Tanya A girl from Minsk has been living, studying and working in China for 8 years. He loves languages, travels around the world of solo, loves uncharted and non-pop countries, motivates girls (last name and spirit obliges) to travel solo, and foreigners to come to Belarus. Mexico was its jubilee 55 country.
February. In China, the New Year has come, and this means – the time of my escape from the chaos, noise and cold of southern China (there is no heating here). “To Mexico? One? For a month? ”Asked astonished friends. “Is it really impossible to find a safer place?” – Mom was interested almost every day from the moment of purchasing the air tickets for almost half a year. “Oh, someone wanted sex, drugs and rock’n’roll,” my American and Canadian colleagues smirked.
But no. I wanted tacos, pyramids, Nicheledas, Indian culture, and Spanish to practice on the way. One of the points of my New Year’s resolution was “a month in Mexico to speak only Spanish”, that for the first 4 days the brain simply endured. And then I even got the hang of all the gringos on the little things to translate.
I flew from Shanghai. I bought the ticket for half a year, so the thirteen-hour direct flight Aeromexico seemed to me relatively budget – 5,400 yuan, or $ 805 – especially when compared with the usual prices of this route ($ 1,200 and higher). The cheapest and fastest flights will be to Mexico City and Cancun. There are no direct flights from Minsk, Moscow, Kiev (the exception may be Moscow-Cancun charters, and that only during the season), and there are a lot of joint flights. You can fly by flight “Aeroflot” -Aeromexico, LOT-JetBlue, KLM, Lufthansa and
Russians and Ukrainians who arrive by air transport do not officially need a visa, but you still have to get its equivalent – an electronic tourist permit to enter and enter. You can make it yourself online or through a travel agency. For this, you only need a scan and photo of the passport. Belarus needs a visa to Mexico. It can be issued independently in the consular department at the Mexican embassy in Moscow or through a travel agency. The package of documents is standard: a valid passport, 2 photos 3×4, certificate of employment, an extract from the bank.
If you are applying for a visa on your own, personal attendance and an interview are required. Therefore, think in advance the route and explain the purpose of the trip. For some reason, I was hit in the head by Tijuana (a place on the border with the United States, through which all drug traffic and illegal migrants go). And then I had to explain to the consul a long time that there was no plan yet and this place came to my mind absolutely by accident.
Prices vary depending on the location and method of filing, I paid about $ 50 at the Mexican consulate in Shanghai.
You will not need a visa to Mexico if you have a valid visa in the United States, a valid Schengen or a residence permit in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, and Schengen countries.
Mexico is one of those countries where you can travel long and carefully. You can organize your route according to interests, for example, beaches, pyramids, colonial cities and their culture, Mayan culture, carnivals and festivals, ecotourism, diving and surfing, hiking and cycling trips, animals and wildlife … A couple of examples.
Beach holidays: Puerto Escondido, Zipolite, Mazunte.
Colonial cities: Merida, San Miguel de Allende, San Cristobal de las Casas, Guanijuato, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, Morelia, Alamos.
Pyramids: Teotihuacan, Palenque, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Yaxchilan, Monte Alban, Tulum, Calakmul.
Museums: Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Museo Jumex, Museo Frida Kahlo, Palacio Nacional (Mexico City), Museo Rafael Coronel (Zacatecas), Museo Maya (Cancun).
You can make the route “the best in Mexico” or “just a little bit” that I did, although even this option should be planned for at least a month. The final route went like this: Veracruz – Mexico City – Teotihuacan – Guadalajara – Tequila – Morelia – Oaxaca – Huatulco – Palenque – Cancun.
My trip came in February – the carnival season. Therefore, straight from the airport I went to the bus station, and from there to Veracruz. Each year one of the largest and most colorful carnivals in Mexico takes place in Veracruz. The carnival is scheduled for the week before Ash Wednesday, around mid-February. They wait for him for a long time and carefully prepare for it. Simple people buy alcoholic beverages, and dancers sew costumes and rehearse dances. Catwalk starts in the city center and runs across the embankment. On weekdays it will be in the evening, on weekends – in the afternoon. Do not worry, do not be shy, just have a drink with the local michalads and be sure to get down from the stands, shake your hips with the dancers and the crowd.
