A Travellerspoint blog

Chichen Itza

sunny 30 °C

My second last day in Mexico and I was going to finish it with a bang by visiting Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world.*

  • depending on which list you find

I had booked another tour through AirBNB experiences. That’s where I’ve booked all of my excursions this trip and they’ve all been 5 stars. This one was charging just for the transportation and tour, and I was to bring along pesos for the entry fees to both Chichén Itza and a cenote called Il-Kil.

I had chatted with the host prior to the trip, using the app. This was a normal step to sort out details. They had said the pickup spot was 6am at coco bongo in Playa Del Carmen, which was about a $20 taxi or a 40 minute walk for me. I’m very close to the highway, so I asked if it was possible to get another pickup spot. The host asked me to send them my address, and they agreed to pick me up! Sweet! And my pickup time was 7:15.

They also sent me some conflicting information, it seemed like maybe a few different people were monitoring this chat for their tour, as well as they said the tour would end in Cancun, an hour away. I clarified, and checked in about lunch as it was not included and was at a buffet that I’m sure would have any decent vegan options. Luckily this chatting was all last night, and I ordered from Uber eats to pack something to go for lunch. Ok, I was set.

As I waited for my pickup I get a call from a number in Mexico, it was the guide and the driver having a hard time finding me. I had sent my address twice to the host, but I sent it again and sent a google maps screenshot too. He was very hard to understand due to a weak sounding signal, but I made out that they were running behind and he’d be there in 20 minutes, which gave me more than enough time to run across the 8 lane highway and get a coffee, something I had done every day here in Playa while our coffee machine was broken.

Coffee in hand I’m sitting on the curb and the guide calls me again. “We’re here, can you come out?” I replied, “I am outside, you are not here.” They were two streets down and eventually found me. Odd.

Once I got in the sprinter van to a full house, the guide, Alex, got on a microphone and introduced himself. The van wasn’t big enough for a microphone in my opinion but whatever. He had me and another girl from Brazil who was picked up in Playa introduce ourselves to the group. She did not speak English, and the driver was trying to tell her in English that the tour was only held in English. She spoke back in Spanish, and finally he spoke with her in Spanish too. After some back and forth, some of his familiar words but more his body language told me that he agreed to do the tour for her in Spanish, even though that wasn’t included. So from here, Alex would speak sentence by sentence translating the entire day in English and Spanish. Sometimes mid-sentence he would stop to translate. This made it very difficult to follow along with him, and he was clearly exhausted from having to speak double. I felt really bad for him!

He proceeded to speak for the entire 2 hour drive to our first stop, the town of Valladolid. He had old maps that were tattered, or laminated and browned on the edges, or in plastic sleeves that looked 10 years old. He tried to open them and point to them while being turned around in his passenger seat and holding his microphone, and translating. It was awkward, hard to follow along, and he really jumped from story to story, or from one point in time to another. He went through what felt like the entire history of Mexico including the times of the Mayans, then he would jump to talking about a type of tree we were passing by or whatever else was going on outside.

We reached the town and learned that it and the surrounding area is still occupied by Mayan people who dress traditionally and speak the ancient language. He pointed out people who “had the look of the Mayans.” We parked and had 15 minutes to wander this square and view the church.


Back on the bus we headed for Chichen Itza, going through a few little towns on the way. The guide, Alex, pointed out things on the side of the road. “Here we see mango trees. Aquí vemos árboles de mango.” We also saw a mix of housing types including wooden houses that people still lived in.


When we got to Chichén Itza it was busy. We got our tickets and corralled through the entrance together. We walked through some merchants and saw the pyramid!


Alex did his best to navigate both languages. It was hot, and he was tired already. I felt for him! He kept looking for the Brazilian girl, and if she wasn’t paying attention he would stop translating for a moment, then he would find her and catch her up.

We learned more about the Mayan calendar and how the numbers correlated to the structure with the number of steps and sides to the pyramid.


We visited the ball game arena and learned about a game where the two teams had to try and score a goal in these relatively small hoops very high up, using their bodies but without using their hands and feet. The captain of the winning team would be beheaded and sacrificed to the gods, and this was the highest honour. We saw carvings that portrayed this game and Alex pointed out the nuisances of those carvings.


We learned about the platform of skulls, a way to show off the impaled heads from the ball court came.


We learned about the other structures in the area, then had about half an hour to explore on our own.


The others on our tour were exceptionally quiet and keeping to themselves. Mostly couples, I had gathered they were staying at different resorts in Cancun. They didn’t even seem to want to talk to each other let alone the rest of the group. There was one guy who seemed the most excited to be there, Sam. I offered to take his picture and chat. He had escaped his wife and kids for the day by leaving them at the resort and having his own vacation time. Well done, Sam! I chatted with the other solo guy, Josh from Australia. He was on a couple weeks trip in Mexico and was about to head home, quit his job and go travelling. Amazing! We got to chatting a little more about other places he’s hoping to go to and my experiences there.


After wandering around the area and seeing the sights we were back on the bus and heading to Cenote Il Kil. We pulled up, got tickets which were not at all cheap, and the rest of the group headed for lunch. I had brought mine, so I ate it outside then got ready for the cenote.


There were changing rooms and lockers; this felt like Mexico’s version of a public swimming pool. We had to wear life jackets, they are mandatory here. The cenote is far under ground level, and they have a manmade spiralling staircase to take you down to it. The cenote is 48 metres deep, and human remains have been found there! It may have been a dumping place for sacrifices.


I jumped in off the platform, maybe 10 feet high and floated. I took off my life jacket to sit on it, but was quickly pointed to by the lifeguard who shook his finger at me. Back on it goes I guess! It was very uncomfortable to float around in the life jacket the whole 1.5 hours we were there.

I floated, admired the bats and the hanging vines and plants, and chatted travel with Josh. When we were shivering we got out, dried off and then time came to get back on the bus.


Alex said he would “leave us alone” on the ride back, and most people seemed to sleep. I was the first drop off, and I felt so lucky I wasn’t a part of the additional 2+ hours of driving it would take to do all of these drop offs. When we got close to Playa del Carmen I opened my google maps. As suspected, the driver missed every turn to take the best way to my drop off, and with each missed turn he added 2 minutes to the trip, totalling 10 minutes. I wished Josh well on this trip and started my message to the Airbnb host about my feedback. For every experience I’ve done I’d given 5 stars (out of 5), but for this one I shared that at the very least your drivers need to use their smartphones for navigation! This tour needs a serious upgrade to be successful in 2023, but overall I’m still very glad I got to see the magic of Chichén Itza and spend a few hours soaking in this gorgeous cenote.

Back at home, Misha was almost finished his day and I put on my best dress to head out on the town for the last night! We walked to their old neighbourhood where they had an Airbnb last year, in a little more of a central area.

We walked to Salvei Vegan Concept for dinnner. We started with cocktails and these huge, fresh and filling salad rolls that came with two dips.


Misha got a curry, and Alanna and I both got two different types of the ramen. On such a hot day this was a little hard to eat, but it was really yummy so I powered through. My cocktail was corn liqueur, tonic and burnt cinnamon stick, but tasted like only tonic so that was a little disappointing.


Next stop, around the corner to cocktail bars, we were on the same gorgeous, jungly street as the craft beer place I’d visited earlier in the week. We stopped at this spot for their unique cocktails, and we all enjoyed them! I got a martini with hypnotic, lychee, grapefruit and a cute apple pinwheel garnish.


There were two pitties at the table next to us and I lost my mind when I saw them. They greeted me like I was their mother and I was covered in face kisses. My heart!! Their owner said, “So, you miss your dog, eh?” Yes, yes I do!!


Next up, the fancy Mezcaleria across from the beer place. Here we pondered the long list of cocktails and were all happy with our choices. I took the servers recommendation and got a cocktail with rum, more rum, and tepeche, which is a fermented pineapple drink I’d tried on my first day in Mexico City. Despite sounding sweet this cocktail was more bitter and I loved it. I forgot to get a photo of this one! I was also incredibly thirsty and didn’t even look at the price of a bottle of water before ordering. We got a bottle of Tulum’s finest oxygenated, non-chlorinated, caught rainwater (lol), which came with service where the server brought a tray of fruits, vegetables and mint for you to choose to add to your glass. I chose lime, and with long bar tweezers he pinched a slice, glided it along the rim and inner lip of my glass, plopped it in, then poured the water. I was surprised to see the price was only $125 pesos at that point!! We also got complimentary chips with three types of salsa, of which the habanero finally gave Misha something to talk about! He’d been complaining of not enough heat in his food.

After our cocktail we went across the street to Chela for a beer. Misha got a flight and I got my favourite from the other day, the white IPA. We sat next to the cenote and enjoyed our final night together!


After beers, we walked up and away from the main area to hail a cab, and were sold on one for 100 pesos back to our place. I set an alarm for the next day as I had snorkelling planned in Puerto Morales for my last day before my flight home.

