Dunas de Bilbao @ Coahuila

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Near Torreón, in a municipality called Viesca, there’s these sand dunes that together with the mountains make up for an amazing landscape.

You can camp there and at the entrance there’s also an area with roofed tables, bathrooms and showers. We decided to camp the furthest away, on the dunes. The entrance fee to the place is 10 pesos per person.

 

The wind was a problem while setting up the tent because it ended up with lots of sand inside. We wandered around and had dinner with breathtaking stars above us. The next day we had breakfast and explored the zone to see the animal footprints on the sand, since they all go out at night.

At the end you’ll want to clean the sand off in the showers before leaving. They’re not super nice but for 10 pesos it’s overall a great deal.

 

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2016-17 Winter Trip Pt. 2: Sayulita

Sayulita is a charming oceanside village located in Mexico’s Pacific coast, specifically in the state of Nayarit, near the more popular destination: Puerto Vallarta. It is mainly visited by surfers or people who want to try surf, but lately it is becoming more popular. So much that Forbes called it the most visited national destination of 2016, though what they really mean is that Sayulita was the national destination with more tourism growth of the year.

This pueblo mágico is somewhat eclectic. You can find locals, Cora and Huichol people, Mexicans from other places and even foreign people that have decided to live there. There’s Mexican food and crafts, but there’s also these fancier boutique type restaurants and stores. Also, I wouldn’t say that Mexican tourists really outnumber foreign tourists.

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December 23, 2016.

We traveled by bus from Guadalajara. What was supposed to be an approximate 4 hour trip, ended up being a 6 (almost 7) hour journey. First recommendation: whatever you do, don’t travel with Autobuses Pacífico (Estrella Blanca group). We got on the old dirty-looking bus and all the bus had this stinky bathroom smell. The bus stopped wherever the driver could pick up more people and it took us about 2 hours just to get out of Guadalajara. When we were passing by the road entrance to Sayulita, the driver dropped us off there and we walked and then took a local bus.

Once we checked-in at our hostel, La Redonda Sayulita, we just wanted to eat something. We found a nice looking restaurant by the beach called El Break, which ended up being a really good restaurant. Not cheap, but not expensive considering that ugly restaurants and even some street vendors had similar prices. Then we had a walk on the beach (a super pretty beach with just 2 downsides: 2 stinky water streams that go directly into the ocean; sorry to ruin the romantic feeling), we saw kids releasing baby turtles (an activity by Campamento Tortuguero), and sat down to watch the sunset. Later we had dinner and walked around the plaza.

 

 

The next morning we went running on the beach and then came back to have breakfast at the hostel. We decided to take it slow and relax a moment. In the afternoon we went to El Break for the second time and then to the beach. Since I had nothing to lie or sit on, and I wanted to have one since I discovered them, I bought a petate. For those who don’t know what it is, it’s a kind of mat made of woven fibers of palm (palma de petate) where you can sleep on, even on hard surfaces. And we did, we slept on the beach. Then we had to buy some stuff for the Christmas dinner with the people at the hostel. We bought different cheeses, nuts, crackers, fruits and vegetables to make some tapas. The dinner was really cool, everyone sharing, enjoying and dancing. Even the owner and her family were there. I think we were lucky to find a good hostel, with a super friendly staff and guests. Hannah and I exchanged Christmas gifts later that night.

I woke up and went downstairs to have breakfast, only to discover a trail of chicken all the way from the fridge and lost upstairs. No one ever found out who was the artist. That day we tried surfing (my first time surfing!) but I was unable to stand up on the board. So I decided that I wanted to try again the following day. We ate at Tacos Mary’s (good fish tacos) and went back to the hostel to relax and draw for a while. At night we had a walk on the beach and went to Yambak Bar for some reggae dancing and drinks with Mezcal. The best one was the one with passion fruit.

On our fourth day there, we visited Mal Paso beach with some guests from the hostel and someone from the staff who was guiding us (hey there, Frank!). Then Frank had to go back to work and just a bit later Hannah started to feel sick, so we decided to go back. I bought some guava juice for Hannah and she went to sleep. I stayed with Frank drinking coconut water and chatting with him and some friends of him that were visiting (one of them was in jail at Puerto Vallarta before because he fell asleep on the street, drunk). Later, Hanna woke up and we went out for dinner (to El Break, again). Everything was cool and it unexpectedly got better when we paid. The owner was super happy and dancing (and probably drunk), and he offered us some Mezcal shots. He was celebrating something like 12 years of the opening of his restaurant and he even gave us a super long speech about love because he thought we make an amazing couple. Then he offered us another round of Mezcal with sal de gusano (worm salt), to our love. That night ended with a Cambio (a card game) tournament at the hostel and live salsa music at Don Pato.

