The Magic Town of Tepotzlán

Tepotzlán is a magic town that is about a 1 hour drive from Cuernavaca and we decided to go and visit! My sister-in-law was actually having a wedding photo shoot there so we didn’t mind going with her. I went a few weeks ago with my parents on a Sunday, but it was a different experience that time! At the weekend the town comes alive with hundreds of stalls lining the roads with all sorts of handicrafts and souvenirs on sale.

This time around we went on a Monday and the place was much more quiet! They were going to do their photo shoot on the Monday and then on Tuesday morning we were going to walk up the big mountain that overlooks the town. At the top their is a small ruin of a small Aztec temple and it’s extremely popular to climb during the weekend! I hear that the walk up the mountain is full of people during the weekend, so when we went on Tuesday it was much better. We probably met about 10 people on our way!

Anyway, on Monday evening we organised with the hostel we were staying with to try out a traditional sweat room. It’s called a ‘Temazcal’ and it was a great experience! It originated with pre-Hispanic Indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica and it’s still practiced today!

We started at 9pm and we had to do a ceremony with a shaman and he says all this stuff in Spanish (that I didn’t understand), then we entered into pitch blackness! We couldn’t see a thing! The man comes in, covers the entrance with a blanket and we are there sitting sweating like crazy as this shaman talks and tells us what to do. At one point we had to rub our bodies with aloe vera, and then honey. (All this in pitch blackness). Then we had to say things that we want to improve while he was banging a drum. We were shaking shakers and shouting and all sorts! There were 3 stages to the ritual and during all of them he would throw water into a big bowl in the middle and it would create even more heat! I have to say it was extremely hot by the end of the ritual.

At the end when we were leaving, we all had to kneel beside him and he poured cold water over us, then we went out and he gave us fruit and water. Little did we know the ritual lasted for 1 hour!

I really didn’t know what to expect but I have to say I really enjoyed it! All of us were absolutely wrecked after it though…. and at 7am we had to get up for our hike up the mountain!

As my body was still in shock from the experience from last night, it was really tough to get up for the hike! It was the last thing I wanted to do to be honest.

While we were walking through the town to the base of the mountain we met two friendly dogs and they walked up the whole mountain with us! We heard that the local dogs always do that; they find someone and go with them all the way to the top, then they’ll go back down, see another person and up they go again!

While we were waiting for them to open the gates to the entrance to the summit we met a couple and they ALSO had a dog with them. The dogs aren’t allowed up to the summit so they left us while we went up. We took some great photos and it was a lovely morning! The night before it was really really windy and up at the summit a lot of big branches fell on the walkway up.

Then when we started to walk back down, we met one of the dogs that came up with us and the other which walked up with the other couple! (However they left us halfway down the mountain….. I think we were too slow for them)

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Cute little coatis at the summit

All of us really enjoyed our time, and my sister in law got some beautiful wedding photos too! If you want to visit here, I would recommend you to come on Sunday and spent the day in the town and looking at all the handicrafts, and then on Monday morning hike up the mountain! That way you get the best of the two!

Aisling

 

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My Parents Have Left

My parents were here, and blink, now they are gone. Back over 12 hours on their plane to Ireland. It’s been a week since they left and the day after they flew I felt quite sad and alone. I’d have no one to drink tea with and, as my dad says “talk shite with”.

What I like about being with my Mam and Dad is that we can comfortably sit together and just not speak. Just being with each other and not having the need to speak is a nice feeling. My husbands family second name should be ‘Talkers’ because they LOVE talking. For me, I’m not a lover of talking; it tires me out to be honest. I prefer listening instead. I suppose I miss that; just sitting outside in the sun together and we are all thinking in our heads about this and that. There’s no forced need to talk, which I feel sometimes happens to my husbands family. They are so used to talking that having any silence just feels awkward.

Both of them have good and bad things about them though.

So yeah, I did miss them a lot when they first went. You know all the times I visited from China, I was never as sad as this time they went. I think it was because In China I had my own independent life, my job, my apartment, my routine to go back to.

I give out about China a lot, especially the behaviour of the people, but I really really did enjoy my life there. There are times I think of going back.

Here I’ve been unhappy for the past few months. I don’t have my own independent life, I don’t have a job, I don’t have a place to live with just me and my husband, I have the most boring routine….

(Plus we still have our obsession with dogs and still haven’t got one because, well my in-laws wouldn’t be pleased)

Yeah, I could get a teaching job earning like €3 an hour. But take out my therapist every week which is €11, then my 2 hours Spanish classes which cost about €21 for 2 hours, then thats like 2 days of work just to pay for those!

