My/our 9-day trip through Central Mexico is in the books. It was a nonstop, colorful romping through the desert, jungle, city, and mountains. A quick recap and some lessons learned:
We started in Villahermosa. Dump of a town, but we had a nice hotel. My Spanish was not sharp at this point.
Took a bus to Palenque the next morning. Mexican busses are……fantastic! They are private busses, and there are many companies to choose from, so this means high quality- even for the 2nd class busses. Mexico is more free market than the US in this department.
From Palenque, we took a taxi to the ruins.
Pretty amazing! I’ve been to Machu Picchu, and although that place is really impressive, I was pleasantly surprised that Palenque seems to be a hidden gem. Lots of Mexican tourists but very few gringos.
Then there were the amazing Misol-Ha waterfalls. Another hidden gem! We even got to go deep into a cave, which also had a waterfall- and bats!
Next day was flying to Mexico City.
Place is huge! Lots to see in the MC. There’s definitely a mix of neighborhoods, some good some…mas or menos. It was Easter weekend and despite what we heard ahead of time, most places were pretty crowded. It seems that Mexicans take Easter pretty seriously, but that doesn’t mean anything closes down!
The hostel we stayed at was first class. It was actually beyond first class. It’s the only hostel I’ve ever stayed at that had a buffet breakfast, with eggs, pancakes, fruit, and coffee. Amazing, and we got to eat on the roof overlooking the city.
Teotihuacan (try saying that one after a few tequilas!) is the tourist highlight. It was a 45 minute taxi ride for us. But totally worth it! Not because the pyramids were mind-blowing or anything, but because of the taxi ride there and the one back. Our driver, Edgar, was a true character! He laughed loudly at nearly everything he said. Lots of cheesy jokes like “The way to remember Chichen Itza is to think “Chicken Pizza”!
On the way there a bus going the opposite direction swerved into our lane for a few seconds and was coming right at us. “HA HA HA” laughed Edgar. “It’s MEXICO, ANYTHING is possible!”
On the drive back, he informed is that taxi driving is like a Nintendo game. “Every pedestrian, 5 points!” Then the reassuring “Red means GO, green means stop!”
I was relieved to be back to the hostel in one piece. I left my cell phone in the taxi and realized this about 4 minutes after Edgar left. Luckily, the hostel was able to contact him, and within minutes he was back with my phone!
Anything is certainly possible in Mexico.
After our city fun, we headed to the bus station to motor up to San Miguel de Allende. But not without a little inconvenience! The taxi ride to the bus station turned out to be 350 pesos, instead of the 120 that we thought it was supposed to be. So that cleaned out ALL of our pesos. We picked up our tickets and paid with a credit card. Whew! But…there was a problemo. It costs money to use the restroom! We were trying to figure out what to do when some nice woman overheard us, and offered us pesos. We gave her a US dollar, relieved ourselves, and had to head to the bus- sans agua, which also costs dinero!
We somehow survived a few dry hours and pulled into San Miguel.
Cobblestone streets, quaint little roads, lots of colors, lots of gringos…quite different from the City! It reminded me of Cusco, Peru where I was last year. We had Asian Fusion food and loved every bite of it. Everyone in the town speaks good English, and there are lots of tourists and retirees. Not a ton to DO, but it was a fun place to see and be in for a couple of days.
–The free, laid back feeling in Mexico. Nobody is going to bother you. And that’s niiice.
–The food. Overall it’s great. Although I would NOT recommend getting street tacos no matter how strong your stomach may be.
–The people. Friendly, welcoming, and nice! Even when you don’t know much Spanish.
–It’s cheap, the landscapes are awesome, and you can get what you need.
-Sometimes, especially in Mexico City, it smells like poop. Sewage pipes leaking inches below your feed under the sidewalk is probably the cause. It’s awful.
–Slow wifi, for the most part. San Miguel de Allende was an exception, but most places, internets were completely unreliable- even Starbucks right in Mexico City
–Throwing away TP. Yeah this is an annoyance of Mexico- they don’t have modern plumming and the toilet paper goes in the trash. It creates overflowing trash cans full of paper, and yep…bad smells!
1. No street tacos ever again, as I mentioned above.
2. I would say, don’t even brush your teeth with tap water. I did that most nights and I never felt quite right, despite eating clean food and drinking bottled water.
3. I need to get some Icebreaker clothing. These are the clothes that don’t need washing. I would have been able to pack lighter and the fact that our hostel had no working laundry wouldn’t have been as big a deal.
4. T-Mobile is great for international roaming. Unlimited data & texts and calls are only 20 cents/minute. However, in Mexico…not surprisingly, it was inconsistent. Sometimes it worked like a charm and other times…not so much. Anything is possible!
5. When traveling WITH someone, sometimes it’s nice to have separate beds. 🙂
6. When in doubt, GO. If it’s a trip or a trip within a trip, it’s always more fun to just do it. We were struggling in the morning before going to Teotihuacan, and even discussed not going- and even though it wasn’t completely amazing, we had a lot of fun along the way.
7. I’m happy to have a home base in the US. Fun to travel and come back to comforts and conveniences!