 

 

The last day we decided to lose our pre-paid Autobuses Pacífico ticket and travel with Vallarta Plus instead. We visited the beach one last time to say goodbye to the Pacific Ocean and that was mainly it. If you want to go from Guadalajara to Sayulita (and you don’t have a car), I really recommend Vallarta Plus.

 

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The Recap

Day 1:

  • Bus from Guadalajara
  • Walking on the main beach
  • Campamento Tortuguero releasing baby turtles at sunset
  • Walking around the plaza at night

Day 2:

  • Running on the beach
  • Relaxing at the hostel
  • Eating at El Break for the second time
  • Relaxing at the beach
  • Christmas dinner

Day 3:

  • Surfing
  • Eating at Tacos Mary’s
  • Relaxing at the hostel
  • Night walk on the beach
  • Mezcal drinks at Yambak Bar

Day 4:

  • Mal Paso Beach
  • Relaxing at the hostel
  • Salsa Night at Don Pato

Day 5:

  • Getting tickets to Guadalajara
  • Main Beach
  • Trip back to Guadalajara
  • Checking in at Hostal de María

2016-17 Winter Trip Pt. 1: Chihuahua, MX

Chihuahua is located at the north of Mexico. It is the largest state in the country and it is mostly popular for The Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. Though this extraordinary and biologically diverse desert is called The Chihuahuan Desert, it extends to other Mexican states such as Coahuila and Durango, and even the states of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas in the US.

This state is also popular for The Sierra Tarahumara (the Tarahumara mountain range), home of the Tarahumaras (or Rarámuris), who are well known for their crafts and their 2-day long-distance running. The Rarámuri language is still spoken and people are conscious about the importance of preserving it, we even spotted a café at Creel where you get a discount for making your order in Rarámuri. The famous Barrancas del Cobre (or Copper Canyon) and the Basaseachic Falls are located in this mountain range.

Chihuahua is also home of the largest group of Mennonites in Mexico. This Christian group of people is mainly known for their farm products, specifically: their cheese.

Oh, and Chihuahua is also popular for the people’s accent. Where, unlike where I live and most of the country, they pronounce the “ch” as “sh”. Bienvenidos a Shihuahua!

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December 18, 2016.

Hannah, Marc and I arrived to Chihuahua super early; at around 5:00 AM after taking a night bus from Saltillo. We went directly to the airport by taxi (should’ve used Uber, because that was one expensive taxi), where we waited at a restaurant until Herz was open to pick up the car we rented. The initial plan was to take the train called Chepe, but since we had little time and it was cheaper and more comfortable to rent a car, we did so.

After an express visit to downtown Chihuahua and eating a “montado” (which is just like a normal burrito but with cheese), we hit the road in the little silver Chevrolet Spark.

Halfway to Creel we made an emergency stop because Hannah was too tired to keep driving. Marc didn’t have a driver’s license and I was worried I fucked up because I don’t drive standard (I know, shame on me). So Hannah slept 20 minutes in the car while Marc and I explored the area near the road. All the landscapes you can admire on the way from Chihuahua to Creel are beautiful, so don’t worry you won’t get bored.

The staff at Hotel Posada Santa Cruz was nice, the rooms are good, you can have a hot shower and at a reasonable price (200MXN per person per night in a room for 3). There’s a kind of chimney on the hall that keeps the hotel warm (though it looks a little bit dangerous from the back of the place). Also, they have parking space for 2 cars.

After checking-in we decided to go to the viewpoint where there’s a statue of Christ (yes, there’s one here too) to watch the sunset. That night we dined pizza and corn at a lovely hut.