“For the carnival carefully prepared. Simple people buy alcoholic drinks, and dancers sew costumes and rehearse dances. ”
Every evening concerts and dance sessions are held in the city. It is necessary to prepare in advance, as the free concerts of Latin American stars will be a long line of visitors. If you are a fan of Latino pop, this is entertainment for you. If not, you can simply walk along the streets, taste the local street food and dine local seafood delicacies on the city market, as seafood is one of the best and freshest in Mexico.
Find a hostel in the center – Mexico City is just huge. In this 20 million people there is something to see – at least it will take 5 days.
Start your acquaintance with the Central Square Zocalo, go to the Cathedral of Catedral Metropolitana and see the changing of the guard on the main square. Do not miss Palacio Nacional, where you can see Diego Rivera’s frescoes for free. Pay attention: you need a passport to enter. Imagine how Mexico was in Mayan times, visiting the ruins of a daytime city. Also nearby, there are sometimes free art exhibitions in Palacio de Bellas Artes.
Do you know who mariachi? Want to see these guys with a guitar and a sombrero? To you on Garibaldi Square (Plaza Garibaldi).
Take the day to the canals. Xochimilco. The best weekend, as renting a boat is divided by the number of passengers. Barges themselves are just a masterpiece, you can choose several options and places to stop and visit. It was on the channels, by the way, that the 2018 earthquake caught me.
Don’t forget to watch the Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacán, to which you can go independently by public transport from the North Station. Take the metro to Autobuses del Norte station, line 5. The subway is very easy to navigate, as for the Indians (well, for many gringos) who cannot read Spanish, all the stops are marked with logos.
Here are some other cool places in different parts of Mexico where you need to go:
A huge museum of anthropology with a huge collection of archaeological finds of various Native American cultures Museo Nacional de Antropologia;
Chapultepec Palace Castillo de chapultepec. There are beautiful views from here – the palace is built on a hill in the middle of the park. The hill itself was a sacred place for the Aztecs, and the palace was a military academy, the president’s house, and an observatory. Now there is a historical museum;
Frieda Kahlo’s house Coyacan Museo Frida Kahlo, where you can look at the personal things and pictures of the artist. You need to come here early and take more water with you – the queues can be long, and 30 people run for half an hour;
Monumento a la Revolucion, huge monument in honor of the Mexican Revolution.
If you want to tickle your nerves, in Mexico City there are several altars of the cult of the goddess of death Santa Muerte and the god of drug dealers. In these areas, care must be taken and take pictures unnoticed. An altar keeper loudly screamed at me with a huge camera.
Another “not for all” entertainment is the Island of dolls on everything on the same Xochimilco channels. Legend has it that many years ago a hermit living on this island found the corpse of a girl near the shore, the spirit of which began to appear to him at night. In order to placate this spirit, the old man began to hang dolls all over the island. And so on until the end of his days. By the way, his body was found in the same place where many years ago the body of a girl was. Maybe this is all a legend, but you will still have old, dirty and one-eyed dolls. A tour to Puppet Island takes about 4 hours.
“In these areas, you need to be careful and take pictures unnoticed. An altar attendant loudly screamed at me with a huge camera.
Guadalajara (2 days)
Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, is the birthplace of the most Mexican – tequila, mariachi, sombrero and hat dance. It is a city with colonial architecture and baroque churches. Walk around the center, go to Museo Regional de Guadalajara explore local culture and history; at Instituto Cultural de Cabanas – a majestic complex, once a former hospital, and now a museum and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inside which are hidden modernist frescoes by cool Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco; in the medieval cathedral Basilica de zapopan; dine with birch – Mexican stew – and take a good rest before you go to Tequila.
In a glorious town with a drunken name usually go with a one-day tour from Guadalajara. Visiting tequila plants is required. Here are a few options: Casa Sauza, Mundo Cuervo and Tequila Cofradia.
The old colonial city is still not very popular among tourists, seize the moment. The area in the center is not one, as in most cities in Mexico, but as many as 4. From here it is most convenient to take a tour to Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (Reserva Mariosa Monarca). Monarch is one of the most famous butterflies of America and the only species of butterflies that migrates annually long distances from north to south. Butterflies live in colonies – there can be so many of them that the trees appear orange, and a “flock” during the flight can darken the sky. There are eight colonies of butterflies in the park; up to a billion winters here. Book a tour in the tourist kiosk on the main square, it will be cheaper and faster than on your own.
