HIERVE EL AGUA

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, we visited Oaxaca and took a half-day trip to Hierve el Agua. When I saw the rock formations in this video I knew I wanted to see them in person. What I didn’t know was the adventure we would have getting there. Don’t we look so happy and relaxed here?

We rented a car in Oaxaca City, which was a comedy of errors in its own right, and headed out of town in our only partially functioning vehicle in the direction of Mitla. Now, we knew mas o menos where we were headed, but we definitely didn’t have solid directions. So, when we saw the first sign off the highway that said “Hierve el Agua” with an arrow pointing to a dirt road we followed it. This dirt road wound through a tiny pueblo with a couple of last chance taco and beer stands and some cows. We waved to a couple of farmers on the side of the road who were probably thinking, “stupid gringos,” and kept on our way. Pretty soon we were climbing the side of a mountain with harrowing switchback turns in our partially functioning vehicle, pulling over every couple of minutes to let some burros or a truck full of locals pass us.

You can sort of get the idea starting at about 1:28 on this video of our trip. I don’t know how long it took us to get to the top, maybe an hour, maybe less, but it felt like years that I was holding onto my seat belt for dear life and trying not to look out the window at the sheer drop.

Finally, we reach the end of our harrowing journey and pull into the very large very paved parking lot at Hierve el Agua. We look around and see dozens of cars, taxis, even giant buses. We certainly didn’t see any of these people on our dirt road, and their cars are way too clean and too big to have come the same way we did. My husband wandered over to a taxi driver to get the story, and he informed us that there is a very nice paved two lane highway that goes all the way up the mountain - you just have to pay 40 pesos [less than 4 dollars]. 

After we visited the bathroom and our legs stopped shaking from our drive up the mountain, this all seemed very funny. And we happily paid the 40 pesos to take the paved road back down.

And the point of the whole adventure - we enjoyed the views from Hierve el Agua and stood right on the edge of the rock formations just like everyone else. Lots of families had packed food and swim suits and were spending the day enjoying the fresh water springs at the top.

We climbed around taking [not so graceful] pictures and bought some nieve before we piled back in the car and headed back to town.

My advice? Hierve el Agua is an easy drive outside of Oaxaca City and is definitely worth the trip - especially if you stop at Mitla or a mezcal distillery on the way. Just be sure not to pay attention to the first hand-painted sign you see on the highway, wait for the real sign to the real highway.

see the rest of our photos from hierve el agua here

Five Things

  1. I was interested to see an article in the Washington Post this week on swimming with whale sharks all over the world. I was especially interested in this letter that talks about the different experiences one couple had in Cancun and Isla Holbox [albeit years apart]. Our experience was much more like the one described in the letter in Holbox, but I can certainly see how without proper regulation it can quickly get out of control. Hand feeding the sharks in the Philippines and some of the other activities described in the article are sad to read about and I hope that in Mexico and elsewhere making and enforcing regulations will be a priority.
  2. If you’ve ever spent any time in Mexico City you’ll know the sound of every tamale vendor rolling down the street -"hay tamales oaxaqueños, tamales calientitos!" We’ve long wondered about where the tape that all tamale vendors play comes from, and this week I came across the answer! The interview is pretty priceless.
  3. Can you believe this picture of Cancun in 1969? I’ve seen so many of these old photos and they always blow my mind.
  4. This fictionalized account of Frida’s life was released for sale on Tuesday. I’ve really enjoyed reading about the cover design process, a collaboration between Anna Dorfman and Lisa Congdon, on Anna’s blog Door Sixteen [one of my favorites] and am thinking of ordering the book before my next plane ride.
  5. I think we are planning on a slow weekend - going to the tianguis for my favorite guacamole and maybe a trip to Xochimilco - what are you up to? 

On the way

I took a little bit of a break from my Oaxaca posts because I didn’t want to overload everyone with Oaxaca, NOT because I was done sharing! But, I think enough time has passed now. For the next couple of weeks I am going to return to Oaxaca, so get ready!

Five Things

So I missed posting my five things on Friday, but better late than never! 
  1. How do you like the new look of This Gringo Honeymoon? I am so excited to have a fresh new blog design, thanks to the wonderful and talented Alyssa! I love what she came up with and can’t wait to get back to posting about our adventures in Mexico. I am still cleaning up categories and a few other things, so give us some time, but for now at least we are looking fresh and clean!  
  2. I read about this Austin jog a dog program in Runner’s World last week and thought it was such a great idea. If you’ve ever run with a dog you know just how happy they are to stretch their legs, and shelter dogs could certainly use those endorphins. I love this idea so much - I would really like to be part of something like it in Mexico City or DC.
  3. With Independence Day behind us, I am already looking forward to Dia de los Muertos and had my first pan de muerto of the season this morning for breakfast. A bit early, I know, but I couldn’t help it when I saw them at the bakery last night.  
  4. I know I am probably late to the game with this one because I don’t watch much TV, but this Volkswagen bulldog commercial is the best! I have watched it at least 15 times. 
  5. Finally, I have a question for other expats in Mexico. I am looking to take some intensive Spanish lessons in October and November to get ready for the holiday party season. I am willing to dedicate a good amount of time to this, but need to be flexible around work and travel schedules. What have people with decent Spanish looking to improve fluency had success with? Private tutors? Berlitz? If you have any good suggestions let me know in the comments or email me info@thisgringohoneymoon.com  - Thanks!   

