A Travellerspoint blog

The bus journey through Mexico continues!

San Cristobal de las Casas, Palenque and now Tulum!

sunny 30 °C

Mexico surprises and delights us at every turn. We are considering moving here....

San Cristobal de las Casas

5th November
We visited Cañón del Sumidero today which was an amazing experience!!! The drive from San Cristobal was supposed to only take about 40 mins but ended up taking 2.5 hrs! The main roads were closed due to protests (a very common occurrence in Mexico) so we had to go through the mountains to get there. Yuri and I slept most of the way but what we saw of the scenery was beautiful!
When we finally got there we all jumped into a speed boat for a 2 hr ride through the canyon. All I can say is WOW!

Cañón del Sumidero
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6th November
We had a very lazy day today. Woke late then had some brunch at the house. Went out for a bit of a walk and then back home to find accommodation in Palenque and Tulum....

7th November
Strange but good day. We took a tour to two indigenous towns near San Cristobal. Both were so different though. The first was San Juan de Chamula. The people of Chamula are very wary about being photographed, so I can’t show you much of it. Chamula has a unique independent status with its own police force (and no other police allowed into the town). A lot of people probably think that the Mayans died out. This is untrue. The civilisation collapsed, but the people remain to this day, in Guatemala, Honduras, and Chiapas. San Juan de Chamula is a Mayan town, and the church really shows the syncretism of Mayan religion. Apparently, throughout Central America, the Spanish more or less allowed the indigenous people to swap their gods for saints, and change their rituals a bit to make them close enough to Christian rituals. Certainly, when we visited the church it was barely recognisable as having any connection to Roman Catholicism at all, other than the building itself (built in 1522 and dedicated to St John the Baptist) although even that wasn't in the shape of a cross. This church had the busy, multi-faceted, primal, feeling of a market or bus station from this part of the world.

The second town was Zinacantán. The people here were a lot more open and we could take a few pictures here. I purchased some goodies and we ate the most delicious tortillas!
It was a very interesting day but our visit to San Juan de Chamula left us feeling guilty and almost intrusive.

Zinacantán
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8th November
We were supposed to leave today but we love this place so much we decided to stay an extra day. We spent the day exploring the town of San Cristobal de las Casas. This place is so freaking beautiful! We walked an walked and climbed what felt like a million steps!
Awesome day though and we are really going to miss it here!

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Palenque

9th November
We are at the bus station waiting to leave for Palenque (ruins in the jungle? Yes please!).
So we boarded the bus when the driver apologises but unfortunately our 5hr journey will now be 8.5 because the main highways have been blocked by protesters. Not so bad for us but there were people on our bus continuing to Cancun (overnight and adding 3 hrs? No thank you!).
The roads were crazy, small and some not quite finished but we got here in one piece! Quick dinner before bed. Big day tomorrow :-).

10th November
Palenque ruins - wow, wow, wow!
We walked a hell of a lot and climbed what felt like a million stairs.

I found super cheap flights from Cancun to Mexico City so I have just avoided a 25 hr bus trip back - oh joy!

Just killing time now till we jump on an overnight bus to Tulum!

So we just got to the bus station to find out our bus is running 1.5 hrs late oh joy...

Palenque ruins
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Tulum!

11th November
Our bus ended up being about 3 hrs late. We slept most of the way which was good. We were stopped twice by immigration and drug police...
We arrived in Tulum about lunch time and headed to our home for the next 2 weeks - Villa Clarita. It's very nice!
We showered and then headed to the biggest supermarket I've ever seen to buy some groceries. This place is seriously huge! It's like coles, K Mart, Target and Big W all rolled into one...
In the afternoon we caught up with Alex which was so, so good! We had a few drinks at home and then went out for a delicious seafood dinner. The ceviche here is AMAZING! We had that as an entree and fried fish, pulpo (octopus) and calamari for mains - oh my god! Have I died and gone to seafood heaven???

12th November

Today was a perfect day!
Tulum is so, so beautiful!
Alex picked us up to head to Akumal to do some snorkelling. We stopped at Chedraui (the massive supermarket) to buy snorkeling gear first and then stopped at Alex's place to pick something up. Alex suggested we take a walk across the street to check out the beach and that was it, we didn't want to leave! The beach is spectacular! We spent the day swimming, relaxing, reading, snorkeling, drinking and eating. It was perfect! We stayed on the beach till pretty late watching the sky filled with stars and then headed to a place called "Simple" for dinner. The food was outstanding!
All in all it was a perfect day!

13th November

Another fantastic day!

We started at the Tulum Ruins - wow! The Mayans had the right idea - prime location!
The ruins are situated on 12-meter tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea - WOW!
After that we headed to this little shack on the beach called Chamica for some lunch. Fried fish, ceviche and calamari - delicious!
Last stop was "Dos Ojos Cenote". A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater underneath. It was SO cool to go snorkelling there!
We then ended up at the same bar as yesterday (Aura). The guys that run the place are Argentinian and very cool. We also ran into Nilton again. A Brazilian guy that we met on the beach yesterday. He ended up coming to dinner with us which was nice! We stopped past Aura again for last drinks and then all too soon it was time to say bye to Alex (boo).

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14th November
Slightly exhausted and hungover from the last 2 days so we chilled out today which was lovely. Lunch at home then a siesta then some planning for the US before a delicious dinner at home then we caught up on Sons of Anarchy and NCIS.

15th November
Up bright and early for a walk and we came back with a hire car! Yuri had looked at prices the day before so we walked to Avis this morning to pick it up. The whole process took about 4 hrs (Mexican time) but for the next 2 weeks we have a car to explore the Yucatan Peninsula in!
After lunch we took a drive to the beach for a swim. It really is paradise here!

16th November
Major chill out day, our tans are coming along very nicely!