Posted by kmcveggie 16:00 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Cenotes + Tulum

sunny 30 °C

It’s Tuesday and I’ve booked a tour to visit three cenotes (water wells) today, by bike. I get up nice and early and make my way towards the main colectivo staton, about a 15 minute walk from the Airbnb.


I flag a couple down, and they wave me off, so I figured they were full but tried asking some locals anyways. One person pointed me in the direction of the supermarket, so I walked that way but didn’t see any station. I approached a couple in the parking lot to ask, and luckily they said, “ah, we are going too, follow us!” They walked at about half my usual pace but I followed along.

I come up to a line of maybe 100 people, waiting for the colectivos. Before I started adding up the time I thought it might take to get to the front of the line, I noticed the colectivos also in a line waiting to be called up for passengers, and new ones were always coming in to wait, so I tried not to worry too much. The wait was only about 10 minutes, and once I got to the front a conductor was assigning them by location and announcing our stops to the driver, so I felt like I was in good hands.


I got on and sat down at the first empty seat which was next to a woman with a chiefs hat tied to her bag. “Chiefs! I’m a Chief’s fan too!” We talked about last year, and the Super Bowl before that which she attended. She used to live in KC and has lived all over North America. She was on her way to work as a tour guide specializing in archaeology. She gave me tips to remind the driver where I was stopping and when it would be coming up.

I got off at my stop, and was 10 minutes late for the tour but had already messaged them to warn them. Turns out the other couple was late too, even though they drove their in their rental car. They were from Vancouver! But had never tried Virtuous Pie since “oh right it’s vegan isn’t it? That’s why we haven’t tried it hahaha.” Of course I didn’t laugh at that joke.

The tour guide, Lalo, explained how our day would go, and when he asked how we feel about biking, I said, “yea I’m alright.” This was modest. The couple said the same, and this proved to be a lie especially from Sim who pretty much used the bike as one of those peddle-less balance bikes for the first 5 minutes. I wondered if they had read the headline of this tour which was called “biking to three cenotes”.

Next he asked if we could swim, and same story ensued. Sim could not without a life jacket at least. That’s all good, they had those!

From here we chose our bikes and did a test drive down the street. We were in Chemuyil, a tiny town made of 4 blocks halfway between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and it felt nice to be in such a quaint place after so much city.


With a quick test ride under our belts we were off! Lalo led the way and another guide, whose name I never quite caught, stayed at the back end of our riding to watch for us. Each ride was about 10 minutes, and this first one was very slow with the couple getting their footing. That’s fine, I took selfies.


Our first cenote was off the side of a dirt road, and a minute walk into the forest, absolutely no way to know we were about to stumble on this beautiful place. This was a half enclosed cenote. I guess the older they are, the more open they are. As we dropped our bags and stripped down to our bathing suits, I noticed all the tiny fish! So cool, I thought. Lalo casually mentioned they will nibble on your skin, and as he got in first and I watched them crowd around his ankles I got a little creeped out. I’ve never wanted one of those fish pedicures! I put one foot in, felt the tickle of the fish on my skin and absolutely screamed in terror. Didn’t see that coming!


I thought this was the end of my day. The couple was not going in until I was, so I talked myself into mind over matter and just kept moving so the fish wouldn’t want to come near me. As I waded in and landed on a rock, I moved my hands around my feet to keep the water moving to keep the fish away still. Lalo said they wouldn’t bug me once I got all the way in and swam, so I believed him and went with it, swimming into the deeper part. He was right!


I had snorkelling goggles and started swimming around. Through the rocks underneath I could see that the cenote went way, way down deep, who knows how deep! It was black down there. In other parts you could touch with your feet or sit on the rocks. I explored while Lalo told us all about this cenote and his times here as a kid with his family or grandfather. It’s mildly salty since this one is very close to the ocean. There were names carved into rocks, like how we’d carve them into trees. He says sometimes he comes here, puts the football game on his phone on the grassy sides and beats the heat! Incredible place and covered enough to keep us out of the sun. Backstory - this tour didn’t allow sunscreen use so as to preserve the ecological systems of the cenotes.

Lalo asked if we wanted to try to swim under the rocks and to the air pockets. It sounded freaky but ya let’s do it! He went first to check the head clearance as it can change with the water level. He said it was about a foot, so me and T went for it. T had to scale the rocks a little with his life jacket on but I thought it was cool he wanted to try!

Lalo went first, then shined his flashlight to show us where to go. There was zero current so that part was easy. When I came up into the air pocket there was a foot of clearance but only about 3 feet wide. When T joined us it was very cramped so he quickly went back out. While inside, Lalo pointed out the fossils and the roots growing through the rocks. It’s limestone and porous. Very cool! He asked if I wanted to go to another one. Sure! He said this one has much less clearance, and held up his fingers to show maybe 4-5 inches. Without comprehending that I said, let’s do it! He went first, and as he left me I thought, I sure hope I don’t get turned around since I’m now alone in this water pocket. I followed his flashlight and he held his hand out to catch my head so I didn’t pop up too quickly and hit my head. He didn’t lie about the clearance - I couldn’t breathe with my mouth out of water without my ears being underwater. I could feel panic, but tried to tell myself I was fine. Lalo was good about checking in the whole time, but I was increasingly worried about breathing too heavily with what felt like such little air. I said, “I think I’m good let’s go. Right now”. And off Lalo went, I gulped some air and followed him all the way out, very very grateful to be finished that adventure.

After catching my breath we all moved down the cenote to another area with more to explore. We saw a unique bird to the area who had a tail like a pendulum. I didn’t have my phone most of the time so no pictures.

We spend about an hour here total and then got back on our bikes to ride to the next cenote. Iguanas were everywhere!


How many can you spot here?


The next cenote was also off a side road, and was fully enclosed over top. First thing we noticed was all the fruit and seeds on the floor of it, and then we looked up to see what felt like thousands of bats! Not just little black backs, they were fuzzy and ranged in size from having a lime-sized body to a grapefruit-sized body. So cool! They flew around or were sleeping upside down in their families.


The water here was colder, and the centre of the pool looked super shallow, maybe knee height. The guide explained that it’s very deceiving since it’s so clear. Sure, I said. He said, “Get in and see for yourself.” I did, and sank to the bottom. It was over my fingertips deep! Unreal.


Goggles on, I explored. This one has many more catfish than the last one. The biggest fish were maybe 6 inches long but it was fun to see some different types.

Lalo asked again if we wanted to try air pockets, and assured me that these ones were much bigger in clearance and overall size. T and I were into it so off we went. We went through sort of a narrow opening to get to the first area, then went underwater to the air pocket. Here we saw stalagmites crystals and other growths under the water, plus more fossils. So cool. Lalo asked if we could try turning off his flashlight for a minute, and when he did it was pitch black. Amazing! He told stories about how he brought his friends here one year for the day of the dead, turned off his flashlight and when he turned it back on he had a fake skull near his friends head. Hilarious!

We were able to move from this one through some narrow openings and then climb out. We spent another hour here.

The last stop we rode to was a bigger, more open cenote that had a hut with more life jackets if we needed. This one was sunny with lake vibes, but the algae and plants on the floor of the cenote made the water blue and green, it was beautiful. We could dive off a platform here! We hung out here for another hour and had it to ourselves for the most part. We had them all to ourselves for most of the day. You can guess how badly I got burnt spending an hour in 1:00 sun, in water where I couldn’t notice how hot it was.


We biked back through the town and had a “Mayan snack” waiting for us. This was vegan, just tomato, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro, with a spicy salsa on the side to add in as we wish, and we dipped into it with delicious chips. The tortilla chips are just so much better here. This dish was hot, and simple but so very delicious. I had three helpings!

Sim and T were heading back to Tulum in their rental car, so I asked to tag along. Sweet! This was their first time truly “travelling” and not staying in a resort. It was Sim’s birthday trip, and it sounded like they had some great things planned! They dropped me off pretty much downtown and I wandered to one of the first vegan stops I had saved in maps, a vegan donut place. Oh my word, they had almost all filled donuts which is my weakness, and so hard to find in Victoria. I chatted with the person behind the counter who happened to be the culinary mind behind the donuts. She told me the owner was from Canada and she checked out VP on Instagram. So nice to chat with her! I finally made my decision which was the feature of the day, a mochachino filled chocolate glazed donut and it was everything it promised to be. I enjoyed it in their super cute courtyard where I blogged a little, applied tons of sunscreen, and tried to dry out my phones charging port from its dip in the cenotes.


From here I wandered. It was very hot, and the main strip was dusty and windy but not breezy. We were further away from the ocean than in Playa. I found a vegetarian place to grab a cocktail. I got a spicy one and didn’t feel like paying for water; this wasn’t an ideal combination. There were street dogs everywhere begging for scraps.


