Traveling through Mexico and Cuba

It all started when my friend was asking me whether I knew anyone in Mexico because he was planning on going there in the summer. I put him in contact with some Mexicans I met a couple of years back in India. He then proposed that I go with him. I have always wanted to visit Mexico, but the thought never really occurred to me at the time because I was mainly planning my summer around internships. After thinking about it for a while, I finally decided that I would do it despite all my other plans, and I never regretted it for one second. I also convinced my friend that Cuba deserved a visit while we were on the other side of the Atlantic.

image011

Aside from our flight, nothing else was planned or reserved. We spent ten wonderful days in Mexico City and met some of the warmest and most hospitable people from Mexico who welcomed us into their homes and showed us their huge city. As soon as a friend of ours joined us, we started travelling by buses throughout southeastern Mexico. Our first destination was the beautiful city of Oaxaca de Juárez, home of one of Mexico’s heroes of independence, Benito Juárez. Famous for its seven types if delicious moles and colorful dancing and music in the streets, Oaxaca was the perfect place for those who love food and culture. Then, we headed to the enchanting State of Chiapas, travelling from the peaceful San Cristóbal de las Casas and the nearby indigenous community in Zinacantán, whose beautiful handicraft decorates my grandmother’s Cairo apartment, to the majestic Cañon del Sumidero, and all the way to the ancient Maya city-state of Palenque.

image009

After that we headed to the Yucatán peninsula, starting with the Maya ruins of Tulum overlooking the Caribbean Sea and swimming in the famous cenotes, all the way to the infamous ruins of Chichén Itzá. With the long bus rides behind us, it was time for relaxation in Playa del Carmén, Cancún and Isla Mujeres. Or that was the intention anyway. It was hard to relax a lot when there is so much to do, so much to see and so many people to talk to. From Mexico’s festive nightlife to swimming with whale sharks in the middle of the Caribbean with no coast in sight. In every city or small town we went to, we constantly made new friends from around the world that we travelled with.

image007

It might sound cliché, but the things I have seen, felt and even tasted cannot be put into words. I am the kind of person that loves to try new dishes, and every meal there was its own little adventure. For instance, I never knew I would like chapulines (grasshoppers) so much with my guacamole. I also never really enjoyed spicy food, but real Mexican cuisine has a way of changing that. No words can do this country justice. There is so much more to see, more food to taste and music to listen to, and I cannot wait to go back there. You need to go and see it for yourself.

After our small Mexican journey, we boarded a flight from Cancún to Havana. Being a history buff, Cuba was like a very big museum for me. From communist propaganda to Che Guevara graffiti, it felt surreal.

Since internet use is strictly limited in the country, we agreed with our Turkish friend whom we met back Tulum, who was due to arrive in Cuba a day before us, that we would meet on August 4th at 4:00 PM in Plaza Vieja. From there, we travelled throughout the country in ten days. From the crystal blue waters of Varadero and the final battleground of the Cuban Revolution in Santa Clara, to the small mountainous town of Trinidad and riding horses through the lush valley of Viñales to see local cigar makers in action.

image001

This description of that summer does not come close to how I really felt there. It is all in the details. Go to Mexico, or anywhere and make your own stories. Take one or two friends, or by even yourself, pick a destination and just go.

image003

Mexico is one of the most amazing places that I have ever been to and will definitely be visiting it again…and again…and again. Gracias México lindo y querido.

image005