25 November 2013

Mexican Archeological Sites

There was a really neat map of interesting sites in Mexico at Guachimontones yesterday.  We took photos of it so we can track all these places down to visit them if we can.


So have I mentioned the car is here?  Most of the family went camping the day after it arrived and there are so many more options for exploring.  We went to Guachimontones yesterday afternoon. And we never took a wrong turn, not even once.  Navigating in another country is an adventure.

It takes about an hour to drive to Teuchitlan from Zapopan, so if you're starting in Guadalajara it would take a little longer, especially if there's any traffic.  The easiest way to know how to get there are to follow the signs for Hacienda El Carmen.  That place had plenty of signs and it's just a little beyond the pyramids, so it'll get you there. There are a few signs for Teuchitlan/Guachimontones on the way too.

Some people say these are the only circular pyramids in the world, but they're not.  They are pretty unique though.  There's a nice visitor center than costs 30 pesos each if you want to stop there, or you can just walk up to the pyramids.  I thought the visitor center was very interesting and worth visiting, especially since they gave me a pack of cards to translate all the exhibits.  There's also a 20 minute video in Spanish that was good (although a little dicey in spots if you're prone to motion sickness).

One pyramid complex has been restored, but the biggest one hasn't been, although they let you climb on top of it.  There are lots and lots of interpretative signs all over the site and most are in English.

If you climb the big pyramid, try having someone stand on the restored platform below.  If you stop about 3/4 of the way up, you can easily talk to each other in normal voices even though you're not close to each other.

Teuchitlan is a nice little typical Mexican town that's worth exploring too.

22 November 2013

Mexico Wish List

Since there's so much to see in Mexico, I'm keeping track of where we've been and where we want to go here.  I'll probably make it a permanent page soon and it'll always be a work in progress. We can't to to Michoacan, unfortunately, so there are many cool places there that aren't on this list.  It's also not very well developed in the last section since I'm mostly focusing on places that aren't too far away right now. At least till I start planning the road trip we'll do next year.

Links go to posts about places we've visited.

In Guadalajara

Hospicio Cabanas
Templo Expiatorio
Mercado Libertad
Mercado Abastos
Panteon de Mezquitan
Day of the Dead Market at Morelos Park

Up to one hour away



1-2 hours away

Mazamitla, Jalisco
Tapalpa, Jalisco
Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco
Jala, Nayarit 
Teúl de González Ortega, Zacatecas 
Sombrerete, Zacatecas 
Ixtlan del Rio (Los Toriles)
Oconahua (Palacio de Ocomo)
Los Toriles
Los Toriles

2-5 hours away

Jalpa, Guanajuato (2 hours 15 min)
Nochistlán, Zacatecas (2.5 hours)
San Sebastián del Oeste, Jalisco (three hours)
Calvillo, Aguascalientes (2 hours 45 min)
Comala, Colima (2.5 hours)
La Campana and El Chanal (2.5 hours)
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato (3.5 hours)
Bernal, Querétaro (4 hours 15 min)
Jeréz de García Salinas, Zacatecas (3.5 hours)
El Oro, Edomex (4 hours)Mineral de Pozos, Guanajuato (4.5 hours)
Tequisquiapan, Querétaro (4.5 hours)
Pino, Zacatecas (4 hours)Yuriria, Guanajuato (3 hours)
Salvatierra, Guanajuato (3.5 hours)


Mexico City

21 November 2013

20 November 2013

Mercado Libertad

No photos, but we visited this huge multi-story covered market on Saturday.  I liked it better than my husband did who was antsy to get home.  It has a huge range of stuff and you bargaining is expected.  You can get some good deals for Guadalajara, although it's still much cheaper to buy most anything somewhere else in Mexico.  It's very close to the Hospicio Cabanas and they're easy to visit at the same time.

Hospicio Cabanas

This is a large hospital complex that was built around 1800.  Except for a short time when it was used as a barracks, it functioned as a hospital and orphanage until 1980.  Now it's a museum and cultural center. There was an arts festival going on while we were there in one section.

It's mostly famous now for its frescoes done by Jose Orozco. It's a World Heritage Site now and it really is an amazing place.  Definitely one of my favorites in Guadalajara. It also rained hard while we were there which is very unusual for this time of year.  It was the perfect place to be because the building is so open but it has plenty of covered spaces.

The Screaming Staircase

I read this one during the summer in Virginia, but I guess I missed writing about it.  I don't know why, because it's a great book.  Not quite as amazing as the Bartimaeus books, but still thoroughly satisfying.  The only problem is that I started the series before it's all been published.

Updated Jamaica Recipe

After a little fiddling, here's how I'm doing the jamaica now.

8 cups boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
Juice of 3 small limes

Add the sugar and hibiscus to the boiling water and let it steep for at least 10 minutes, or till you remember to come back.  Strain it and add the lime juice and chill.  I also like it warm.


I think my dad recommended this one when I visited him a few weeks ago.  I really enjoyed it. Yes, the little boy sounded too old, as they always do in these books, and despite some mishaps at school, things worked out very nicely.  But it also was a really lovely book in so many ways.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy

This was an interesting take on the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse.  I ran out of steam during the last book, and the second book's love triangle was a lot like the first book's.  It was interesting to see what happened to different characters as I went through the books, but I didn't end up loving the series.

