A Travellerspoint blog

Stop 27 - Merida

Merida....Meh.....

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Not much to write about Merida. This is the first town in Mexico that I have not enjoyed. It is not as pretty as others and for the first time I felt uncomfortable and didn't want to be out on my own.

We took this stop as an opportunity to book our next months travel. As we're going to Cuba and will not have the interwebs we had to get everything sorted before we left. The boys took this time to lie on the bed all day and do nothing. All in all some nice down time for us.

Speak to you all in 3 weeks once we're back xx

Posted by carlagregory 18:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Stop 26 - Palenque

Happy birthday to me - not!

sunny 34 °C
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After our non-event visit to San Cristobal we celebrated my birthday by getting on a bus and driving backwards to go forwards; on to Palenque - the city in the clouds!! Except there were no clouds....

We stopped into Palenque for a couple of days thinking the only thing we'd do was visit the ruins. If I had my time again I'd probably stay a little bit longer. The town itself is not much to look at but there is quite a lot to do surrounding it. We stayed in a gorgeous street with so many trees around us. It felt as if we were staying on the edge of a jungle. Birds making noise and flying around, iguanas sitting on rooftops and large butterflies were all the norm as you stepped outside. The weather was hot and steamy during the day with beautiful blue skies then rainy at night.

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Our first day was pretty lazy and we walked around the town. In the afternoon we went to their zoo. It was more of a wildlife rescue centre than a zoo but it had some pretty cool animals. We were the only people there so had incredible views of all the animals. As we arrived it was feeding time for the jaguars. They have a black jaguar which is partially blind and he looked gorgeous!! Unfortunately we didn't get many pics of him because he was so dark - its hard to make out the features. They also had a spotted jaguar who again looked absolutely gorgeous.

One thing the zoo is doing is rescuing and breeding the scarlet macaws. Supposedly the local population was extinct so they have rescued some and started breeding and releasing. They are free roaming throughout the zoo and you see and hear them everywhere. Occasionally they venture into the town and on our second morning we were lucky enough to have a pair of them in a tree at our hotel one morning. Lucky might not be the right word as they make one hell of a racket.

Also at the zoo were many hawks - James was happy with this. A few crocodiles, lots of turtles, spider monkeys, howler monkeys (just hanging out in the trees - not actually an exhibition...) and ocelots. Our visit was a very nice surprise. We didn't realise it was there until the morning of our visit and we had the most amazing time just wondering and looking at all the animals.

The following day we took a visit to the ruins. This was the reason why we visited Palenque and OMG it is just beautiful. Here's how our visit went:

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Me: "WOW!! This place is amazing! James, don't you think its beautiful?"
James: "Yep, its beautiful"

5 mins later...
Me: "I just cant get over how beautiful this place is! Can you?"
James: "Yep, its beautiful"

5 mins later....
Me: "Oh wow, I don think our photos will show how beautiful this place really is. James, are you seeing how beautiful it is?!"
James: "Yep, its beautiful"
Me: "Lucas, don't you think its beautiful?"
Lucas: "If I walk up those stairs you owe me $7"

So, in case you're not getting it - the place is BEAUTIFUL!! I just loved it! What they have uncovered and restored is only 10% of the city. There is still a lot more out there covered by jungle. I really loved this place and its probably been my favourite ruins to date.

After the ruins we went to go swim in a waterfall. No one actually told us they had massive storms come through about 3 days earlier. These are the same storms that hit us in San Cristobal. Trees were down, logs and branches were sticking out of the water which was all brown and rushing so fast that it meant there was no way we were going swimming. DISAPPOINTING!!! As we were there with a tour group we were stuck there for a couple of hours. We walked down as far as we could, it looked pretty but it would have been better if we could swim. So we went and waited in the field and drank beer.

I have put up limited photos of Palenque - there are more I just need to get off my behind and upload them. Watch this space!

There was so much more we could have seen / done whilst in the area but time is of the essence and we had to move on. Moving slowly closer to Cuba - one more stop in Mexico before we get on the plane.

Posted by carlagregory 18:14 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Stop 25 - San Cristobal de las Casis

Not worth reading...

storm 17 °C
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We made a quick two day stop in San Cristobal de las Casis because basically it is the only place the bus stops on the way to Palenque. I'm sure there are other places but this seems to be the halfway point everyone uses.

The 9 hour bus trip turned into 14 hours because of trouble with road works (could have also been bandits). We had to drive back to Puebla to go forward. Not the most direct route but it is what it is.

San Cristobal de las Casis is a cute little town mountain town. Again, lots of colonial buildings and general cuteness going on. The weather was miserable the whole stay. It was about 17 degrees and raining the whole time. There were crazy weather patterns going on all over the state and some parts had earthquakes. Adam was disappointed we didn't feel the earthquake as apparently he's never felt one. Wave had quite a few in Melbourne....not sure what he's doing when they're going on....

So other than walk around in the rain for a few hours one day we didn't do much else. I'm not sure if there is much else to do there...I didn't even take any pictures!