17th November
Today was perfect!
We took a drive out to a national park called XCACEL (in The Mayan language) and it was simply stunning! This is a slice of unspoiled Caribbean paradise (no hotels, restaurants etc). It's a turtle sanctuary (you need to make a donation to enter) and there is a freshwater cenote on site. We had the most amazing, relaxing day here......

Posted by sandyandyuri 17:35 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

México lindo!

Mexico is amazing! I've always described Mexico as a country where everything comes together perfectly. The people are amazing, the food delicious, the country beautiful and it is so rich in history and culture. Makes for a pretty amazing experience!

Puebla!
23rd October

Bus to Puebla which was super quick (2hrs). This town is so cute and our hotel is pretty amazing! We settled in and then took a walk around town. There are 2 main dishes here that you are supposed to try. Mole Poblano which is chicken in a chocolate and Chile sauce. It's sounds gross to me. We tried a little of the sauce and it just doesn't rock my boat. The other one is Chile en Nogado which is a capsicum stuffed with meat (yum) but then they put a walnut sauce topped with pomegranate all over it - I don't think I can do it!

24th October

Today was awesome!
We walked to the bus station from our hotel which is about 9 blocks away to catch a bus to the very colonial town of Cholula which is still in Puebla, about 30 mins away. The bus costs 60c, bargain! Cholula is best known for its Great Pyramid, with the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary on top. We visited the The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl and the underground tunnels which was very cool. These people buried part of the pyramid to hide it from the Spaniards - clever. We then climbed a very steep hill to the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary. From the top we had the most amazing views of 2 volcanoes (Volcan Popo and Mujer Dormiendo), the city of Cholula and out to Puebla. Breathtaking!
We finally grabbed a quick lunch at about 3 pm before heading back to Puebla.

Just got back from a bite to eat for dinner and this town is even more beautiful at night - sigh. We are so incredibly lucky.

Volcan Popo
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Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sanctuary
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25th October

Late start to the day. Yuri left around 11 to find a place to watch El Classico (Barcelona v Real Madrid). Barcelona lost so we won't talk about that!.
We then hit the town of Puebla to have some lunch and then take a walk around. We walked for quite a bit before stopping for coffee then walking some more.
We headed back to the hotel after that to do some planning for the rest of our time in Mexico - there are some long bus trips coming our way!

Puebla
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Oaxaca!
26th October

The bus ride was pretty good (about 5 hrs). We slept for a couple and then enjoyed the amazing scenery the rest of the way. Mexico truly is beautiful! We are staying at Hotel Calenda which is only a couple of blocks from the bus station so we could walk here. Our room is nice and we have a little balcony so we are happy. It was really hard to find nice, affordable accommodation as every man and his dog are heading to Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead celebrations!
After we had settled in, we took a walk into the centre of town which is super close to our hotel and so very nice! We have fallen in love with Oaxaca already!
We found an awesome place for a traditional Oaxacenan dinner with a complimentary shot of Mezcal (why not)!?!

27th October
We had a fairly easy day. Up early for a walk and some breakfast. Walk about town after that for a few hours before heading back to the hotel to do some planning...

28th October
Explored more of the city of Oaxaca today (which is so, so beautiful by the way) and booked in a couple of tours. Siesta in the afternoon and then out for dinner.

29th October
We headed out early to grab some breakfast before our tour and there was a flurry of activity happening. Altars being set up and sand sculptures (carpets) prepared. Parents had dressed their kids up for Halloween and there was a marching band. All this at 9 am, it was amazing!

The festivities have begun in Oaxaca!
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Our tour was pretty amazing!

We visited El Tule (with the largest tree in the world), the Mezcal Factory, Teotitlan (where rugs are made and we purchased one), Mitla (the Zapotec Ruins) and then through a couple of little towns in the mountains to Hierva el Aqua (petrified waterfall)!
Hierve el Agua is one of only two petrified waterfalls in the world, essentially a white stalagmite that formed outside of a cave.

El Tule (2000+ years old)!
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Teotitlan (where rugs are made and we purchased one)
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Mitla (the Zapotec Ruins)
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Hierva el Aqua (petrified waterfall)!
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Walk about town in the evening. Such a flurry of activity! People dressed up, marching bands playing, altars set up, carpets created and street markets. It all makes for a pretty magical time in Oaxaca!

An altar set up in town.
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30th October

Today rocked! We made our way to the ruins of Monte Albán. We decided to make our own way there instead of doing a tour which turned out to be brilliant as we got to spend hours there walking around. This place is amazing!
Monte Albán is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site. Besides being one of the earliest cities of Mesoamerica, Monte Albán's importance stems also from its role as the pre-eminent Zapotec socio-political and economic center for close to a thousand years.

Monte Albán
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We are about to head back into town to see what craziness is happening tonight. Love, love, love it here!

31st October
Happy Halloween!

We headed out for breakfast and then walked and walked (I'd love to know how many kms we've clocked on this trip). We walked all about town and then headed to the market. I want to buy everything here!

Major celebrations for the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca tonight! Marching bands (who hand out free shots of Mezcal as they pass by the way), street vendors, food, and hundreds of people dressed up! We had a blast!
In amongst all the craziness I got the most beautiful message from Corine to tell me that the gorgeous Estelle Lea had arrived safely into the world - oh joy!
We got our faces painted and had one if the best nights of our lives!

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1st November
Up earlyish to have a cup of delicious Oaxacenan coffee before doing some more walking about town.
Back to the hotel in the afternoon to do some more Mexico planning before heading out to the cemetery....
El Dia de Los Muertos is all about celebrating life, not mourning it, which I love. There were food stalls and rides set up outside the cemetery! Inside was just lovely. It was lit up with candles everywhere and family members spending some time and sharing a drink with their loved ones.
After spending some time there we walked back into town for some dinner at Zandunga which was delicious. We then joined the party on the streets. So much fun!

