Saturday, April 29, 2023

Greetings from Cuetzalan

I wrote in my last post that Alejandro and I are spending the holiday weekend in the town of Cuetzalan.  Getting here was quite an adventure.  The last part of the drive through the mountains of northern Puebla was slow-going because the highway is a nightmare of potholes.  But Alejandro navigated them, and we arrived safe and sound.  

Cuetzalan has been designated a "Magic Town" by the Mexican Secretariate of Tourism, and it is most definitely magical.

I doubt if I will post anything until we return to Mexico City.  We will be busy sightseeing, and the WiFi here is very slow.  ¡Hasta luego!

Friday, April 28, 2023

A Weekend Excursion

This weekend is a long weekend, what the Mexicans call a "puente" or bridge.  Monday, May 1st, is a national holiday, Labor Day.  Alejandro and I are going to take a road trip, leaving early Saturday morning, and arriving about five hours later in Cuetzalan in the state of Puebla.  

Cuetzalan is a small town in the northern mountains of Puebla.  It has been named a "Pueblo Mágico" (Magic Town) by the Secretariate of Tourism for its beauty, cultural richness and folklore.  It is surrounded by jungle and coffee plantations.  The town itself is hilly with cobblestone streets and picturesque architecture.  Two thirds of the population speak Náhuatl, the language of the Aztecs, as well as Spanish.  I was there many years ago for just a quick day trip.  It is a truly magical place, and I have always wanted to return and spend more time there.

(Image taken from the internet)

We have a hotel room reserved for two nights.  From what I have read, the Wi-Fi throughout the town is not very good, so you might not hear from me again until after we return. 

On Top of Izta

 Alejandro used to belong to a group of mountain climbers.  Although the group does not get together for expeditions as they used to, Alejandro is still friends with most of them, and some of them continue to climb Mexico's peaks.

One of his friends recently climbed Iztaccíhuatl (Izta for short).  It is the third highest peak in the country (elevation 17,160 feet), a dormant volcanic mountain located about 40 miles from Mexico City.  He sent Alejandro some spectacular photos of the ascent, and I thought that I would share a couple of them with you.

Sunrise from the slopes of Izta

The ascent must be started in the wee hours of the morning, so that you can reach the summit and descend before the possibility of late afternoon storms.

The view from the top

In the background you can see Mexico's second highest mountain, Popocatépetl (Popo for short).  It, too, used to be a popular goal of alpinists, but since 2000, the mountain has been off limits.  In that year the mountain came to life with the biggest eruption in some 1200 years.  Since then, there have been frequent explosions, and most of the time it is fuming gas (as you can see in the photo).   Izta is still snow-covered, but Popo, due to warmer temperatures and the heat of its eruptions, has lost all of its glaciers.  There must have been precipitation (at that elevation in the form of snow) the day before.  Usually, the peak is gray cone of volcanic ash, but here it is crowned with snow.   

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Children's Day

This coming Sunday, April 30th, is Children's Day (Día del Niño) in Mexico.  While downtown I saw this sign at the entrance to a bakery.

Spoil them with a miniature cake.

This billboard along Patriotismo Avenue is from Sanborns, the ubiquitous chain of restaurants/ pharamcies / gift shops.

"Haz realidad sus sueños"
Make their dreams come true.

In elementary schools across the country, classes will have a party this week to celebrate Children's Day.  However, Alejandro's nephew Ezra will not have a class party since he is now in junior high school.  Instead, they celebrate Students' Day (Día del Estudiante) which is May 23rd.  Even though Ezra is nearly a teenager now, Alejandro and I bought him a couple small presents for Children's Day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023


On my trips downtown on the Metrobus, I have noticed a German restaurant called "Restaurante Fritz" along the bus route.  The place has a long history.  According to the restaurant's website, it was founded by a German immigrant named Fritz Brack who came to Mexico in 1940.  (It would be interesting to know the story behind his migration.  Was he escaping the Nazi regime or perhaps military service?)  Anyways, both Alejandro and I like German food, so last Saturday we decided to give the place a try.

I don't think the decor has been changed since the 1940s.  There was a stage at the front where a musician was playing the guitar and singing songs in English, Spanish and German.  (I later asked him if he was from Germany, and he said "yes".)

Alejandro and I both ordered the lentil soup as a starter.

For our main course Alejandro ordered the goulash, and I had schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese.

Our meals were good, but not spectacular.  We have had better German food back in Ohio... and obviously I've had much better in Germany.  It is not a place that we will return to frequently.  However, it was a change of pace and an overall pleasant experience.

Dancing, Veracruz Style

Last Saturday, Alejandro and I took a trip downtown to do some shopping.  We took a break and stopped at the downtown branch of "La Parroquia de Veracruz", a chain of coffee shops which originated in that gulf coast city.  While we were there, a young woman dressed in the traditional attire of Veracruz came out and danced around the cafe.  Alejandro took this photo and video.


Later, as we were walking down Juárez Avenue, we came upon this young fellow performing on the street.  He was also dressed in the typical garb of Veracruz and was dancing to "son jarocho", the traditional music from that part of Mexico.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A New Pizza Place

A couple weeks ago Alejandro and I tried out a new restaurant just down the street from the apartment.  It's called Gian Luigi, and, as the name suggests, it's an Italian restaurant. They serve pasta dishes and a variety of pizzas, a number of them quite different from what we are used to in the U.S.  We liked the place and returned a second time last Friday.

It's a small restaurant with several tables set outdoors on the street.

We ordered the "combo" for two... salad and pizza and beverage.  Alejandro had an Italian salad, and I had the Caesar salad.

