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 🙂
The #1 rated restaurant in Toluca is only three blocks from my place, so I had to try it. It was fantastic! Brilliant ambience. Brilliant food. Plus two Coronas. Price? $12.91 USD.
Are you kidding me???
Now, don’t rush out to buy plane tickets to Toluca. It’s not really worth visiting for most people. It’s actually quite industrial except for the very nice residential areas in the city center. That’s why I’m only staying here a week.
The city is small and you need to squint hard to see the beauty in it.
But hey, the food is great and they have a Starbucks that opens at 6:00! Gotta love that! 😉
The day before I left Morelia I had quite a bit of running around to do, so I broke down and used a few taxis. Normally I prefer to hoof it and put in 15-20,000 steps a day, but getting around without a taxi wasn’t possible.
But, what the hell, I got to have some good conversations with the taxi drivers. I missed a couple of words while I was chatting with the first guy. I wanted to say I avoid tourist areas like Cancun because I prefer to experience genuine Mexican culture. I stuttered a bit on the verb, “to experience”. I started to say, “experimentar”, but it sounded strange to me. Turns out it was correct. Ah well, after eight years of not speaking Spanish, I need to knock the rust off.
The other one I fumbled was the word for the weather. Again, the word I used was correct, but it struck me as incorrect – tiempo. I wanted to say how much I like the weather in Morelia. I looked into it later and, “clima” (climate) sounds much better to me. “Me encanta el clima de Morelia”.
By the time I was in the third taxi I was hitting my stride. The driver said he couldn’t quite place my accent, but he assumed I was from Argentina.
You think I’m a native of Argentina? I’ll take that 🙂 🙂 🙂
I really need to check into a language school and put my nose to the grindstone. I’ll probably do that in Cuernavaca.
The first-class bus from Morelia to Toluca was excellent. It was a double-decker and I chose the upper deck. I reserved two seats so I could spread out. It was only about 20 bucks per seat, so well worth the price. The trip was 3.5 hours long. My limit is five hours.
The major reason I have for stopping a week in Toluca is that it’s a major city on the way to Cuernavaca. If I’d taken a bus from Morelia to Cuernavaca, I think it would have been a total of 5.5 to 6 hours on a bus.
So, here I am in Toluca. I got to Starbucks right at opening time; 6:00. Lots of comfy chairs, a large white mocha (extra hot), and a relaxing atmosphere free of flies. Can’t beat that 🙂
It was a 40-minute walk to Starbucks, so I had to get up early. There was a light drizzle and 49°f (9.44°c) in shorts. Walk fast; stay warm 🙂
Here are a few words in Spanish you can use on your next holiday.
This is something I use regularly in restaurants. You can hang your backpack or purse, or whatever on this instead of using the floor or a chair. It’s a tripod called a, “perchera”.
I’ve always referred to the trash as, “basura”, but to be more specific, here is a trash can; “un basurero”.
If you want your Starbucks coffee in a “take-away” or “to go” cup, you ask for a cardboard cup.
In just a few days, I’ll be on a bus to my next Airbnb destination; Toluca, Mexico. After being in Morelia for two weeks I ask myself if I could live in this city?
It’s nice and the city is currently designating a number of streets for pedestrians only. If I could find a nice house to rent on a pedestrian-only street, I might like it here. The temperatures are mild year-round, fantastic restaurants and I haven’t noticed any mosquitoes. I hate mosquitoes.
These are a couple of photos from a late lunch yesterday. Just for the hell of it, I decided to see how much money I could spend if I maximized everything and walked out bloated. I had a five course meal at an expensive restaurant, three Coronas and tipped 25%. Total cost: 600 pesos, or $32 USD. This is an extravagant meal by Mexican standards.
It’s actually quite surprising. Whenever I eat in restaurants, I try to find the very best. There are quite a few restaurants here that are excellent. But, no matter how fine the food is nor how elegant the ambience is, I struggle to spend over 20 bucks. Most meals are much cheaper. To break the 20 dollar barrier, you have to have at least three cocktails.
I took my clothes to be laundered. Price for the service? 14 pesos. That’s about $.76. Yep, seventy-six cents to wash, dry and fold my bag of dirty laundry. They even had it ready for pickup within three hours. Unbelievable.
The barber shop around the corner is where I’ll go in a few days to get a haircut. The sign in the window advertises it’s only 35 pesos. That’s the magnificent sum of $1.89. The cost of living here is unbelievable. Every time I eat or buy something I do the calculations and shake my head. How is this possible?
The place I’m staying at is excellent – overall. It’s a three-storey building with a rooftop deck overlooking the city. I have three bedrooms and three beds. It’s a massive place for one person. The only drawback is that it’s directly across the street from a shopping plaza. Unfortunately for me, singers come to the plaza with amplifiers and boomboxes to sing and hope for tips from passersby. Bleah. At least that’s mostly just on the weekends.
The noise is irritating. But, I’m still new to living in Mexico. I knew going in that there would be lessons to learn. From now on, no Airbnb across from shopping plazas 🙂
One more week and I’ll be on my way to a new house experience in Toluca!
The bus from Guanajuato was first-class and very enjoyable. It was only 280 pesos for the 3.5 hour trip. 280 pesos works out to about $14.00 USD. Brilliant. As I was sitting in my seat reading “Eva” by Arturo Pérez–Reverte, a spy novel set during the Spanish Civil War (yes, I’m reading it in the original Spanish), I was hit with the idea that since bus tickets are so cheap in Mexico, should I buy two tickets so I don’t have to sit next to someone? Hmmm.
After getting off the bus, I got my backpack sorted, tossed my little bag of trash in the “basura” and headed out of the bus terminal to the line of waiting taxis. I never get in a taxi without asking the fare first, so after asking, “Cuánto me cobra hasta, blah, blah, blah…?” the taxi driver said I had to go back inside and get a taxi ticket. Damn! I didn’t think about that. Not all terminals do that, but I like it. It keeps the drivers honest 🙂
The taxi ticket/fare cost me 60 pesos (three bucks). Once we got to my new rental casa, I gave the guy a 50 peso tip. They always seem happy with a tip that seems large percentage-wise even though it’s only two dollars and fifty cents. He deserved it. I liked the classical music he was playing.
Pigeons 3; Jack 0
After a month in Guanajuato I felt like a boat in Pearl Harbor, 1941. Getting dive-bombed by pigeons is disgusting beyond words. Of course, it never happens when you’re near home and you can’t just walk around with feces all over you, so you buy some paper napkins and water and get to work.
Morelia is sweet!
I haven’t even noticed any pigeons! No dog doo-doo to step over! (but, I’m not going to be lulled into not looking – that’s when they getcha)
The sidewalks here are wide and there aren’t nearly as many people walking on them. In Guanajuato I was worn out playing dodge-human on the six-inch-wide sidewalks. In Morelia, walking is a dream! I put in over 20,000 steps today without breaking a sweat – and when I say I didn’t break a sweat, I mean I broke a lot of sweat.
I found the greatest restaurant ever. The food was amazing! The chef even came out to say hi. The waiter took a liking to an odd gringo speaking Spanish and told me all about his hometown; Patzcuaro. Apparently, I really, really need to visit Patzcuaro.
Well, since it’s only 45 minutes away by bus…why not? 🙂
Very, very few foreigners in Morelia – shhh, this place is a secret.