Day 32 – El Tula and Hierve el Agua

Today we left Oaxaca early to accommodate a long drive and two stops along the way. Final views of Oaxaca:

Our first stop was to pay homage to the Arbol de Tule, one of the most massive trees in Mexico (about 1,500 years old). It has a 42 meter circumference, making it the stoutest tree in the world according to our reliable Wikipedia. We also bought some beautiful green amber from Yucatán, and ate homemade ice cream!

Next we went to Hierve el Agua (quite a detour, but worth the grief of a dirt road). The name means Water Boils.

The rocks give the appearance of a waterfall… The formations are created by springs, whose water is over-saturated with calcium carbonate. As the water runs over the cliffs, the excess minerals are deposited, in the same manner that stalactites are formed. Source: Wikipedia.

An agave or maguey at the park:

On the side of the road we saw a Mezcal making still, and stopped to learn about the process from the experts!

The burros were sooo cute…

Then came the long drive through Salina Cruz to Punta Conejo, which was to be our final night in Mexico.. The landscape along the route was memorable.

300 kilometers later we arrived at Punta Conejo just in time for sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

Day 31 – Oaxaca

Oaxaca has a different vibe than other regions we have visited. We travelled several hours to reach this desert destination. We see many more tourists than at previous spots, except Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende. The downtown is, of course, a well maintained World Heritage site.

Our tattooed guide showed up on time, and took us on a unique visit of “his” Oaxaca:

-The meat market, where patrons select their cut of meat……then have it prepared onsite…. and enjoy it while being entertained by a musician who sings for tips. All of this before 11 A.M.!

-More strange snacks including grubs and scorpions…

-An exhaustive selection of peppers…

-A fantastic craft museum: Clay musicians, huipiles, and hats, all tastefully displayed in an ancient convent.

-A typical drink made of cacao and other flours called Tejate

-A unique collections of grinding stones and pots…

The best part of our morning (for me, at least) was visiting a printing shop with oversized printing presses. In the busy studio many works by several artists, including Gabriel Mendoza, were being prepared.

Along the streets of Oaxaca there are examples of protest prints in all sizes and techniques.

In the late afternoon we took in the memorable views of Monte Alban ruins, and of Oaxaca from on high.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped by San Bartolo Coyotepec to purchase a unique black clay pierced pot. (Image from

In the evening we found another rooftop restaurant with a fine view and fancy vegan fare!

The main plaza was alive with celebrations… In the first image you see how the gigantes are constructed.

Day 30 – Puebla

As our trip starts to unwind we wake up in yet another World Heritage site, as Mark endures yet another vegan breakfast…

Founded in 1531, Puebla has hundreds of colonial buildings, many adorned with tiles, for which the city is well known.


A Fiddler on the Roof, I mean a fiddler in the colonnade, was playing wonderful tunes as I walked by:

We decided to board a double decker tram to take it all in. It departed from the gorgeous plaza shaded by mature Indian Fig trees.

The tram took us, among other sites, to the Parque Mirador Independencia, which overlooks the metropolis as well as the smoking Popocatepetl volcano.

As you can tell from the screenshot on my phone, Puebla has a challenge to overcome! We got off the tram at Barrio de la Luz, famous for beautiful Talavera ceramics.


Overlooking the zocalo we had lunch, which consisted of noodles and rice, followed by chile en nogada.

Here’s Mark exploring the gorgeous Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the oldest library in the Americas:

Then we walked towards the plaza along the famous Calle de los Dulces, where we bought delicious fruit jellies.


While strolling we happened upon a wonderful free concert starring two tenors. Performed in the courtyard of the Museum of the Mexican Revolution, it commemorated the 107th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. We got lucky! In the video the song is Muñequita Linda, which my mom used to sing to me when I was a little girl; Placido Domingo recorded an unforgettable rendition of this classic.

As we approached the plaza, we stumbled onto another free show: a trio singing guapango for tips. Their music was different from anything else we had heard so far. We listened while Marquitos sampled a local specialty: Spicy grasshoppers!