Next I wandered, and window shopped the stores. I knew I wanted to eat here but there really didn’t seem like much else to do, and since I wasn’t going towards the beach I decided to eat and get going. I found El Bajon Tacos, a super vegan spot. I ordered the Al pastor, carnitas and something else. I’m not sure which of the tacos I had but it was my favourite on the whole trip! So moist and flavourful my goodness. I also got the “water of the day” which is typically an agua Fresca. I’m not sure what the fruit was but it was refreshing as hell in the little taco shop that didn’t have AC.


The colectivo was right outside and with the conductors help I was on board in just a couple of minutes. The hour long trip was nice to relax. The people around me were done work for the day and many of them fell right asleep after they found their seat.

At home, Misha and Alanna were ready for dinner. I wasn’t, but was along for the ride. So much around the air bnb was closed and none of us felt like wandering too far so we enjoyed some drinks at home, chatted, and called it an early night.


Posted by kmcveggie 21:37 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

Temazcal Sweat Ceremony

sunny 29 °C

This morning I tried planning out my days here, and I felt it wasn’t going well since I was still put off by the taxi situation. If the app worked better it would be much easier! I decided I wouldn’t let it bug me and in a pinch I’d just have to be patient and she’ll out for a taxi. I booked a couple of Airbnb experiences for the next couple of days, then I headed out for a coffee and to check out more of playa.


I wandered the direction of a bird sanctuary that Alanna told me about. To get there you go through the gated community of Playacar. I was on foot, and the guards spoke no English. They asked to see my ID, took a photo of it, and kept motioning for me to walk a different way. I showed them my google maps and finally he rolled his eyes and let me through.

I wandered this gated community and found the sanctuary, paid my entrance fee, and was greeted right away by these beautiful parrots. They were so serene! I’m not sure what they were doing here but they kept pulling at each other’s beaks. The one getting “bit” looked like he kept going in for more pulling so I guess he was into it.


I spent an hour or so in this serene, open air avian sanctuary. It was so peaceful to be there around the birds, listening to their calls and sounds. It was just what I needed! There were also these little rabbit type mammals, and I saw a larger sort of tan coloured raccoon/lemur type thing but it moved away very quickly. I also saw iguanas and turtles!


From here, the Mayan ruins of playacar were around the corner and they led to the beach so I walked through that way, spotting many iguanas along the way.


I found the beach, and there was hardly anyone there, plus the seaweed was minimal. This was my chance to fully swim down! I put my bag down, hyper conscious that it contained my wallet and phone and had nobody to watch it. I stripped down and swam in the bath-water-like sea. The water was so clear and blue, the sand was soft. There were white caps on the waves and I got tossed around a few times as I swam out to get past the breaks of the waves. It was amazing! Back on land, bag in tow, life was good.


I watched this very cute pup dig holes around its parents! He visited me a few times and was very, very sweet, giving me kisses.

I wandered back through Playa del Carmen, along fifth and tenth, and made my way to Plantivoros for lunch before my Temazcal ceremony. When I got there I realized I left my phone charger at home, and the server was nice enough to let me borrow theirs while I ate. I ordered guacamole, and 5 different tacos. The server seemed very shocked I ordered so much food! That was a bit judgy but I was happy with my decision haha.


The guacamole was so good, and the chips were hot, freshly fried.


Tacos were: Al pastor, two types of KFC made with oyster mushroom, a rajas made with nopales cactus, and a barbacoa. My goodness these were so tasty. The fried oyster mushrooms were so meaty, the Al pastor was so juicy. Just when I thought I’d had the best food of my trip something else amazing comes along!


My next adventure was to get from where I was around Calle 15 to Calle 92. The furthest I’d been in the city was Calle 30. So it was time to try the Colectivo, these are mini vans that pick you up at stations or with a wave, and are just 10 pesos in town. They also run to Tulum and Cancun so I wanted to try some out before I used them for bigger plans.

I left enough time to walk the 40 minutes to Calle 92 if I needed to. I flagged down a colectivo, told the driver 92, he said “si”, so I sat down. Inside the van there were benches lining the perimeter. The van door mostly stayed open and swayed as we drove.


I was watching my google maps and reminded the driver as we approached 92 that we wanted to get off. I handed him a 20, and he handed me a 10 coin back. Easy!

I was an hour early for the Temazcal ceremony, so I hit the beach and went for another swim, then laid in the sand and listened to the ocean for a while.


It was time to head to the ceremony. This was something I had wanted to do in coming to Mexico. Temazcal is an ancient spiritual cleansing ritual performed by a shaman in a steam room or sweat lodge. It is meant to represent the womb of a woman, and you’re supposed to die in there and be reborn afterwards. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures here but here is the one from the booking.


We started by chatting with the guide, Raquel, and she explained the history and purpose of the Temazcal. She explained that you must be open and vulnerable to share why you are here and what you want to get out of the experience. There were just three of us there. The person from Australia said he wanted a good sweat. The person from Montreal wanted to heal some anxiety and become a stronger person. And I said I wanted to get rid of my negative thoughts and stop being burdened from my past.

From here Raquel continued to get the space ready and we drank a really refreshing lemon and maybe aloe water to hydrate. In chatting with the group, I found out the girl from Montreal used to live in Victoria, and has a friend who used to be one of my employees at VP! Small world.

We moved to the Temazcal area of the yard. We started with an aura cleanse with smudging. I was open minded, and it smelled really good!

Next we had to pray to the different gods in the different directions: North, south, east, west, and each had a different meaning about spirituality, manifestation, our ancestors, etc. We then had to pray to enter and be received by the Temazcal, then we got in. The inside was maybe 4 feet tall and 8 feet in circumference. It was made of some tiles on the floor and concrete walls, and had a dirt floor fire pit in the middle. Raquel was inside with us and the shaman was outside, using a pitch fork to bring volcanic rocks from inside a fireplace to Raquel, who used deer antlers to place them inside the fire pit. Once they had loaded in maybe 8 rocks, the shaman brought in a pail of water, sat inside with us and closed the entrance using a blanket. Raquel used a smudging type of stone to bless each of the rocks, and that emitted an amazing herbal smell.

Raquel explained that we are going to pass through four doors inside the Temazcal. The first is the door of the air, and the mental self. She explained that we need to focus on the here and now, and to live in the past is accomplishing nothing, and to live in the future is accomplishing nothing either. She had us repeat our intentions and then she added essential oils to the rocks, then poured the water on them. The Temazcal filled with steam, it was pitch black but it somehow became cloudy. It was thick and steamy but tolerable. Raquel and the shaman were singing and drumming, and we had been told to focus on the healing music when we were feeling the steam. This lasted maybe 15 minutes. I could feel myself dripping from my chin, elbows, and sweat was pouring down my chest.

Once we went “through the door”, they opened the blanket covering and went out to reset to go to the next door, the water. This meant bringing in more volcanic rocks, a new water pail, blessing the rocks, new essential oils on the rocks, and then a new prayer to start the next door. The second one was the people or anyone our lives that we wanted to offer prayers for. I said Ryder, he’s got some anxiety issues he’s been dealing with, and Max, because I just wish he could be less anxious and have less reactions. I wish he could be more calm in more types of environments. Raquel poured the water on the rocks, did the singing and drumming, and the she came around with a branch of flowers dipped in the water and drenched our bodies in it, one at a time, while she sang to us. It was really refreshing. After this with more steam she sang in English (everything else was in Spanish). She sang, “You are safe, you are strong, you are loved.”

Next up was the physical body and the third door of the earth. Raquel prayed for the earth and she apologized to it, which I thought was really sweet. In this one we were told to share who we wanted to pray for for physical health and to make sure we included ourselves. I shared for my dad, and for myself with my various pains, my knees, and hoping to find out soon what this hernia/ulcer thing is I’ve got going on. The new hot rocks brought in were starting to pile high. We each got to bless the rocks with the smudging stone. And share our prayers. In this door, Raquel put mint on the stones and when the water hit them the air was sharper and smelled amazing, and it was the hardest to breathe but felt really cleansing to the throat and lungs.

The last door was for your ancestors or anyone passed on, or anything you wanted to give more love to. I prayed for the animals of the world to be treated better and for me to be a stronger voice for them. This one had the most intense steam and intense breathing.

After about an hour we emerged, we got to take a cold shower one at a time, under a pipe she has next to the Temazcal, and use buckets as well to cool off. My bucket had one flower in it and it seemed like the water was full of floral smells. My skin felt absolutely incredible, soft and exfoliated.

Once we cooled down they offered us fruit, guacamole, the lemon aloe water and chlorophyll water, which was bright green. We chatted a bit about how we feel and had some small talk. I had made plans to wait for the girl and walk together, but she was waiting on her friend who was MIA so I decided to walk up to the main road myself and get the colectivo.