 

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The next day we had breakfast at a little stall on the main street that sells gorditas, quesadillas and that kind of food. We headed to Barrancas del Cobre, where we did everything. There’s a 2.5 km ZipRider (a sitting zipline), 7 ziplines (one of them is a tandem zipline and there’s 2 hanging bridges on the way) and the vía ferrata (which includes rappel, climbing, a crazy jump and hanging bridges). We paid 1,300MXN through someone who supposedly would be our guide and had a great price, but it was weird because we paid him and then we went with him to the ticket office. The website says the price is 1,500MXN so I hope we didn’t get ripped off, but if I were to visit again I’d go directly to the ticket office. There we met 2 French, Henri and Alice, who would later go back to Creel with us but we never saw again. That night Marc and I tried “taquiquesos”, which are tacos of a burnt cheese wrapped meat.

 

 

The following morning we had breakfast at a cozy café called La Troje de Adobe, right behind our hotel. We had machaca con huevo, huevos a la mexicana, some fruit and coffee. It was really delicious and well-priced. I’d recommend this place if you don’t know where to have breakfast.

Then we decided to bike our way to the Rekowata thermal springs. You have to do 6 km of paved road plus 11 km trail road to get there. There’s a point where you have to pay to enter, 15MXN for students and 30MXN normal price. Even though we only enjoyed the thermal springs for 30 minutes (because we wanted sunlight for the way back) it was an amazing experience. Getting into the thermal springs felt so good after that bike ride. At the end Marc went back to Creel alone to get the car and then picked Hannah and me up at the entrance of the trail road because he’s a lot more fit and faster than us.

 

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Our last morning at Creel we had breakfast at the same café and handed in the rental bikes a bit late. The lady charged us half the price of the day rental. If you want to rent bikes don’t go with the 3 Amigos, there’s a cheaper option (plus it’s managed by Tarahumaras) on the same street. The fee is 200MXN for the day (though it’s really from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM).

Finally we visited Lake Arareko (or Arareco), the Valley of the Frogs and Mushrooms (Valle de las Ranas y de los Hongos). The same ticket you pay can be used to enter all of these places, but it’s only valid for a day. If you’re visiting these places I’d recommend you go really early because when we were leaving there were a lot of vans full of tourists arriving. Then, on our way back to Chihuahua, we had some really good Mennonite cheese pizza at Pizzería La Sierra. The day ended with us driving Marc to a hotel in Chihuahua (he was leaving Mexico the next day), dropping off the Chevrolet Spark and traveling to Guadalajara.

 

 

The Recap

Day 1:

  • Downtown Chihuahua
  • Drive to Creel
  • Explore Creel

Day 2:

  • Breakfast at Creel
  • Barrancas del Cobre
  • Dinner at Creel

Day 3:

  • Breakfast at Creel
  • Biking to the Rekowata thermal springs
  • Dinner at Creel

Day 4:

  • Breakfast at Creel
  • Lago de Arareko (or Arareco)
  • Valle de las Ranas y de los Hongos
  • Mennonite cheese pizza at Pizzería La Sierra
  • Drive back to Chihuahua

 

P.S. It was nice meeting you Marc!

ACL Weekend @Austin, TX

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Our departure from Monterrey was at around 5:00PM and the destination that Thursday night was San Antonio, TX.

We crossed the border almost at 8:00PM, but we needed to get the permits. The lady at the checking point kind of scared us because Hannah didn’t had the ESTA paper with her (she wasn’t supposed to, because in the web it says it’s only for boarding a US-bound ship or plane) and told us that she needed to have it and she would have to pay a lot more for a permit. She pasted an orange paper on the car and immediately a disrespectful officer told us to get off it. So we waited in line, proceeded to pay our permits (and finally, Hannah only paid 6USD, the normal thing for europeans).

Vidi continued the drive to San Antonio, with a stop to eat at Whataburger. Him and me ate burgers and Hannah could only choose between fries and a shitty salad (she’s vegetarian). She chose the fries. We dropped Vidi off with his SA family and then went to the luxurious hotel I booked (just kidding, it was an Econo Lodge). It was good for being one of the cheapest options, they had Texas-shaped waffles for breakfast!

 

The next day, we headed to Austin. We took a route that was marked as faster by Google Maps (there was a lot of traffic because of ACL). We saw a sign that said Toll Road, so we were like “Ok, we’ll pay it, how much can it be?”. To our surprise we couldn’t pay, it’s some kind of prepaid service. Sorry T x Tag, we wanted to pay, but it’s confusing even for americans that don’t live in Texas (I read it online). As of today, I don’t know how much or how will they charge us for the violation.

