I love nature and animals so when I found out that we could visit flamingos on a day trip from Merida I jumped at the chance. The Celestun Biosphere Reserve is less than 2 hours from Merida and did not disappoint. The reserve is home to over 300 different varieties of birds and is an important nesting area. We were there in February 2012 and saw hundreds of flamingos and other birds. The boats aren’t allowed to get too close, but get close enough to admire them and get lots of photos. Flamingos are absolutely beautiful birds and it was even more special to see them in the wild.
A short boat ride from the flamingos was a gorgeous clear blue water lagoon, where in true mexican style we were told we could go for a swim right after our guide pointed out some crocodiles nearby. After surviving our swim unscathed we went to the beach for lunch where I found a moto-taxi to sketch.
Merida was the next stop on our journey. Merida is a beautiful colonial city with narrow cobbled streets and big tree lined plazas to sit and sketch and people watch. Below is a sketch of the Cathedral de San Ildefonso and the Palacio del Gobierno which surround the Zocalo in the centre of town.
Doing these drawings I really felt like we just blended in with the locals. Some people came and had a look at what I was doing but I generally wasn’t hassled to buy anything and was left alone to draw. Urban sketching is a great way to experience a different side of travelling. Rather than just taking a photo and not really connecting with the place or thing I am photographing, I can look at these sketches now and am taken straight back to street, the colours, the smells (unfortunately the memory of deep fried saveloys) and can remember exactly where I was sitting and what was happening around me.
We really loved Merida we even ran into an Australian couple that were from the town that we both grew up in (small crazy world) while we were there. I would love to go back one day and fill a sketchbook next time round.
Oaxaca is set in the mountains and took us 7 hours in a comfortable bus ride from Mexico City to arrive there. Oaxaca is my kind of city, full of colour, good food, nice people, culture and artisan markets. We stayed there for 5 nights and just wandered the streets and did a lot of people watching. Below is a sketch of the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmá, a beautiful baroque style church and monastery. One day while we were there we took a day trip to Tule, Mitla ruins, a mezal factory and Hierve el agua. Tule is home to the widest tree in the world, a beautiful cypress tree that is 58 metres wide and approximately 2000 years old.
I really enjoyed the mezcal factory, I am a big fan of tequila, I love the taste and I love a good frozen margarita. We could not believe the range of flavours available and both loved the almond and strawberry. We only bought a small bottle of strawberry mezcal because we were both travelling with carry on only, but we are seriously considering importing it by the container load back to Australia. Our last stop was Hierve el agua, which is a picturesque natural mineral spring (a frozen waterfall) located in a valley outside of Oaxaca. The frozen waterfall gets its name due to the build up of minerals in the water slowly trickling over the mountainside. The view is spectacular and it was well worth the visit.
We spent a morning at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, which contains such a huge collection of artifacts that you could spend days trying to see them all. I managed to do a few sketches while we were there. The below sketch on the right is the Aztec earth goddess Coatlicue – a fascinating statue with a serpent face, a skirt made of snakes, a necklace of human hands, hearts and skulls and claws on her feet.
One of the must see things on my list for Mexico City was to visit the pyramids at Teotihuacan. The pyramid of the sun is the third largest pyramid in the world and unlike the pyramids of Giza you can climb right to the top.
We jumped on a day tour for this one, so I can’t comment on how to get there. It really is an amazing place and is well worth the day trip out of Mexico City to see it. The site covers a huge area and it is hard to really imagine what used to happen here and how they managed to build it all those thousands of years ago.
Mexico City really surprised me.
This was our first totally independent adventure and was a trip about getting out of my comfort zone, trying new things, and taking leaps of faith.
While researching for our holiday to Mexico in 2012, I came across a lot of information about how dangerous the place is, and that it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that you were going to get shot as soon as you stepped out of airport. We flew into Mexico City from LA, and apart from the flight attendant having a personal joke and seating us at opposite ends of the plane (with the plane being half empty and Chris having a row to himself) the flight was fine. Chris got to spread out and I got to chat to a lovely Mexican lady who helped me fill out my entry card, bonus.
Needless to say we didn’t get shot and met a lovely taxi driver who persevered with my terrible Spanish. I had been taking night classes before we left and really thought that I would be able to get by with my Spanish, but I never realised how many different ways there is to say “where are you from?” so most of the time I looked like a deer in headlights and didn’t communicate well.
With a population in one city equivalent to the total population of Australia, and a bad reputation and definitely dangerous areas, I admit I was scared. But we had a great time, managed to get around the transport system, did a few city day tours and headed to the well known museums around the city. It was a fantastic city to just wander the streets take photos and people watch.
We stayed at the Mexico City Hostel which is right near the Zócalo in the centro historico district. It was close to a lot of the sights but, it was very, very noisy so we didn’t get much sleep. We did entertain ourselves staring out our window in the night viewing bribes, drunks, those extremely annoying yapping toy dogs that flip and jump and general city life. Next time we would stay in one of the quieter districts.
I took a moleskine watercolour sketchbook and a small watercolour pocket box to do some urban sketching throughout the holiday. I managed to fit in a little bit of sketching while we were sightseeing and drew the cathedral and a taxi cab. I didn’t sketch as much as I would have liked but it is nice to have a few drawings from the trip. Mexico City has been one of my favorite destinations, it is colourful, full of art and culture, history and beautiful buildings. There are still so many things we didn’t get to see and I would love to go back one day.
Hi, this is my first official blog post!!. I have been talking about starting a blog to close friends for such a long time. So here I am, finally.
I am very excited to be starting out on this new journey and sharing all the creative and travel adventures that I will have.
I will blog about my art, sketching, my creative process and travel adventures, including our year long round the world travel adventure last year that didn’t go to plan. Below is the first sketch I completed with my pocket watercolour box when I was trying to commit to sketching more often.
I am hoping to use this blog to encourage and motivate myself and others to create meaningful art and put it out into the world. Talk to you soon.