There were plenty of street dogs out and people shopping and getting dinner. The colectivo was easy, and I got dropped off at the main grocery store near our Airbnb. I grabbed a bottle of wine and some Takis and headed for home. I didn’t feel like walking any more (I’ve been averaging 13,000 steps a day), so I tried the taxi app and it failed for probably the twentieth time in the last few days. I saw a colectivo headed for tulum so I grabbed it, thinking this is too easy. As soon as I checked my google maps we were speeding past my stop! I yelled, “aqi por favor!” And the driver said something back, the rest of the passengers said something, and he came to a screeching halt. I thanked him and got off quickly. I think he was asking the others if they cared if he stopped for me? And I’ve come to know now that this was a colectivo headed straight for Tulum, only stopping at major cities or points, not every street like the inter city ones. I got lucky here I think!

Wine tasted really nice as I enjoyed a glass before a great sleep.

Posted by kmcveggie 20:07 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)

PDC Wiithout Plans

sunny 30 °C

Waking up this morning was a slow start. We were hungry, and trying to sort out the best way to get around Playa without the ease of Uber. In the guidebook at the Airbnb there was a taxi app recommended. It was like Uber in its beginning stages! I requested a ride and before we knew it we had someone at our door ready to pick us up and drive us for 10 minutes. $4 USD.


We arrived at the Pitted Date and the server was as sweaty as I was. It was a huge menu. We ordered chilaquiles to share which seemed like breakfast nachos. Misha got Banana Sushi, which was banana wrapped in a peanut butter power ball type wrap. Alanna got the bomblette with their house-made egg, and I got the cauliflower baja tacos and the huevos rancheros. Our meals were beautifully presented and so, so tasty.


Everything was so good we decided to order dessert, the macadamia cheesecake. It was still frozen in the middle unfortunately so we didn’t get the full texture experience, but the flavour was nice.


After lunch we went down to the beach to stock our feet in the water. The water was like bath water temperature, not super refreshing but the breeze was nice. Anyone who knows me knows I have a mild fear of going into the ocean, and especially going in without shoes on. The seaweed around my ankles was something to get used to! But the water was so clear I could at least see that I was stepping on anything. There were no crabs to be seen anywhere.


A fishing boat was coming in, and these massive birds knew it. We watched as the fisherman unhooked their fish and threw them up into the air for the birds to catch. These birds were huge; we figured they had the wingspan of a human! In the air, they would sometimes catch a fish at the same time and play tug of war. It was really neat to watch.


After this we parted ways and I walked up towards the Sunday market. I grabbed a popsicle on the way, and resisted the urge to use it to cool off my skin. The market was a locals market, and it was crowded. I just spent a few minutes browsing, then wandered back into the hot sun to walk back towards Playacar.


I wandered back down towards the beach and ended up on a very luscious green street by accident. I saw a sign for local craft beer and I couldn’t have been more ready for something cold!


Turns out this is local beer brewed in Playa del Carmen, and it was delicious! The IPAs delivered on all their fruity notes. But after I was done the first one, I noticed the second one was already warming up, and by the time I got to my last flight glass it was room temperature!!


I found my way back to the beach and stuck my feet in. There was a local teaching his pitty cross pup how to play fetch along the beach it was so cute!


I was getting hungry again and found my way up to Coral Vegan Pizza. It was about time I strayed from Mexican food for a moment. I ordered a half and half of a chorizo and lime pizza, and a sun-dried tomato and olive pizza. Both were amazing and crazy gooey cheesy. I saw the manager/owner putting her invoices in at a table close to me so we chatted pizza!


I was close to Walmart and figured I could stock up on the essentials I needed for the rest of my trip. I got almost everything I needed with the exception of wine; apparently liquor sales are stopped on Sundays after 5pm? Some local bylaw. I was even stopped for buying vanilla! It counts as a part of the alcohol. Darn!


Getting a ride home proved challenging. The app is terrible, and flagging one down was not working as most of them said they were booked. When I got one to stop it was either 3 times as much as the app was charging me, or, “I’m not going that way.” Uhh, I think I’m paying you to go whichever way I want amigo! Finally I found one who quoted me just a little more than the app. Done!

At home I grabbed one of the beers I had carted here from Mexico City and hit the pool for a bit of relaxation before bed. I tried to sort out my coming days, but the taxi situation has put me off and so I decided to worry about it tomorrow.


Posted by kmcveggie 19:40 Archived in Mexico Comments (1)


overcast 29 °C

It’s been a few days since I’ve blogged! Getting settled into Playa del Carmen has taken some getting used to. We got an Uber XL to the Mexico City airport, and after paying 100 extra pesos to have Archer fly in the cabin, security was a breeze and we got coffees and waited for our flight. Watched a little Ted Lasso and before we knew it we were touched down in Cancun. Misha strapped on his baby carrier and was a hit at the airport.


We got a private car to take us to Playa since we had Archer to take with us, and we were quoted 10 minutes wait. After about 40 we finally got our car and headed to our destination, about an hour away.

We were dropped off and checking in was straightforward. We quickly dropped our bags, checked out the pool, then went out for food since we all hadn’t eaten.

Google said there were vegan tacos around the corner, so we went for a walk. Walking through the neighbourhood we saw so many dogs in yards, and none of them were friendly. Snarling at the gates, archer really got them riled up. I just wanted to say hello but these dogs were not meant for companionship. I saw one sweet girl, a smaller white pitbull getting a bath. And when she snarled at me her owner slapped her in the face to get her to stop. Terrible.


If the dogs were happy guarding us from the gate, they ran up to their rooftops to show us who was boss.


We got to the vegan tacos spot, but failed to notice this was a ghost kitchen, so once we finally found it we were met with a closed residential gate and very angry guard dogs. After texting with them we made a plan to order later.

There was a wine bar around the corner so we thought we’d try that out. Again, a closed gate. But I peered in and someone motioned to come in. This seemingly backyard operation in a very rural area was absolutely gorgeous. We got cocktails and they were refreshing and delicious. I had a tamarind mezcalerita. Nothing vegan there, so I had fries and Misha and Alanna both had really fancy tacos. We were not at all dressed for this place!


Next we went home, stopping for some tequila and fruit to made drinks with at home for the pool. I bought limes, mangoes, and some mystery fruit, plus some soda water. Finding tequila took a little more exploring. We found some behind bars at a convenience store. For only 100 pesos for a two-six we should have inspected this bittle more closely.


We wandered back through the garbage filled streets and raging guard dogs. We saw some gorgeous graffiti and convinced ourselves we were in the art district.


Back at home I made us a drink of all three fruits, tequila and soda and we sat by the pool. After round one and feeling no buzz, I went back to the apartment to make another and noticed.. this tequila was 25%! We were scammed haha. I poured us much more for this round and combined it with beer for a beerita. That did a little more of the trick.


We got ready and around 8pm we walked the 25 minutes down to fifth Ave. I mentioned my feet were a little sore wearing my sandled that had a little material around the heel. Whatever, I carried on. About a third of the way there I told the crew I needed to stop. I shon my flashlight against my feet and the backs of both heels weee filled with blood and blisters. Damn! I pushed through until we got to fifth, grabbed some bandaids and thought that felt good to go. But the intense humidity was not my friend. Everything was rubbing and the bandaids weee flapping away in just a few minutes.

We had wandered into a mall and I checked out some of the first shoes I could find. I found some very cute, kind of braided slides that I would have picked up anyways. When I put them on it felt like I was walking on marshmallows, and my heels were free to breathe. Sold! And I got a cute souvenir out of the deal.


We wandered down fifth taking in the sites, the tourists and the nightlife.


Starving again, we found Falafel Nessya, a whole in the wall I had searched out before. We each got a very cheap meal and sat down to wait for our food. I was sweating everywhere. I’ve never felt such intense heat. The dogs at the neighbouring table inside the tiny restaurant were barely a distraction to how uncomfortable I was. I went to the washroom just to splash water on myself and towel off. I was not handling this well, said Misha. I couldn’t argue! Alanna and I both couldn’t finish our meal we were so hot and bothered. But it was damn good.


After dinner we walked just around the corner and already felt more of a breaks. We stopped for a cocktail at Yum Yum and we all enjoyed our choices.


We then tried to hit up OXXO for a beer but they stopped selling at 10pm. So we found a different store to grab a beer and head to the beach for some more breeze. Misha and I got a Tulum Lager, very craft style label and made from sea water. I casually used it to cool my skin as we walked towards the beach.


Once there Misha and I realized we couldn’t get ours open. We were standing under one of those wooden lifeguard stands you see on the OC, and some locals reached down towards us to grab our beers and help us out. Once opened, they invited us up, and we chatted with the two of them for the next half an hour or so while we took in the breeze and the ocean air.


We called it early around 11pm. Our walk home in my new shoes seemed easy. It felt like the jungle, and oh how we weren’t in the city anymore. Thank goodness one of us was looking down when we came across a scorpion!! It wanted nothing to do with us and hid in the shade of a street sign’s pole. Absolutely terrifying!


