Thursday, December 13, 2018

Holiday Idea

Looking for something fun and festive these days? Check out the holiday night market at the Mercado Medellín in Colonia Roma. There's a good supply of Christmas trees, lots of ornaments, and a lively outdoor food area where you can chow down on pozole, tamales, tostadas, etc.

The night market is on Calle Campeche between Medellín and Monterrey in Colonia Roma Norte.
Map link HERE.
It starts around 6pm and stays open till after midnight.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Weekend Getaway: Bacalar, Quintana Roo

My partner Nick is fond of saying that we don't take vacations, we travel. The 'vacate' part seems to suggest a mindless state of comfort at odds with our usual treks through the nitty gritty back streets of places like Dhaka and Calcutta.
But recently he surprised me with a brief birthday trip to Bacalar in the state of Quintana Roo. And guess what? We loved it.
I'll admit I was not overly impressed at first. We flew from Mexico City to Chetumal, the capital of the state of Quintana Roo, and spent one night there. A modern town with no colonial past, the place is hot, humid and dull. A few old wooden houses remain (reminding me of New Orleans), but most of that charm was long ago swept away by hurricanes, and what remains is an homage to the concrete block. It's very clean, and not unpleasant--and I'm always glad to fill in the blanks of my mental map of the world--but one night was enough. Ready to vacate.
Bacalar is only 40 minutes away. The drive takes you through the ususal flat landscape of the Yucatan through largely unpopulated areas.
The small town (pop. 11.084) is a Pueblo Magico, but the magic is hard to find. It's a scrappy, dishevelled place with a smattering of hotels and restaurants with a hippie-ish vibe, a large but empty central plaza, an old stone fort, and more potholes than pavement.

Our hotel, Casa Lamat, was a few kilometers past the town, down a bumpy dirt road. It's a rustic style, eco-friendly place, with palapa-roofed cabins in a lovely tropical garden setting. You walk down to a private dock for swimming, relaxing in a hammock, or renting a kayak or sailboat for an excursion around the lagoon. There is no A/C, but the 3 fans in our room kept us mostly comfortable, and I enjoyed connecting with the true climate--and the lagoon is only a minute away.

The lagoon was one of the peak aquatic experiences of my life. The water is the perfect temperaure--warm enough not to shock, cool enough to refresh. The various shades of blue, green and turquoise are reflections of the different kinds of sand at the bottom. Rarely is color so enthralling.
Nick invented a new use for the life vests on hand that became our favorite pastime. Instead of putting it over our heads, we sat on them, stradding the two halves, like a giant floating diaper. This allowed us to stand upright in the water, hands and legs free, and float effortlessly for hours. It's the closest sensation to weightlessness I've ever experienced--pure bliss.

The food at the hotel was good, better than we found in the restaurants in town--although I doubt anyone travels to Quintana Roo for the cuisine (one exception was machacada, a drink made from crushed fresh fruit, condensed milk, and shaved ice--a cross between a snow cone and a smoothie).

If you want to be a bit more active, you can rent a kayak, take an excursion around the lagoon, or swim in several cenotes. There are some small Mayan ruins in the area, too, but we didn't get to that--next time. Athough I loved our hotel, if I went back I'd try to find a place with a kitchen, which would solve both the 'what to do' and 'what to eat' questions. All in all, it was a lovely experience I can highly recommend. When you immediately dream of returning to a place, you know it's something special.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Learn Spanish the Easy Way

When I first arrived in Mexico and began to study Spanish, a teacher recommended I watch a popular soap opera to improve my language skills. 'Te Sigo Amando' was wildly popular then. When it came to an end (as Mexican soap operas do, with final episodes that rival Wagner's 'Gotterdammerung') the country practically came to a halt as everyone sat glued to their televisions.

A new offering on Netflix, 'La Casa de Las Flores', may reach an even wider audience, since you can watch it any time. Absurd, over-the-top situations abound--I found myself laughing in disbelief several times watching the first episode. There's nothing subtle going on in this story of a wealthy Mexico City family, their secrets, lies and passions. But it sure is fun.

The show is in Spanish, but has Spanish subtitles, so it's great for those trying to attune their minds and ears to colloquial spoken Spanish.