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2nd November
We caught a bus out to the Tlacolula market today. A cool little town about 20 mins away from Oaxaca. After checking out the market we stopped for a delicious lunch before heading back to Oaxaca. We had coffee in town (we love the coffee here) before heading back to the hotel to chill for a bit.
We're heading back into town now for some dinner.

Oaxaca has been SO good to us! We have loved every minute here. Tomorrow we'll spend the day here before catching an overnight bus to San Cristobal de las Casas. More adventures to be had!

3rd November

Very chilled out day. Quick breakfast before heading to the market to buy a few things. I think I've mentioned before that we want to buy everything here! Late lunch at El Quinque where we have been to a couple of times. The restaurant is run by a mother and her 2 sons. The Mum is El Salvadorean! Small world! Anyway the food there is delicious so check it out if you are ever in Oaxaca!

Back to the hotel to pack and then off to the bus station for an overnight bus (10.5 hrs) to San Cristóbal de las Casas!

4th November

The bus ride was ok. The first 3 hours were filled with twists and turns which made me feel a little green but I slept after that so it was all good. We arrived bright and early (7 am) and it was freezing! Stephanie (our Air bnb host) picked us up from the bus station which was lovely. Her house is amazing! We are in the guest house and she lives in a studio apartment on the same block of land. We have a full kitchen which we are super excited about and a fireplace. Note to self: need to purchase red wine to drink by the fire!

I have a feeling we are going to love it here!

Posted by sandyandyuri 09:20 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Mexico City - CUBA - Mexico City

sunny 30 °C

So much has happened! This is a bit of a long one but I guarantee you will enjoy the ride!

Mexico City
6th October

Today was very cool! We had a late breakfast and then visited the Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not. I actually enjoyed it more than I expected! After that I headed back to the hotel for some chill out time while Yuri went to the movies with his parents to watch Cantinflas.
I met up with them afterwards for a lovely dinner with some delicious Mexican wine. I've been surprised by how good the Mexican wine is!

Wax Museum and Ripley's Believe it or Not!?!
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7th October

Full on but great day!
We spent the day on the Turibus checking out the sites of Mexico City! We ended up back in the centre by around 5 and after a bit of a walk we ended the night at Salon Corona for some tortas, tacos, beers and mariachis! Awesome!

Turibus
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Salon Corona
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8th October

Mamiti and Papiti's last day in Mexico and last day with us ?.
We headed to the Arts and crafts market to buy some last minute gifts and then headed to La Zona Rosa for lunch. There was a protest happening (daily occurrence) on Paseo Reforma and we couldn't get back to the hotel so we killed some time with a coffee.
We finally were able to get a taxi back and then Yuri and I packed while we had a couple of drinks and Mamiti and Papiti watched Novellas!
Final dinner at the hotel restaurant before calling it a night!

9th October

We had an early breakfast and then finalised Mamiti and Papiti's luggage before heading to the airport.
We checked them in easily and then had a delicious final meal together. Ironically Mamiti and I were served Australian wine at lunch!
Then all too quickly it was time to say goodbye.
We had an amazing 2 months with them and we will miss them a lot!
Safe travels home!

Yuri and I didn't get up to much after that. We went for a walk and got caught in a storm so we waited it out at the closest McDonald's. Spoke to Mum when we got back and then chilled out with Sons of Anarchy, NCIS and Modern Family.

10th October
We woke up at lunchtime today - haven't done that in ages! We spent most of today chilling out and sorting ourselves out for Cuba!

CUBA!
11th October

Cuba here we come!

Our entry into Cuba was very easy. We were a little apprehensive after some of the stories we have heard but we cruised straight through. We exchanged money at the airport. Cuba has 2 currencies - why, I don't know but I will find out! Miguel was waiting with a sign to take us to Casa Rosita!

The drive from the airport was - wow! Havana (La Habana) looks just like the photos I've seen. Old cars and run down buildings. It has a certain charm but needs a lot of work.

We met Rosita who is super nice and she showed us to our room in her apartment. I don't know what I was expecting but this has exceeded it. We have a lovely room with our own bathroom, mini fridge and air conditioning for $20 a night. Apparently spending $20 a night on accommodation in a Casa particular in Cuba is luxurious and expensive. Crazy right?

It's super hot so we got changed and Rosita gave us a run down of the area before we set off on foot.
Habana Vieja is beautiful! I didn't expect to see begging but there was a bit of it.
Every man and his dog is trying to get you to go on some sort of tour but the place still has a certain charm.
We eventually stopped for a Mojito and a snack as we hadn't eaten since breakfast.
We sat there for ages just soaking it all in and people watching. We got chatting to a lovely older couple from Holland which was nice.
The common theme among tourists at the moment is to visit before it all changes and also before Fidel Castro passes.

We headed back to Rosita's for dinner. She had cooked us lobster! We had a lovely chat with her and her neighbour Erenio whom she cooks dinner for every night (sweet)! I'm having a lot of trouble understanding them - it's like they are singing a song but I don't know the lyrics.
Rosi helped us plan our time here and also gave us a run down on Casa Particulares. You can't just decide you are going to rent out a room, it needs to be government approved and then they hang a sign (anchor) outside your apartment and on your front door. I mentioned before that this is considered luxurious. You can get $5 and $10 accomodation but Rosie doesn't think we'd like that. Yuri and I don't need luxury but we need to be comfortable and stay somewhere clean which we have here.
Rosie asked us why we were here and about the politics... Yuri and I had agreed beforehand not to get involved in a conversation about politics so we avoided that one!

After dinner we headed to Hotel Florida to listen to some music and have a drink. PS, you can still smoke inside here - weird.
Wow the people here can dance!
It was so fun to people watch because it was basically Cubans (male & female) approaching tourists for a dance (and a bit of something else if you get my drift). It was a bit of a meat market but we had an awesome night!