Then we have to pay for where to live and all that other stuff. So really it’s just not worth looking for a job here. I know in Mexico city there are a lot more jobs, but to be honest we really don’t want to move there. I don’t particularly like the city; it’s enormous, the traffic is the worst I’ve ever seen (and I’ve lived in China) and the pollution can get really bad too.

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Source: google

The picture above is literally every. single. day in Mexico. I’m not joking. It’s terrible and I really don’t like going to Mexico because every time we’ve went it’s like this.

So for the moment Mexico city is off the cards to live in!

Oh I’ve sort of went off topic quite a bit!! Anyway, back to my parents!

From what I gathered they liked pretty much everything about Mexico; the weather, the people, the small towns. Here are some things they didn’t like (mainly from my Dad)

The food: my dad is a traditional man…. so that means potatoes, meat and vegetables. That’s it. No spices, no condiments. Nothing. Just salt and pepper and a bit of gravy on the food. Anything exotic is a no no. HE DIDN’T EVEN LIKE MANGO!! What the hell? It’s like my favourite fruit! He said…. wait for it………

IT’S TOO SWEET!

(yeah, really)

Another thing he didn’t like were tacos. Yes I know this will be a shock to all Mexican people.

He pretty much didn’t like most Mexican food except pozole, which is a soup with corn and that. This is my favourite Mexican food.

Another thing he didn’t like were all the steps here in Cuernavaca. (it’s a hilly city) I understand this because it can get annoying, especially because they are uneven and the roads are full of holes. You need to pay attention to where you are walking.

He was shocked with the traffic too. From China I’ve gotten used to it so I don’t pay attention anymore, but coming from a small town of 40,000 people, it does take some getting used to.

My Mam on the other hand liked most foods, except tamales, which is a corn thing wrapped in the skin of something ( I really don’t have a clue what it is to be honest) I wasn’t too fussed on it at the beginning either but I grew to like it more. They are filled with different things and can be sweet or savory.

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Tamale. Source: google

I think that was pretty much everything that Mam didn’t like. She told me she misses Mexican food and she’s back to the plain Irish food now. (Irish food is definitely not famous for it’s flavour)

But I’m glad that they visited Mexico. I’m disappointed they didn’t get to see China though. See my life and what we did there. I think it’s one thing that I’m going to be disappointed about forever. China holds a lot of good memories and experiences for me that unfortunately they will never get to see.

But anyway,

Aisling

They Are On The Way!

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So after months of waiting, my parents are on their way to Mexico! Last night I didn’t really get a good night sleep. I knew they were going to the airport and my mind was half on them, half on sleep, so I didn’t really get a good rest. When I woke up I got a message to say they were in Amsterdam airport…Phew! They made it to there, and now they are on their long flight to me!

My parents haven’t travelled on a long haul flight since I was 11, so I was quite apprehensive about it all. But thankfully everything seems to be going great and they should arrive here at around 7:30pm. We will drive to Mexico airport to pick them up and we should arrive home at around 10. Then they can hopefully have a good sleep!

Also the weather seems good today. The past few days it has been cloudy and I was worried for the wedding. I don’t mind that it’s cloudy; a wedding in Ireland without rain (even if it’s really cloudy)  is good weather, so all I want is that it doesn’t rain.

I think it’s going to take some time getting used to Mum and Dad being here. For 5 year’s it has always been me who goes home to visit, so I don’t think my head is going to comprehend that they are actually here in Mexico! I’m really looking forward to seeing them and I hope they enjoy themselves.

Maybe they’ll even want to visit again!

Aisling

My Parents Are Coming To Mexico!

aeroplane aircraft airplane aviation

Photo by Nur Andi Ravsanjani Gusma on Pexels.com

I can’t believe it myself. It had to take a wedding to get them to come. I should have thought of something like this while in China (as they never visited me there). So wherever I live next, I’ll know that I’ll have to think of something very creative for them to make them think it’s worthwhile to visit me.

Agh but anyway, rant over. . . they are coming and that’s the main thing. I would have loved for them to have stayed for 1 month, but 3 weeks is all they can visit for. They will be here a few days before the wedding, and then after that’s over with, we can think of what to do with them and where to bring them. 

They haven’t been on a long distance plane for…. oh since 2001, when we went to America. So this will be a relatively new experience for them! I’m going to have to write out every detail that will happen at the airport, just so they are prepared for it all. I know they will be stressed so at least if I give them a detailed plan of what will happen and what they need to do, then at least they will know all this in advance . Plus when you get through security it’s easy from then on. 

