In just a few days, 31 October to be exact, I’ll be in Guatemala. This should be very interesting. It’s my first time to Central America. Eight days after arriving in Guatemala I’ll be on a bus to San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador. After that, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Ooh la la 😉
I’m reading a lot about safety in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Man! The warnings about crime in these cities is a little daunting. But, what the hell. I’ve been to three war zones already. What’s the worst that could happen?
Normally I get up at 5:15 in the morning, get out of the house by 5:30 and do at least 1+30 of walking/running. Yesterday I decided to walk from the city of Puebla to the city of Cholula. It took me about two hours to get to the Cholula Starbucks and I was ready to sit down and have a coffee break.
Cholula is a beautiful city. The population is a little over 100,000 and it’s much more relaxed than the big city of Puebla. There’s much less auto traffic, the parks are large and the people have a chill demeanor.
After resting and having my coffee I walked around the city. By day’s end my iPhone told me I’d clocked over 23,000 steps. Ouch.
I found a great little restaurant off one of the city plazas and I treated myself to pizza and three beers. Total cost: 250 pesos or about $12.50 USD. That seems very inexpensive to me.
After lunch my feet said they were tired of walking, so I ordered an Uber. The fare was only 80 pesos or about four bucks USD. So cheap. An Uber ride is a great way to practice Spanish. My driver told me he spent 15 years in Texas working in the oil fields. To me, that sounds like a hard way to make money. He said it was a little too long. He couldn’t wait to come back home. He’s like many of the Mexicans I meet here. Quite a few of them have visited and worked in the U.S., but they just want to make some money and go back home as soon as they can.
I gave Rodrigo, my driver, a 100 peso tip. He was a good guy and it was a good conversation. It got me to thinking about the U.S. and how mean spirited so many people there are about foreigners.
I don’t want to say never, but right now I can’t imagine living in a country where so many people support the racist, bigoted words and views of the current president. How can people support his hateful, malicious lies?
Trump attacked an Indiana-born federal judge. He said the judge could not be impartial because he was “Mexican”. This federal judge is not Mexican. He’s an American. Trump is a racist based on the words that come out of his own mouth.
Trump said about immigrants to the U.S., “These aren’t people. These are animals.”
Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Currently, a group of people are marching north to claim asylum in the United States. Trump made a wild claim that there were “Middle Easterners” in the group. Later he admitted he had no proof of this. Why did he make this claim? Because he wants to stoke fear and racist attitudes in the U.S. What difference would it make if there were “Middle Easterners” in the group? What difference would it make if there were Asians, Africans or Canadians in the group? Why mention “Middle Easterners” at all? Because he’s a bigot and he wants to play on the fears of small-minded U.S. citizens.
Donald Trump called for, “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. How much more blatantly bigoted can a person be?
If you support this bigot, how can you live with yourself? How can you look yourself in the mirror knowing you support bigotry and racism? How can you face your family? How can you expect me to live in the United States?
The United States has changed into something I do not recognize.
I took a chance and rented an Airbnb for a month. It came with a 40% discount since I was willing to stay for 30 days. Nearly half-off is a compelling argument. The place is great. I’m within a 10-minute walk to two posh shopping malls, tons of fancy restaurants and a number of parks with walking/running trails. This is great. Price? $1,300 USD. I think it’s a steal.
This place even has a gym! It feels so good to warm the old muscles up again. I do miss being in a penthouse. I’ll have to search closely for one wherever I end up going to next.
In my current building I bring the door guys cookies every 3-4 days. They seem to like that. I don’t know what a security guard makes in Mexico, but I’m thinking it ain’t much.
I even have my choice of four Starbucks locations. Not too shabby!
My rental here ends on 31 October. Where to next? Mexico City? Guatemala City? Havana? I’m not sure yet. I need to think it over.
I’ve decided to stay in Puebla until the end of October – I think.
Then, I might just head on south to Guatemala or Belize.
The life here is good. Perfect weather. Excellent food and coffee.
I was living in a penthouse overlooking the city. It was good, but I wanted to move around.
I chose a hotel in the heart of downtown; near the Zócalo.
Once I checked into the hotel in the heart of downtown I discovered, 1) it had no wifi 2) it was being remodeled and you could hear hammering and electric saws all day, and 3) the only reason I chose the hotel was for the gym and it was off limits due to remodeling as well.
I moved out after one night.
Instead, I moved into a place that couldn’t be more different. Now I’m very far from the city center – well into the suburbs in a gated community. I didn’t realize it was in a gated community when I rented it online, but…okay. It’s not my style either, really. I rented this place for the gym. Turns out the “gym” is a tiny room with two treadmills.
Like I said in my last post, my condo rental in Puebla was awesome. The first two nights it seemed perfect and it was only half a block from the main strip with brand-new, super-wide sidewalks and dozens of first-class restaurants. I decided to extend for an additional two weeks.
But, its perfection was deceiving. The first two nights were, importantly, Monday and Tuesday nights. On the third night I noticed some loud disco music around 8 p.m. I figured a neighbor must be having a party. It wasn’t too loud.
Then it got louder and louder as the night progressed. By 11:00 I could feel it in the walls. Then it got even louder. What the hell??? I went to speak with the doorman. Apparently some restaurants in Mexico really like to blast the music until 3 or 4 in the morning. On weekends the door guy says they really crank it up. That was a long night without sleep 🙁
I got online with Airbnb and started looking for something else. I got lucky. I found a place four blocks off the end of the major strip, it’s a penthouse (meaning it’s on the top floor), it’s in a seven-storey building) and it’s a little cheaper. Sweet 🙂
To my surprise, Puebla has elevated pedestrian/bike trails. One day I took a 40-minute walk to a big mall. I love avoiding cars any chance I get. Cars are evil.