12th October

Woke up super late and totally forgot where I was. Cuba, that's right!
Rosita had breakfast waiting for us which was really needed after last nights antics!
We told her all about our night over coffee and had a good old laugh. I'm starting to understand her a little better!
After our chat with her last night, Rosita had organised the rest of our trip for us. On Wed we leave by bus to Trinidad for 2 nights and then head to Viñales for 2 nights before coming back to Havana for 1 night.
Rosita has also organised for Miguel (taxi driver from yesterday) to show us the sights this afternoon and for us to go to a Cabaret show tonight - wow, she is amazing!

So we have decided to leave the sights for tomorrow (Monday) and headed to watch a traditional African/Cuban show called La Rumba. The dances were rituals for calling on saints. It has a lot to do with Black Magic. It was very cool but steaming hot. Rosita came with us and we enjoyed a few beers afterwards.

La Rumba
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Rosita!
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We headed to Plaza Vieja later on while Rosita went to visit her Comadre. Habana Vieja is simply stunning. You can't walk around for long here in the scorching heat so we stopped at La Factoria de Cerveza for a beer and to listen to some live music.
We had a pizza while there and I don't think it really agreed with me so we headed home after that.
We rested for an hour before getting ready to go and see a cabaret show. I was still feeling pretty horrible and almost cancelled the show but Rosita gave me a tablet that fixed me right up! I wasn't 100% but good enough to go to the show...
Miguel picked us up and took us to the Hotel Nacional were the Paris Cabaret was playing. Boy it was spectacular. Really fun night!

Cabaret!
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13th October

Miguel picked us up bright and early for a day of sightseeing. We visited La Plaza de la Revolucion, La Casa del Che, Morro Cabaña (fortress) Hemmingway's house/museum and Statue in the cute town of Cojimar. It was probably only about 30 degrees but it felt like 100!

The view from Hemingway's house....
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Morro Cabaña (fortress)
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Che's House
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La Plaza de la Revolucion
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After the tour we stopped at La Floridita to have a daquiri with Hemmingway!
We had a siesta in the afternoon - we have been having the deepest sleeps here! I guess the heat is getting to us more than we thought!
After dinner we went for a drink then a walk along the water.

14th October

What a day!
After a delicious breakfast and a chat with Rosita we set off on our own walking tour of Habana Vieja. It was steaming hot and the sweat started dripping as soon as we left the apartment!
We started off at the Museum of Revolution which was really interesting. We spent a couple of hours there. After the museum we spent the next 3 or 4 hours walking without stopping. No lunch just water. We then stopped at La Museo del Ron (Havana Club) for a rum and a tour. We then walked a little more and finally stopped for a snack, beer and a daquiri! What an awesome day!

Museum of Revolution
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We are now getting ready to see the Buena Vista Social Club at Hotel Nacional!
Man what a night! It was FANTASTIC!!!
The concert was in the 1930 Ballroom at Hotel Nacional and it was done up so elegantly, like we were attending a wedding - lucky Yuri was wearing pants!
We enjoyed a delicious dinner before the band came on. They played for 2 hrs! Obviously this was not the full original band but some of the original members were still there shaking it! Bloody brilliant!

Buena Vista Social Club
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15th October

It's now 5:49 am and we are up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus to Trinidad. There is no water and we are hoping it comes on in the next 15 mins so we can shower before we leave! Yesterday was not as bad as we had a trickle of water to wash the important parts!!!
Water came down from the gods and we were able to shower and have a quick breakfast before heading to the bus station. The bus is quite comfortable for the 6 hr journey to Trinidad and it's not full so we can split up!

Bus to Trinidad
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We had a couple of stops along the way and passed through some interesting looking towns like Playa Larga and Cien Fuegos. We eventually got to Trinidad about 2 pm and Yasser was here waiting to take us to the accommodation by.... Bicitaxi! They strapped on our luggage and then we got in and then this guy rode up to our lodging! Felt so bad for him! Anyway the place we are staying at is stunning. I feel like we're on the set of a movie. Yasser and his wife Marie are lovely and have made us feel at home. They have a daughter with cerebral palsey and she is just adorable.
We were supposed to head to Viñales on Friday but we've decided to stay in Trinidad till Sunday as there's a lot to do here and there is way too much travel to spend only a day in each place....

I feel pretty crappy and a cold coming on so we took a quick walk into town to try and find something to eat. We walked into a restaurant called La Ceiba on the recommendation from Marie although we started to walk out after we'd seen the menu as it was too expensive. They then offered everything on the menu for $6 so we said 'sure we'll stay"! Then the lady asked us if we had a card, did someone refer us? I started to say yes not really understanding but Yuri said no.... Anyway after we sat down all of the staff gathered and were discussing commissions and prices of food right there in front of us. It was horrible! Yuri asked if there was a problem and they said the owner said that they could not offer $6 prices.... We got up and left. Apparently the people on the streets get a commission if you pick their restaurant... Also apparently there are 3 menus. 1 with local prices, 1 for tourists with the prices jacked up to include commission and a normal menu without commission. What a bloody ordeal.
Anyway we found a normal restaurant near home with the menu and prices outside so we had dinner there and it was delicious..... San Jose it was called. The waiters were lovely, prices so cheap and the food was amazing!
Early night to try and fight off this cold....

16th October
Woke up feeling like I could sleep for days... We had the most amazing breakfast outside this morning. Marie and Yasser really know what they are doing here!
After breakfast I passed out, literally passed out and didn't get up again till after 3! Feeling a little better but not really. Anyway we got dressed and headed out to check out the town and take some photos. That took a couple of hours and then we wound up at Plaza Mayor for a couple of drinks while listening to some music.