They have a layover in Amsterdam so we made sure to choose one that wasn’t too short. I had an experience of running to the gate because our layover was ridiculously short. So I don’t want them to have to worry and stress about that. 

I hope that after their trip they will be encouraged to travel more. They have become too settled in their ordinary day to day lives. Even to just visit France or Spain, maybe Portugal. Maybe if I stay in Mexico longer then they will visit again, and we can take them to more places in Mexico. There’s just so many beautiful places here. 

Unfortunately my sister, her fiancé and my two nephews can’t afford to come. I understand completely but I was pretty upset and sad about it. I only plan on having a wedding once and it’s upsetting to know that they won’t be here for it. Or that they won’t be able to see Mexico and where my fiancé is from. So I’m pretty sad about that. But I know that if they did they would have a big loan to pay off and I don’t want them to have to worry about that….. and all this due to my wedding. I’d feel pretty guilty.

But hopefully one day they will be able to visit. I know they would love it here!

Aisling.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 2)

When we travel, we rarely splurge on where we stay. The only exception was when we went to Vietnam and stayed on a fancy boat in Halong Bay: Cruising Down Halong Bay, Vietnam: Our Cruise Boat

My fiancé found a good deal on a hotel in Playa so we jumped at the chance to stay. Because it’s the low season they lowered their prices which we were more than happy to pay!

We stayed at the Occidental Hotel at Xcaret and we really enjoyed it there. The weather was perfect for the two days, and pretty much all we did was relaxed, swam, drank beer and ate food. Also the place is HUGE, with places even off limits only for special members. (They have their own restaurants and pools).  They even have a small shuttle car to bring you from the beach to the main lobby it’s that big!

 

There are monkeys, deer, flamingos and racoons that live in the hotel area and while we were walking back to our hotel building at night we spotted a deer walking among the trees and it was so cool. The buffet breakfast and lunch was also really nice!

Altogether we paid about 80 euro per person per night with food and drink included. So it really was very cheap! I have no idea how much it would be during the high season, and I don’t want to know either! So we were rather sad having to return to our hostel for the next 2 nights.

On our last day we went to Xel-Ha, a nature park where you can do lots of water activites! It was very unique for me, as you’d never find this in Ireland whatsoever. There were cenotes, rivers to swim in, cliffs to jump off, walking trails in the jungle, restaurants to eat at and places to relax. It’s a great place for kids and I’m sure my nephews would love it! Here is the website to check it out: Xel-Ha Park

 

There is a big river where you start at the top and swim down with the current. You can do this by snorkelling or with a floatable chair.  Because the water is mixed with sea water and fresh water, this makes the top of the water cold, but when you put your feet lower  you can feel a current of really warm water! I was shocked when it suddenly got warm around my feet. It was so cool to experience!

After we were swam down the river we got food and walked around the area. We bought a ticket which included food and drink (which also includes alcoholic drinks).

I really enjoyed my time in Playa del Carmen and the surrounding area. It’s much quieter during the low season but I can imagine it could get very busy and noisy in the high season!

It’s nice to have seen a different part of Mexico!

To check out Part 1, click here: Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 1)

Where we stayed in Playa Del Carmen: Las Hijas Hostel

We were told by the staff that they were closing and having checked booking.com they have indeed closed, so I won’t write a review for them.

Aisling

Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 1)

Before heading to Cuernavaca, my fiancé wanted to bring me to Playa del Carmen for a week. The flights where also cheaper from Madrid to there than to Mexico city. I have only been to areas around Cuernavaca and to Mexico City, so it was nice to see another part of Mexico!

We went during the low season, and my fiancé said there was a marked difference in tourists. I was a little wary of hurricanes (as it’s hurricane season) but thankfully we just got some rain for the week we were there!

While there, we visited the beach (it’s actually much warmer than I expected). Although the water wasn’t crystal clear because of the large amount of seaweed. They don’t exactly know what has caused this influx of seaweed, but I didn’t mind too much! It was still a lovely area!

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Next we visited Tulum with a tour that we booked. There was a big dark cloud on the way so we got caught in a huge torrent of rain and got soaked! Thankfully we dried off quite quickly though! It was very pretty though with the ruins right beside the sea. And I saw plenty of iguanas too.

After Tulum, we headed to Cobá, where we climbed up a huge Mayan pyramid and took some pictures of the area (which is literally jungle for miles and miles). I heard that this area in Mexico is full of jungle, and I always thought that the trees would be towering high above like what you see on tv in the Amazon. So when we were driving literally in the middle of the jungle, I realised that the trees aren’t that high at all. It’s just that it is so dense with foliage. It would be impossible to walk in it. So I was surprised with that!

