Wednesday, May 30, 2012

                                                                La Villa De Guadalupe

"La Villa"the heart of Mexico's spirituality, encompasses Mexico's most important shrine, the Basilica de Guadalupe. According to the legends the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to a newly converted indigenous peasant over in four visions asking that a shrine be built in her honour. Finally as proof she sent Juan Diego to collect flowers, and the tilma cloak in which he carried them to the bishop miraculously was "miraculously" emblazoned with her image. This tilma now hangs behind the altar of the new basilica (above) and there are moving walkways in front so she can be viewed as closely as possible. The new basilica is built in a round formation, so as many pilgrims can see the imade from all angles, and is very modern in a setting of ancient churches.
The old Basilica (below) is slowly sinking into the ground, as is much of Mexico City. It's quite an uphill climb on entry, then the back of the church slopes the other way, quite disconcerting. Mexico City was built on the bed of a drained lake, and the enormous weight on many millions of people and of the stone and marble used in the churches and buildings, in addition to the continued draining of underground aquifers, has many buildings sinking.
The old basilica was closed for many years, but is now reopened to visitors, and the "Villa" is a pilgrimage made by most Mexicans. It almost like a theme park, with gardens, shrines, churches and the ever present vendors selling religious icons of all types, CDs and DVDs,  photographers to snap your picture in front of various shrines and "por supuesto" food and drink of all varities

Monday, May 28, 2012


Every day a different pair, well I only brought 3 pairs and then bought another couple, every day a different sore spot. It's so long since I have worn summer type shoes, that
a) I didn't really have any and
b) none were very comfortable anyway.

Give me my trusty old walking shoes any day.

Oh well, back to the Band Aid box.




   Family day at Bosque de Chapultepec:

 El Bosque de Chapultepec     The Hill of Grasshoppers:

In total contrast to Saturday's jaunt, on Sunday I ventured to Mexico City's largest park just a few metro stations away. And Sunday is it's big day. Vendors line  the main pathway selling every imaginable carnival style item - toys, hats, sweets and popcorn, belts to  attach children to adults, fairy floss in lovely pastel shades and the list goes on, as throngs of families flock to the park for a big day out.
 Sunday is free day at many of Mexico City's attractions including museums and the Castillo de Chapultepec which overlooks the park, so Sunday is a very busy day. I purposely chose Sunday to be part of the crowd.
I began at the Metro station Chapultepec with many others who poured up the steps and towards to park.
 My first stop was the castle that towers above the park. I took the easy way out and caught the little train up the long winding path to the castle knowing I had a long day's walking ahead of me. Naturally it was pretty busy, but there are some great displays and paintings to see. Then it was off t join the throngs and the vendors. Quite a few families were picnicing, but many just seemed to  wander the road of vendors, eating and drinking and trying to control  children at the end of the "cinturóns".Many were navigating the lake in paddle boats or rowboats and others just enjoying the day on the grass - a thing you don't see a lot of in Mexico ity, grass you can walk on that is.
ANother place for a return visit - to the Zoo and the Botanical Gardens, but maybe on a quieter day. I felt a little like this little on at the end of the day!

 San Ángel on a Saturday

San Ángel is an old colonial style village in the centre of the enormous and busy metropolis that is Mexico City. San Ángel is full of old Colonial mansions, cobblestone streets, massive wooden doors and a riot of geraniums and bougainvillea, and on  a Saturday becomes a yuppie and tourist enclave as the big craft market centres around Plaza San Jacinto.
The  local yuppies all come down for brunch in one of the many restaurants surrounding the plazas and eat and drink as the tourists come to shop and soak up the atmosphere.

Around 10.30ish the artists begin to set up their easels and display their paintings around a number of small plazas, the main being San Jacinto and the craft and jewellery are found mainly in the neighbouring

 Plaza Tenanitla. I arrived early, so had brunch before the throngs and walked through the narrow aisles of the craft market before they were thick with people. This left plenty of time to walk through some of the beautiful old buildings checking out other wonderful arts and crafts.

In the centre of Plaza Jacinto, musicians entertain the crowds, from a jazz group to a Philharmonic orchestra, a lovely way to spend a few hours. I shall be returning to San Ángel to visit the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivers and probably another Saturday just soaking up the atmosphere of this beautiful area.

