After getting back from Cancún at the beginning of January I’ve had a rather relaxing month visiting interesting places and doing not nearly enough of my YARP… Mexican Christmas holidays are ridiculous, meaning that I don’t properly go back to work until next week. Anyway I had been rather looking forward to getting back to Toluca la Bella (a name which can only be meant ironically) to get back into a normal routine in a normal climate and see my friends!
One day in January I went to Valle de Bravo for the day with some friends from the uni. It’s a town pretty close to Toluca, although we managed to make it even closer thanks my friend’s somewhat terrifying manner of driving. The countryside on the way there was beautiful! We got some beers and a tour of the lake in a little boat, which mostly consisted of the guy pointing out the super fancy holiday houses of some filthy rich Mexicans. We also went to find a waterfall called velo de novio (and got quite lost on the way!) which was really cool.
The following weekend I finally climbed the volcano in Toluca (aka. Nevado de Toluca, aka. Xinantecatl) which was AWESOME, although super tiring (I’m blaming the altitude… It is the fourth highest mountain in Mexico, after all). After enthusiastically googling Toluca in March last year and seeing pictures of snow-capped mountains I was so excited to finally be going there, and it didn’t disappoint! We set out early in the morning after staying up until ridiculous o’clock the night before (why am I an idiot?) and left as the sun was setting, so it was a pretty full-on day! The highest point is 15, 000 ft (I didn’t climb all that way) so the views were incredible! It was also incredibly cold.
Not the best picture in the world…
For some reason we decided to go the hard way which involved climbing up this for a million years. Anyone who knows my sense of balance will appreciate how much of a challenge that was..
But worth it in the end!!
A few weekends ago I went to Puebla to stay with one of the other Soton students (thanks again Jess!) which was SO much fun, despite getting incredibly lost on the metro at night-time and directed by some knowledgeable looking officer types to a road with a rather noticeable aroma of weed (quite clearly not the bus station). Anyway, we did lots of wandering around the centre of Puebla, a beautiful colonial city, visiting markets, museums and other fun places! I’ve discovered one of my favourite things about Mexico and it’s called mole poblano, which, contrary to what you may think, is not a small burrowing animal, but a very yummy sauce. A lot of people have tried to explain to me what goes into it, but all I really know is that it has about 30 ingredients, two of which are chilli and chocolate, and it is DELICIOUS. It also happens to be from Puebla! Here are some rather yummy looking enchiladas poblanas to illustrate what I mean:
Puebla by night
I met up with another friend who was also visiting Puebla and we went to two neighbouring towns, Cholula and Atlixco. We had a lovely day wandering around the main squares of each. Atlixco was beautiful, with flowers literally everywhere you looked.
I also went for a day drip to Teotihuacan, adding to the already impressive list of Mexican ruins I’ve been to see! The part I was most impressed by was the Templo de Quetzalcoalt. Quetzal means bird in Nahuatl and if you clap your hands in front of it there is an echo that sounds just like a bird. Obviously.
As last weekend was the Mexican equivalent of a bank holiday, Charissa and I decided to make the most of it and go somewhere reasonably far away. So on Friday I got the 6 hour bus to Guanajuato, a colonial city north of Toluca, founded on gold and silver mining. I was feeling pretty lazy and secretly wanting to stay in Toluca, however we ended up having an amazing time and the best couchsurfing experience EVER, which has renewed my faith in the whole thing. After visiting each different place I usually always decide that it’s my favourite place in Mexico so far, however I think Guanajuato really might be one of them. We did so many fun things and visited places and met people that we just wouldn’t have found if we hadn’t used couchsurfing. Instead of going to a city and taking pictures of the buildings or views that the guidebook says you must and shall photograph to death, you can really get to know the place, even if the length of your stay is fairly short.
So all in all it was an awesome and definitely worth it weekend 🙂