Tag Archives: Oaxaca Coast

Highlights of Latin America

I had such an awesome time in Latin America it’s pretty hard to pick out favourite moments. But I’m going to give it a go anyway. Here are the best things I’ve seen and done over the past six and a half months, along with links to what I originally wrote about them.

Favourite City: Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso

Runner-up: Guanajuato, Mexico
Hilly cities with lots of colourful houses are clearly the way to keep me happy.

Favourite Capital City: Mexico City

Mexico City Cathedral

Runner-up: Santiago de Chile
Quite a contrast here between enormous, chaotic, slightly crazy Mexico City vs Clean, calm, orderly Santiago. But I could live in ’em both, I reckon.

 

Favourite Food: Mexico
Runner-up: Peru
Best street food in Latin America from the Mexicans, whereas the restaurants were at their finest in Peru.

Best course: Learning Spanish in Guatemala
Runner-up: Learning to Dive in Honduras
Who knew learning could be such fun? Learning Spanish enriched my whole experience in the continent, and diving was way more fun (and way easier) than I ever thought it could be.

Favourite activity: Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru
Runner-up: Cycling tour of the wineries, Mendoza, Argentina

Favourite Hike: The Huayhuash Circuit, Peru

The Cordillera Huayhuash

Runner-up: The Lost City, Colombia
Again, quite a contrast. The Huayhuash took me to the most stunning mountain scenery I’ve ever come across, and was the toughest walk I’ve ever done. The Lost City was less visually appealling and easier on the legs, but made up for it by being with the best group of people I’ve me on the whole trip.

 

Favourite Natural Wonder: The Copper Canyon, Mexico

The road to Batopilas, Copper Canyon

Runner-up: The Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Sorry Colca Canyon, you may be deeper but Mexico’s is way better. It also gave me my favourite journey, along the Copper Canyon railway. Meanwhile, Uyuni was like a trip to another planet.

 

Favourite off the beaten track place: Mexcaltitan

Calle Venezia, Mexcaltitan

I feel like a bad traveller. I was pretty firmly on the gringo trail the entire time. Except in Mexcaltitan, tough to get to, not a lot to see, but one of my favourite stops so far.

 

Best Night out: Sargento Pimientas, Lima, Peru
Runner-up: Mazatlan, Mexico
My last night in Lima was a chance to say goodbye to two good friends I’d been travelling with on and off since Colombia, accompanied by the best music I’ve heard in ages. Mazatlan on the other hand was an entirely random night out with three Mexican women who I was introduced to by a clown.

Favourite Beach: Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Tayrona National Park

Runner-up: Mazunte, Mexico
Sleeping in a hammock on the beach in Colombia was pretty close to paradise. Meanwhile the waves in Mazunte kept me entertained for hours.

 

Favourite Market: San Francisco El Alto, Guatemala
Runner-up: Oaxaca, Mexico
A pretty small hill town in Guatemala with the biggest, most sprawling market I’ve ever seen. Oaxaca was my favourite of the Mexican markets, especially for the crammed, smokey food section.

Favourite weird religious spectacle: Semana Santa in Guanajuato, Mexico

Semana Santa in Guanajuato

Runner-up: Meeting Maximon in Santiago de Atitlan, Guatemala
Catholicism may have its heart in Europe, but the way they do it in Latin America makes our version look pretty tame.

 

Favourite Country: Mexico
Runner-up: Peru
I’ve probably bored everyone I’ve met on this trip to death by going on and on about Mexico. But I don’t care. I love it.

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Time for a holiday

Travelling’s not all fun fun fun you know. There are endless hours spent on bus journeys (especially in a country as big as Mexico). Waiting around in bus stations (just as dull as back home, just twenty times busier). Sitting around waiting for photos to upload over veeeery slow internet connections. Sitting inside your hotel room waiting for the rain to stop. Dull things like laundry still need doing. So after five weeks of relentless, non-stop travelling and sightseeing (and swine flu-induced stress) it was quite a relief to arrive in Zipolite for a bit of a holiday.

Getting there is pretty fun itself (or it was for me anyway…one of my friends felt quite ill thanks to the insane bends and even madder driver) as the road winds its way through the mountains for about five hours before finally dropping back to sea level just before it hits the Pacific. Arriving was even nicer – the beautiful beach gently curves its way for nearly two miles between two rocky headlands, and we soon found ourselves a thatched cabaña set just back from it, with hammocks on the porch. We could have chosen any really – almost all of the accommodation on the beach consists of similar places, and for some reason, despite the place having been firmly on the backpacker trail for decades, more upmarket places have yet to arrive, leaving the place a tranquil contrast to the brasher resorts that make up most of Mexico’s more famous beach destinations.

After we’d found somewhere to stay, we very easily slipped into a routine of doing very little – long lie-ins in the morning, fresh fruit and granola for breakfast, the rest of the morning spent alternating between relaxing on the beach and then tiring ourselves out by jumping around in the huge waves that reliably crash onto the shore day and night, then spending the afternoon lying in a hammock reading or sleeping. Best of all was the fact that we arrived just at the end of the season, before the rains arrive for the summer, meaning that the place was almost deserted – probably less than 200 tourists when we arrived, almost certainly less than 50 by the time we left, making it the perfect place to relax. We were there for a week, and the routine of doing very little was so nice I could happily have spent far more time there (in fact it seems to be the kind of place that happens easily in, quite a few of the longer-term residents seemed to be tourists who’d never left). It’s interesting that the longer I travel, the less stressed I get about wanting to see everything, and the more I’m happy to just find a place I like and stay there for a bit. It feels like the stress of London life and working has finally well and truly left my system, and I finally know what it feels like to be truly relaxed for the first time in what feels like years.

Once the North American leg of my trip is out of the way and I arrive in Colombia, I think I may well try and find myself a place to stay along the Caribbean coast and just stay there as long as I feel like it. Now that’s a nice thought.