I arrived in Mérida, Mexico yesterday afternoon. The flight went well. My Airbnb situation didn’t go so well, however. I’ll tell you about that later. Anywho, I’m enjoying my first morning here in sunny, Mérida.
I’m currently lodging at a hotel in Centro. My stay included breakfast. I thoroughly enjoyed that bowl of fruit and fresh orange juice.
Next, I took a stroll around the block while showing my mom around via WhatsApp. I also chatted up a fellow solo traveler who’s finishing up her adventure through Egypt.
After my stroll, I sat and chilled in the park, Parque de Santa Lucía. It’s hot out, but there was a light breeze that made sitting under the shade of the trees feel awesome.
Now, I’m in my room updating this post before heading out to get lunch.
Yeah, there’s not too much going on being a Sunday and all. Let’s see what tomorrow has in store!
If you’re looking for interesting tourist spots in México City, you’ll find this list helpful. I provided maps to make finding them easy.
1. Basílica de Guadalupe (The National Shrine of México)
The second most important Catholic Shrine after the Vatican, the Basílica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is located in northern México City. There are two structures, the Modern Basilica and the Old Basilica (El Templo Exiatorio a Cristo Rey). According to Catholic tradition, the site is where the Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, the first American indigenous Roman Catholic saint, and requested that a shrine be built in her honor. You’ll be astonished by the beautiful old-style Spanish architecture of the old Basilica. The Modern Basilica, too, is an astounding structure. The decor inside the Basilicas is absolutely beautiful. At this site, there is so much to see! Nearby, you’ll also find the Baptistry and the Basilica Museum. There is a lovely garden with scriptures inscribed in stone slabs and a large statue of Jesus. You’ll also find the Pocito Chapel Capilla de Cerrito, Antigua Parroquia de Indios, and Parroquia de Santa Maria de Guadalupe Nasturtiums. A visit here can take several hours, so wear comfortable clothes and shoes, bring snacks or money for snacks, and arrive early to beat the crowds.
Another hot spot in Mexico City is the grand square La Plaza De La Constitución, also known as Zócalo . It’s México’s main public square and is surrounded by important sites such as the Catedtral Metropolitana, Palacio Nacional, federal government buildings, and shops and restaurants. It’s not unusual to witness some sort of gathering such a protest or celebration, so have your camera ready! Be aware that there will be lots of street recruiters for restaurants and shops, so be careful to not get scammed.
Palacio Nacional is located at Zócalo. This grand building is the federal seat of the Mexican President. Inside, you’ll find walls covered with beautiful murals by the famous painter, Diego Rivera. Admission into the palace is free, but be sure to bring a photo ID and be prepared to go through a security check.
Also within the Zócalo is the oldest Latin American cathedral, Catedral Metropolitana. Built using stones from the ruins of Aztec temples, it boasts a combination of Spanish baroque, Gothic, neoclassical and churrigueresque architecture. Admission is free, but if you want to visit the bell tower and rooftop, you’ll need to purchase a ticket.
Bosque de Chapultapec (Chapultapec Park) is huge! I’ve been several times and I still haven’t seen the whole of it. There’s a roller coaster, a lake with paddle boats, a huge garden, museums, a beautiful castle, and so much more. There’s no shortage of vendors and you can enjoy live entertainment out by the lake.
Browse German collector, Franz Mayer’s, private collection of antique furniture and artwork. Enjoy interactive exhibits. Stop by the cafe for some tea or coffee and relax in the courtyard. General admission starts at about $70 pesos per person and entry for children under 12 years is free.
Across the street from Museo Franz Mayer is the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It’s a large marble building that serves as a museum and center for the performing arts. The palace is closed on Mondays. Daily admission starts at about $70 pesos, but Sunday’s admission is free.
You can’t visit México and not take in a lucha libre! Stop by the Arena México and watch as masked musclemen and musclewomen battle it out in the ring. The drama and wild and crazy acrobatics are sure to delight! Tickets start at $50 pesos and can be purchased on the same day.
I’ve changed my flight date out of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo so many times. Hopefully, I can stick to the one I just booked. It’s just so hard to leave. My mind keeps telling me it’s time to leave, but my heart is telling me to stay and see what will blossom from this new love affair. However, I have so much that has to be done back home in the states. Besides, I wasn’t even supposed to be in Mexico for this long! I should have been somewhere in South America by now!
