A Travellerspoint blog

Chocolate, chocolate everywhere

February 4

We started out the day by walking to the pawn shop over by the bus depot to buy a replacement camera for Don. We found a Nikon, which doesn't have all the features his old one did, but it will do for the rest of this trip. And cheap - only 350 pesos or about $35.00. Then we walked downtown and went to San Augustin Chocolates and Churros for lunch. They have delicious coffee and chocolate there and we each had a churro for dessert, which is a deep fried pastry, drizzled with chocolate. Very decadent!! They had the ceiling of the restaurant pretty well covered with baskets - I wanted to take some home, but no...can't do that.
Ceiling covered with baskets

Ceiling covered with baskets


We decided to make another try to find the castle, just a glutton for punishment, I guess. The road we went up was not as steep as yesterday and we didn't have to go as high. We could look up and see where we had gone yesterday by mistake. And unfortunately, the castle wasn't quite as appealing as the photo had made it out to be.
Castle on the hill

Castle on the hill


But the bonus was, we had passed a sign to a park on our way up the hill, so when we came down we decided to check it out. It was an orchid and cactus garden, Jardin de Orquideas Dickinson. It was started by Stirling Dickinson, the man that started the first art school in San Miguel, back in the 1930s. This is located in an old tannery, with old stone walls and no roof left. We had a lovely tour with a guide who obviously loved his work in the garden and loved sharing it with us. And his English was better than our Spanish. They have 200 species of orchids as well as other bromeliads, cactus, ceiba trees, etc. It was well worth the hill climb.
Brain Cactus

Brain Cactus


Then we walked back over to the Juarez Park and sat with the plants and people watched. We ate supper at Cafe Firenze, which is down in the south part of town, because we were planning on going to a community play reading. We had a lovely supper sitting on a balcony, looking out over the city as the sun went down. Unfortunately, when we got to the play, it was all sold out!! The place was packed and so we returned home, with a consolation prize of some Artisan Mexican Chocolate, which we bought on the way.

Posted by katdill 18:23 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Hill Climbing Again

February 3

We had lunch today at El Pegaso, which seems to be known for its desserts. Dianna, I know you will like this picture. We shared a little pecan tart for our dessert and it was delicious!
Eat Dessert First

Eat Dessert First


We wanted to go to the park that had all the plants for sale again and see what was happening today. Along the way, we stopped in at Kathy's Yarn Shop, which was a treat, and also a home decorating store that actually has fabrics from Uzbekistan, which were silk and cotton blends. Just lovely.
Then we arrived at the park where there was even more plants out for sale and lots of people taking advantage of the opportunity. Just like Gardenscape, only they have men with wheelbarrows who will follow you around and put your purchases in the wheelbarrow until you are ready to leave.
Lovely plants

Lovely plants


We walked over to Los Lavaderos del Chorro, which are cement sinks all lined up, which the locals use to do their laundry. And yes, there were people doing their laundry there!
Laundry Facilities

Laundry Facilities


We wanted to go and see a castle that is an art gallery. We knew we wouldn't be able to go inside, because it's not open until Thursday, but we knew where it was on the map and thought we would walk up to it and have a look from the outside. So we followed the map and climbed, and climbed, and got to the top and there was no road to take us where the map said it should be! There was a great view from up there and I took a few pictures.
About 1/2 way looking down

About 1/2 way looking down

The next steps up

The next steps up


So we walked back down and on the way found the road we were looking for, but by then I was not willing to do any more climbing - especially since we were still probably 1 1/2 km from home. So homeward bound to a cold margarita!!

Posted by katdill 17:30 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Guadalupe Open Studio Walk

February 2

We started off the day by meeting one of our neighbours, who is an artist. Unfortunately he can't make a living from his art, although he did previously. We had a nice chat with him. It turns out he is participating in a neighbourhood artist walk next weekend, but we will be gone by then. It seems different neighbourhoods of artists group together and put on an artist walk weekend, where they open their homes and studios to the public.
So we went off to the Guadalupe Open Studios walk. As a bonus, it was in a neighbourhood that we hadn't seen much of yet. We visited 10 or 11 artists and enjoyed seeing their work and talking to them. There was quite a variety - rug weaver, canvas rug painter (or floor cloths), ceramic work, photographer, painter - but only one of these artists was a Mexican. There are an amazing number of artists here, but it seems the majority of them are non-Mexicans. I didn't take any pictures of their work, because most artists don't want that.
We keep seeing ATVs driving on the streets. They don't seem to have licence plates, so who knows. Some of them seem grossly overpowered for runnling around town. It's the Gringos that drive the big ones.
Family of four on smaller ATV

Family of four on smaller ATV

One gringo on huge ATV

One gringo on huge ATV


After finishing the walk, we went downtown to check out a paella restaurant, but their paella had meat in it, instead of just seafood. We sat in the square and people watched for awhile before getting some ice cream and heading for home. We had supper at home. The SuperBowl was on and we needed an early night after yesterday's long day.
City view

