Category Archives: Latin America

3 things you do when you live in Mexico City, guey

1. Saying “guey”, “wey”, “weeeeee” all the time, guey.

ALRIGHT, it’s not really 3 things; actually 33. But, la neta, you would never have read it otherwise! Now that you know, here are 32 other things that you do when you live in Mexico City:

2. Beating a giant SpongeBob piñata, guey.

3. Walking down the streets holding a giant SpongeBob piñata, guey.

4. Holding tight your belongings cause you arrived the day before and you are still afraid cause the media said that “Mexico City is super dangerous”, guey.

5. Realising that there is nothing to be afraid of, guey.

6. Ordering 50 tacos al pastor after la fiesta, guey.

7. Always bringing friends that visit you to the Torre Latinoamericana, guey.

8. Spending most of your time in the “2×1 al pastor” taquería downstairs, guey.

9. Becoming a guacamole ambassador, guey.

10. Feeling super fancy cause, now, y’know, you say “DF”, guey.

11. Being fresa and saying “CDMX”, guey. #CDMX #nomames

12. Ending up in Tacubaya station at 6 pm… and looking for the purpose of life, guey.

13. Finally drinking proper tequila, guey.

14. Discovering la palomita & el mezcalito, weeeeeee.

15. Saying to the world that you can dance salsa after 2 lessons, guey.

16. Buying your Mexican poncho for the winter, guey.

17. Eating the Oxxo pizza when you are broke (and had too many palomitas), guey.

18. Losing sense of reality at the Patrick Miller, guey (it’s really amazing).

19. Being stuck 1h30 in the traffic. Every. Single. Day. Guey. 

20. Becoming bored with pyramids, guey.

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20. The pyramids of Teotihuacan; probably the first ones you’ll see around el DF.

21. Going for a Temazcal Ritual on the weekend, guey.

22. Listening to Mariachis on Plaza Garibaldi, guey.

23. Having chilaquiles for breakfast, guey.

24. Trying spicy stuff, guey.

25. Crying cause you had spicy stuff, guey.

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25. Not the best idea to have mangoes filled with spicy powder the day you arrive 😅

26. Going for lucha libre and buying too many masks, guey.

27. Cycling and getting a massage on el Paseo de la Reforma on car-free Sundays, guey.

28. Being a “nachos-and-chili-con-carne-are-not-Mexican” ambassador, guey. 

29. Speaking Mexican and not Spanish, tío.

30. Trying to finish el Museo Nacional de Antropología for the 5th time, guey.

31. Getting used to Reggaeton and bragging that you loved Despacito way before it became famous, guey.

32. Missing all of this (mostly tacos al pastor) once you are gone, guey.

33. Bringing giant sombreros on the plane for your friends back home, guey. 

What’s your favourite thing to do in CDMX, guey?

If you want to read more travel insights, tips, stories and photos, subscribe to my newsletter here, guey! 😉

 

48 hours in San Salvador

Back then, I was heading back to Mexico City from San Jose (Costa Rica) by land. It was a bit of a rush as I merely had 1 month during which I spent 1 week in Costa Rica, 1 week in Nicaragua, 1 week in Mexico City and the rest in transportation and San Salvador. Ok, I was a bit afraid. But I realised that:

-If I didn’t go now; I would never go.

-It’s a country I barely know, except for all the bad media coverage. Time to discover the truth.

So heading to San Salvador I was, without any clue of what you could do there! And I did really enjoy the city; it was a nice preview and I wish to come back one day. 

 

San Salvador, in 7 words: urban jungle, chaotic market, disco church, crater hike, all-you-can-eat pupusas, freedom & nights-at-home.

First of all, I love big cities; it felt great to finally stay in a huge urban area (as I didn’t go to Managua) and to blend into the daily life flow. A very good start was to stroll around the chaotic Mercado Central and feel the local vibes; good luck to find your way!

Not far is located the most surprising church I’ve seen so far… and I’ve seen churches! It’s the Iglesia El Rosario, designed by an architect-cum-artist that didn’t want it to look like a church. Job done… as it looks like an abandoned warehouse from the outside and a disco place from the inside!

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It was also a nice surprise to leave the Costa Rican & Nicaraguan Gallo Pinto behind and try new things, like the very Salvadorian Quesadilla (nope, doesn’t look like the Mexican one) or Pupusa. 

If there is one thing you should remember from this post, it’s pupusa, the national corn or rice paste big crepes that you can fill with basically anything and order everywhere, at any time. They eat it by itself or accompanied with a meal. See it as the equivalent of the French baguette or Mexican tortilla. Below, the only picture of pupusa I have where it’s filled with cheese, as a side dish. 

