship bracelets. Or some might tend to rob you, but police presence is also all over all nice parts of town. Yes, just the nice parts of the city whilst other parts of town see police just every now and then. So sometimes my friend Monica recommended to NOT wearing my wristwatch. But for Roma it was OK and there you can find a local delicious burger place in a basement of a wonderful building called Butcher And Sons – recommended.
This journey to Mexico allowed for so much. Mexico, well: problems, chances, a mass of people, good developments here and there, and still so many challenges ahead. The empowerment of women and the fight for equal rights have just started appearing. I was blessed to stay with my good study friend Monica who I met studying for our MBA degree in Shanghai. She could strengthen my impressions and provide background information to get a real grasp of today’s Mexico. The development in Mexican society is respectable, but she mentioned that it will take generations to come until nowadays western standards will be met.
Churches for the spiritual minds can be found across town, of course, as Mexico is almost solely Catholic. The belief in God unites also the poor with the wealthy here and there. Churches influence the overall architectural picture of a city, still, it was the colonial influence that impressed me well across the parts of town I had checked out. A great way to discover the city is to explore the parks and especially the castle. The castle (Chapultepec) will provide for excellent views and strong learnings about the European-Mexican ties from the past. Austria influenced the kings back in the days and the castle is a classy portrait of that.
When back in the blocks of the city, that mix of colonial, classic, modern, and concrete simple structures becomes even more apparent. Also, Mexicans love nature and will try to house many plants in their homes and on their balconies. Other than that the neighbor of the USA can be felt clearly in Mexico with the usual chain restaurants and the interest in football. So I’d say it was Austriazation first followed by Americanization. Speaking for the current times, I am sure they strengthen their own culture around food and music to survive all the earthquakes that appear almost regularly. Some buildings were left uninhabitable after the last rumbles.
Did I mention yet that Mexico -despite laying in a valley- is a capital of high altitude? Around 2.200m above sea level which is why some people experience altitude sickness in its beginnings. I was fine but could feel the average to bad air quality. But at least the public transport seems to work fine and also Uber was my friend here, too. Just make sure you know some Spanish to get around nicely. Even though Monica said that she also tends to speak Spanglish, a mishmash of you guessed it: Spanish and English. Guess coming from the American influence once again, those neighbors!
And a taco is a taco and always will be. Food is key in the Mexican culture and tacos can be found on almost every corner or at your fancy restaurant in many delicious creations, but all tend to come with freaking hot sauce – yes! And speaking for lunch you make yourself suspicious if you have it way before like 2 pm.
Yet I have to come back to the many poor people and the fact that the mentality of many, not limited to the poor actually, is that they will screw you if they can. Maybe that has found its way even into politics, not surprisingly. Why are so many still poor? Why is the corruption index (CPI) so high for Mexico? Education is key and it would help if more poor people could actually read and write. Don’t ask me how they all figured out how to use their cell phones still… The remote communities need help and education; not even elementary school is guaranteed for still far too many. Super sad.
So two more random things just now to keep you thinking:
1. BOND/ Parade for the Dia De Los Muertos:
The puppets used for the parade in the Bond Movie SPECTRE at the Day of the Dead, that kind of statues, muppets are since then reused for the actual parades that just became a bigger thing since the movie. A wonderful Disney movie explaining the tradition of El Dia De Los Muertos is COCO btw. Both movies do entertain well.
2. Pinche Covid:
You see it on many t-shirts and banners. Translated to English that would mean f… or Fight Covid..! A fist up in the air (not the pink fist from the pic above, that one is for all women fighting their rights) to beat the virus, finally. Most people were wearing masks at all times during my journey which I found respectful.
To summarize: Architecture, culture, oh many dogs, a lot of people, street and fancy food, parks, old and new structures in optical grace. Respectful with nature when possible. All those were notes from my mind when strolling through town. Never before have I found myself taking more pictures than in Mexico City. Especially for the architecture, but also the contrast of almost everything. Starbucks cafés are among the prettiest in the world here, yet many corner stores, cafes, restaurants, or bread shops can be found that will also fulfill your need for fluids or snacks. Experienced global travelers might develop a sensibility for which parts of town to cross and which not. But I sure liked it that the pace in town is accelerated, yet with a certain pause here and then, be it on some park’s benches or in all those lovely cafes.
Teotihuacán describes the archeological site you wanna visit to check out the so-called pyramids. They were once ‘established’ by the Teotihuacán, the first known civilization on the territories of what today is the state of México. These pyramids are actually not pyramids like the ones in Egypt, they are temples. Several temples stacked on top of each other actually resemble steps in our eyes. The calendar of this ancient civilization so to say requested that a new temple be built over the existing one, which is why the pyramids were formed through temple over temple over temple over some centuries. The believed temple of the moon was much likely meant to boost fertility in that ancient society, the bigger ‘pyramid’ believed as the temple of the sun was much likely created to praise the gods. Anyway, they are impressive and surely worth the 2.5h trip out of Mexico City. And also, have a sip or more of pulque, an alcoholic yet protein-rich drink from the root of the agave tree.
Traveling there also means being once again confronted with severe poverty in Mexican society. From the highway, you will spot hills and mountains right and left that feature colored lil’ houses and huts. Those resemble the ones in Brazil and are also called favelas as they house the poorest people. Mostly without running water or electricity. Still, many people from these areas make their way into the capital daily which is why traffic is somewhat beyond congested or horrible. Too many people trying to progress by any means is a thought I had most of the time around Mexico City. At least they have been building a ropeway/ cable car to cross over from the rural poor parts towards the city.
Almost every hour you can take a speed ferry from CANCUN to the Isla de las Mujeres in the Caribbean. Wonderful warm to hot weather, intense sun, and some clouds to give you a break, mild turquoise waters to please both the eyes and one’s soul. I am a summer or sun Sirk and welcomed the time on the island.
The island features pretty beaches and waters, but also great beach clubs that not have become too touristy. I hope it will stay that way, yet there will always be people trying to sell you something for way too much money. As many American tourists come to the island regularly, you can pay in USD$ surprisingly at many spots, yet I think that is wrong and of course, you will spend ridiculous amounts in a foreign currency especially by the beach. The north of the island offers nicer beaches and also a great shore towards the northeast, where only experienced swimmers should if at all make their way out into the sea. Whilst in the northwest the sandy beaches will allow for a nice & easy way into the mild temperature sea. There is a private mini-island in the very north occupied by a hotel, but you can swim over quite quickly and maybe run around the island as I did for long before someone asked me if I am actually a hotel guest 😉 And if the many sellers on the beach run literally on your nerves, just drop a “!Gracias!” and they’ll move on. We spend a day in a friend’s beach club and had Coconut Shrimps with Passion Fruit Sauce for lunch.
The CAT here above was my love during our stay on the island. It is el GATO DE LOS MUERTOS clearly. Found on a small apartment building and hyper-fascinating during the night. I have it already professionally printed on satin and tropical-wood framed in my international room at home. Cats forever!?!
My recommendation for an excellent dinner spot is OLIVIA with a fantastic mix of Mediterranean food. For the drinks later there is a newly reopened bar called, believe it or not, The Chubby Cactus. A wonderful and as well bit out-of-the-regular-mind-place with impressive paintings and decoration that I described as “instagrammeable”:
Hope you enjoyed this long report from my 12th journey besides many trips since starting blogging over 8 years ago.
Feel free to drop a comment.
Feel free to drop a comment.
Thanks and best,