To complete the Poblana experience we drove to Cholula to catch a glimpse of the Great Pyramid, which, according to our reliable Internet is the largest known to exist in the world today. A church sits at the top.

After such a wonder-filled whirlwind day we still drove 210 miles to our next stop: Oaxaca.

Day 29 – Teotihuacán

Today is the anniversary of the Mexican revolution, which to us tranlsates into an extra long wait in line to go up the Temple of the Sun in Teotihuacán. We drove 30 miles from CDMX to reach this ancient city and meet up with our friends.

This temple predates the Aztec empire by hundreds of years and is one of the largest man made structures in the world. Here is the neighboring Temple of the Moon as seen from the top of the Sun Temple:

It was amusing to roam the park photographing geckos, shopping and listening to the fake jaguar growls.

After our big day we ate at La Gruta, a giant underground cave turned upscale restaurant in the shabby village next to the ruins.

To reach the dining area we walked down the equivalent of three levels. Votive candles everywhere troplical flower arrangements and waitresses wearing beautiful outfits added to the charm. The menu included crickets and ant larvae!

We were not very adventurous when ordering, but added La Gruta to our long list of unforgettable places in old Mexico…

After dinner we parted ways with George and his lovely wife and drove 90 miles to Puebla.

Day 28 – Plaza Garibaldi

We woke up early to enjoy the unforgettable Ballet Folklórico at beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes. Before it began we admired the Tamayo murals and Tiffany stained glass…

The show was spectacular, varied and overwhelming. Several bands entertained us, beginning with a percussion group and followed by a maricachi band, huapango group, harps, trumpets, guitars, violins, etc. They accompanied a large troupe of impeccably dressed dancers.

After skipping a Kandinsky retrospective at the Palacio because there was another extra-super-long line to get into this free exhibition, we went to church to listen to our friend George preach.

We had lunch at a comida corrida neighborhood cafe with his family. My choice: a delicious carrot, jícama and beet salad.

They took us to the local modern art museum where there was a Remedios Varo exhibition. We saw there San Baba, a nice little Kahlo watercolor. The Tamayo museum was showing Nancy Spero’s Paper Mirror.

Our third museum for the day was Sumaya, which belongs to Carlos Slim, a wealthy philanthropist that opened up his collection to be enjoyed free of charge by the public. We saw among others, carved mammoth tusks, paintings by Dufy, Archimboldo and Chagall.

Our wonderful hosts then took us to Plaza Garibaldi to enjoy local feria food and music. We had jícama covered in chile and lime juice, buñuelos and atole.

Finally we listened to a couple of performers and drove by a beautiful monument honoring Juárez on the way to our hotel.

Day 27 – Xochimilco

Xochimilco, on the outskirts of Mexico City, consists of a canal network, reminiscent of old Tenochtitlán. We took a long Uber drive to Nativitas dock and found a fun Peruvian couple to share our trajinera with. We ordered some dobladas and boarded Mariel.

A friendly gondolier took us on a leisurely ride along one of the canals. Like ships in the night we passed a friendly group from Guadalajara…

We bought fresh corn on the cob from a floating vendor and were boarded by a mariachi band!

Afterwards we headed for Chapultepec where we visited the important Museo de Antropología. It has a gigantic umbrella-like structure that shades its inner courtyard.

Amazing archaeological finds from all over the country and spanning thousands of years can be seen, arranged by cultures: Aztec, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, Olmec, Mayan, etc.

One of my favorites was the mask of life and death:

On our way to the hotel in the evening we passed a free Lila Downs concert at Jardín Botánico. We considered attending it until we saw the line was a kilometer long!

