Hello everyone! Today I wanted to share part one of my recent trip to Mexico.
I am planning to make this into a two part post but I still think it’ll be a little long. Part two will be up next week for you to enjoy so for now, here’s part one.
So for some background info, I was in Mexico for two weeks last month, and it was an amazing time. I try to go visit once a year as I have family there and I do enjoy going. This was the longest trip I did so that was a whole new experience for sure!
For this trip, my mom and I were traveling together. We were working with my availability so while my mom would have preferred to visit in the spring, I had to work with my work schedule and school schedule. I managed to get two weeks off work because I had a ton of vacation days to use (I didn’t use all my days last year so they accumulated). Plus one of my managers had told me last year I should travel more and the other said I absolutely had to use all my days this year because that was time I EARNED so I used that to my advantage. On top of that, January is a really, really slow time for me, so it was easy for my manager to approve because of that as well. Now, if I had asked for even one week off in March, June, or November it would have been an outright NO because I’m just too busy. It’s all about keeping realistic expectations people. As for school, my spring semester didn’t start until this week, and I didn’t have a class during the month of January so it also worked well for that time.
Days 0 and 1 – Chicago to Mexico City
Travel day! We started out at O’Hare on Friday evening where we arrived ridiculously early for our flight. Our parking spot was super close to the station where the people mover is but since it’s down we took the bus that was waiting there to take us to the terminals. It goes all the way around so it takes so much longer to get to our terminal but ah well.
When we arrived at Terminal 5 it was pretty quiet as it was later in the evening. We already had checked in online but we still had to check our bags and get our boarding passes printed. We waited in line as there was no one even there yet except three other passengers. Eventually the airline staff arrived, just as the lines were getting crazy, and started getting everyone in. Unfortunately, the station we got stuck at had a broken printer so it took nearly an hour to get everything done. By the time it was fixed and printed our stuff everyone else in the line had already gotten through. It was so frustrating but I decided I was going to get over it in order to start the trip off on a good foot. Plus, things like that is why we get there early!
We hung out with my dad for a bit before we headed to security for TSA to check us. Since effing Trump had the government shutdown and agents are reportedly calling in sick because they weren’t being paid we were slightly worried. Since it wasn’t peak travel times though it wasn’t so bad. Once we got in I thought about getting food but didn’t really see anything I wanted so I decided to wait for the meal on the plane. Looking back, I should have just gotten something because I did get pretty hungry so next time I will.
We walked around the terminal a bit and then waited at our gate for a bit. There was a funny little girl playing with her Disney toys and Mama Imelda was in a giant fight with Nani from Lilo and Stitch while one of three Moana dolls was having a rage against the castle. She had a fit when her dad told her to clean up because things were getting heated (Mama Imelda called Nani “cochina” aka “a pig”) so she angrily started to throw her toys into their carrier while she demanded chips. Her dad ended up cleaning up while her mom took her to get the chips (“Can we stop at the bathroom first sweetie?” “NO! CHIPS!”). What a hoot.
Finally we boarded and I somehow got the very last row of the plane. My mom was annoyed because we’d bought our tickets in advance and got seats all the way in the back, whereas previously we’d bought them more last-minute and gotten better seats. I didn’t really mind though. It was actually quite nice as I didn’t have to worry about bothering anyone behind me and the seat still reclined. The couple next to me was very nice and my mom was in the row in front of me so I settled in for the next four hours.
I ended up watching the film Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children during the flight. It was actually pretty good! I did remember some things had been changed while watching the film, although I read the books a couple years ago so I didn’t remember exactly what. I think they changed the powers that one of the main characters had as well as some of the story. It did feel like the movie was created to be more of a standalone film rather than a series but, again, I don’t really remember the book so maybe that’s what the book was too before it became a series. During the film we got food so I ate the little sandwich, half of the apple sauce, and had some apple soda as well as water. I saved the KitKat. I was still pretty hungry so I really regretted not getting food back at the gate.
I tried to sleep after the film but maybe only managed about half hour or forty five minutes or so of rest. I really wish I had looked for another movie or something instead. I was finally about to drift off and then the announcement that we were about to descend came on. I have to say, that although the announcements during the flight were done in both English and Spanish but the Spanish were much more descriptive. It’s a Mexican airlines (AeroMexico) so I’m sure that’s why, since Spanish is the primary language for them.
