Sunday Special – Xalapa, Mexico

We are nearing the end of the alphabet and are up to the letter “X”. Today we will go to the “birthplace” of the ever-popular jalapeño pepper: Xalapa(pronounced ha la pa) in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Yep, that spicy pepper has been cultivated  in this highland state capital since the Aztecs. Used widely in its cuisine this mighty pepper has left its impact on the city (and the world). Though there is more to see and learn about than just the jalapeño.

The state of Veracruz is rather hot and humid though due to the higher elevation of Xalapa it has escaped the searing heat, offering cooler temperatures. It is located below the now extinct Cofre de Perote volcano, approximately 101 km / 63 miles northwest of town of Veracruz. Being in such a location gives it its milder temperature and at times brings about abrupt weather changes. Although a sprawling city with no seeming logic to its layout  and notable traffic congestion it is still considered by many to be a very attractive city. Culture thrives here with many forms of music, art, theatre, and history. Street art and performing musicians thrive alongside anthropological museums and classical symphonies throughout the city. Fine dining and trendy bars are in abundance. As a university city the has a pulse all its own. This Mexican city does seem to be a great place to get lost in. Wander on!


Xalapa Cathedral or Catedral Metropolitana de la Immaculada Concepción de Xalapa – Photo credit: SoundtrckkCatedral Metropolitana de XalapaCC BY-SA 3.0


Cofre de Perote volcano seen from Juarez Park in Xalapa– Photo credit: nAShE, Cofre de Perote desde XalapaCC BY 2.0


Fried Jalapeno peppers – Photo credit: KoffermejiaChiles xalapeños capeadosCC BY-SA 4.0

Sunday Special – Mexico City Centro Histórico (Historical Centre)


Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City – Photo via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

I have been to Mexico 5 times. All of those have been to resort destinations. I enjoyed all my vacations as I was able to unwind and get a tan. That being said, I do claim that I have never really seen Mexico as I have only encountered that one particular aspect out of all that this country has to offer. For today’s feature I thought focusing on North America’s largest city would be the place to start to learn more. Mexico’s capital has plenty of history so let’s begin on “where it all started”, so to speak.

The oldest area in Mexico City is the neighbourhood of Centro Histórico (or Centro). It dates back to the Aztec town of Tenochtitlan (1325 CE) prior to the Spanish conquest. The heart of the Centro is the 240 m / 787.4 ft Plaza de la Constitución, commonly called the Zócalo. One of the world’s largest squares it is home to numerous concerts, fun events, demonstrations and the popular Festival de Mexico. Adjacent to the Zócalo is the stunning Metropolitan Cathedral – the largest one in the Americas with its twin bell towers housing 25 bells each. To the north-east of the square is the Templo Mayor, a large museum built on a former Aztec temple and showcases many of its ruins. These few places barely scratch the surface of what this single area of Mexico City offers. With copious amounts of history, churches, museums, architecture, food, stores, and vendors I would say it is evident that the Centro is a place where one can wander for a couple days.


Mexico City’s Zocalo – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo taken and owned By Flickr user schlaeger ( [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


What Travel Means Series – Week #3

Hello and welcome to week 3 of the of guest authors. As I mentioned here, the authors are friends of mine, people I know and like. I asked them to sum up in their own words and style what travel means to them and a favourite place (or two).
Today’s guest author is Jean Lehmann. Jean is another friend I have made through Vancouver’s Couchsurfing community. I met her and her husband Richard at a weekly event several years ago. They had returned to Canada after living for several years in Chengdu, China. Jean has a sense of adventure and a wonderful outgoing spirit.

Travel means ADVENTURE.  Nothing beats going to a place and the unexpected occurs.

My first trip was to the Mayan Rivera. I did the 5 star resort and it was beautiful. I paid $100 per mini excursion that always ended In a gift shop.  On the second last day we were out of money, bored, sitting on the plastic lounge chairs watching a group of people do water aerobics.  As the drink server walked by we asked him if we can get to Tulum cheaper than $75.00. He stated we just go to the end of the road then catch a 20 peso bus ride directly to Tulum.  Since then I have never stayed at a 5 star resort and am always looking for adventure.

I went back to Mexico this past year, rented a car and drove to the mountains. Tasted great tequila.  Met an employee of the tequila tasting who needed a ride into the city to play a soccer game.  He makes 500 peso a game. I gave him a ride. I was so nervous and don’t recommend it unless you have great judge of character.  However, he was great. He taught me about Mexico’s politics and his relationship with the mob.

I don’t have a favourite country – I have adventures and great memories that will be with me forever.

Puerto Vallarta region, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta region, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta region, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta region, Mexico

Photos taken and owned by Jean and Richard Lehmann. Used with permission.


I sit here on my couch watching large fluffy snowflakes quietly floating to the soaked ground below. An unusual sight in Greater Vancouver and one I would rather not experience. My preferred form of white stuff is that which makes up sand beaches, like those found in Cancun, Mexico.

It has been years since I have had a vacation in Cancun and this weekend I find my mind wandering to its sunny skies, blue waters and the area’s historical sites. Cancun is a major tourist destination. It is filled with resorts, shops, restaurants and bars. A small coastal city in the eastern state of Quintana Roo, it has a backyard of miles and miles of beaches, glorious powder beaches. It was this area that prompted the Mexican government to begin development of an extensive hotel zone in 1970. It is now a bustling tourist zone. Sometimes that is just what I want – a room at an all-inclusive resort, fun water sports, a cool drink with a decorative umbrella and beach time – a vacation.

Cancun's Hotel Zone, Mexico

Cancun’s Hotel Zone, Mexico

A sensational spot for a vacation. Additionally, there are a number of archaeological sites in the area and a visit to Cancun city gives one a better feel of the real Mexico.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons –  Irving Huertas