I looked through my bedsheets before climbing into bed, AC turned on.

Posted by kmcveggie 20:11 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Xochimilco, Mezcal, Handshake

overcast 22 °C

On my last day in the city I slept in until 8, then Misha and I took Archer for a walk to a vegan food stall about half an hour away. Once we found the place I was disappointed to see that they only start selling tacos at 1:00, so we settled for a couple of their breakfast options. I got Molletes, which were a cheesy bean toast with avocado and vegan ham. We added some hot sauce and it was a nice breakfast! The cheese was really cheesy and melty.


We walked back to the house, did a bit of packing, then headed back out to Xochimilco where we had a tour of the waterways booked. We got there about 15 minutes early and got two Micheladas, two different options. One was more limey and salty, and one was more spicy and salty. Both delicious and about a litre of beer each.


We found our group and our tour guide offered that we buy some “beers or chasers”, so we followed one of the guys and got a couple each to bring on board.

We introduced ourselves to the two older guys and one of them, Mark, was a lawyer from KC, Kansas. The other, Don, was a supply manager of snowboarding gloves and gear from San Diego. He was a broncos fan, so I offered my feelings about that off the bat, to get it out of the way.


We got on the boat and further introduced ourselves to the group. We all said our names, where we were from and our jobs. There were folks from eBay, Amazon, finance and construction. The boat had a long table down the middle and it was setup with limes, oranges, and jicama with Tajin on it to snack on.


Our tour guide Maria gave us the info on where we were and the history of Mexico City. She also quizzed us, and when we got an answer right we got a shot of mezcal. I got the first answer right, then fed answers to the group that I learned on my other tours.

The mezcal was exceptionally smooth and smoky. Too easy to sip on. The chasers for mezcal were orange slices with Tajin on them. Delicious!

The river is fresh water, though very murky. We learned that the banks are artificial and made solid by the tree roots that were planted years ago. The plots of land are used for farming mainly, but also can be rented out for local weddings or other celebrations. The waterways are popular on Sundays with the locals who like to let loose and get drunk on the boats. So, we were doing what the locals like to do today!


Our first stop was to a little store, a washroom and a bar stall that made the “most delicious margaritas in the world” according to Maria. Of course we had to participate. The bartender was using a jigger but free pouring anyways, she used half a squeeze of fresh lime, a ton of triple sec, tequila and some other kind of liquor I didn’t recognize. Salt on the rim, it was large, boozy and delicious.


This sweet dog was on the property and so happy to see people. She was such a sweet girl, and she was full of fleas and ticks. I couldn’t help but feel so sad for all the dogs not being taken care of. But this is reality unfortunately.

Back to the water we had a Mexican shot, representing the colours of the flag it was a like wedge for the green, tequila for the white, and a red spicy liquor for the red called sangria tequila. Delicious! I sipped on the red one, it was really tasty. Maria was great at confirming everything that was vegan for me to try.


Next stop was an open field with washrooms, very green and serene. The sounds of birds has not gotten old since I’ve been in Mexico.

Back to the water we were joined by Mariachis, who sung La Bamba and Despacito, and other Spanish songs that the whole boat seemed to know the words to, except up Canadians. They were very talented!! We all contributed to their songs, and at 200 pesos each song they were not cheap entertainment.


One of the final stops were to see the axolotl ambhibians. These are native to the area and are endangered. I was hoping to see them but they were kept in a large tent, in aquariums, and for a fee, so I opted not to pay. I sat by the water and enjoyed the rest of my margarita.


Back on the boat we had lunch. I had shared that I was vegan, and my meal was really great. Tostadas with roasted zucchini, cabbage and salsa, it was just spicy enough and so tasty and fresh. I loved it! We also got to enjoy some Agua de Jamaica, and I added some of my remaining tequila to the drink.


From here it was all party, chatting with the others in the group. One of the married ladies startung giving lap dances to the other couples. Hilarious. We were letting loose! I chatted football and travel with Don, a 50 year old American guy on a trip to escape his wife and five year old (his words, not mine!).


Misha was really letting loose at this point too. He and Alanna have worked a lot in the last few months and he had managed to get this day off of work to spend the day with me. I was continuing to sip my boozy agua de Jamaica, and before I knew it misha was hurling over the side of the boat. I should have been paying closer attention to how much he was drinking!


One of the guys broke the only rule of the tour which was not to jump in the water. Maria was next to him, doing shots of tequila along with the group, while he stripped down to get in, so I think her only rule was a loose one.


We rounded out the tour and got back to the main docks, said goodbye to our new friends and got into an Uber. The driver was a sport, he and I were chatting and maybe 10 minutes into our 40 minute drive Misha said something in Spanish which must have translated to “I’m going to be sick” because the driver confirmed it, and promptly pulled over. There we were on the side of a busy highway in CDMX rush hour with my gringo friend on all fours puking in the grass. Once back into the car the driver asked if we had any beer, and we did! We hadn’t touched the four we bought prior to the tour. He said that Misha should take very small sips of the beer and it would help his stomach. So I cracked it open, poured a little into my empty water bottle and kept reminding Misha to sip. I happily enjoyed the rest of the beer in the back seat. I asked the driver if it was legal and he made a hand motion and sound to say, “eh, kind of?”


I enjoyed the long drive through the city while Misha fought sleep, and when we got home we put him promptly to bed. Alanna was still very into going out on her Friday night, so we made sure Misha was ok (he was upright and hugging the toilet), and we got an Uber up to Roma Norte. We got a sunken in table at Plantasia, an all vegan Asian cuisine inspired restaurant with a gorgeous interior.


We order beyond meat dumplings which were good, nicely fried and very meaty. For the main we shared three rolls of sushi which were huge. A kimchi roll, a California type roll with hearts of palm, and a mushroom roll. Two of the rolls were deep friend with a crunchy exterior. All were absolutely delicious!


We wanted a cocktail but they didn’t seem to sell liquor there, but they did have CBD infused cocktails so we got one with lavender, elderflower, lemon and 30 mg of CBD, claiming we would de-stress and relax. Sign me up! It was really nice.


We had reservations for 7:30 at a cocktail spot and by the time we paid it was 7:35, and we still had an 8 minute walk. We hoped they would be “on Mexican time” and we walked through the Friday night city vibe to find the cocktail spot.


Handshake Speakeasy, Alanna and Misha had tried downstairs before I arrived here, and our reservations this time were for upstairs. We were led inside through black curtains into a small dark room. The bartenders and the host yelled something when we walked in, much like they do at Korean places. We were helped into our tall stools, which was part of the experience as I noticed men got the same treatment. We were pushed in by the host and I felt very ticked until the bar like table we were sat at. Our server came around with hot towels treated with essential oils for our hands, and told us we would have 110 minutes to enjoy our time. Ok, this is shaping up to be quite the experience so far!


Next he walked us through the menu. They suggest starting with a mini cocktail for just 100 pesos, while you look through the rest of the menu which was a bound book. The cocktails were sorted into mini, carbonated, special, and then really special. The back pages had cocktails for 600, 1000, and 15,000 pesos. Sheesh! Y’all can do the conversions on that. The server also asked if we had allergies or dietary restrictions, and so when I said I was vegan he was eager to walk me through what I could enjoy on the menu. Love that! I started with a mini Manhattan.


Next we ordered from the carbonated menu. Alanna got a strawberry, lychee and elderflower cocktail that came with actual elderflowers balancing on the long and skinny ice cube. I ordered a pina colada with coconut washed rum and micro cilantro on top. The cilantro was so fresh and earthy and it really made the cocktail special. We both enjoyed these!


At the same time we were watching what was around us. A cocktail ordered next to us came with a wooden coaster on top and some sort of black moss looking stuff. The server set it on fire and it flowed with star like embers. It was truly mesmerizing and something the videos I took did no justice.


Another fancy cocktail ordered looked like my pina colada, but the server came over with a very real looking smoke gun, and from high above he blew out of the tip of the gun a smoke bubble that the guest was meant to catch with the top of their glass. Wow! We were witnessing a show all around.


Our final cocktails were ordered off the more unique menu. Alanna got one with gin and blue cheese, and mine was a tequila with tomato water and basil oil. Both came in these very skinny and delicate and tall coupe glasses. These were our favourites of the night!


We were given a ten minute warning to the end of our time so we paid up, finished our cocktails, and were “untucked” from the tall bar seats. We were given a goodbye yell from the bartenders, got an Uber, and said goodnight on such a great evening!

Posted by kmcveggie 05:17 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Day Drinking in CDMX

sunny 25 °C

I tried to sleep in this morning but it just wasn’t happening, so I guess 6 hours is the new norm for my body. I was up and listening to New Heights for a bit before I heard misha and Alanna stir. We had a bit of a catch up before I suncreened up and headed out towards Coyoacán, the neighbour we are on the border of. The place I was hoping to get breakfast at was an hour walking away and so I made the conscious decision to walk there and see the neighbourhood while I was at it.