Once we got off the flight (which took awhile due to the fact that we were in the back) and immediately got in line for our travel visas. We’d already filled out the form on the plane, as they hand it out during the flight, and so it was super easy and fast. We found the carousel for the bags and waited about half an hour for them. It was so annoying because bags were being sent out at a rate of one every two minutes! We finally got both and left to find my aunt and uncle waiting for us.
We then headed out towards their house and saw some of the gas shortage issues in the city. A bit before our trip one of the gas companies realized that gas was being stolen from their pipes so they shut them down and there was a bit of a shortage as a result. My uncle assured us it wasn’t terrible but admitted that some people panicked and bought too much, filling the tank of the car and then gas cans, so that wasn’t helping. Overall it didn’t seem that bad, just long lines so we tried not to worry.
When we arrived at around 5am everyone in the house was starting to wake up so we greeted other family members. There’s about five siblings of my mom’s or some of their children with their own families living there. It’s a house but sectioned off into almost like apartments. After everyone headed out to do their own thing my mom and I went to take naps until 11.
After we got up we ate some food and walked around the market. On Saturdays it’s market day! We got a ton of food and ice cream! I got a chocolate and vanilla popsicle dipped in chocolate. We headed back to the house where we greeted more family members and started a movie. We watched the first half of a movie called Colonia and were hooked but we paused it to eat dinner. After that we talked with the family and then my mom and I started straightening up our luggage for the next few days.
Then the family watched a soccer match while I read a book I’d brought with me. I got pretty far with Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Abrom, which I’d read in school years before but wanted to reread. I thought the book would last most of the trip but it was only 200 pages total so I was pretty close to 3/4s of the way when the match ended and we watched the end of Colonia. I’ll be sure to add a bit about both of those items as well as the other media I’ll talk about into my February Lively post since my January one was written before I left, knowing I wouldn’t have time to write when I got back right away. We then talked some more before heading to bed.
Day 2 – Mexico City
We got up pretty late at 9am the next morning as we were still tired! After we were done we went out to get tacos. We returned and then headed out shortly after to be able to exchange some money. They didn’t let us exchange nearly as much as we wanted because they had limits for people without bank accounts at that bank but we got a good amount!
Once we got back to the house we said hi to even more family and then one of my mom’s brothers hung out for awhile as he and my mom and her sister discussed my grandfather. There’s a bit of a kerfuffle in the family about stuff and as much as I try to stay clear of it I hear all about it anyway. Family drama is like that though, isn’t it? Ah well! Love them anyway!
Then we headed out again to the market and I got a cookies and cream popsicle. I had already decided at this point that I would try a new popsicle everyday of the trip. I largely failed at that new goal but it was fun to try! We picked up stuff for dinner and I had started to get in the habit of buying a bottle of water every day, which got expensive but I really felt dehydrated if I didn’t drink enough a day. I still didn’t get enough but I tried.
After that my mom and aunt (mostly my aunt) started on dinner but when they realized we didn’t have salsa my mom and I went to the market again to get some. We were so tempted by all the snacks and candy but decided against it. Eventually we finished dinner and one of my uncles that also lives there stopped in to talk as well.
I ended up watching a movie on Netflix called Pickpockets which was set in Bogota, Columbia. Basically some youths were training to be pickpockets and it was very interesting. Afterwards we watched the end of the Alice In Wonderland live action sequel as it was on TV. During the movie my dad called to say hi and see what we were up to. We said we were traveling the next day (spoiler alert!) and then went back to what we were doing.
After that we had some tea and sweet bread before heading up to bed. My mom and I decided we weren’t tired yet though and my aunt was still up so we went back downstairs to chat with her. She ended up showing us my grandmother’s old passport and several photo IDs of hers that she’d managed to save. My grandmother died unexpectedly when I was 15 so while I remember her a little seeing her photos was nice because they spanned decades of her life. They ranged from ages around 38 to about 72. I also discovered we have the same weird smile in photos that she hated too so I guess I can’t hate it as much since I got it from her! My mom did keep one which I ended up bringing back with me since she tends to lose things. Her ID is safely on my desk now and I’m smiling looking over at it as I write this. I do miss my Mama Ines a lot, and I’m really sad that I didn’t get to know her well before she passed.
