Farewell Mexico

This isn’t going to be a long post. Just a quick note about these last two months in Mexico, the first country on our Latin America trip. Mexico is an extremely special place. I especially enjoyed our time in Oaxaca and Chiapas, but also had fun in Yucatán, Mexico City, and Cuernavaca. Here’s some of our trip by the numbers:

  • Time spent in Mexico: 76 days
  • Total time spent in buses: 81 hours
  • Average spent on accommodation: 4.47 USD per night

We’re in Guatemala now and plan to spend about a month here.

Hostels and Airbnb

Yesterday I noted how amazing it was to meet and spend time with new friends from our hostel in Zipolite. I think many of us these days would rather choose the comfort, security, privacy, and wifi of an Airbnb over a cramped but cheap hostel with abysmal internet. I count myself in that group as well. But if we had done so, Zipolite would have just become another beach town; devoid of memories, countless opportunities to talk with interesting people, and practice Spanish.

I’m not saying every single hostel is fantastic and your new temporary roommates are always amazing and friendly. In fact, the last hostel we stayed more than a night didn’t have the best community spirit. But those other experience. led us to this one

Staying in hostels allows us to meet great people with totally different worldviews; Rasta artisans from Mexico and France, gap year travelers from Australia, Argentine immigrants looking to open a cafe or restaurant, and surfers from Japan. We saved a lot of money. We went out to dinner and to other beachside hangouts. I also met another Jimmy, who introduced me to a breathing meditation practice.

It can be uncomfortable to put yourself out there so much. Luckily, my travel companion is much better at socializing with new people than I am! But try it. You’ll meet more people, laugh more, and save money. Maybe someone will also teach you to breathe?

Blogging Backwards

For the first month of our trip, I have had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind: Jimmy, you should be writing about this and posting it. But more often than not, some other activity comes up, or a bus ride lulls me to sleep, and the post goes unwritten.

Before I started my proofreading course, I thought I wanted to leverage Among the Stones to generate income. Now that I’m learning new skills that I can use to work remotely, I’m free to use this space as it was intended; my own space, for me, about whatever I want, in solidarity with the open and decentralized web.

So in an effort to unburden myself from the posts I haven’t written about Mexico City, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Cuernavaca, and Oaxaca, here are some of the unwritten posts.

  1. Exploring Condesa: Condesa and Colonia Roma are two beautiful and vibrant neighborhoods in the middle of Mexico City.
  2. Art for Everyone: Museo Soumaya: Carlos Slim’s art museum named after his late wife, Museo Soumaya features beautiful sculptures of Auguste Rodin, landscapes of Venice, an unfortunate Asia in Ivory exhibit, and other contemporary works.
  3. An Open letter to ADO: We’ve logged a total of 63 hours in bus transport this month. ADO is a major bus company. I intended to write them an open letter about their peculiar movie choices1 and their liberal use of air conditioning in the middle of the night.
  4. Cafes de Olla in Oaxaca: Move over Piñon Coffee, Cafe de Olla is my new favorite drink.
  5. Ultimate Frisbee in Cuernavaca: My good friend Brandon lives in Cuernavaca and took me to his Ultimate Frisbee practices. It was exhausting but fun.

We are in Puerto Escondido on the Oaxacan coast staying in a surf hostel with very nice people. Today, we got a request on Work Away to stay at a different hostel a few blocks down and work for our room and board.

  1. Bottom of the barrel discount licenses on British movies 

Skip Chichén Itzá, Go to Cobá and Uxmal

If you’re heading to Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, chances are high you’ll visit some Mayan ruins while you’re there. Unless you spend your whole vacation on the beach at a resort, in which case I’d kindly advise you to reevaluate your decision, and possibly your life. Most people know of Chichén Itzá, a vast Mayan city with the famous El Castillo featured in Spanish textbooks and postcards. But if you’re reading this and haven’t been yet, skip it and check out Cobá and Uxmal instead.

Chichén Itzá is pretty commercialized these days. The archeological zone has almost as many vendors selling the same souvenirs than tourists. We’ve heard the land is collectively owned by a group of people and I understand if this is how they make their livelihood, but it seems excessive. The whole site is very impressive, but after visiting Cobá and Uxmal, in Quintana Roo State and Yucatán State respectively, you won’t miss out on much.

We went to Cobá first. It’s near Tulum and it’s nestled in the jungle. There are many bicycle taxis waiting to take you between the disparate pyramids, but the walk is really enjoyable. The highlight though is you’re able to summit the larger pyramid and get a great view of the area from the top, providing the selfie stick-wielding visitors don’t knock you off1.

Cobá was a little busy when we went, but nothing like Chichén Itzá. Uxmal was next, during our Couchsurfing stay in Mérida. It’s an easy day trip out of the city and a little respite from the sweltering humidity.

At Uxmal, there might have been 50 people while we were there. It was incredible. You want to take photos of ancient ruins without Billabong shirts in them? Go to Uxmal. There’s also a larger pyramid like El Castillo in Chichén Itzá.

After a few days of a little cold and some rest in Campeche, we made it to Mexico City. Since Patricia and I started in the Yucatán and have plans to swing back around to Guatemala, we are saving Oaxaca and Chiapas for our way out. Thankfully, the weather is more agreeable for us in central Mexico.

  1. #NoSelfieSticks, anyone? 

Chichén Itzá and a Promise

We made it out of the United States without going broke! We've been in staying in Playa del Carmen, México on a family vacation for the last week. I haven't had much time to write or start working on Among the Stones stuff but hopefully next week I'll start updating more frequently. I have a lot of plans for this space now and I'm interested to see how they shake out while on the road.

With that, here's a photo of Chichén Itzá without the massive amounts of people and merchants in the space. It was a great day topped off with swimming in the Xcajum cenote about 20km north. I recommend going to some of the other Mayan ruins if you're in the area, especially Cobá.