City view

Posted by katdill 18:34 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Visiting the Monarchs

February 1

We started our trip just after 7:00 am in a 10 passenger van. We had 5 Canadians, 1 American, the travel agent and her 13 year old daughter, and Edwardo, the driver. We had been told it would be a 4 hour trip to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve, but in actuality it took almost 5. We did stop once for a restroom break, but Edwardo wasn't really sure of the way and stopped to ask directions several times. One of these times, the fellow he asked said we were on the wrong road and we went back to the nearest town and checked there with a couple of people, who said we had been on the right road after all. So back we went and eventually ended up at the Sierra Chincua Reserve. We picked up a young guide just before the entrance and he came with us. After paying our entry fee, we rented horses for the ride up the mountain. (75 pesos one way) It was about a 20 minute ride - although ride is not quite correct. It was sitting in the saddle holding on while the horses were led up the mountain! Even that was long enough - my butt was asking me what I was doing by the time we got to the end. We decided to walk down and so paid for the horses and continued a little further up the path to find the butterflies. A glorious sight - standing in a meadow with Monarchs flying all around, trees just covered with them, sun shining thru the trees. They ask you to keep quiet and they have a rope to mark where you must stop. They don't want to disturb the butterflies. The future of the Monarch is very uncertain. They have had a lot fewer butterflies show up in the migration in the last two years, so there is great concern about what will happen. Is it climate change? or GMO crops? They don't even understand the mechanism of how one butterfly goes there, where there are several generations of butterflies born and die in Mexico and then the butterflies fly back north - how do they know where to go? Quite a mystery!

After we had spent half an hour or so - who knows when we were all so entranced? - we found we were very hungry. So we started the walk back down to the base camp. Gorgeous views on the way down and the trail was better than the horse trail, thank goodness! At the base, the government has built long rows of buildings for restaurants and souvenir shops. So we went to our guide's mother's restaurant to have lunch. Some of us ate the sandwiches we had brought with us and some ordered from her. It was a very primitive restaurant, sat at picnic tables our on the balcony - there was no indoor seating - just a kitchen area. But the food was very cheap - only 15 pesos for a small squash flower quesadillia - and the beer was cold.
Lunch on the balcony

Lunch on the balcony


Then we hit the road again and on the way home we stopped at a little town called Tlalpujahua. Just try saying that out loud. I had Edwardo saying it for me and although I tried several times I don't think I got even close! This town is one of the major producers of glass Xmas ornaments as well as other blown glass objects. They also have an interesting church, with a miraculous painting of the Virgin on a wall - which is a long story that we had no idea of when we were at the church. I was struck by the flowers on the ceiling and the eye of God looking down from the dome.
Flowers on ceiling

Flowers on ceiling

Eye of God

Eye of God


As we drove along the freeway, I got this shot of a herd of goats crossing the highway on the pedestrian bridge!
Goat crossing

Goat crossing


We finally arrived back in San Miguel about 7:00 pm and were dropped off at the central square. We had supper in Ten Ten Pie restaurant and a little walk around the square full of people. What looked like a stagette party dancing to a mariachi band and lots of people enjoying the nice Saturday evening. This is a long weekend here with Monday being a holiday.
Parroquia at night

Parroquia at night

Posted by katdill 06:48 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Benito Juarez Park

January 31

We had a visitor this morning. Miguel came over to tell us about the phone call he had from the Sony people. He wanted to make sure he had everything straight so he called them back. Don had emailed them and told them not to fix the camera because the estimate was $240 US. We will pick it up on our way to Mexico City.
We decided to have a look at some of the pawn shops for a camera, because we had seen some at one on our way to the bus depot the other day. It took some research to find out where they were and then we only found 2 of the 3 listed, and only one of them had any cameras, none of which were suitable.
So we walked around downtown quite a lot and ran into Miguel and Ava just when we were about to have lunch. So we had lunch together, which was very nice. This wall mural is just one of the ones we saw today.
One of many wall murals

One of many wall murals


After lunch, we walked south from downtown to Benito Juarez Park. It is a quite large park, with some very big trees. There were lots of vendors setting up their bedding plants and potted plants for sale. This is a long weekend in Mexico, Constitution Day, so Monday is a holiday. It is also the start of the growing season. It was a treat to walk thru the park looking at all the different plants. Lots of them are the same bedding plants we would grow. Some men were decorating the entrance to the park - with real live flowers, of course.
Start of the Park

Start of the Park

Juarez Park gate

Juarez Park gate


Then we tried to find another pawn shop on our way home, but couldn't find it, even after asking for help from a local. So back home for supper and early to bed tonight. We have to be at the travel agency at 7:00 am tomorrow morning for the Monarch butterfly tour!!

Posted by katdill 17:43 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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