The neighbourhoods were colourful and sweet. I wore shorts and a tank top and it was the first “cat calling” and whistling I’d had all trip, from a few different cars going by.


I stumbled across a cemetary and oh my, they do things different around here! I sent a picture to my father and he gave me back a nice dad joke. “It’s so good there, everyone is dying to get in!” Ha. Ha.


Next up was Frida Kahlo’s house/museum. As I’d been warned, there was already a lineup around the block. I had no interest in going in and the lineup confirmed that. Still it was neat to see a big piece of Mexico City’s history up close.


I should have google mapped this location but there was some sort of government activity happening here.


I continued to walk towards my destination and I came to a gorgeous gated park. I went to go in and there was a security guard that asked to search my bag, I said, no problem. I opened my bag and showed him basically the only thing in there which was my camera, and he said, in Spanish, sorry no cameras. I said back, compliantly, “oh, ok! No problem!” But then said, “I have a phone, what’s the difference?” I was confused but wasn’t going to argue with the armed man who didn’t speak English. I walked the perimeter of the park and saw people participating in free gym lessons, equipped with floor mats and barbells made of stones (I wish I got a photo of this). There were a ton of runners and also a school/care centre. As I kept walking I noticed that the park turned into heavily armed government buildings, so it made sense why they were checking bags at the other end.


I kept waking and came across cobblestone streets, colourful buildings, street food, and many restaurants. The restaurant I was after was inside a sort of Al fresco mall. I found it and took a seat. They were out of Alote, a warm corn drink I had been hoping to try, so I opted instead for a strawberry basil gin fresco which really hit the spot after an hour of walking. I ordered the empanadas, and before I knew it I had a tiny vegan queso and salsa Rojas taco in front of me. Perks of being early I guess! They were really delicious.


My empanadas were good. I wouldn’t try them again just because they were so fried. I appreciate that they were very traditional food. Though they were fried the dough still tasted like fresh corn tortillas and I had three different fillings: a spinach one, a vegan queso and peppers one, and a huitacolche mushroom one. Good food, just not scream from the rooftops food.


My cocktail was really yummy, and as I was contemplating the rest of my day I thought it would be nice to try another spot close to where I was. I googled, and a highly rec’d cocktail spot was around the corner so I thought I’d give it a try. Going against my plans? I’m breezy! Called Magda, it was a restaurant I guess by a chef here. All I know is the google translated versions of the cocktails sounded excellent. So I walked over and was escorted to a wonderful backyard garden. I got the Gaia: passionfruit, mango and mezcal. It came with a basil and grapefruit and pink peppercorn garnish, and a mushroom glass! It was really, really good.


After lingering in the beautiful garden I got an Uber up to Roma Norte where there were a bunch of places I’d researched that I didn’t get to yet. First stop: Fat Vegan:


I got the simplest item, the swirl cone. The chocolate and vanilla flavours were really good, but it was icy. I can see why people who come to virtuous pie and are over the moon excited about our ice cream! If this was in Victoria I’d get it again for the flavour, but the texture was not truly soft serve.


Next up was a brewery, La Roma. They had about 15 beers on tap but, surprise, they do flights! We went though which beers had leche, and in the end I grabbed a sour (No leche?!), two hazy IPA’s, a table beer and a saison. One of the IPA’s was my favourite, it had so much flavour! Minus a point for how many cockroaches passed me by while I was sitting at the brewery…


Next I found Mercado Roma, a food court done right with Cervecerías, mexcalerias, and several vegan friendly food places. I found the mezcal place I was looking for and the server gave me two samples, both very strong and nothing like I’d had the other night. I opted to sit at the bar and have a hibiscus mezcal margarita. The server’s recommendation was on point: It was really delicious.


I had been chatting to the young bartender via a translate app, mostly about cocktails, and so when I asked for the bill he said, do you mind trying a new cocktail and telling me what you think? I wasn’t going to say no! It was rose liqueur, absinthe, two types of mezcal and a rose petal, sugar rim. I told him it was delicious, but could use a little citrus for balance. I also told him my middle name was rose! How fitting he chose this cocktail.


I may have then shared with him some cocktail ideas to impress his boss, both of which included mezcal, that we had curated for our menus back home. He was translating them as I sipped the rest of my complimentary drink. Overall I loved this experience of sitting inside a boujee food court, people watching and chatting to the staff.

I meant to wander towards some of the other spots I’d ear marked but instead I walked past Gold Taco, and I took a seat ar their bar and ordered a couple of tacos. The one person whipped them up so quickly; I put in my translate app that she was a rockstar in the kitchen. She smiled and said thank you. She was so good! The tacos were SPICY but otherwise delicious. She offered to fill up my water bottle to go.


After this I made my way out of the market and through the streets to my next stop, Mercado Tasting Room. Here I picked the sour beer and sat on the street to enjoy it, while admiring the extraterrestrial theme of the brewery inside. I caught up with my blogging, with Chris and my parents and I was feeling the buzz of my day drinking.


At this point I should have gone home, but Por Siempre’s second location was around the corner, and so I thought it would be a crime not to stop by and try the tacos I didn’t get last time.


Absolutely stuffed, I ubered home and got ready to head right back out with Misha and Alanna. We got a ride to Hop The Beer Experience 2, a craft beer hall with tons of choices of what seemed like all Mexican beer.


They had a two-years-old chiefs game on!

The beer was excellent. I had a table saison, a raspberry Berliner, a sour and a couple of ipas. Excellent way to cap the evening!

Posted by kmcveggie 14:06 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

Grutas Tolantongo

sunny 28 °C

Another early wake up, this time I had to be at the Angel of Independence at 6am. About a 20 minute Uber at that hour through dark streets.

We boarded the bus, kind of a sprinter van style. It was cramped, and I was very aware this was a long trip but I settled in. Immediately a sweet girl next to me made conversation. Her name was Cameron, easy to remember! She was from Cleveland, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d ever run into the Kelce brothers. The rest of my bus mates were all from the US from what I gathered. The solo travellers all situated themselves at the back of the bus and we made small talk, mostly about travelling, as we made our way north.


First stop was for breakfast, and while giving us instructions Lalo shouted, “where is my vegan? Ah ah, this is what you can have!” He outed me from the get go! Those who know me know I used to have a 3-5 date rule before I outed myself as a vegan. Those days are long gone thank goodness, now I am out and proud!

One of the options was a mushroom that I was recommended yesterday, the huitacolche mushroom, which is local to Mexico. It was simple - mushrooms, tortilla, and salsa. Both options of salsa were delicious and tolerable. Everyone has warned me about the heat levels of the food here and I haven’t found that yet!


I went back for seconds, and the cook walked me through the other vegan taco options, confirming again, “Sin queso?” I had a spinach one, a pepper/veggie one, and another huitacolche. Delicious! Alongside papaya, cantaloupe unlike I’ve ever had in Canada, watermelon, and black coffee, I was satisfied. I tried to get “leche vegetal” for my coffee but despite the young server letting me look through his bar fridge, the didn’t have any.

The next part of the drive was filled with small towns, amusement parks, lots of little shops along the side of the road. Had it not been for many speed bumps our driver would have kept to a cool 130 the whole drive. The van was perhaps lacking in stabilizers as we felt every bump and every turn. I retold the story about getting actual air on the long bus ride from Kenya to Uganda. Usually I try to forget that story but it was relevant to tell here!


Another stop was for this stunning view of the rockies.


After this we headed down the mountain. The bus driver had clearly driven this route before, and this is what I kept reassuring the other passengers with. It was a lot of switching back and forth, speeding up then breaking hard around the corners. A wild trip! We stopped for sunscreen application and to strip down. The tour gave us little backpacks with all we needed for the day including tissue for the toilets. I forgot to mention that yesterday - the toilet situation on the road is something you must prepare for. We headed down to the man-made pools of Tolantongo! Stunning views, warm water, and instagrammable photos were what we were here for.


We got an hour and a half to chill in the pools. I stuck with new friends Cam, and Annalise from New York. We spoke about travel and food and it was nice to feel at home with strangers.


After our time in the pools we met up with the rest of the group and took an open air bus down to the riverside. This part is more natural, following the canyon floor. The river water is a little soapy, and my skin still feels lovely from the effects of it.


We started here with lunch which we preordered. Our guide, Lalo, handed out our food by name, but I was called, “Extra, extra vegan kelsey” which was honestly hilarious. I was really hungry so even my plain Mexican rice and black bean sopes were really delicious. I added the salsa and topped up with the avocado and tomato I had brought along. I was stuffed by the end! I washed it down with a delicious beer which was recommended by our tour guide. I was too hungry to take photos of this part.

Next we relaxed in the river for maybe an hour, chatting as a group and enjoying the water.