Between the time to get to Austin, the getting something to eat and a pair of sunglasses, the checking in at the hotel and the time to get to Zilker Park, I missed Foals. I missed FOALS. Sad but ok, I was enjoying everything. At ACL we saw Tory Lanez, a bit of Flying Lotus, a bit of Corinne Bailey Rae and Die Antwoord, Flume (Vidi and Eddy went to see Band of Horses at this time) and Radiohead. I loved Radiohead, specially the Everything In Its Right Place/Idioteque transition. At the end, we took the free bus ride to Downtown Austin.

 

 

On Saturday we had a huge breakfast at Denny’s, went to the graffiti park at Castle Hills (Hope Outdoor Gallery) and the Blanton Museum of Art. We then tried to get tickets for ACL, since the plan was only to go on Friday. We failed. I was singing Trouble by Cage The Elephant as we walked back to the car. Then, we visited the Texas State Capitol and drove to the East side of the 6th Street. We found a cool place called The White Horse, they have live music, a dancefloor, the pecan porter beer I like so much and a chill patio with a “mexican” cuisine foodtruck. I remember going there back in 2013, the time of my first ACL (hi there Lalo, Alex, Paw & Dulce!) but I wasn’t allowed in because I was a minor. The night ended at Pluckers with a huge, really, HUGE order of boneless. It was the one-person boneless meal, but 2 can easily be satisfied with that. The boneless with the Hallelujah sauce were super good though!

 

 

 

The last day we visited Lake Travis. We bought some stuff at HEB to make a picnic and drove to a point where we saw a parking lot. On Google Maps it says Hippie Hollow Park, but it’s really Hippe Hollow Clothing Optional Nudist Park. We were the only ones with our clothes on! I wish we’d had more time to enjoy and swim in the lake. That was our last stop for the weekend. Oh and FYI, you can’t be nude in the parking lot and it costs 15USD per car.

 

 

Favorite phrase of the weekend: “No un picnic per se, sino tirar lonchecillo”. (Vidal, 2016)

Gathering @Quéretaro, MX.

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It all began a few months ago. I met these friends at an architecture contest in Mérida, Yucatán. The group is so diverse and even though we have seen each other in person for only 13 days we get along really well.

Thurdsay, September 15, 2016. Though the departure from Monterrey was planned to be at 1:30PM we ended up leaving the city at 4:00PM and arriving to Querétaro at around 11:00PM, just when the Independence Day fireworks were lighted. After looking for the hostel and leaving our stuff there, we finally met our friends at a bar called Sirilo. Later on, we moved from place and at the end the girls from the group left to where the afterparty was going to be. Everyone’s phone was dead and they only said something like “White apartments, 114, near Tec, by the canal”. So we stopped a cab and told him if he could take us somewhere with those indications and he did knew where it was. We got there and started calling a friend’s name (“Xime!”) but no one replied. I checked my phone and had 1% left because I had airplane mode on, so we learned Ximena’s number and asked a Uber driver for his phone. Turned out that it was 112 and not 114 (sorry people from the 114).

 

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The next day we had breakfast at a place recommended by Angie (Hostal Séptimo Arte’s manager, which is quite good for the price!). The recommendation was a french café called Breton. The place is really nice and the food was good, a little bit expensive but for the type of restaurant it’s overall good. Then, we visited what was available in the city (many places were closed because it was September 16). In the historic center: Plaza de Armas, Templo de San Francisco, Jardín Zenea, Plaza Constitución, Centro de Desarrollo Artesanal Indígena, Galería Libertad, Plaza de los Fundadores, Templo de la Santa Cruz, the aqueduct (built between 1726-1735) and walked around tons of streets. At night we went to a bar called “Gracias a Dios” (in front of Breton, where it says GAD on the main photo). It’s a cool place but very crowded.

 

 

The next day, we ate something at Mercado La Cruz and hit the road to visit Bernal’s boulder or “La Peña de Bernal”, Mexico’s biggest monolith and supposedly the 10th biggest monolith in the world. It’s an hour away from Querétaro, and to get to the highest point allowed you need around an hour too (you can climb higher but you need a permit). It is about 350 meters tall and was formed in the Jurassic period. According to our friend, Moni, we had to try wine ice cream, so we did. Also, the dude that sold us the ice cream told us that Tequisquiapan or “Tequis” was near and worth visiting. After having the ice cream at the main plaza we headed to Tequis, where we only wandered around the streets at night and had some really really good tacos before going back to Querétaro. Oh and I bought some wine there. We went out that night too, to Rhodesia Histórico (cool and crowded too) and an Irish Pub on the same street.

