We had a fantastic five days in Mexico staying with my friend Male. It was amazing to be reunited again after seven years (we lived and worked together during my year abroad in France) and meet her beautiful little family. We were treated to delicious home cooked food, margaritas and personal tours of the local sights…
After our 30 hour journey we had a little lie in and were then treated to a brunch of fresh tamales. These are delicious stuffed corn husks filled with a corn dough and other fillings, including chicken, tomatoes, chilli and cheese. Male then gave us a tour of the rest of their house, which is currently under construction, with fantastic views across the valley to Mexico City.
In the afternoon Male drove us to Tlayacapan, a village further down the valley. We walked around their beautiful old church and lots of handicraft shops including glass, clay, stone, metal and paper work.
In the town square Male treated us to some delicious fruit sorbets including mamey, a sweet orange fruit with the look and texture of an avocado.
On our way back to the house we stopped at the next door village which is famous for its abundance of mole shops (a traditional sauce normally served with meat made from lots of ingredients, including nuts, chocolate). We visited a handful of shops and sampled both the raw paste and powder versions and brought some home. Halfway up the hill we stopped off for an incredible fresh blue tortilla.
For dinner we were treated to potzole cooked by Male’s mum - a delicious fresh chicken and veg broth with puffed, boiled corn. We also had tostadas - small crispy tortillas with avocado, cheese and sour cream.
On the Wednesday we woke to a massive thunder storm, with thunder, lightening and hail, that lasted all night and all day. It cut the power and Naybi, Male’s daughter, was sent home from school.
We enjoyed mollentos for lunch - toasted bread with refried beans, cheese and salsa (a bit like cheese on toast!) - which was amazingly comforting with the weather.
In the afternoon we packed up the house and all drove down to Male’s parent’s house in the city when the rain finally eased off. We then hung out with the children watching YouTube cartoon videos (which were no good for practising our Spanish as they were all in English). Male made us some delicious margaritas to have with our dinner that evening.
On Thursday we had a day out in Mexico City with Male and her partner Horacio.
Our first stop was the spectacular national theatre, with its domed roof and statues.Male explained that this, and many of the other buildings were actually starting to sink as the city itself was built on a lake filled in with soft materials.
We then saw some other impressive buildings, with designs influenced by different European architecture, some grand churches and a fantastic mosaic house.
The city's main central square was gigantic and surrounded by imposing red lava bricked buildings - the national colour. We took a look around the main cathedral and also saw the remains of the native pyramid that was destroyed to build it on.
Horacio then left us to go to work at one of the city's universities and Male took us to the royal palace to see murals by Diego Rivera, depicting Mexican history. Amazing colourful images beginning with the natives, following through to colonialism and the struggles in the 20th century.
We headed to a traditional café for some sweet treats, including a kind of crisp bread/cracked with a spicy fruity syrup. We had a wander around the central artisan market and showed great restraint by only picking up a handful of souvenirs.
After breakfast on the Friday we drove out of the city to Male’s aunt’s house, with amazing views of the volcanoes on the way. We met the extended family and dog then Male, Horacio, Anita and I left for the pyramids of Teotihuacan.
Covering a huge area we first explored the main citadel, which was still being excavated. We the walked down the 2km 'Avenue of the Dead’, exploring the amazingly well preserved temples along the way. Every 50 years or so a new pyramid would be built on top of the old one, meaning that all the decorative paintings and sculptures were amazingly well preserved, they almost didn't look real.
Towards the end of the avenue we reached the Pyramid of the Sun, incredibly spectacular but very very steep. We managed to climb all the way to the top which was a massive achievement given how windy it was! The views from the top really were spectacular. We then headed down to admire the Pyramid of the Moon and the palace ruins.
We went back to Male's aunt's house for a delicious family dinner including spicy rice, broccoli fritters, salsa, tortillas and pig skin (a bit of a challenge!). As well as some amazing savoury and sweet homemade tamales.
On Saturday we had a lovely day out at Xochimilco, kind of like a Mexican Cambridge, with punting on the river. We brought a picnic, hired a boat and an oarsman and sailed around the canals. It was a proper fiesta atmosphere with lots of party boats and mariachi bands. Lunch included cactus and tortillas with cheese.
In the afternoon we drove to Coyancan - a cosmopolitan part of the city with a grand square and lots of bars with people enjoying their Saturday evening. There was an impressive church and convent, where a wedding was taking place and after a short walk around we indulged in some amazing ice cream.
On the way back we stopped by Horacio’s sister's house for drinks and then headed home for quesadillas and margaritas.
Male spoilt us with yummy freshly made guacamole for our last breakfast. We then said our goodbyes and drove to the airport.
We had a momentary panic when we arrived and our flight wasn't on the screen but apparently that's quite normal, so we checked in as expected. We boarded our flight to Guatemala City around 1pm and had incredible views of the snow capped volcanoes and Mexico City as we took off.