Finally we visited a cenote, which is a natural pit with water in it. I didn’t manage to take photos because I didn’t want to get my phone wet, but we swam in the water and it was FREEZING! We went to an underground one, so that made it even colder. Some have open tops so the water isn’t as cold. The depth of these can go for 100’s of metres! It was a great experience and I’m glad I did it. Bare in mind, Tulum, Cobá and the cenote were done in 1 day, so we were wrecked when we came back to our hostel!

On our next day trip, we first visited Chichen Itza and I think this was my favourite place that I visited! The pyramid was very impressive! You used to be able to climb up it now unfortunately a tourist fell and died so they stopped allowing visitors up it now. I don’t mind though because I think it would be damaged by the amount of people climbing it. (plus no one will fall now)

There are also also mayan ruins in the area which are also cool to see.

We then visited another cenote, and this time it was an open top one. I also was able to get some photos of this one! The weather was a bit cloudy so the water was a little cold, but not as cold as the first one we visited.

Our last stop for the day was to Valladolid Town, a town that seemed as if it was in the middle of nowhere. It was very cute though and I loved the architecture. We only got to stop for about 15 minutes so we were in a rush to take some nice photos.

The stones that were used in this church were actually taken by the Spanish from Mayan temples to make churches like this one.

Again, another very busy day for us! But next we were going to spend 2 days at an all-inclusive hotel. To read more click here for part 2: Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Part 2)

Aisling

Crisis At The Airport!

So after our lovely time in Madrid, it was time to head to the airport and catch our flight to Cancun. It was pretty easy getting to the airport actually, we just had to take a metro and then a train to it which were both in the same building. So we arrived a little earlier than anticipated.

We find where to check in and queued, all going great! That was until we arrived at the desk. We give the lady our passports and she asks in Spanish “Do you have your flight out of Mexico?” We said no we didn’t. She then replied (all in Spanish so I couldn’t understand what was happening) that I wouldn’t be allowed to board unless I could show them that I had a flight out of Mexico because I’m not a Mexican citizen.  If not then the staff at the boarding area could deny me upon going on board and I’d be stuck in Madrid all alone! Or that I’d be allowed on the flight but at customs in Mexico they could say “No, you’re not allowed to enter because you’ve no exit flight”. ALSO I would be barred from entering Mexico for 5 years!

Now all this was all IF. They may allow me to board or they may not…. She said it would be best for me to buy one. Of course she works there so if she’s saying this sort of stuff then you usually listen to them!

So…. when we heard all this news we of course got worried! We didn’t know what to do! This has never happened to me before, and I’ve visited Mexico twice before. I did have return flights but they never asked for them. So we thought nothing about not having a flight to leave. (Maybe they can see on their computer if I have a return flight or something?)

The lady at the counter said the only thing we could do is try and book another flight out of Mexico so we can show this to the people. We can try and get a refundable ticket. We were very worried at this stage! Will we manage to book one in time?

Off we went to find somewhere to sit and quickly look for the cheapest flight out of Mexico. We got in contact with my fiancés sister and thanks to her she bought a cheap flight to Dallas for me! We definitely owe her big time!The clock was ticking and we saw that not many people were queuing at the desk now. Hurry up so we can show the lady!

We got the confirmation email and we hurried to show it to the lady at the counter so she could change my status on the computer. We rushed through security and found our way to the gate (which involved having to take a metro… how big is Madrid airport??!)

Our next thing was to line up and then (most likely they will ask to see my flight out of Mexico). I get there, and NOTHING!!! They didn’t ask for anything except for the usual things! AAhh! So after all that and they didn’t even ask for it.

So we got on the flight and landed in Cancun airport.  I went through customs for Mexican people as I was with a Mexican person……. and yet again not one single word about having a flight out of the country! He stamped this and stamped that and off we went! AAhh!

It’s not that we were so much annoyed by all of it, it was just the fact that we were stressed out by that lady at the airport even before we left Madrid. Also thankfully we were able to get refunded the money so I didn’t lose it.  I don’t know whether she was having a bad day and wanted to vent it on us or whatever, but in the end all that she said to us never happened. Was she trying to scare us? (She succeeded!).

But anyway, it all worked out ok for us. I hope that doesn’t happen again. Because what if we couldn’t book any flights? If that was the case would they still have let me board? Would I have made it to Mexico and then they ask me?? I have no idea. I’d like to think that because Mexican people are so friendly, and seeing that I was with a Mexican person (intending to marry him) that they would wave me through. But who knows really.

You really don’t want that sort of stress with airlines and flying. So let’s hope that was just a one time incident!

Aisling