I couldn’t help it!
Uggh! LOVE. I fell hard. I’m still falling in love every day. Saying goodbye is going to be so hard. If I didn’t have to take care of things back home, I’d be tempted to stay a little longer. The current global health situation has made it even easier to change my flight with the recent no-fee flight changes and cancellation offers. Let me stop thinking about that. I’m going to try hard to stick to my decision, this time.
What did I ever see in you?
Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo is such a lovely place. I love the beautiful beaches with the mountains in the background. The locals are so welcoming and friendly. The community is environmentally conscious, so it’s quite clean. It’s busy here, but not overly noisy. The weather is amazing. The food is always fresh, especially the seafood. It’s easy to find a spot, just about anywhere, to simply relax. I’m taking some online courses, so the ambiance is perfect for reading and studying.
This place has shown me how important it is to just slow down and drink in the moment. So, with much reluctance, I will be going home in a few days.
Oh, Ixtapa-Zihua, you’ve been so good to me. I will come back to you, soon….
In Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, and within the Costa Chica region, there’s a thriving community of Afro-Mexican people. We don’t hear much about them in the media, but they’re here. These people are descendants of those poor souls that immigrated to Mexico so many years ago in search of freedom.
A couple of days ago, I decided to venture out and check out the tourist area in town. I just wanted to see what stores and restaurants were in the plaza. Everything was too touristy for me, including the prices, so I didn’t shell out any coins, except to purchase a delicious coconut and coconut water from a street vendor. The street vendor, like the majority of locals here, is Afro-Mexican. As a side note—he offers a fantastic rate of only $30 pesos (about $1.62 USD at the time of this writing). If you see him around in Ixtapa, flag him down and get your coconut and coconut water!
Each day here, as I walk around town, there’s always that feeling that I’m among family members. It’s especially easy since I often meet locals who resemble my close relatives. I learned that many slaves from North Carolina found refuge in the Mexican state of Guerrero. When I’m out and about, I’m always in the mindset that the locals I meet, like the lady with the two small children standing in the sweltering sun trying to sell peanuts to passersby, just might be my not too distant cousin.
From food and dance, to hair textures and some ideologies, it’s really interesting being able to experience Africa in Mexico.
If you’re interested in learning more about African roots in Guerrero, I suggest that you pay Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo a visit
Since arriving in Mexico City on December 31st, I’ve enjoyed a long walk along and around Calzada de Guadalupe, crisscrossed across town via the subway system, strolled around and relaxed in Chapultepec park twice, and met lots of interesting people. I haven’t felt the need to look over my shoulder every few minutes. I feel safe in Mexico City.
The Guys Felt Safe
Friday, I left my hotel to do some couch surfing on the other side of the city. I’m currently at my host’s home, propped on the couch writing this blog post. This is my third visit to Mexico. I visited with my brother in 2017 and again in the spring of 2019 with my brother and boyfriend. They both felt safe. Now, I’m here alone. I came here to bring in 2020. I’m enjoying it more than I did the times before.
I avoid staying in touristy areas and go straight for the areas where real life happens. I’ve been warned several times about the dangers of being a visitor here: “You’ll get robbed. Watch out for the cartels. It’s too dangerous there.” Yes, there are some neighborhoods that seem a bit sketch. There a people here and there that give off a weird vibe. I can say the same thing about neighborhoods and people in the States and any other country. If I based my decisions off the fears of others, I’d never travel anywhere and I wouldn’t be having the time of my life now.
Take Safety Precautions
It would be naive to think that any city is 100% safe. Petty crimes and serious crimes occur all over the world. Just turn on your local news and you’ll see that some crime is always being perpetrated. However, when proper universal precautions are taken, your chances of being a victim of crime is greatly reduced. So, if you take precautions, there’s no reason to be fearful of visiting Mexico City. Mexico City, mind you. I haven’t spent much time in other cities, yet. I can only speak on the one in which I have substantial experience. Each time I’ve come here, I have always felt very safe and welcomed.
Go For It
If Mexico City is on your bucket list, I say go for it! By not visiting, you’re cheating yourself out of a rich cultural experience. There is no reason to be fearful. Go out and explore. You are safe in Mexico City.