The gringo shopping trail
09.04.2008 26 °C
We absolutely love, love, love Mexico. We have only been here for 10 days and have squeezed in so much already. We arrived in Mexico City and we are little worried as it is such a huge city. We were very fortunate and had a guy we met in Santiago pick us up from the airport and show us a few sights and gave us some ideas as to what we should see while we were here. Mexico City was such a pleasant surprise. We heard that it was really polluted and hard to breath, it was a bit smoggy but not half as bad as some of the places we went to in China. The city is situated around a vast plaza with enormous buildings and a stunning cathedral. Each street has many bars and cafes and was much more european than we expected. We spent the first day walking our little feet of visiting the many churches and museums and generally taking in the feel of the city. The food in Mexico is varied and of great quality, not just beans and rice or torillas wrapped in many forms as we had expected.
The next day was our first visit to a large Mayan site Teotihuacan. This site is huge and there has been a lot of resoration so you can really get the feel of how this empire lived. There were 2 huge pyramids one was the sun temple nd the other the moon temple. There were several much smaller pyramids surrounding them. We spend a few hours walking around and climbing up to the top of the pyramids. although we got there pretty early the sun was already beating down on us, there was no shade whatsoever, the ground was baked dry and dusty and the heat was becoming a bit oppressive. There was a fantastic museum on site too and we spent a huge portion of our visit looking at the many relics and carvings and information on how the Mayans lived. It was also a welcome relief from the sun.
Oaxaca (Wah-ha-ka) was our next stop, a fantastic town, full of amazing and beautifully coloured buildings and many Artisan markets. The traditional people of Oaxaca are very skilled in wooden and pottery crafts so it was a great opportunity to buy gifts. The markets are amazing and I especially enjoyed walking around the local markets full of women trimming and peeling cactus leaves and cactus fruits, a local delicasy. I didn´t so much enjoy the meat market which stank for a start and was full of flies. They sell every part of the animal with trotters, intestines and heads hanging in the open air, chickens complete with feet all piled high.
It was time for a scenery change so we headed to San Augustillo right on the coast. What a stunning coast, blue water ant whilte sands,although the sea was quite rough, an excellent surfing spot. I tried not to get bowled over by the huge waves. A couple of days relaxing by the sea under grassed roof huts was just what we needed.
We then took an overnight bus, there are warnings about travelling on overnight buses in Mexico but we needed to take a 12 hour journey and didn´t want to waste a day travelling so we just made sure our belongings were really secure and jumped on. The bus was good, nice and clean but the seats did not recline so sleeping was not really an option although we tried our hardest only and hour or two was had. San Cristobal is a gorgeous town in the hills of Chiapas. There are many indigenous people in San Cristobal. I expected to see men walking around it huge sombraroes but instead they were oversize cowboy hats which is quite a sight. The women wear huge fury skirts and although it does cool of an evening it must be pretty hot for them during the day.
Having coffee in one of the gorgeous cobbled streets is one of my favourite things to do, just watching people go by, having the many street sellers approach you to sell their wares. It is sad to see the small children though selling tat. I guess it is how their family makes its money but they should be in school. I guess is is something I will never get used to is how the kids here have responsibilitiy thrust upon then. You often see young girls, not even 8 years of age with a sibling strapped to them using a blanket. They seem happy enough though so you just have to accept the different culture. I love seeing the guys walk around with huge helium balloons or the many shoe shiners that line the main square. It seems to be the way that towns are here. There is a huge tree lined square in the centre of the town, usually with the main church or cathedral. Circling the main square are streets lined with cafes and shops then the markets. San Cristobal has been another great opportunity to look at the local crafts and I have had to be really restrained. Paul has just stopped bringing money out with us when we go out now!!
We are off to Palenque next to see apparently the most beautiful Mayan site and then we are off to Tulum on the Caribean coast for a much needed rest, and hopefully no shops :0)