After this we boarded our bus and drove up to the entrances of the caves. This part seemed like an after thought on the tour’s information but it was truly a highlight. On the walk up we were introduced to different types of cacti by our charming host. We noticed hot spring pools on the other side of the river, our host called these the VIP pools.


The waterfall! Absolutely gorgeous and a mix of warm and cool water coming down.


We entered the caves and swam to “the room”. We had to use some ropes to attack the current, the water was almost too deep to touch, and once we got in the cave it was really loud from the water coming down through the openings. The water temperature was perfectly warm. It was surreal!


Once we exiting this natural cave we were guided to a man made one. The water in this cave was warmer than the last and the air was like a sauna. It was also very loud due to the water coming from the ceiling of the cave. We turned off our headlamps here for a few minutes and enjoyed the acoustics of the cave.

As a group we felt ready to get back on the road and so we hit the road towards Mexico City. There were a few stops along the way to return our gear and stop for pastes, which I didn’t partake in. I did distract this dog so I could remove cactus needles from his legs. Poor guy would wag his tail for food but flinch if I touched him. He still let me get to remove the needles.

On the way home conversations continued and I dozed off for a few minutes, which was difficult to do in such a fast moving bus. The running joke was that we wouldn’t make it home to give our tour guide a good review. But we did! The group of solo travellers were heading out to dinner but I couldn’t be bothered to join in. In fact the conversations with some of the folks on the bus made me really miss home, and miss my very conscious circle of people and workplace. One person in particular had overused the phrase “being a little bitch” or “bitched out” all day long and I couldn’t stand to hear more of it. There was negative talk about animals, about women, about how many boyfriends Taylor Swift has had and how without them she probably wouldn’t even be talented, about how unfathomable it would be for someone he knows to be on Only Fans, and just general anti-women talk. This person also said “blacklisted” maybe 4 times on the ride, and as I was sitting next to many people of colour I thought this was highly insensitive. He’ll probably never realize the language he chooses to use matters.

On the ride home we stopped for Lalo to ask a question about some plants he noticed. Of course my tour mates ooed and awed over these cute sheep and babies. There were many shops along the drive advertising barbacoa and using photos of the whole lamb. Will they make the connection? You can’t think these lamb are so cute and then eat them.


As we approached the drop off spot Lalo gave us as peach about how he wants to be more than just a tour guide, but also an ambassador for city and country of Mexico. He said he wants to change the perceptions about Mexico that the media like Fox News might have influenced us to believe. “Fuck Fox News!” I said. We got off the bus around 8:15 we all said goodbye.

I walked about half an hour to Por Siempre Vegana, an all vegan taco stand. It was busy! Maybe 8-9 people waiting for their tacos. The menu wasn’t descriptive, so I picked 4 tacos to try and was not disappointed. They were all delicious! Two were absolute standouts but I couldn’t tell you what they were!


After tacos I walked across the street to Yeccan Cervecería and had the best beer of the trip yet. This was true, high level craft beer and the choices were endless. They didn’t do flights so I settled for 3 of the smaller sizes. I had an imperial sour, a hazy IPA called “Chill Pill” and a lavender hazy IPA. All delicious! I called Chris over wifi and we chatted for the first time since I’ve been away.


It was the perfect way to end the day. I meant to be back home around 9, but instead I got an Uber when the Cervecería closed at 11.

Posted by kmcveggie 19:08 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Teotihuacan + Tacos

sunny 27 °C

Wake up at 5:55 came early this morning but I was ready. I took the cheapest Uber yet to Roma Norte and waited for my pickup for the tour to Teotihuacan. They messaged that they were running late, and I was already half an hour early so I walked to the only open coffee shop, a Starbucks. I picked up some extra napkins (forshadowing) and made my way back to the pickup spot with a large coffee in hand.

People in the streets were either starting up their food carts, running (like, for exercise), or walking their dog. It was a beautiful morning!

Once I got picked up I started chatting with the two guides and we had lovely conversations about México, about Canada, and about veganism. They gave plenty of recommendations for vegan food in the city. Awesome to chat with folks who were so aware!

We picked up two more couples, squeezed into a 7 passenger SUV and escaped the city traffic up north to Teotihuacan. Leaving the city we drove through a “red zone”. The driver, Arturo, said “I call it red because, well, it’s dangerous to stop here.” Yikes. The houses were crammed together, and looking into the roofs and backs of them I saw hanging laundry, stored junk, plants, and a lot of power lines. There were also large black and blue coloured vats, there are for water. And then grey smaller containers for the gas, which most houses are powered on.

We noticed overhead some gondolas - these are public transportation built 6 years ago and used to carry people up into the densely populated hills. You can see a bit of them in this photo which mainly shows how crowded the housing is.


The rest of the drive was filled with mainly nopales (cactus) and agave farms, and then we were there! These pyramids were built by the Aztecs, from around 100-400 CE. They are not tombs, unlike the Egyptian versions, these were used for ritual and were not hollow inside, though they have found tunnels in more recent expedition. This one, the Pyramid of the Sun, is the largest at 200 metres across the base and 65 metres high.


The other structures we saw along the roadway were the business centres and homes of the people. The main roadway was called the Avenue of the Dead.


Then we got to the Pyramid of the Moon, learned about its uses for sacrifices and to honour the god of fertility.


We walked along the Avenue of the Dead all the way to the end of the excavated site and to the final building, the Temple of the Serpents. Here we climbed the steepest stairs of the day, and felt the hottest sun.


Finishing up the tour, I met some sweet pups near the little shops outside, and found myself a pin for Teotihuacan to add to my collection.


On the drive home I snapped better photos of the gondolas.


Driving back was hot, and we were all very hungry. It took about an hour and I was dropped off exactly outside of my lunch stop, Los Loosers. This all vegan spot has mushrooms in most of their dishes, different types of mushrooms and preparations to make them super meaty. I got 3 tacos, and an Al Pastor style gyoza. This meal was so flavourful, the mushrooms were convincingly meaty and full of smoke and spice, and had toppings like pickled onions, smoky charred pineapple, fresh cilantro, and fried plantain I think?). I’m still thinking about this food it was really delicious. I had a coffee with it to perk up a little.


Next stop I walked maybe 20 minutes around the La Condesa neighbourhood, petting every cute dog and puppy that let me, and I made my way to Jardin Chapultepec for a beer in a beautiful garden oasis. I had a local IPA, and it was good, but it was no west coast IPA!


Next stop - Chapultepec Park. This is a massive park, right in the city, rivalling Central Park in New York. I walked through the front gates and through the park, checking out monuments and the lake, and browsing the vendors. I was tempted to buy some very cheap sunglasses since I brought ones here that are ready to be tossed. But I couldn’t commit! I sat by the water for a little while admiring the various birds, fish gulping at the water’s surface, and tourists on the pedal boats. I saw the coolest bird! He was big - bigger than the biggest seagull, and a gorgeous blue colour with bright red eyes and these white tentacle things coming out from his head.


I made my way up to the entrance of the castle, but couldn’t bring myself to cough up the fee and store my bag in exchange for the view. I had also hit 15,000 steps and was ready to get back home. I sat on a park bench and enjoyed the tall trees and serenity for a little while, and texted my mom. I’ve been feeling sick, my nose is running constantly and a bit of a headache, but not tired or have other symptoms. It also goes away when I get inside. I tried some allergy pills which didn’t help, and Misha and Alanna confirmed my thoughts that it’s a combination of the smog, elevation and dryness that’s making me so sniffly.

Once I took a little break I walked over to Roma Norte and to a vegan burger spot for an afternoon snack. The burger was smashed and perfectly greasy and really delicious. I stumbled up to the counter, literally. I have not gotten used to the uneven sidewalks here yet! There were four guys working at the burger shack, and by working I mean sitting at the tables waiting for customers. When the realized I was one they hopped right up! But there really is a lot of standing around here and what seems like excess people at businesses. The minimum wage in Mexico is $15.43CAD per DAY.


After the burger I got an Uber to a grocery store to get some food to pack for my long tour tomorrow. All vegan grocery store? Gotta check that our!


Next I made my way to a local grocery store, then Misha’s. I freshened up and we hired an Uber right back out. Misha had one of the Driftwood beer’s I brought him and we enjoyed the view from his rooftop while we waited for the Uber.


We ate at one of my top spots, La Pithahaya. It was dead, but we were probably early for Mexican dinner standards. La Pithahaya is known for their bright pink tacos. We ordered, and the food was beautiful. Unfortunately the flavours just weren’t there. I’d already been spoiled with my food choices and this wasn’t a hit unfortunately. Can you win them all? I guess not.