 

 

The last morning we had no breakfast, we went to eat at 1:00PM to a mall where Mike was picking up his BlaBlaCar ride. After that I drove to the only Decathlon store in Mexico because I wanted to buy my favorite running tee again (the other one I bought it at Granada, Spain in 2014) and just because I love seeing all the camping, biking, hiking, overall sport/outdoors stuff they have. Finally, Alex, Max and I headed back to Monterrey in my car, leaving Moni in San Luis Potosí on the way.

 

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A piggy-chicken hybrid shaped cloud.

Belated 2014 Post #7

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Milano, Italia – September 13-14, 2014

 

Since it was cheaper to fly from Budapest to Milan, and then from Milan to Madrid, I decided to visit Mariana (a friend who was just beginning her exchange semester too). I arrived to the Milano Centrale station and went to McDonald’s to get internet, bought something and then they told me the free internet was only for european phone numbers. Outside of the station there was this hotel that had Wi-Fi and I asked if I could buy a drink or something because I needed to contact my friend via Facebook. At first, the man told me it was not possible and then I think he felt pity for me and gave me the password for free (yay!).

I arranged with Mariana to meet at the Duomo di Milano but forgot to ask her number (I know, even a new friend of hers asked her something like: “How come you are friends and you don’t even have your numbers?”). So I took the metro, got there and luckily there was free Wi-Fi in the square. I found Mariana and 2 other friends of hers (I don’t really remember their names, I just remember one of them was from Belgium). We visited the Duomo, had a super delicious gelato (mine was 75% dark chocolate and pistachio) at CioccolatItaliani, walked around, did the spinning on the bull’s balls thing, had aperitivo and got to visit Mariana’s apartment building. It was a great day, but unfortunately her roomie felt awkward with me being there so I went to the Milano Centrale station to sleep (it was an interesting experience, and the first time I slept in a station). At 4:00 AM I took the bus to the airport and then slept in there too (now I can sleep everywhere, really). This was the last stop of the two-week trip prior to my exchange semester in Granada.

 

 

P.S. Mariana thank you and don’t worry about the sleeping in the station thing. I cry about it every night.

Belated 2014 Post #6

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Budapest, Magyarország – September 9-13, 2014

 

After an uncomfortable trip, the ugly and old Orangeways bus (which vibrated a lot, though I couldn’t tell if it was the road or if it really was a super shitty bus) left us in front of a stadium, near the bus station of Budapest.

I crossed the street to get to the station and ask for information, buy food and charge my phone. At the information desk I asked if they had a map, and the lady in charge just pointed to a taped piece of paper with something written in hungarian (in my mind I thought something I usually say in spanish: “No mames”). I proceeded to change my money left from CZK to HUF and bought the cheapest piece of bread I found because I didn’t make a research about the price of the hungarian forint and couldn’t tell if it was normal or tourist priced. I charged my phone for about 5 minutes to see the Google Maps screenshots I had taken to get to my friend’s (Carlos) place and got out of the station.

I walked maybe 25 minutes, with 3 stops to ask people if I was going the right way, and finally arrived. The first thing I asked Carlos for was his washing machine and his shower. That same day we went to Margaret Island with a spanish friend of Carlos and a professor of his. It has nice landscapes and sights, including a japanese garden, ruins and a Buda-Pest sculpture I liked. On the way back to my friend’s place we used the metro, but he had the great (not) idea of telling me not to pay, that they didn’t check. I don’t know why I listened because I never do this kind of stuff but I ended up paying a penalty fine which sounded really scary in hungarian forints (8,000 HUF) but wasn’t finally that expensive.

 

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Other things done the next days: going to the Great Market Hall and wandering around the area, climbing the Gellért Hill, relaxing at the Széchenyi Baths, visiting Hero Square, going shopping for pants because I ruined my burgundy ones, taking Carlos’ hungarian class, and multiple educational trips like the ones to Szimpla, Instant and other bars. Also, seeing the Parliament from the outside at night, walking along the Danube, passing through the Chain and the Liberty bridges and no, I didn’t visit the Buda Castle nor the Hero Square because I don’t know why.

 

 

Thanks to the hosts Carlos, Diego and Luis.