Trinidad
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Trinidad seems more set up and organised for tourists than Habana. Habana seemed chaotic which adds to it's charm I guess but Trinidad is so calm and peaceful and more tourist friendly. They have tiendas here where you can buy a soft drink and chocolate which I didn't see in Habana...
We ended up having dinner at the same place as last night - San Jose and it didn't disappoint! I had the most amazing lobster ever for $9.50 which could have fed 2 people and Yuri had the shredded beef which was also delicious! I think we'll be back there tomorrow!

The lobster - YUM!
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17th October

Best day ever!
Ok, I know I've said that a lot but today was really something special!

We were picked up bright and early by Ada and her driver for a day tour tour into the mountains. We drove up to a look out and the view was breathtaking! We could see the city of Trinidad, the mountains and valleys and the Caribbean Sea. Super dooper! Next we drove to the starting point of our hike. 1 km in and we came across El Rocio waterfall which was just beautiful! After taking plenty of pics we continued hiking to a pond where the water was just so lovely and it was so bloody hot that we just had to jump in. We had the pond to ourselves which was muy romántico! After that we hiked some more (about 2 km) through such tranquil forest along the river until we reached the end. At the end of the trail we had a delicious chicken lunch but Yuri was being killed by Mosquitos so we ate and ran! Last stop was La casa del café were we learnt a little about the coffee making process before enjoying an espresso. Perfect, perfect day!
We chilled out after that watching Breaking Bad - we're about to finish season 2 and it's so good!
We are now waiting out the rain before heading to our favourite restaurant. Yuri's getting the lobster as he was so envious of my meal last night - ha!

Our Hike and swim...
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18th October

Playa Ancon
Day at the beach in Cuba - enough said!

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19th October

Leaving Trinidad today and heading back to La Habana. Just waiting on the bus to pick us up...
So the "bus" was a minivan and 7 of us were crammed in for a 4 hr journey back to La Habana. It wasn't so bad as we slept most of the way and had the smiling faces of Rosita and Erenio waiting for us! They had missed us and wanted to know everything we had been up to. Rosita noticed my cough straight away and loaded me up with medicine and honey and lemon tea. We took a walk after that to grab some lunch and then walked to the market after that to buy some souvenirs. Siesta time after that and then we got ready to go out for dinner. First we had a chat with Rosita and took some photos.
Dinner was delicious. The place was called El Rum Rum and we had Paella and grilled octopus. It was so yum! After that we took a last walk around for last pictures before heading back to Rosita's for a chat with her, Ronald and Erenio who we have come to love so much. Rosita is like an older sister and she has made us laugh so, so much!

Family photos
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El Malecon at night - beautiful!
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20th October
We are so sad to be leaving Cuba - especially Rosita, Ronal and Erenio....
We spent the morning packing and enjoying last chats with Rosita and Erenio. Rosita made us a delicious brunch to send us off.
She also arranged for us to be taken to the airport in an old Chevy! Bloody hell - so amazing of her!
Saying goodbye was so hard and Erenio shed some tears. We are going to miss these people so very much!

Cuba has been so intriguing (I still have so many questions). The people here are crying out for access to information (internet) but a lot are scared of the impact to their way of life and happiness (Cubans are seriously happy people) if and when things change.
It's a country full of contradictions but at the end of the day it's so, so beautiful and incredibly safe.

Tourists bring in a lot of money to the country but having 2 currencies makes life very hard for the average Cuban. The CUC or tourist dollar is of equal value to the American dollar. 24 Cuban pesos = 1 CUC - you do the math.

I hope to return one day and I will be staying in touch with Rosita and Erenio. Rosita has an email address - again I have so many questions....

Heading to the airport in style!
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Mexico City (again)
21 October

Back in Mexico City!
We spent last night catching up on the news of the world and of course social media!
We spent today planning our Mexico adventure and have a pretty exciting plan!

22nd October

We caught a bus into the centre of town today and did a lot of walking. The weather here is perfect at the moment. We finally got Yuri's phone fixed (I dropped it way back in Argentina), and had some lunch at Salon Corona before catching the bus back.
We are now back at the hotel booking accommodation - we leave for Puebla tomorrow for 3 nights and then head to Oaxaca and we'll be there for the Day of the Dead (very big deal here) festivities. Super exciting!

Posted by sandyandyuri 18:05 Archived in Cuba Comments (1)

Bienvenidos a México!

This is our third visit to Mexico and the more we see, the more enchanted we become with this country! Mamiti was here with us 4 years ago in Mexico City but Papiti has never visted so we decided to bring them here for 2 weeks so that Papiti could tick a few items off his bucket list.

23rd September

Off to Mexico! Yuri and I arrived first. We checked into the hotel, headed out for lunch and then fell asleep till we had to head back to the airport to pick up the parentals! Mamiti and Papiti were good but a little tired so we had dinner at the hotel and then headed to bed early.

24th September
Such a lazy day today as we were all pretty tired. We took a walk to have some lunch, then walked around a little before heading back to the hotel for a siesta.
We went to the cutest restaurant for dinner called 'La Casa de Los Abuelos'. Traditional and family friendly and has delicious food!
We then sorted out luggage to fly to Veracruz tomorrow and then hit the sack!

The cool decor in La Casa de Los Abuelos...
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25th September

Happy Birthday Dad!

Up early for breakfast then sorted ourselves to leave for the airport.
We are all checked in now and sitting around killing time till we board....

Veracruz
We are staying at The Emporio hotel which is probably the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in! It's right in the centre of town and the service so far has been outstanding! Claudia (Mamiti's niece) came and met us for a drink at the hotel before we headed out for dinner.
So, so good to see her again and we had a really lovely time catching up :-).

Our AMAZING hotel!
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Catching up with Claudita!
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26th September
So this hotel just keeps getting better and better! The breakfast spread is AMAZING!
I was really lazy today and decided to make the most out of staying at a nice hotel by staying in! Yuri went out with his parents to visit Claudia and the aquarium whilst I stayed in and watched show after show ;-).
We all had an awesome night out having a couple of drinks and some dinner while listening to Mariachi's and some Marimba tunes. Mamiti and Papiti had the best time! We hired some Mariachi's to sing to Mamiti which was fantastic!
We finished the night back at the hotel listening to a band with a night cap. Awesome evening!