Day 3 – Mexico City to El Rancho
We got up really early, around 5 or so in order to leave for a day of travel. My uncle had a few errands to run though so since he was driving we did that before leaving the city and got stuck in the morning traffic. Still we were excited to get going! I should stop and explain here that my grandfather lives in his home in a small town outside of Morelia, which is about a four hour drive from Mexico City. I don’t want to say the name of the town for privacy so I’ll just call it what we normally call it “El Rancho”.
We stopped a few times for food but I slept most of the way because otherwise I get terrible carsickness and get incredibly bored. I have no data so no internet for me! Otherwise I’d be all set. I took a few photos along the way, including my ice cream! Up until now, I hadn’t gotten many photos. Blogger fail but the reason for it was also that sometimes I just don’t want to be flashing about my phone in the streets, you know? Safety first! I got a cone instead today, vanilla nut and something called “mamey”. Not sure what it is but it’s good! Btw, there will be a nice photo of all the ice creams I had in next week’s post.
After that we finally went to my grandfather’s house! Poor guy was so surprised we were there since he had no idea. He had been in the middle of eating, so we felt bad for interrupting. He was really excited though so he could barely get through his meal. We chatted a bit, everyone showered (the water was so hot and lovely), and then I gave him two shirts I got him as gifts. Apparently he “saves” them for “special days” and walks around in old shirts. People in town probably think we never give him anything… I insisted he wear them all the time so hopefully he does.
Once we ate dinner we left to go to my dad’s family’s house. They always let us stay with them, which is so nice. We got to meet the new baby boy who was adorable! We chatted all together to catch up and soon after we got ready for bed.
Day 4 – Morelia
In the morning we got up around 7 and then got ready for the day. We had some food and amazing coffee. They always have the most delicious food! My dad had sent over a few things for his family so we handed that out too and then went to my grandfather’s house again to give him even more presents. He was quite happy with that! I had gotten him a new blanket which was lightweight but still warm and he seemed to really like that. Finally! Something he’ll use! My mom had gotten him new shoes which she made him wear as they’re comfortable and a new jacket, which he decided looked better inside out so that’s how he wore it.
We headed out to Morelia, which is the closest large city. We first had to do something for my grandfather as he can’t get out and about as easily anymore and after that we headed to his favorite market. We ate at the Mercado Independencia, and picked up a few other things. Mostly things that my grandfather needed at home but other things like gifts for my sister and my dad too. Then we headed to the actual city center to get candy from another market. My uncle knew of a store that sold them for a bit cheaper so we went there first as it was just down the street and I bought so much that the lady in the shop gave me a free gift! How kind! Most of the candy was for my coworkers for presents but some of it was for us.
We walked around the market and bought a few things but left pretty quickly as we didn’t need much. Normally we stop at the cathedral but on that day there was a protest going on in the street in front of it. It didn’t look bad but since my study abroad trip in college it’s been drilled into my head to avoid protests at all costs because as a visitor you just don’t know what can happen. We then headed back to El Rancho and got dropped off where we were staying at. Once we caught up with everyone there we went to my grandfather’s and on the way my mom found some old friends so we stopped to chat.
By the time we got to my grandfather’s house he was in his room getting ready for bed and my aunt and uncle were out visiting as well. We chatted a bit with my grandfather who was focused on the previously mentioned kerfuffle. Once again, I keep being subjected as an unwilling witness to this all as I really have zero interest in the matter haha! Still, it was time I got to spend with him and that’s what I need to focus on.
Day 5 – Morelia, El Rancho, and Travel
The next morning we actually went back to Morelia for the Wednesday market! We ate some menudo and then walked around buying stuff for my grandfather and my Dad’s family. Useful things for the home and kitchen as we’d already given them some clothing and other things that we’d brought.
When we got back to town we showered at my grandfather’s as we’d rushed out in the morning. My mom also washed his bathroom and I “helped”. Since we were heading back to Mexico City later that day it felt like we didn’t have enough time anywhere but we still got a lot done.