It's great to have the time to choose activities and not feel pressured to cram as much into a short time.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

 Local Tianguis or Street Market:

Yesterday I  headed off with the shopping trolley for which I definitely need  L plates, I am a hopeless driver of same, but everyone has one, so go with the flow. And headed to the local street market or Tianguis to do my shopping. I much prefer this to the supermarket and everything is so fresh and beautiful.
My main search is for the fruit and veg, but it is fascinating to walk up and down the aisles and check out the produce. There is a fair bit that I have no idea what it is and the names don't help much, but in the fruit and veg department I am willing to give most things a go, although I juice just about everything so it all tastes the same
As it's summer here all the beautiful summer fruits are arriving on the stands and they are wonderful.
 Even though I don't eat it the fish was almost alive it looked so fresh.
 There are so many nuts and dried and candied fruits as well as fresh herbs and spices.
I stopped and watched the process and a friendly young local talked me into trying these tortillas made from blue corn. He assured me he was also vegetarian and suggestions options to choose, and yes they were delicious. Everyone was lined up around these stands buying their lunch and the cooks just never stopped.

You can find lots more market photos on

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hungry anyone?

It's interesting, Aguascalientes, the street I  live in lies between two rather distinct zones. One block to the north and you enter the trendy restaurant and cafe zone, with everything from healthy juice bars to cupcakes and bistros. Whereas one block to the south and you find dozens of these street stalls selling all kinds of Mexican food cooked as you wait. The smells are incredible and there are always patrons there eating, some dressed in business suits and others in working clothes. The food is incredibly cheap and they

all seem to do a roaring trade. As a vegetarian, there is not a lot from these stalls I can eat( very heavily meat based and fried), although there are lots of fresh fruit stalls and lots of juices. On the bright side there are a number of great vegetarian eateries here and I have found a couple already, and have the addresses of more.

Tomorrow I head to one of the local street markets to stock up on veggies and fruit, it's great to be able to cook or in my case juice at home. So lots of photos I hope!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Walking but  Definitely no Gawking:

Or eating, or map reading or talking. Walking the streets takes all my concentration, there are all sorts of obstacles out to trap the unwary. Raised sections for driveways, bollards and poles, tree roots that have dug up the footpath, steps, food stalls and of course heaps of people, all of which make navigation a challenge. I think I am challenged more than most at present as I still haven't quite got my bearings. The area was once a hipódromo, or racetrack, so the streets around the Parque México form a big ellipse, and although I am sure I am heading in one direction I end up miles away from my destination. Usually I am pretty good with my directions. But I spend a lot of time with map in hand.
 Walking the dogs this afternoon, I came across some guys laying cable. They had the tops off several manholes, but absolutely no warning or barriers. It would have been so easy just to step into the holes. They were working in one, but the others a few metres away was completely unattended.
 Nobody else seems to have problems with the uneven surface, the girls hurry along in those ridiculously high platforms and stilettos, chatting to each other or on the phone with gay abandon. I guess they are all used to it.

One good thing, is that the majority clean up after their dogs so that is one less hazard, and the streets are generally pretty clean

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

 Home here in DF:

The apartment is on the second floor in the front, and after the first couple of disastrous attempt at entry, I think I have it sorted now. There are 4 keys. The front entrance is easy, although to me it's back to front, turning right, but the 3 for the apartmentare a different story. Two turn right and one turns left several times, and it's important to open them in the right order. Took me a while, but now it's all written down until I have it in my rather slow functioning brain.

 The apartment is lovely and spacious, with the lounge. dining going the full width across and with lots of lovely natural light. Kitchen long and narrow, but with a pantry room off it and a washer and dryer. Bedroom has an en-suite and in addition, bothe Judu and Cristina have lovely light spacious offices overlooking the street. There are also another 1 1/2 bathrooms. So I have lots of space to enjoy!
They have some beautiful artifacts around that are  just a pleasure to look at.

What I almost forgot to mention is that a cleaner comes twice a week, what luxury for me!

Yet another very special house sit.

My Charges:

My "family" for the next few weeks here in Mexico City. Desi and Olive - who are not particularly happy to see me. They keep hoping Judy and Cristina will come home. We have had a walk and a treat, so at least Olive has come out from under the bed, but at the moment I am certainly not the one they looking for. I am sure we will fix that after a day or 2

Then there is little Chacho, who is happy to see anyone and happily helped me unpack and checked out all my gear, and finally China, who isn't particularly impressed either.

So we all have a bit of a way to go!