Our pizza included toppings of goat cheese, arrugula, prosciutto, and grapes.  It was rather unusual but very tasty.

The place is a nice addition to the variety of restaurants that we have in the neighborhood.

Architecture from the "Porfiriato"

Mexico City is filled with architectural gems that span the centuries.  Many buildings were built during the "Porfiriato", the period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Mexico was ruled by the dictator Porfirio Díaz.  During that period the upper classes embraced the styles of France, so the architecture has a decidedly European flavor.

As I was walking down Chaputepec Avenue I saw numerous examples of architecture from the "Porfiriato", some in better condition than others.

From the ragged curtains hangining out the windows, I would say that this once elegant house has seen better days.


Technically, this building, built right after the revolution that ousted Porfirio Díaz, would be "post-Porfiriato".  It is a large housing complex that occupies an entire city block.  I wrote about it once before on this blog.  I was happy to see that it appears to have been recently spruced up and that all graffiti has been removed.

This fine old building is still an elementary school.  The "Escuela Primaria Horacio Mann" is named after Horace Mann, the famous 19th century educator from the U.S.

Heading across Chapultepec Avenue into the neighborhood of Roma, the beautiful old buildings are generally in better condition.  Roma began as an affluent development during the "Porfiriato", but then fell into decline as the wealthy moved to newer neighborhoods.  The 21st century has seen a revival of the district, and it is considered one of Mexico City's trendiest "colonias".

I took this photo through the gate which closes off this private lane of townhouses. 
An early example of a gated community?

These two houses, next door to each other, are especially ornate examples of what I think would be classified as examples the French "art nouveau" style.  The blue one is for sale or rent.

Not everything in Roma is elegant "Porfiriato" architecture.  Just down the street is the startling contrast of this late 20th century apartment building.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Another Edition of "Street Art"

Mexico City has long been famous for its street art, and on my trips here I have frequently posted miscellaneous examples that I have encountered on my wanderings around the city.

Here are some more works that I have recently found...

 On a high-rise building along Insurgentes Avenue

On the exterior walls of the Juárez Market along Chapultepec Avenue there are some new mural paintings.

I suspect that these paintings are portraits of vendors who work in the market.

Then around the corner of the market building are two paintings which seem to reflect evolution of the marketplace from Aztec times to the present day.

On the wall of a nearby school is an appropriate painting.

Here is a variety of street art seen while walking through the neighborhood of Roma.

Meeting a Fellow Blogger

If you look at my blog list, in the right hand margin, you will see one which is called "Gringopotpourri".  It is written by a young fellow (well, younger than I am) named Scott who has traveled the world far more extensively than I.  However, one of his favorite places in the world is Mexico City, and he even lived here for almost two years working as an English teacher.

He and I have been commenting on each other's blogs for some time now.  When he informed that he was planning a return trip to Mexico City this spring, and that it coincided with my stay here, we made plans to get together and finally meet each other face to face.

Last Thursday we decided to have breakfast together.  I met him at the San Pedro de los Pinos subway station which is just a short walk from my apartment.  From there we walked a few blocks to a little cafe that opened not too long ago. It's called St. Peter's Coffee (yes, the name is in English).  I have been to the cafe several times and even wrote about it here on the blog.

I had never had breakfast there before, but it was quite tasty.  We had devoured most of it before I thought to take a photo.

Scott is familiar with the San Pedro de los Pinos neighborhood.  In fact, when he lived down here, he was thinking of renting an apartment in this "colonia".  It is a pleasant area that to me has the feel of small-town Mexico (at least until you come to the two busy thoroughfares of Avenida Patriotismo and Avenida Revolución).  

An interesting site in San Pedro which I have written about in the past is a small archaeological zone called Mixcoac.  Back when Scott lived in Mexico City, it was not open to the public.  Now, however, you can walk around the ruins of this Aztec site, and admission is free.  Since we were in the neighborhood, Scott wanted to see it, and I joined him.

The archaeological site is not especially impressive.  It is just a small pyramid and the foundations of a ceremonial area which was dedicated to Mixcoatl, the Aztec god of the hunt.  But it is quite cool that these pre-Hispanic remains were discovered in the middle of a residential neighborhood in the shadow of a superhighway.

Practically beneath the elevated highway, there is a small museum which tells about the various archaeological sites in within the Mexico City area.  Here Scott stands next to a statue of the Aztec god Mixcoatl.

It was a pleasure meeting up with Scott, and this week we have plans to meet again.  He's going to take me to a place in Mexico City which I, in spite of my many visits here, have never seen before!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Forbidden Pruning

Most homes in crowded Mexico City do not have anything like the front yards that we are used to in the U.S.  Houses usually face directly on the street.  Along the sidewalks there are  unpaved squares where homeowners plant flowering shrubs or trees.  The trees, especially the small laurel trees, are often pruned into geometric shapes, or sometimes the shapes of animals or even, as you see in the photo below, the shape of a house.

However, last week I saw something that had me scratching my head.  I passed this small tree while walking down Luz Saviñón Street.  Like many, it had been trimmed into a globular shape.

However, on the fence around it, a sign from the city government had been posted.

"No podes los árboles de la vía pública" - Don't trim the trees along the public way.

This tree has been reported, and the sign says, "Any person found pruning this tree will be reported to the authorites."

What?  I have seen thousands upon thousands of trees in Mexico City that have been trimmed into all sorts of shapes, but this is the first time I have ever seen a sign saying that the pruning of trees is prohibited.  Why is this homeowner being picked on???