Five Things

  1. It’s been a sad week full of distressing news for diplomats around the world. No matter what your politics, religion or nationality, it is a scary thing to turn on the news to see embassies and international schools under attack. This is what has been at the forefront of my mind for the past several days, and now that I am in DC the flags at half-staff are a constant reminder of the diplomats who gave their lives in service of their country this week.  
  2. The New Diplomat’s wife has a fitting post today given all that is happening - as diplomats sometimes we like to think that we transplant all the trappings of “home” everywhere we go and can pick up and leave just as easily. In reality, our lives are totally intertwined with the people around us and the countries we live in. Picking up and leaving is not so easy. 
  3. I am looking forward to seeing this new documentary on the Monarch migration, either in Chapultepec Park or at the Smithsonian in DC. It reminds me of one of our first adventures in Mexico, when we went to see the butterflies.
  4. To follow up on one of my things from last week, I got my chiles en nogada fix at Izote before we left Mexico, and it was both pretty and delicious
  5. We are in DC this weekend and missing all the Independence Day celebrations in Mexico, but here is my post from last year. Hope everyone in Mexico City has a great time. Viva!

Happy weekend! 

iphone photo from my run on the mall this morning

Fall Style

Fall 2012



I’ve been looking for something new to inspire my fall theme, but I keep coming back to my old fall favorites - leather and knits, skulls and gold. I guess having a uniform does make things a bit easier. I am coveting these Pucci leather pants right now; and while I probably won’t spring for the luxe version, I am on the lookout for a less spendy pair to get me through fall. Zara slippers and a cable knit sweater tone down the pants. Finally, a statement cocktail ring and glowing skin finish off the perfect fall look.

What do you think? Am I too predictable?      
#polyvore  #style  

Five Things

I’ve been thinking for a while that I don’t post anymore about the random things that I like on the blog. And wouldn’t everyone like to see a few more instagrams of my idiot dogs? Sure! Why not?

Am disciplined enough to post five things every Friday? Let’s find out! Here is my first Friday iteration of five things:

  1. I missed getting a Starbucks pumpkin scone when I was in the US last weekend by just ONE day. I have been thinking about them ever since so I’m going to try to make my own this weekend. I will tweet the results. 
  2. Speaking of which, do you follow me on twitter? If you don’t, you should. I am a much better tweeter than I am blogger.
  3. This gif of Sasha Obama last night during her dad’s speech has had me laughing all day.
  4. I know people are going with darker plummy lips for fall, but I am still loving bright coral lips and this FACE Stockholm chili flake color for J.Crew is just as good as MAC Lady Danger.
  5. Since we won’t be in Mexico for Independence Day next weekend, I am really looking forward to eating chiles en nogada this weekend to celebrate early - but I will be eating them in a restaurant, not making my own like this chica.

Happy Weekend! 

Mexico City Guide in GQ

Obviously if you read this blog it is not news to you that Mexico City is the place to be. Now it feels like the rest of the world is starting to catch on as well. Mexico City is the featured travel destination in this month’s GQ Magazine - the one with Tebow on the cover. Check out the online feature here OR pick up the print issue to see additional photos, including a couple from moi!

#df  #mexico city  

Isla Holbox

Fortunately, we have more than blurry underwater photos to remember our time in Holbox. I finally got around to downloading our real photos and at least half are just of the turquoise water. The photos really don’t do it justice, but it was so beautiful that we spent hours by the pool just staring into the blue horizon. From our hotel you could walk almost a kilometer into the water before it even reached your waist.



The above-water photos with the whale sharks are not of us; since we were always in the water together we weren’t able to get any photos of each other. But, they are of people who were on our boat and hopefully give you an idea of how close we were able to get! 



I’ve been so spoiled by Mexico. The more time we spend in Quintana Roo the more I am convinced that you would have to look long and hard to find another place with such clear water and beautiful beaches.

 

On the way back from our whale shark excursion we found these pink flamingoes. I was so happy because I really wanted to see flamingoes while we were on the island but I wasn’t sure my stomach could have handled a second boat excursion to find them.



We were pleasantly surprised by the hotels and the vibe on the island – I was expecting larger resorts full of gringos, but we found eco-friendly hotels that mostly catered to Mexican families. That is not to say it was cheap - there are certainly more affordable destinations in Quintana Roo.  

 


Holbox isn’t the easiest Mexican beach destination to get to. We had a 2 hour ride on a bumpy road from Cancun, then a ferry ride to the island itself. To top it off, the whale sharks were still a 3 hour boat ride out from the island. It’s definitely not the easiest weekend getaway from the US, or even from Mexico City. But if you have 5 days or more and are looking to really unplug, I highly recommend it. Even better if you visit from June to September and are able to fit in a swim with the sharks.

 

 

See the rest of my photos from Holbox here

Swimming with Sharks



A couple of weeks ago I went on a birthday adventure.

This was a big birthday for me, and I wasn’t sure exactly how to celebrate it [or if I wanted to celebrate it at all]. My husband suggested that we celebrate on vacation with an adventure, and I am so glad we did.

We spent my birthday on a tiny fishing boat 3 hours off Isla Holbox swimming with whale sharks. It was the most thrilling thing I have ever done - I was terrified the entire time I was in the water with them, but in a good way! I have been searching for this kind of thrill since we we went on safari last year. While nothing can beat the total safari experience, for those moments that you are swimming alongside a three-story long animal the excitement is just incomparable.  

We bought a disposable underwater camera [did you know they still made those? you wouldn’t believe the trouble I had trying to get the film developed!] and had low expectations for photo quality. Predictably, the photos turned out pretty bad. It was hard to swim fast enough to keep up with the sharks and worry about working the camera through your goggles at the same time. We only have a few photos that actually have a shark in them, and none with either of us AND a shark - even though we were swimming just an arm’s length away from them. 

Still, I am so happy to have these blurry reminders of such a happy birthday. I will never forget it.