Then we headed up the little mountain nearby to visit my grandfather’s land and see it. It’s a little bit of farm land so it looked beautiful and green, and overlooked the lake. After that we pretty much got ready to leave. My grandfather at first said he wanted to go with us but he low-key hates Mexico City so he ended up deciding to stay. I was so sad to leave him but hopefully we can go back soon!
We headed back to the house where we stayed at so we could get our stuff there too and then also ate a bit and talked to my dad’s side of the family too. Soon we said goodbye there and finally went on our way to Mexico City.
On the way we stopped to eat in a town called Zinapecuaro where we had yummy tacos. Then we got back in the car. Along the way my uncle was looking for a place with gas, since the shortage was still happening and was actually affecting that area worse than in Mexico City. He has a hybrid car and hadn’t needed yet, plus he was pretty sure we would be fine as he’d heard in Mexico City it was much better than when we’d left but we finally found gasoline near Toluca. That was after quite a few failed attempts though! I did feel bad for people who either had to skip a work day or line up for hours for gas. Michoacan, the state where Morelia is in, had longer lines than Mexico City did, so we were hopeful that it would start to get better quickly.
Day 6 – Mexico City’s Mercado Jamaica
For today we were so tired from traveling all night that we decided to have a low-key sort of day! We did laundry, cleaned the kitchen, and as we were taking a break to head out to the market, one of my cousins called. She asked us to go meet her for lunch so off we went! We ventured onto the metro for the first time this trip! We ended up meeting two of my cousins that I hadn’t seen yet so that was great. One left after we ate but the other joined us for the market. We wandered around the Mercado Jamaica. All my photos are blurry because if you stopped too long the people selling would come out and yell prices for each arrangement quite aggressively.
After we left we said goodbye to my cousin and took the train back. They have a marvelous thing where the first few cars are women and children under 12 only! It was amazing. No pushing or other annoying habits happening except one man that got on with two giant bags that blocked the doors so he kept having to get on and off every stop to let people though. Ugh, how rude! Otherwise, it was great. Once we were home we got the laundry that had dried although a few items weren’t completely done yet so those were left overnight.
As we were eating one of my uncles arrived and got us tamales, so we ate that and made plans for the next day! I also did remember to bring in the last of the laundry, and after that I went to bed early, at least for vacation mode! I was in bed by 10, which hasn’t happened once yet I don’t think!
Day 7 – Mexico City’s Los Pinos, Aquario, Soumaya, and Colonia Roma
The next day we rose pretty early, around 7:30 as we had plans. Well that’s late for us normally but not for vacation mode! My aunt joined us and one of my uncles (my mom and aunt’s brother) did as well so we all walked to catch a bus, then took that to the metro system. My cousin (my aunt’s youngest son) met us there and my uncle guided us through. He knows how to get places since on his days off work he literally goes everywhere around the city. We ask him for ideas on where to go because he’s been to so many! Thank goodness too because although my mom grew up in Mexico City she doesn’t seem to be that familiar with the city!
After a million transfers (okay, three) we arrived at Los Pinos! Los Pinos has traditionally been the presidential residence for Mexico since the 1930s but the new president decided not to live there and open it up for the people to tour. It’s free, which I was a little surprised by since not many museums are anymore but apparently the previous president cleaned the place out claiming he bought everything so he was keeping it all. Yikes. So the newest building was completely bare but the rest were well kept and looked amazing! I think it was around five buildings in all that we were able to see as one was closed for maintenance. Up until now I’d never been to any presidential residence and never been in a presidential bunker so there’s two firsts for me! How fun!
The place only opened last month, so most Mexican people hadn’t seen it either as it hadn’t been opened to the public before. In fact, the reason it was built was because one president in the 30s decided the people should have access to Chapultepec Castle, which I went to in my previous trip. That was the previous presidential residence so Los Pinos was built in order to open the castle. It struck me as odd that the new residence hadn’t been open either! The new president apparently chose to live in his own home and commute to work on the metro line near him so he’s super low maintenance I guess.
After that we ate at a nearby market Mercado El Chorrito. I had enchiladas verdes, which were yummy. We then headed out again to the metro and it was only one transfer this time (I think) to the neighborhood Polanco.