Monday, May 21, 2012

My  New Home away from Home :     Mexico City

Thanks to I am here to apartment sit until the end of June. I have spent the last couple of days meeting Cristina and Judy (that's them in a New York Times photo) and their menagerie - 2 Papillons, Olive and Desi (Desperado) 1 cat, China and 1 new baby kitten, Chacho. None of us had met before, but after all our emails all went very smoothly. Tomorrow I take my case - which I have worked out how to repair, thank goodness, and walk the 2 blocks to move in. Cristina and Judy leave early.

I am sure I will have lots more to tell you about my stay and naturally lots of photos to share.

What you see when you are walking:

 Yesterday after visiting my new house sit home for the next few weeks, I did a little neighbourhood recon. Being a lovely Sunday afternoon, everyone was out and about enjoying the sunshine, including a myriad of dog walkers. There are lots of dogs here in  La Condesa! This was just a little different.                                          The pig was sitting beautifully for treats and the guy with the Doberman was fascinated, taking photos on his iPhone. The pig was very well behaved I must say and thoroughly enjoyed his treats. He was very friendly also!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Red Tree House:

 Which I am assured by everyone is THE best B&B in Mexico City and so far I completely agree, everyone is just great. I was a little tired and  just a wee bit stressed when I arrived last night, but nothing is too much trouble for them. Victor spent a great deal of time following up my lost luggage, and yes it turned up this afternoon all securely wrapped like a Christmas present, maybe to hide the broken zip! I may be able to get it repaired, otherwise  will be searching for a new case. Good thing I already have the $100!

This is the view from my balcony  at the very top of the house, I am literally in the tree house, with a great view over the courtyard where everyone gathers. My penthouse treehouse is what you would call very compact, but I am used to compact and it is comfortable and the bed looks just great tonight, and I am just about to fall into it!

Mexico City                                                                                                              Sunday am

Well, finally made it after an eventful few days, and a 30+ hour door to door trip.
First there was the mix up with the United bookings. When Continental and United merged, there was a problem with the migration of information in the system. or at least that's their excuse and they are sticking to it. But the upshot was, and still is, my booking is segmented and appears in several places on their system even though we have had many conversations on the matter. After attempting unsuccessfully to check in online on Friday I spent the next few hours on the phone between various agencies attempting to consolidate things and assure myself a seat on what turned out to be a very full plane. But I finally arrived here; the next bit will be assuring a seat out of here.
Flying United, wasn't my first choice and it may be the last time I do. I couldn't believe it when I saw there were no personal entertainment screens. It would be the first International flight for many years with those horrible overhead screens. Thank goodness for my computer and some movies on memory stick!
Then came the horrific trip through Los Angeles - I keep saying never again, well never again. There must have been at least 500 people in the snaking queue at immigration. The ladies are very good at winding the queue back and forward to fit in more people and with very few officers manning the booths it took 1 1/2 hours just to clear Immigration. And for the final straw, I dropped off my luggage at the United transfer desk expecting to collect it in Mexico City as you do! Tired and ready to drop I waited and waited and waited at the baggage carousel until the handlers assured me "no hay mas" no more luggage. Oh joy!!!! What followed was an hour or so of filling in forms and going from counter to counter to claim compensation for the luggage delay - they assured me the case was on the next flight from L.A. and gave me $100US compensation. So there was a silver lining.
But I am still waiting for the case to arrive here at The Red Tree house, the B&B I am staying in until I move to the apartment on Tuesday. The manager has called the airline and they say it will arrive today. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mexico, here I come.

One more day here in Melbourne to finish off all the odd jobs then Saturday am. early I set off for a very long couple of days that blend into one before arriving in Distrito Federal or Mexico City for my next house sit adventure. This is a 6 week stint in an apartment in La Condessa, a rather trendy up and coming neighbourhood, but I am sure you will read all about it in the weeks to come. I have made my list of all the things I wish to do and have lots of things planned, even though I have been to DF before it was only for a few days, so lots to do and see.
As it's summer I have my summer gear all packed, quite a change from my usual winter packings and of course all the medical gear to cope with my Sjogren's, but at least the case will lighten while I am there. This getting older sucks sometimes.
The picture is of the VERY smoking Mt Popocatépetl, a mere  60 kms from DF, and which I have been watching closely. It has been very active for the last 6 weeks or so and causing a little concern, the alert level very high but no evacuations as yet, just lots of "exhalations" of rock, lave, steam and ash.

Wish me luck!