Oaxaca is a city inhabited by a large number of Maya Indians, a city of Indian cultures, chocolate, coffee, mezcal, handicraft products and handmaid. Start exploring the city with a bowl of hot chocolate and breakfast on the market and head to the main square. Zocalo, where concerts are often held. During my time in Oaxaca, the days of my native language were passing, and the Mayan Indians tripled the touching and colorful show.
Even if it seems that you already had enough cathedrals in Mexico, do not miss Templo de santo domingo, where weddings are held rich capital personages. Another couple of standing places: Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, excellent historical museum in the building of the old monastery, textile museum Museo Textil de Oaxaca and another historical Museo Casa de Juarez. In Oaxaca, it is good to walk through numerous galleries, taste the mescal in the mezkaleria, and dine again in the market. If there is a day available, go to the pyramids. Monte Alban.
You do not want Acapulco – go to Uatulko. A small but popular city with local tourists is an ideal place if you want to go to the beach, and the gringos in Cancun, surfers and drunk youth in Puerto escondido fed up with it.
The city literally consists of one central street and bus station. From here they go to the pyramids with the same name Palenque and cross the border with Guatemala.
If it were not for the flight from Cancun, well, I would never have gone here! This is a paradise for the rich and famous with an all-inclusive system for gringos. I was saved by one of the best museums in the country Museo Maya.
What to read and see
To travel to Mexico, you can additionally prepare with the help of books and films. My favorites are movies with gael garcia bernal (Casa de mi padre, Mammoth, The loneliest planet, Tambien la Lluvia, Dot the i). Mandatory to view are Hecho en Mexico, La Jaula de Oro, Ano Basiesto and Soso.
And it is worth reading Mexican classics: “Pedro Paramo” by Juan Rulfo, “The Death of Artemio Kruso” by Carlos Fuentes, “The Teachings of Don Juan” by Carlos Castaneda, “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel. And verses by Octavio Paz and Amado Nervo.
About what to listen to from the Mexican scene, read here.
In Mexico, the bus transport system is very well developed. There are many private bus companies with buses of varying degrees of comfort. What affects the ticket price: class, ticket purchase time (sometimes the sooner the better, sometimes cheap tickets you can grab at the station before sending), route (direct or with stops), seat sizes, internet, air conditioning, sockets and entertainment . Often, the same company has flights of varying degrees of comfort, and the difference between the proposed buses is shown in booklets and at stands at ticket offices.
Tickets for different companies you can book on this site (albeit with a surcharge). And you can pick it right on the websites of the companies themselves. Here are some of them: ADO Group, Autovias, Estrella Blanca Group, Estrella Oro, Estrella Roja, Promera Plus.
Bus terminals are common or owned by only one bus company. Tickets can be booked in advance via the Internet or bought before departure at the station. There are usually many flights, and if you are not sure about your route, relax and drive to the station.
If time is short, but you need to get there quickly – choose a plane. Domestic flights are carried out AeroMexico.
In urban transport to understand it is difficult. In a taxi, you can bargain, and if you do not like this thing – choose Uber.
Risks and hazards
Mexico is a country with a bad reputation. And, oddly enough, the locals themselves create this reputation; from the travelers I did not hear any “tales from the crypt.” Every day and in almost every city you will be asked by nice and friendly locals if you are here for the first time. And after they advise you, after 7, you can only walk along the main street, and it’s better to take a taxi. Already in a taxi (more because the backpack weighs 13 kilos, than because of real fears) the song continues the taxi driver.
– What are you doing here?
– Where is your boyfriend or husband?
– And you are not scared?
– No, good people are everywhere!
– Well yes. In general, do not go to that street, there are many drug addicts. Mmm. No, drunk!
– So drunk in every country there is!
– Well yes. In general, take care!
“Mexico is a country with a bad reputation. And oddly enough, the locals themselves create this reputation. ”
Be sure to bargain everywhere. This is the norm, do not be shy.
It would be nice to learn Spanish or at least know a few words on it.
Eating in the markets is cheap, tasty and local.
Carry a copy of your passport.
If you study, capture your student. In many places there are discounts.
As souvenirs, bring home chocolate discs for making hot chocolate, coffee, mole, tequila, mezcal, chili sauce.
For handmade fans, the best place to shop is in Oaxaca’s markets and shops.
The budget for 27 days:
Transportation (one flight and buses) – $ 200
Food and incidentals – $ 320
Entrance fees – $ 100
Photo: Anton Repponen, josephowen, jacobsantiago