I’m liking Puebla. It’s overall very chill. My penthouse rental is super-quiet and I have fantastic views. There’s an organic food store across the street. A few gyms close by and I think I spotted a likely language school. This is good 🙂
The bus trip from Cuernavaca to Puebla took about three hours. I bought two tickets so I could spread out and relax. It was a fast and relaxing ride.
I made sure to book seats on the left side of the bus because I had a feeling we’d have some great views of Popocatépetl Volcano from the highway – and we did! What a beautiful volcano. I might take a trip to see her up close while I’m here.
The area I’m staying in Puebla is sweet! Super-wide sidewalks, relaxed atmosphere, a Starbucks 15 paces from my flat and about a dozen first class restaurants along the main boulevard. I love this. I might have to extend my planned two-week stay here.
The condo I’m renting is fantastic. It’s new, all the furniture is new, the finishes are new, I’ve got two bedrooms, a gym and a 24-hour receptionist at the door leading into the building.
Cuernavaca is great, but the question I always ask is, “Could I live here?” No, I could not.
Cuernavaca is a lovely colonial city, but like every other colonial city I’ve visited the infrastructure just isn’t up to par. It has beautiful old houses and palaces, but surrounding them are sidewalks far too narrow for people to walk on. The sidewalks are broken, uneven and often the path is completely blocked by a telephone pole or some other obstruction that completely ignores the needs of pedestrians.
Cuernavaca has always had a reputation for being a great location to live and study Spanish. I’ve heard about it for years and I had great hopes for the city before I came here. I think this city has squandered an opportunity for it to become a fantastic tourist town. It’s certainly worth a visit and I’ve enjoyed my time here, but it’s not a place I could live in. I’ll just have to keep moving on 🙂
In just a few days I’ll be on the road again. This time for Puebla, México. All the cities I’ve visited so far have had relatively small populations.
San Miguel de Allende: 139,297
Dolores Hidalgo: 148,173
Toluca de Lerdo: 489,333
Puebla is bigger than all the others put together: 6.169 million. A big step up. My home of Denver has a population of less than half that.
In the past I’ve been renting quaint houses and it’s been fun, but I’m going to change things up a bit. Beautiful old houses are nice, but they’re also a little too quirky. I’m going to try out some newer condos with gyms. I only recently discovered I can filter my Airbnb searches to include houses with gyms. Nice! I really need to get back into working out.
I’ll stay in Puebla for two weeks. If I really like it, I’ll stay longer. If not, I think I’ll head on to my old friend Mexico City. I’ve always loved it there. We’ll see if I still feel that way in 2018 😉
The population of Greater Mexico City is 21.3 million. That makes it the largest city in all of North and South America. It’s the largest Spanish-speaking city in the entire world.
I couldn’t find a first class bus to Cuernavaca. Apparently it’s such a short trip, they only have second class buses. That means stopping every 15 minutes to load and unload passengers along with seats that are not assigned, nor comfy. The trip on a second class bus would have taken 3.5 hours. Bleah 🙁
I got up early on travel day and ordered an Uber! Ha ha! 🙂
The first Uber driver showed up and once I got in he was shocked to see I wanted to go all the way to Cuernavaca; a 2+15 hour drive by car. He thought it over and then claimed he didn’t have proper signage onboard in case he got a flat tire on the way.
Really? That’s the best excuse you have, buddy?
That trip was cancelled and I ordered another Uber. Grrr. He showed up and once I got in…yep, “You’re going to Cuernavaca???? Are you kidding?”
These Uber drivers just accept ride requests without bothering to look at the final destination wasting my time and pissing me off.
He started to make an excuse as to why he couldn’t go to Cuernavaca. I just cut him off, asked him to please cancel the fare and got out of his damned car. He stank like cigarettes anyway.
Uber #3 showed up and I was getting a little angry. I didn’t even try to get in his car. I walked up to the driver window and said curtly, “Voy a Cuernavaca, bien?”
He thought it over for a second…”Sí, bien, bien.”
Hmmm. Okay, cool. Here we go! He was a pretty cool guy. I really got a workout in Spanish over the next two hours. I couldn’t remember the word for, “skills”. I thought it was “habilidades”, but I wasn’t sure. Turns out I was right. I need to trust myself more, but I feel so damned rusty. I also forgot the word for employer – “empleador”. Grrr again. It’s okay. Mistakes will help me remember words in the future.
Cost for the trip? 850 pesos or $45 USD. Wow, that seems so cheap for such a long trip. I tipped him very well.
This is a beautiful little colonial city. It was here long before the Spanish, led by Hernán Cortéz, conquered the area in 1519-1522. Cortéz even built a palace for his wife in the city center which today is right next to a Starbucks.
There’s a ton of construction going on in Cuernavaca. Just this year there was an earthquake that damaged a lot of buildings here. We’re in a valley surrounded by active volcanoes. I really need to make time to visit one.
The house I’m in is beautiful and ancient. It’s physically attached to the Cuernavaca Cathedral which is under reconstruction due to the earthquake. My house was lived in by John Wayne for a while during a movie they filmed down here decades ago. I’m sleeping the in same room John Wayne slept in. That’s cool 🙂
The house is huge. I have four balconies and one rooftop deck overlooking the city. The house has four levels and three living rooms. One person can really spread out here. Plus, it’s on a quiet restricted street in the middle of downtown. Everything is close by. Lovin’ Cuernavaca 🙂