On Friday we left La Paz, a city on the Baja that means “peace” in Spanish, and flew to a city of 25 million people, named Mexico City. Mexico City translates to “big ass chaotic city” in Spanish. Don’t believe me? Look it up.
Going from a mellow beach town to one of the biggest cities in the world was a shock to the system, but in a good way. Walking around the city, my senses were on high alert – the sounds of hawkers, car horns, music from street performers, the smells of street food and garbage, the chaos and activity in the city – all conspired to shake me out of the mellow vibe of the Baja and put me back in travel mode.
We fell in love with Mexico City at first sight. Mexico City is the New York of Latin America, the Rome of the America’s, and has quickly become one of my favorite major cities. It is amazing that a city this grand and beautiful, with so much intriguing history, resides in the Central Time Zone a short flight from the US and so few visitors make it here. Indeed, it took me way too long to visit the capital of Mexico (see footnote).
Our first two full days in the capital, we visited the exceptional Templo Mayor Museum and the Anthropology Museum, and got a deeper look at the Aztecs and other native tribes and a refresher course on the conquistadors and the Spanish invasion. It is terribly sad to think about all that was destroyed and all the lives lost.
As much as we’ve enjoyed Mexico City, we loved La Paz just as much, but for different reasons. I could totally see myself retiring in La Paz. The area is home to some spectacular and deserted beaches and the town is fun and lively but without the tourist hordes of nearby Cabo San Lucas. The seasisde promenade was full of families, joggers, canoodling lovers, bikers, skateboards, and people just relaxing and watching the sunset – and most all of them were Mexican. Although tourism is an important part of the economy, La Paz isn’t a resort town and could survive on its own.
We were in La Paz with friends and rented a car to explore the area and found the perfect beach at Playa Tecolote. I was able to deposit my wife with our friends under a sun shade on the beach while I went off hiking. When I returned hot, sweaty, thirsty and tired, I was able to relax and enjoy the beach.
That is how we spent our third week in Mexico, for anyone who may be interested. During week 4, we will be in Mexico City a few more days and then Oaxaca for the Day of the Dead. This should be an interesting week.
Mexico Photo A Day
Footnote: in 2013, I arrived in Mexico City on a bus, walked out of the bus station, walked right back in and bought a ticket to Guanajuato. I simply wasn’t in the mood to be in a city of 25 million people.