Take a look at the trailer:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Mexico City on Wheels

I've been noticing the amount of merchandise that is sold 'on the move' here in Mexico City. Mobile vendors are one of the city's distinctive qualities. I've collecting photos for this post for a while, but this week saw someone who wins the prize for the most unusual merchandising. It was a close call with the shoelace vendor, but there are several of them around, but this this the first mobile ironing board salesman I've seen.
At night they are carefully wrapped up and tucked away, out of sight, but as daylight appears, so do Mexico City's push carts, thousands of them, crawling out from under tarps and behind unmarked doorways to enliven the streets of the city with their colorful offerings. Usually one-person operations, these mobile stores offer everything from food to house plants, shoe laces, books and cleaning supplies. The vendors often hawk their wares with pregones, prayer-like cries, almost like little songs, that add to the musical character of our city. They are also a great reminder of the Mexican gift for invention, creating something out of little.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Mexican Family

The current show of photographs by Lourdes Almeida ( around the fountain of Plaza Luis Cabrera in Colonia Roma Norte is well worth a visit. Exploring themes of family (they're all Mexican), tribal identity, roots and migration, Almeida's work is both touching and intriguing, and right at the heart of one of today's most pressing issues. There's a lot of empathy here.

Google map

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Visiting Mexico City with Children

Since this is not something I focus on in my book, I wanted to share this article from the NYTimes about traveling to Mexico City with children.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Safety (at a price)

When I was a kid I remember reading a magazine article about how to build a bomb shelter. I also recall being very upset with my parents for not having one. What would happen to me when the atom bomb fell on us?

Now there's another version of refuge against disaster being offered to the public here in Mexico City. Yesterday in Parque México a new 'safety pod' was put on display which guarantees to save your life in case your building collapses in an earthquake.

Fully equipped to keep you alive and well for a month, the pod costs between 40,000 and 250,000 pesos (that's about 2,000 to 12,000 USD).

Although the odds of being near enough to your pod at the moment when the alarm sounds (there's one built-in) are slim, some might find comfort in living with a giant white egg in their house. I think looking at it all the time would raise my anxiety level. Somehow I don't imagine they will sell a lot of these guys. What do you think?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Best Seat in the House

Now that I have a dog I'm taking even more pleasure in Parque México, that little island of green in Colonia Condesa. Late afternoon is a great time to go--the sun is lower, so things have cooled down, and the light is glorious.
A fairly recent addition to the neighborhood is a branch of Churros y Chocolate El Moro, whose original location in the Centro Histórico has been around for almost a century.
Facing the park at the corner of Michoacán, El Moro offers rocking chairs where you can sit and dunk those sugary crunch churros into a thick steaming mug of hot chocolate. Does it get any better than this in Mexico City?
For more on Parque México, click HERE.

                      Lucy, resting after her run around the park

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Which Airport Terminal?

One annoying aspect of flying out of Mexico City is finding out which terminal your plane leaves from--it's rarely written on the ticket. The following list shows the principal airlines that operate from the terminal buildings of Mexico City's airport.

Terminal 1B

  • Interjet

Terminal 1D

  • Magnicharters
  • VivaAerobus
  • Volaris
  • Terminal 1F
  • Air Canada
  • Air France
  • AirTran Airways (Southwest Airlines)
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cubana de Aviación
  • Iberia
  • Interjet
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • TACA Airlines
  • TACA Airlines (Lacsa)
  • TACA Perú
  • TAM Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • United Express (ExpressJet Airlines)
  • US Airways
  • Volaris

Terminal 2 North

  • Aeroméxico
  • Aeroméxico Connect
  • Copa Airlines
  • Copa Airlines Colombia
  • Delta Air Lines
  • LAN Airlines
  • LAN Perú

Terminal 2 South

  • Aeroméxico
  • Aeroméxico Connect

Terminal 2

  • Aeromar
Terminal Information

Terminal 1 has eight separate lounge areas, serving a large number of different airlines.

  • Lounge A - caters to all the domestic arrivals and ticketing and the check-in of all Aeromexico flights
  • Lounge B - with check-in facilities for domestic Mexicana, Transportes Aeromar and Aero California airlines
  • Lounge C - serves some domestic Mexican airlines
  • Lounge D - serves some domestic Mexican airlines and charter flights
  • Lounge E - a large international arrivals lounge
  • Lounge F1 - serves domestic Mexican and American airlines, include Latin America
  • Lounge F2 - serves a number of American, Canadian and international airlines
  • Lounge F3 - serves a number of international airlines