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San Salvador is located right in a valley; thus, the city is surrounded by mountains and it’s easy to have a break if you are tired of the urban craziness. So hold on to the back of a local minibus and go for a hike!

I particularly liked Parque El Boquerón: you have a nice view of San Salvador and a hike that takes place inside a volcano’s crater. And it was one of the most difficult hikes I did; no marked path, you are free to wander wherever you want (even if it’s your own responsibility), I needed to implement a “Petit Poucet” strategy not to get lost and sometimes had to climb down trees to continue!

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San Salvador is not a hot spot for tourism and you do feel quite special to be there (just met a couple of travellers in my hostel). I was even the first foreigner of the day entering Iglesia El Rosario and it wasn’t that early! So enjoy this special feeling – which is usually not for big cities – and don’t be afraid if people approach because they are curious about you!

Finally, if it can help; I was staying at Hostal Cumbres del Volcan in a very safe area, with a nice staff and amazing dorm buddies. One thing I disliked a bit – and that I couldn’t really check deeply if it was necessary – is feeling forced to stay at home after sunset. It was a recommendation of the hostel staff and other travellers. 

What’s your feedback on that?

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Cuba = Reggaeton every day!

Hasta Que Se Seque el Malecón

At the time of Cuba’s opening, there will be an increasing amount of people flocking to La Habana – or Varadero, Cuba’s hot tourist spot – and an increasing fear that Cuba’s uniqueness would definitely belong to the past. Most tourists enjoy their time on the fine sandy beach, smoking fine cigars, riding open-top cars from the fifties, along with mastering the art of Cuban-style mojitos (understand a well-loaded mojito). But, as we – I and my then roommate – travelled through the 1250-kilometer-long island, we discovered that Cuba was much more than that.

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Here are some insights on what made us really feel the Cuban lifestyle:

We fell in love with the Cuban vibes. Most tourists stay in the “Habana Vieja” district, which is as incredibly beautiful as crowded with tourists. I don’t have any problem with that, but keep in mind that a country has so much more to offer as well! By Cuban vibes, I meant the one you feel walking through the Malecón and the historic center – away from most attractions -, where you successively run into kids in uniforms going to school or playing soccer and adults chilling peacefully outside or watching telenovelas (Cuban-style soap operas). There is one constant: the reggaeton beats that follow you through your walk everywhere you go. And all of this takes place in a mix of freshly renovated houses and dilapidated old ones and I must say that the latter really makes the scenery unique.

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Feeling the Cuban vibes also meant eating like a Cuban.

It might seem obvious, but since the society is divided between Cubans and non-Cubans, foreigners tend to eat at the places for foreigners or rich Cubans. Eating like a Cuban means converting your CUCs (convertible peso) into CUPs (national currency) and heading to a cafeteria, where you can eat, almost for nothing, tortillas, arroz congri (rice mixed with beans), Cuban-style pizza, and drink a home-made juice. After we talked to some Cubans and discovered that the average monthly salary was between 10 and 15 CUCs (10-15 euros), we understood that most Cubans eat at the cafeteria when they don’t eat at home. Cafeterias are usually in someone’s house and the transactions go through the window. Here’s a 4-ball ice cream that I bought for the equivalent of 0,25 euro!

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For us, a simple way to live the Cuban lifestyle was to do the opposite of the crowd.

When we took the now touristic soviet-style steam train at Trinidad and stopped in another city for the break, we saw everyone heading to the touristic attractions that were waiting for them all day. We decided to go the other way alone and we discovered, out of nowhere, a food stand that made delicious fried fish sandwiches. After we ate four of them, they thanked us for having made their day!

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Street art that we found after walking randomly, somewhere in La Habana

Finally, the best thing we did was to hitchhike: it really allowed us to understand the Cuban way of life and the separation between foreigners and locals. It all started when one day, we tried to book bus tickets to go to Las Terrazas but somehow, we ended up in a bus terminal that was forbidden to foreigners. We were told to go to the Via Azul terminal, for foreigners and rich Cubans. All right. We finally arrived at Las Terrazas with the Via Azul bus but decided to come back to La Habana hitchhiking. We first realised that many Cubans have to hitchhike to go to work, to school, or anywhere. Since the competition is rude, many of them prefer showing some money bills instead of their thumb! Our time finally arrived, and we successively got into a taxi (for free), a truck cart, and, best of all, a bus that was supposed to be reserved for Cubans!

Of course, there is plenty more to discover in Cuba. Talk to people, follow the unknown, don’t limit yourself to the main attractions, and you will understand how a Cuban live and think! (And of course try some mojitos, they are the best!)

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