Next on our itinerary was the aquarium! My mom and I are regulars it feels like at the Shedd back in Chicago, but we wanted to see Mexico City’s! My uncle left as he had an appointment but the rest of us headed in. This aquarium is done in a very straightforward route, not like Shedd where you can pick what areas you want to see. So we start at the bottom of the ocean and as we climb back up to each floor we also get an area closer to the top sea level, all the way from the deep ocean to the beach.
Unfortunately it seemed to be school day because there were so many hoards of children screaming. We avoided them as best we could because thirty of them trying to see something was such a pain. It was funny to hear the aquarium staff try to teach them about the oceans though. At one point one said “okay, we met Nemo, but who should we meet next?” The kids shouted “DORY!!!” So that was cute. My aunt and cousin really enjoyed the jellyfish, always crowd favorites. They absolutely loved the penguins though!
Once we were done with that we headed out but the staff told us there was an interactive part two of the aquarium across the street. We headed into the mall and found it on the second floor, which is really weird placement but good for the mall I guess. However, when we arrived there was a small army of children screaming in the line to get in so we left and went to the Museo Soumaya.
This museum is quite famous for it’s design, and it was cool! Inside we had to go through security and we looked for the ticket sales but couldn’t find one so I guess it was actually free? It was six levels but we only got to four before we all decided we were too tired to go on. My aunt called her husband so he could get us and since he was an hour away we decided to try the interactive aquarium anyway. We got excited as it didn’t look like the children were still there but unfortunately found a group soon after we entered. This museum reminded me of the Museum of Science and Industry back in Chicago, where there are levers, buttons, etc. There was some showing how waves are made, explaining tsunamis and hurricanes, and a really cold table you could touch to feel the ocean temperature of 4 degrees Celsius.
After that was a portion of the museum that showed the conservation efforts of the museum but the school kids kept sticking their hands in to touch fish and coral although they were clearly told not to. So annoying! There was a part with stingrays that I thought was like the Shedd’s Stingray Touch exhibit in the summer but we couldn’t pet these like the Shedd. Again, the kids did anyway.
Then came the part where you could pet stuff! We washed our hands and petted the turtles but I refused to pet the frogs, snails, lobster, crabs, or anything else. They did also have starfish which would have been nice but the kids were blocking it and screaming again. We headed to the next portion which was more about reptiles that can live on both land and water but we ran through that because I don’t want to see snakes! We finally left the aquarium after that and then waited for my uncle outside the Surmaya.
When he arrived he drove us over to the home of my mom and aunt’s other brother in the Colonia Roma. If you’ve seen the movie Roma on Netflix, it’s that neighborhood! My uncle let us in and since he was working we headed upstairs.
I was so surprised to find all three of his kids there, I hadn’t seen them in years! Their mom has cancer and it’s returned so she was telling us about her treatment and how it was going. We stayed quite a few hours until my uncle was done working and headed out again.
My oldest cousin was sad we didn’t get the chance to catch up much as he and I are probably only a year or so apart but I told him next time we would for sure. The youngest also seemed sad to see us go, which was so sweet of her. She was probably the one I saw most recently but even that was over ten years ago. I would love to be able to sit with them and talk to them to see how their lives are going. It’s tough being away from them for sure!
Day 8 – Mexico City Day at the the Market
We got up late today, around 8 or so. We decided to go to the local market that they have on Saturday so off we went. We ended up there three times actually as we kept realizing we needed something else and because of our other plans.
Before we left home my mom had gone to the dentist as her teeth hurt, but when she felt better she did the classic thing where she thought she was better so she didn’t go back. Well while in Mexico her teeth started hurting again so her sister took her to her own dentist, as my mom is still in Mexico for a bit longer than I am.
Then we headed back and watched a movie on Netflix called The Walk. At this point I called my dad only to hear that ten inches of snow were coming down back home. My poor Dad! One of my best friends was also stuck because she was supposed to fly home from Detroit but was rerouted through North Carolina for some reason. Yikes!
That’s where I’ll end part one. As I said, part two will be up next week! This post did end up being a little long, and I’m sure part two will be as well so maybe I should have split it up even more. Ah well, hopefully it was still interesting and if you did make it all the way, I’m proud of you!
Thanks for reading!
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