What a boring blog update! I have to document our stops as part of the process but I really do not have anything to say. Ummmmm....The hotel room was nice and they had a good shower.

The end.

Posted by carlagregory 15:54 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Stop 24 - Oaxaca

say it with me now....wah-ha-ka

sunny 25 °C
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Greetings to you all from Oaxaca!!

Oaxaca is such a beautiful little town filled with churches, parks, markets, shops and Oaxacan chocolate! The buildings are colourful and colonial, the streets are all one way, easy to navigate on foot and always filled with people and vendors. It is also the centre for all things hand crafted - leather shoes, leather bags, mescal, crazy hallucination animals, black pottery, carpets....pretty much any souvenir you will get in Mexico come from the villages surrounding Oaxaca city.

We had a few days where we wandered around the city visiting markets etc but the real highlights are outside of the city. Our first tour was to the ruins of Monte Alban.

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Monte Alban is a ceremonial site built a top a flattened mountain. It is the second largest ceremonial site in Mesoamerica after Teotihuacan. Archaeologists have found lots of hieroglyphs here; some they have been able to decipher including a calendar system. There are also many carved monuments with images of what they call "the dancers" and "the swimmers". Also among the ceremonial site is an observatory and many basketball courts. One impressive thing about the site is the acoustics. You can be standing on top of the building to the north and people down in the courtyard at the southern end can have a conversation with you without the need for yelling.

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After Monte Alban we stopped into a workshop where they make crazy looking animal carvings. Basically back in the day these animals were the visions of the elders after eating mushrooms; they carved and painted the images they saw. Now it is just groups of families carving animals and painting them in bright colours and decorating them with dots. Following on from here we went to the black clay workshop.

Black clay is only found here in Oaxaca. It starts out as regular coloured clay but once it is put in the kiln it absorbs the colour of the smoke and turns black. It is then polished using quarts to give it a beautiful smooth, shiny finish. They don't use a pottery wheel as per the ghost movie but just two clay pots that they spin on each other. Quite impressive to watch.

The second tour we took was to a place called Hierve el Agua. This is a "frozen" waterfall made entirely of stalactites. One of two in the world it is formed by the highly mineral waters spilling down the side of the mountain. Also at the top of the mountain are mineral pools to swim in. Too cold for me but James and Lucas had a great time.

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Before arriving at Hierve el Agua we visited a mezcal distillery where we learnt the fine art of making mezcal. Apparently mescal is the same recipe as tequila and is not its poorer cousin. They don't actually make the spirit in the same way but its still the same pffft whatever!! What I didn't know about mescal is that they can age it in oak barrels and it tastes soooooo much better than the cheap clear spirit we often see in Australia. It takes on a flavour similar to that of whiskey so my question is why aren't they selling it aged all the time?!? Personally I don't drink whiskey or mezcal so it makes no difference to me but they might make a few more sales.

Next up we visited a workshop where they make carpet the traditional way. No need for chemical dyes as they use all natural products such as cactus beetles that ooze red dye when squashed. It would have been great to buy something as it was incredibly cheap and some of the carpets and wool blankets were divine however not that practical to carry around for the next six months.

Also on the trip we visited the worlds widest tree...it looked like a tree...and the Zapotec ruins of Mitla, It was beautiful and would have been stunning in its time. It was covered with intricate mosaics and all fitted together without the use of any mortar.

Our final day in Oaxaca was quite relaxed as we waited for our bus to take us to San Cristobal de Las Casis. After a quick lap of the market so I could buy some shoes we ended up in the park playing footy and two square. The rules of two square have changed a lot since I used to play and I'm pretty sure half of them were made up on the spot.

Anyway that is all for now. As I mentioned above our next stop is San Cristobal de Las Casis for a couple of days then off to Palenque.

Ciao for now xx

Posted by carlagregory 15:38 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Stop 23 - Puebla

semi-overcast 26 °C
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A quick update of our next stop - the beautiful, colourful town of Puebla. We had some bad weather at the start with lots of rain but by the end we had beautiful sunshine. The town is filled with lots of old buildings, many churches, cobblestone streets and a snow capped mountain to complete the scene.

We actually didn't do much during our stay here. Nothing opened until 10:30am so we had lovely sleep ins and lazy mornings followed by brunch, walks through the city and then finished the day with some amazing tacos. We were also staying near the best churreria in town and developed a naughty churro habit. The line up at this place was usually 10 people deep and taking up most of the footpath.

As you'll remember from the last post we were also making a visit to Cholula and the largest pyramid. Turns out there is not much of the pyramid that is visible due to it being overgrown and built upon but it was still interesting none the less. We took the walk to the top of the pyramid where a church now stands, then we took a walk around the ruins and down underneath through the tunnels.

The town of Cholula is quite pretty too; smaller than Puebla but equally as gorgeous. We took a walk through there after our visit to the pyramid and had some amazing lemon gelato.

And that's about it for now. We're all well and looking forward to our next stop, Oaxaca.

Posted by carlagregory 14:16 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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