Next we hit up a Pulqueria on the advice of my tour mates from the morning. We walked up to the entrance to what looked like an old legion hall, brightly lit, ugly tables. A man with face tattoos and blacked out eyes and dressed all in black greeted us. “Hola. Fourth floor”. Ok, up we go. The first floor was the dingy legion type. The second floor was empty. The third floor up the creaky stairs was an art gallery in a small room with a man who said in Spanish, but motioned to, “look around”. The art was twisted bodies, chains, deformed faces. Creepy. We headed up the last staircase, which was next to a black wall with a skull and a dark pit off the one side. Was this the end? Finally at the top it looked more welcoming, but felt local. Mismatched furniture, plastic plants, black lights. My nails were glowing! We ordered from the three room-temperature cats of Pulque; our flavour choices were Apor (celery), Marzapan, or Insurgentes, which was a berry flavour. The glasses came rimmed worn spicy salt. The drink dates back to 200AD and is fermented, made from the agave plant. It’s a little slippery in texture and more viscous than juice, and served at room temp. It was.. fine. We weren’t wow’d. While we were drinking it we found out that if it’s drunk in it’s “best state” it can give you a psychoactive experience! It does contain proteins and a bunch of vitamins, and is sometimes referred to as Mexican Viagra.

Next stop: Mano Sanyo Mezcaleria. I’d wanted to go to a place where I could try various types of mezcal and this place had quite a few. We were all tempted by their cocktails, and the results were good, but not great unfortunately. The night felt a bit like a bust with good company. I did order a single shot of “herbal” mezcal that was served to me in a shot, at room temperature, and it was so smooth and herbaceous, it was easily the best thing I’d consumed since that delicious burger.


Took an Uber home and set multiple alarms for a 5:20am wake up the next morning for a tour to Tolantongo.

Posted by kmcveggie 04:07 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Centro Historico, Roma Norte

I started my day with a coffee and a catch up with Misha and Alanna. I ventured out with plenty of time to spare. Getting into the elevator of my home for the week, the buttons weren’t exactly clear but I figured it has to be pretty universal. I hit E1, and got to a parking garage, and the buttons for E2, S1 and S2 did the same. I went back to a couple, not recognizing anything from last night. Finally I wandered around one of the parking garage floors and found a door with an exit arrow painted on the floor, and I could see through the garage that it led to the sidewalk. I opened the door and the loudest security alarm I’ve ever heard went off! I quickly closed that door, got back up to the apartment and demanded Misha escort me outside. After the debacle to get outside, I then waited 20 minutes for an Uber that wasn’t moving, to then I reaIized I could “switch” drivers and got one right away. I was now behind schedule by a few minutes.

Traffic here is always busy, and Misha’s apartment isn’t the most central so the Uber took about 40 minutes. Motorcyclists glide through all of the traffic and take the middle lines to be their own lanes. Along the roadsides were many vendors, out early and selling food and snacks like fruit kebabs, corn flakes in plastic cups, different kinds of jellies/jellos, and tacos. Plastic cups are everywhere.

I got out a block early since traffic was at a standstill and I found Churreria El Moro, a churro shop with many locations whose churros happen to be vegan. I ordered the standard four churros in a bag, and a hot chocolate made with Leche Vegetal. The counter server was in a tiny plexiglass box taking my order, rolling her eyes at my lack of Español, and eating a breakfast of what looked like rice and beans, on the job. Many workers were standing around in the back, and greeting customers. They have as many staff on that I would on a Friday night, and this was a Monday morning when the majority of the city is closed up.


My churros order was fulfilled instantly, but the chocolate took about 10 minutes to make. Once in hand, I turned the 15 minute walk to my next destination into 12 minutes as I sped past gorgeous old buildings, basilicas, and many workers starting their days.


I found the tour guide of the free walking tour, and they told me to relax, we don’t start for another 20 minutes! So I enjoyed my churros in the Zocalo, in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral.


Once the tour began, we learned about this plaza. Home to free concerts, protests, and everything in between, we were standing in the heart of Mexico City where the Aztecs founded their civilization. The Cathedral was built over 240 years, and this is made clear with the different styles of architecture used during the tenure of its build. It’s also sinking; the sides are lower than the centre and the ground around it looks like an earthquake had just hit.

We wandered to an archaeological dig site truly just around the corner. In the 90’s, historians found pyramids under the city, and demolished buildings to excavate the ruins. It was really neat seeing that smack in the middle of the city. We learned that the people of Mexico wished for buildings not to be ruined just to dig up old sites, so now they create these tunnels underneath the city and show the ruins through windows in the streets.


Our tour was about 2 hours long, completing one big square and seeing several plazas, the tile house, street food vendors, businesses, and important landmarks. We also got to try some local Tepache, a fermented drink made of pineapple, orange and tamarind, served right out of a barrel.


After the tour, we said goodbye to new acquaintances and I wandered to my next destination: lunch. On the way I passed through this gorgeous park, Alameda Central, where I couldn’t help but take a seat and people watch. Street vendors are everywhere here, it’s a market lovers dream!


I easily found Vegamo, where I sat outside in the sun, journaled, and ate the most delicious food. I ordered a corn saison, which was served barely chilled. I ordered a radish and hearts of palm salad with Mexican herbs that was served over this incredible acidic and herby sauce. It came with tortillas to dip the salad with, and I don’t think I can ever go back.travellerspoin.com/205903/FDF928E6-5A15-4357-B3E6-1B2FC9EB5950.jpeg]
My main was enchiladas with mole. The enchiladas had carrot and gourd, and they were swimming in chocolatey spicy sauce and topped with a pickled fennel. No bite was left behind!


From there I wandered just around the corner to the Mercado de Artesanias la Ciudadela, a large market filled with trinkets, art, beads, pottery and souvenirs. When I say large, I mean aisles that felt like tunnels I may never find my way out of large. I loved it! I bought nothing. This was the place to haggle and I wasn’t in the mood.


After this I followed my plan to some thrift/vintage shops, and bought myself a cute little pair of earrings while it promptly started pouring and thundering. I walked in the rain a little around Roma Norte, but felt it was best to call it and get some rest at home. During my Uber home there were street performers addressing the car at many intersections. Jugglers, jugglers on unicycles, painted men, you name it. When I got home Archer and I had a little nap.


Feeling rested, I got ready to head out again. I got dropped off at this little pool/fountain, and couple help but notice the “skip” drivers waiting for their orders.


Dinner at Ojo De Maiz was delicious. The waiter spoke zero English and I didn’t get exactly what I wanted but that’s my own fault for not trying to speak Spanish. I ordered the stuffed pumpkin flowers, they were again swimming in this delicious, mildly spiced, tomato warm salsa. We do not do enough with sauce in Canada.


Next I had the purple banana molotes with vegan chorizo and seed cheese, in a green mint and pepper sauce. These were spicier than the last dish, interesting, the seed cheese was nice, and I think the chorizo was TVP.


Along with my glass of wine I was stuffed. I couldn’t help but notice they had a cocktail menu they hadn’t shared with me. I was also interested in dessert but I knew I couldn’t fit it in. They had a corn pancake with popcorn ice cream. What was I thinking not saving room for that? Instead I ordered the Saint Sauco - mezcal, St Germain, plaintain syrup, guava, with beans and lemon. I have no idea what “with beans” meant, but I was curious, and though I still don’t know after trying it, but it was a really fun and unique cocktail.


The chef was doing everything here except taking orders. She was soliciting folks from the street to come in, bartending, photographing her bartending, fixing wobbly tables, running food, and running back to the kitchen to make food. I get the vibe it’s her place and she’s a rockstar.

We made plans to meet at Licorería Limantour, the 4th best bar in the world. I walked through the streets of Roma Norte to the sound of birds, the tall trees and huge leaves surrounding me. It was dark, I was alone, and it was magic. There was some sort of group dancing in a park, and I passed through roundabouts with monuments and lights. Gorgeous place!


Finding the bar, there were several groups outside. I asked, “Por Tres”, and he said, “uno momento” which I took as a good sign, and then Misha and Alanna appeared from out of their Uber. They had just finished dinner at Pujol, which they had long waited for reservations for. They each had 2 cocktails and a six-course meal and I think it cost them the equivalent of monthly rent in many countries. They enjoyed the 9-year old mole the best!

We were sat right away, surprising all of us. The menu was in a little book, describing the cocktails and even showing the glassware they came in. The first one I had was I think called Tom Tomberry. It was strawberry, strawberry vinegar, mezcal, and a few other things I can’t remember. It was served in a tiny glass, the same ones we use for ice cream at Virtuous Pie, with a clear ice cube which seemed chisled into a cube, not moulded, a piece of basil and a frozen, macerated cherry tomato on top. It was stunning! The others were beautiful too, some with edible flours and teas. We ordered a second round, mine was a white port with apricot and vanilla, it came in a squared-off champagne flute and it tasted like candy. I bought the drinks as small payment for my accommodations. When it hit my credit card bill this morning it was just over half of what I would have paid for those cocktails back home!


Ubered home, went straight to bed, and was up early this morning to head to Teotihuacan.

Posted by kmcveggie 13:06 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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