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27th September
We are all a little tired today so we have been relaxing at the hotel. Mamiti and Papiti are watching novellas while we watch a movie :-). This is the life!

Picked up by Claudia in the evening for dinner at her place. We all had such a wonderful time catching up with Rocio and Andrea (the twins), their boyfriends, Miguel (Claudia's hubby) and her friend from work! We had delicious tacos and I managed to converse in Spanish - yay! Really fun night!

Dinner at Claudia's place!

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28th September
Road trip to Alvorado with Claudia!
It rained most of the day but that didn't dampen our spirits. We had a delicious seafood lunch after checking out the gorgeous small town.
Good day!

Alvorado!
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29th September
Sleep in and then breakfast (which is served till 12 pm in this awesome hotel)!
We then headed out to find some guayabera's for Papiti and hit the jackpot! He looks so cute in them!

The guayabera is a men's shirt popular in Cuba, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and throughout Africa. It is also known as a "Wedding Shirt". Yuri wore one at our wedding!

We had Lunch/dinner (it was 4 pm) at Boca del Rio. The food was amazing and we got to listen to more music at Mamiti's request!
We went on a little boat trip in the evening around the port. The city looks so pretty at night and we got some great photos!
We ended the night with a coffee at La Gran Cafe Perroquia - a must visit when in Veracruz!

Lunch at Boca del Rio
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Veracruz at night
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30th September
Up early for a quick breakfast before Claudia picked us up. She has arranged for us to visit the Cuban Consulate here in Veracruz to pick her brain about going to Cuba. She gave us so much info and we are definitely going, we just have to decide exactly when. How exciting!
Next stop San Juan de Ulúa with Claudia.

"San Juan de Ulúa, also known as Castle of San Juan de Ulúa, is a large complex of fortresses, prisons and one former palace on an island overlooking the seaport of Veracruz, Mexico.

After that it was back to the hotel to pack (boo). Final dinner in El Zocalo then back to the hotel where Claudia, Miguel, Rocio and Andrea were waiting to say goodbye to us :-(.
We've had such an amazing time here and are really sad to leave.

San Juan de Ulúa
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1st October
Up at 4:30 am to head to the airport. Seems like a waste of a day for a 35 min flight!
Back in Mexico City staying at El Ejecutivo again :-).
We didn't get up to much. We weren't able to check in straight away so we left Mamiti and Papiti at the hotel cafe while Yuri and I went off in search of the tour guide we used 4 years ago. Success (kind of)! We found Manuel on Paseo Reforma just like we did 4 years ago. He remembered us which was lovely! He is the Jefe (boss) of the company. We had Juan as a tour guide last time but he is no longer working there but Manuel assures us he will send us someone just as good!
We then headed back to the hotel to check in then had the executive lunch at the hotel. The executive lunch consists of three entrees, a main, dessert and juice for 65 pesos which is about $6. Bargain and it was delicious!
Chill out in the arvo then a quick dinner before bed.

2nd October
We all had a major sleep in and didn't end up having breakfast till after 12! We took a walk around after that and then stopped for coffee.
Chill out in the arvo and then we headed out to Cafe Tacuba for dinner. This place is an institution and has been around since 1912. The food was delicious and we had mariachi's play for us again which put the biggest smile on Mamiti's face - priceless!

Cafe Tacuba
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3rd October
Happy Birthday Mum!

Tour day! We were picked up bright and early by our tour guide Eric which is Manuel's son! He is just lovely and so attentive to Mamiti and Papiti! He is also a wealth of information so Papiti was asking him questions all day!

First stop was the Plaza de las Tres Culturas.

The Plaza de las Tres Culturas ("Square of the Three Cultures") is the main square within the Tlatelolco neighbourhood of Mexico City. The name "Three Cultures" is in recognition of the three periods of Mexican history reflected by those buildings pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial, and the independent "mestizo" nation. The plaza, designed by Mexican architect and urbanist Mario Pani, was completed in 1966.

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Next stop was a visit to Don Rafael's silver shop. Mamiti and I came here 4 years ago and bought so many beautiful things, so we just had to come back! We are both very happy with our purchases!

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Next stop was the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is a Roman Catholic church, minor basilica and National Shrine of Mexico in the north of Mexico City.

Old Bascilica
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New Bascilica
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Impossible to take a straight photo as the old Bascilica is sinking...
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Final stop was some tequila taste testing and then the Pyramides de Teotihuacan!

Teotihuacán was a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city located in the Valley of Mexico, 30 miles (48 km) northeast of modern-day Mexico City, known today as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas.

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We all had such a great day!

4th October
Back to the plata (silver) store so Mamiti and I could buy some more silver! Yesterday I purchased a ring (among other things) with the Aztec calendar on it so today I purchased one with the Mayan calendar! Love, love, love my purchases!
Eric was so nice to take us there again even though it wasn't part of the tour.
Next stop was Plaza Mexico which is the biggest bullfighting ring in the world.

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Next stop was the gorgeous suburb of Coyoacán.
Coyoacán refers to one of the 16 boroughs of the Federal District of Mexico City as well as the former village which is now the borough’s “historic center.”

A girl in Coyoacán all dressed up for her Quinceañera (15th birthday) which is a huge deal in Latin America.
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Coyoacán
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Mariachi's playing at mass. Just a normal everyday occurrence in Mexico!
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Next we stopped at Plaza Saint Angel where there was an art market happening. Yuri and I purchased 2 paintings.
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Next was Estadio Azteca which is a big bucket list item for Papiti. Unfortunately we couldn't go in as there was an event happening but he was still so happy to be there!