Day 26 – Mexico City

Our first day in CDMX started with an Uber ride to the Zócalo. On the way we caught our first glimpse of the gorgeous Palacio de Bellas Artes:

Then we visited the Zócalo where the buildings are sinking at an alarming rate…

I became an organ grinder…

…witnessed a witch doctor performing cleanses on a mother and child…

…and tackled the Templo Mayor, the largest temple of the Aztecs. It consists of an archaeological site in the middle of downtown and a major museum to house the spectacular finds. Our guide showed us the seven layers of concentric temples and explained the inner workings of this court up until the time the Spanish arrived in Tenochtitlán. These decorations topped the twin temples:

Excavations have unearthed pieces like these (over 14 feet each):

Other findings were funny and scary at the same time.

Afterwards we had lunch overlooking the ruins (you can corroborate what our weather app aptly noted: “unhealthy air quality”)…

… and posed wearing our charro shirts from Zacatecas!

The following texts engraved on giant walls facing the ruins are quotes from visitors who witnessd Tenochtitlán in all its glory…

Later we stumbled across the fabulous national palace. A town within downtown, it has enormous inner courtyards, a cactus garden with ten foot tall agaves, a sculpture garden, meeting halls, museums, well fed cats and fountains. After confiscating our hats so they could keep track of our faces, we were allowed to wander the maze at our leisure. We found Diego Rivera’s spectacular murals among many other wonders. We even saw paintings by Guatemalans Rina Lazo and Carlos Mérida.

Leaving the palace we walked along pedestrian avenue 5 de mayo, enjoying all it had to offer, including a darling boy singing a Christian song at the top of his lungs, a break dancer and a smoggy sunset with skyscrapers.

To finish our busy day Mark took me on a dinner date to Chinatown complete with street performers who had a suitcase as part of their drum set…

…followed by a grand lucha libre show at the Arena México. We screamed for the rudos against the técnicos. Everybody’s favorite: Cavernario!

Day 25 – Cerro Pelón Sanctuary

We woke up in a tiny village that is all about the yearly monarch overwintering. Even our hand made teapot and sugar bowl featured butterflies!

Our guide Ana took us up on horseback to an altitude of 3,000 meters (over an hour) where we would find the oyamel firs monarchs prefer after their migration from Canada. The specimens that make it here are members of the suer generation because they live much longer than their parents or offspring. Ellen of JM B&B explained to us how this location was discovered, monarchs’ life cycle and migration patterns.

There were many monarchs fluttering around and also perched on trees.

After observing them for a short time under the watchful supervision of the local rangers we had a torta de frijoles (bean sandwich) and an apple for lunch.

Then we trekked back to Macheros. Mark was interviewed about the visit…

…and we hopped into the car for a 120 mile drive to Mexico City, CDMX.

Day 24 – Yuriria

Today we had dobladas poblanas con hongos and jugo verde (mushroom enchiladas and green juice)…

We then drove from Guanajuato towards the Butterfly Sanctuary. Along the way we stopped in three towns. The first one, Yuriria, I had seen in a painting at a museum. The monastery is now a museum.

It is an amazing structure built in 1550 by the local indians under Spanish direction. It has gothic style arcades:

An original clock from the tower was on display:

A bouganvilea tree:

Next we stopped at Tlalpahaua de Rayón, famous for christmas glass ornaments and artisan sweets (candied apricots, apples, sweet potatoes, figs, jocotes and pears).

Our final, quick stop was at El Oro de Hidalgo.

After driving 250 miles we reached Macheros in time for a sopa de tortilla dinner and a warm bed.

Day 23 – Guanajuato

For breakfast we had squash blossom chilaquiles and granola, next door to the famous teatro Juárez.

We engaged Salvador, a historian/actor to help us discover Guanajuato. We walked the streets for many hours while he enlightened us with his knowledge. He explained the influx of political refugees from Spain during Franco’s regime in the 1930’s. Their legacy: Don Quixote themed art and the Festival Cervantino.


Don Quijote y Sancho.

Teatro Juárez, a tribute to a beloved president. The bronze muses came from Ohio, according to Salvador.

An enthusiastic street singer.

The university.

Gravity defying hounds.

Miso soup. And finally a treat to listen to the ten year old winner of a regional competition in which he beat all older teenage competitors.