Big Brother

I didn't really like this book.  The topic isn't my favorite, but I was mildly curious about what would happen to the main characters.  So when (spoiler) it turned out at the end that the (fictional) main character made up a huge long story about what happened to her brother- a story that I found really hard to swallow in parts- it was pretty annoying. 

17 November 2013

The Perfect Bookstore

We went to the Hospicio Cabañas today which is its own post, but first I have to rave about the gift shop/bookstore at the entrance.  It was perfect because it was filled with interesting books about Mexico.  Not just big glossy touristy books, but all sorts of books on all sorts of topics.  They were the sorts of books I wish I could have found about Kyrgyzstan, but there just isn't a market for them.

We ended up with a coloring book of Mexican folk art which my husband and youngest son will love, a book about the Day of the Dead, and one about Huichol cooking.  We left so many interesting books behind.  One on Mexican nativity sets.  One one Day of the Dead markets all over the country. So many travel books and architecture and history books.  And a huge collection of cookbooks from all over Mexico.  I can't wait to go back.

Also, it turns out that today is is Mexico's (or at least Guadalajara's) equivalent of Black Friday.  I'd seen sighs for Buen Fin all over the place recently but I had no idea that it meant that a bazllion people would be out shopping today.  It also was raining today which is very unusual. I'll know next year that we should get out of town instead of heading downtown this weekend.

13 November 2013


Ajijic is much smaller than Chapala and sort of strung out along the lake.  It really was a pleasant place to wander around, and everything from tortillas to souvenirs was much cheaper there than in Guadalajara.

12 November 2013


Chapala and Ajijic are towns along Lake Chapala.  They're less than an hour south of Guadalajara and on the north side of the lake which is the largest lake in Mexico.  Thousands of foreigners, especially Americans and Canadians, live on the lake at least part-time. Most are retired and we saw lots of those retirees today.

I think it would be lovely to live in Ajijic, but it seems like a unique sort of torture to retire to another country and still have people around who want to complain about American politics.

There were still some catrinas around, and the church in Chapala was lovely.

Guadalajara from the 35th Floor

We had to drive out of town this weekend, so we rented a car.  While we were waiting for the car to arrive from the airport, we checked out a really tall hotel.  I hadn't been up high in Guadalajara yet, so it was really nice to finally see where I am.

The car rental didn't quite go as planned.  We were able to go out to Chapala, but on the way home the brakes weren't working, and then the finally quit as we got into Guadalajara.  We managed to stop on the side of the road a few miles from the rental office.  And, of course, the brakes were working when they got there since they'd been pumped quite a bit.  I'm glad to see the end of that car and will be delighted to have our own car in a few weeks so we can get out more.

Abastos Market

On Saturday we tried out the big market in Guadalajara.  It's where a lot of the food in my part of town comes from.  It's a great place to stock up on food for less than the tianguis. 

11 November 2013

Banh Mi

Here's my easy way of making banh mi. It's easy to make in Mexico because mung bean sprouts are easy to find, and everything else is pretty basic.

This is a really simple recipe.  You can toast the bread if you want to, or spread on pate, butter, or mayo, or sprinkle on some soy sauce.  You can add cucumber and cilantro if you'd like. I use bolillos here, obviously, but in the US I could buy Vietnamese baguettes, or just get some good rolls. I don't care.

In addition to the bread, you need vegetables and protein. 

For the vegetables, I just dump some bean sprouts and grated carrots in a bowl with vinegar, salt, water, and cayenne.  You can make it as vinegary as you like.  Let that sit for a few hours.

I usually do pork, tofu, and eggs for the protein. I scramble some eggs (I don't do much with these since the youngest likes the egg sandwiches best, but you could add garlic and shallots, or some chiles, or whatever), and stir-fry the firmest tofu I can find (I haven't seen pressed tofu here, so I use extra firm) with some vinegar, soy sauce, or sesame oil.  I cut the tofu into long, thin slices.  You can use any strongly-flavored recipe for the pork.  I use a couple of different ones for ground pork from Hot Sour Salty Sweet.  Or you can buy some flavorful meat and slice it.  Whatever you want.

Drain the vegetables and put them on the bread with the protein and eat.  Yum.

08 November 2013


The rest of the stuff showed up a couple of days ago.  The movers rearranged the furniture, brought all the stuff inside and hauled it up and down stairs, and then came back the next day to take all the boxes away. They would have stayed to unpack, but that would have driven me nuts.

I was dreading having the stuff come because I couldn't really think of much else we needed, but I was pleasantly surprised that I had shipped practical things and not too much of anything so I was entirely unpacked the same evening and finished organizing the next morning.  There are a couple of things we need to get rid of since I didn't know what furniture we'd have here, but it's really been very easy.

Except that I was focused on unpacking and forgot about my son's squash lesson and we forgot another big event we were supposed to go to, but that's what happens.  We also discovered that the money we'd set aside for a tip for the movers had already been picked up by the movers when we went to get it.  But everything else was here and someone in that moving van had the tip. Hope he shared.

We also seem to be missing the screws for all the bookcases and shelves which ought to be a major problem.  We also have the bunkbed screws even though we didn't ship the bunkbed.  But in a lucky coincidence, the bunkbed screws work in the bookcase I wanted to set up, so we're good. If the other shelves never get put together, it won't matter much because there is a huge amount of storage space in this house.

I know people say moving with movers is still hard, but it is so much easier than the other way. I could move another 20 times with this system. ;)

07 November 2013