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Last stop for the day was Xochimilco which is a favourite of ours!
Xochimilco is best known for its canals, which are left from what was an extensive lake and canal system that connected most of the settlements of the Valley of Mexico. These canals, along with artificial islands called chinampas, attract tourists and other city residents to ride on colorful gondola-like boats called “trajineras” around the 170 km (110 mi) of canals.

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We had the most amazing day!

5th October
Out for a late breakfast/early lunch then off to Palacio de las Bellas Artes. What an amazing building!
We then walked among thousands of people down to the Zocalo which was crazy fun! Papiti loved every second and had the biggest smile on his face! We checked out the market then headed back to the hotel for a siesta.
Eric picked us up at 9:30 pm for a visit to Plaza Garibaldi. What a crazy, fun place! We've been here many times before (and will never get tired of it) but it was a first for Papiti and he loved it. We listened to some Mariachi's then headed to Tenampapa for a tequila before heading to Guadalajara de Noche for the show!
We saw more mariachi's, traditional dancing from different parts of Mexico and just had a ball. Awesome night!

Palacio de las Bellas Artes
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Eating street food in the Zocalo
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Plaza Garibaldi
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Posted by sandyandyuri 14:09 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

It's always hard saying goodbye....

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It's been a while since my last blog. I don't know where the time has gone but it's time to bid farewell to this beautiful country and it's people.

As always, El Salvador, you have welcomed us with open arms! There are too many people to thank as EVERYONE has been so amazing to us and Yuri's parents. We can't ever thank you enough!

1st September

Tati (Mamiti's niece) and her son Miguel came to visit at Chabelita's house today which was nice!
In the arvo we headed out for coffee and sweetbread at San Martin. The sweetbread here is so freaking delicious and we are eating way too much of it! Back to Chalito's after that to chill out and have dinner.

2nd September

Picked up Mamiti and Papiti and headed to Club Tecleno at El Tunco again. Time for more relaxation - ha!
We had pupusas for dinner at Chabelita's house to celebrate Felix's birthday (Mamiti's nephew).

Happy Birthday Felix!
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3rd September
Breakfast this morning at Los Cebollines to meet Las Compadres as it is La Comadre's birthday. We had a lovely time with them and the breakfast was delicious! I spent some time on my own doing some shopping while Mamiti visited her brother and Yuri took his Dad to the bank. It was nice to tune out and enjoy a coffee and a peperecha (like I need to eat more sweet bread)...

Happy Birthday Niña Tere!
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4th September

Road trip today and the first stop was the lovely town of Santa Ana. Next we headed back to Chalchuapa to visit the ruins of Tazumal and also to feast on some more yuca (yum)! Last stop was Lago de Coatepeque. Wow, this place is absolutely stunning! It's a lake in the crater of a volcano. We had a delicious lunch on the lake and just enjoyed our beautiful surroundings - wow! The skies opened up on our way back to San Salvador. We could literally see the black clouds chasing us.
We stopped at San Martin for some coffee and sweet bread before heading home for some chill out time watching Suits ?. Good day!

Santa Ana Cathedral
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Tazumal
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Lago de Coatepeque
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5th September

I haven't written enough about Isabel, Anna, Rosie, Dayana, Felix, Ronald, Maria Luisa and Felix Snr. They are such wonderfully warm and loving people. They greet us each day with smiles on their faces.
We go to Isabel's house each day to pick up Mamiti an Papiti and they are always there with open arms and smiles, offering us food, to do our laundry, have a chat - anything we could possible want. Amazing people!

Today was a pretty chilled out day. We didn't get up to much. Just grabbed some lunch and coffee in the afternoon.
In the evening we headed to Gladys's place for what turned out to a very crazy but FUN night with Chamba's nieces and nephews. Again such lovely people that we have become really close with over the years ?.

Party time!
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6th September

Woke up with a bit of a sore head ;-).
Today we spent the day with Isabel and Maria Jose which was so nice!
Zoned out in the evening by catching up on eps of Parenthood while Yuri chilled out watching football with Neto.

7th September
Up early again to have breakfast with Marisella and her husband Armando. The last time Yuri and his parents saw Marisella was 26 years ago when they left El Salvador for good - crazy right? It was so lovely to meet them and for Yuri and his parents, it's was so amazing to catch up.
Lunch at Chalito and Beatrice's place. Food is involved in everything we do. I spend most days so completely full and sleepy!
After lunch we headed to Comasagua to Finca San Ernesto to have coffee. The most amazing views up there! I wasn't feeling great so Yuri headed out for dinner with his parents and Henry and family.

The view of Santa Tecla on the road to Comasagua
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Finca San Ernesto
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8th September

Another day filled with food! Lunch at Ingrid's parents place (Niña Margarita and Don Roberto). The Compadres were also there as well as Gabriel and Roberto (Ingrid's brothers). The table was filled with food! Ingrid's mum is an amazing cook (especially sweets) so we ate and ate and ate! It was so lovely to catch up with them :-).

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9th September

Very chilled day...
We had massages in the afternoon - 2 for $20! Mamiti and I are living like queens here! Massages, manicures, pedicures, facials - you name it!
Dinner at Chita and Nena's with the Colato family, Gladys, Bella and Lety. We had such a great night!

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10th September

Road trip to Ilobasco to visit Papiti's family. Lovely day with them :-).
Dinner at San Martin (our favourite place)!!!

11th September

Chill out day didn't do anything much during the day. In the afternoon we finally managed to catch up with Julia at this very cool little treetop bar for a few drinks. It was so awesome to see her!

12th September

Coffee at San Martin which has become our daily ritual! Tania (a waitress) there has taken a liking to us and us to her (she has the most amazing smile)! Today she left this note on our receipt "May God bless you and remember I am here waiting". How sweet is that?
Dinner this evening at Marisella and Armando's which was a lot of fun! We had Chinese food which was delicious and a welcome change! Their daughters Adriana, Lupita and Lilian are just lovely and we had a really great night ??.

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13th September
Happy Birthday to Mamiti!!!!

I had breakfast at San Martin while Yuri and Papiti went to the bank. We then took Mamiti out for a Birthday lunch to La Ola de Don Beto and it was delicious! Coffee with La Compadres in the afternoon before heading back to Chabelita's for Skype sessions for Mamiti's birthday.
Good day ??.

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14th September

Another great day!
Lunch with Pipita, Lourdes and Tio Juan. Marisella and family joined us later in the arvo for cafecito y Pan dulce. They are all such lovely people and I'm so glad we got to spend some time with them ?.
We stopped at Paseo del Carmen after that to check out. It's very cool. A few streets in Santa Tecla are shut down from Friday to Sunday and market and food stalls are set up. There are some pretty cool bard there too. We bought a couple of things and then headed off.
We met up with Ivette, Niña Doris and Paty at Plaza Merliot after that.
Last stop for the day was visiting Yuri's childhood friend Yazirre and his wife Claudia. Yazirre still lives in the same street that they all grew up in together! 26 years since they had seen each other but you would never guess that! We had a great night!

The Lucha and Zaldaña clan!
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Paseo del Carmen
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Ivette, Paty, Papiti and Yuri
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15th September

Happy Independence Day El Salvador!
Up early again for a breakfast date with Henry. I love the breakfasts here! Lots of fun catching up with Henry.
Thank you lunch at La Pampa for Chalito, Beatriz and Netto. They have been so amazing opening up their home to us so we wanted to say thank you. Delicious food and wine and great company!
Massages in the afternoon before meeting up with Netto to go to the movies. The cost for 3 people to go to the movies in ES is cheaper than the cost of 1 adult movie ticket in Australia. What the? We saw the Maze Runner which was pretty good!

Breakfast with Henry
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Lunch with Chalito, Beatriz and Netto
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16th September
1 week left in ES ???

Lovely relaxing day. Road trip up to Sonsonate then down La Litoral and lunch at El Puerto! We are going to miss El Puerto so much!
Back to San Salvador after that for cafecito y pan dulce at San Martin. We are going to miss San Martin too!
After coffee it was off to Las Cascadas for some beauty therapy. The three of us (Yuri, Mamiti and myself) got manicures - the best I've had anywhere in the world and Mamiti and Yuri also got haircuts. Papiti patiently waited for us!
Dinner at home and then chilled out in front of the telly.

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Our Car!
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17th September

Delicious breakfast with Las Compadres and then off to Gladys' place so she could permanently straighten my hair. She gave this to me as a gift - how beautiful is that!?!

18th September
Yuri wasn't feeling the best so we had a very easy day. Bed at 9:30 - earliest we've been to bed on this trip!

19th September

Up early to meet Taty (Mamiti's niece) and her husband for breakfast. Yuri still not feeling the greatest so he didn't eat much (and it's killing him)!
Taty bought some old pics with her which made Mamiti a bit emotional. It was a really great morning.
After breakfast we headed to Las Cascadas so I could get a pedicure (hands down the best I've ever had) while Yuri and Mamiti got massages. Papiti waited for us (he's been doing that a lot lately ;-). We have been getting massages, manicures, pedicures and facials every other day. So, so freaking cheap and kicks ass over the treatments we get in Australia!
Off to United airlines after that to make sure Mamiti and Papiti's flight to Mexico on Tueaday was all good.
We had Tio Fito's daughters graduation that night. It was lots of fun. Yuri still not feeling the best so couldn't eat. After dinner and cake the 'combo' (band) arrived which was awesome!

Breakfast with Taty and Miguel
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Yuri with Tio Fito, Chino and Henry
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20th September
Full on day...
Up early to have a farewell breakfast with Chalito, Beatriz & Ernesto at San Fernando. Beautiful, beautiful surroundings. This family has been so amazing to us.
After that it was off to Nena and Chita's place to say goodbye, then Las Compadres, then Don Roberto and Niña Margarita (phew) - after that we stopped for a quick sandwich before heading to Chabelita's place. We had a wonderful night with them sharing some laughs over pupusas! They have been so good to Mamiti and Papiti as well as us!
Exhausted but happy!

Breakfast at San Fernando
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21st September

It's been raining all day today. It's as if El Salvador is a little bit sad that we are leaving...
We went in search of Sopa de Gallina and were successful - YUM

More goodbyes....
We visited Pipita, Lourdes and Tio Juan to say goodbye. Sad.
We then visted Ivette and family to say goodbye. Sad
Taty and Miguel then visited us to say goodbye. Sad

22nd September
Up early for a final round of massages - even Papiti got one!

We then went to say goodbye to Gladys and Bella. I love this girl. Can't wait till she moves to Australia!

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After lunch we made one final visit to San Martin and our favourite waitress Tania!

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We then headed back to Chabelita's to pack Mamiti and Papiti's suitcases.
Yuri dropped of our rental car - we got 10 days free. Thanks Tio Fito!

Then it was time to say goodbye to Chabelita, Ana, Rosie, Felix, Ronald, Felix Jnr and Dayana - now that was SAD! These people have opened their homes and hearts to us and have just been simply AMAZING. Thank you is not enough.

Out for a final dinner with Chalito, Beatriz and Netto which was lovely. We had delicious burgers at Smashburger.
Chalito, Beatriz and Netto have been so, so WONDERFUL to us. We haven't said goodbye yet as we'll do that tomorrow morning. That will be really hard....

The best thing about El Salvador is the people. The people here have given us so many memories that we will have forever. Thank you is not enough.
The country is so beautiful and we hope to be back again one day so therefore it's not goodbye, it's see you later.

Hasta luego El Salvador, next stop MEXICO!

Posted by sandyandyuri 21:44 Archived in El Salvador Comments (0)

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