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Mexico City, Monarchs, and Cozumel

Fri, January 24th

- landed at MEX, took an Uber to our Airbnb in Roma Norte. A friendly cat was there to greet us.

Saturday, January 25th

- Went to Lardo for breakfast. Had some pastry, quiche, a chia / date / cashew smoothie, and some scrambled eggs.

- Walked up the hill to Chapultepec Castle. Couldn't bring water in. Toured the grounds and peeked into some of the rooms. Nice views of the city.

- Walked over to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia.

Chris's review: I was mildly captivated. The benches were comfortable. Bathrooms were clean. Not many of the explanations were in English. Liked that there were indoor and outdoor exhibits. Saw the 20 ton Aztec sun stone.

- Walked 3km to attempt a 'taco triangle' from 3 different taco places. First up was El Pescadito. Closed for renovations.

Next was El Tizoncito. Chris tried a 'Nopal' taco, made from cactus. I had a chorizo one and a rajas con crema. We didn't think any of ours were that amazing, but not bad.

Our last stop was Hola - a true hole in the wall, with people downing their tacos right at the counter. Really good tacos.

- Went to the grocery store. Couldn't find chocolate. Had to get special approval to use our credit card. Long walk back to the Airbnb.

- Made some margaritas.

- Went to Amaya for dinner. Really good cocktails, food, ambiance, and music.

- After dinner we went to Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons. Self-advertised as one of the Top 50 bars in the world. The cocktails were really good, and we had one really unusual one. It came with a few test tubes with a dried plant inside that we later learned is called Golden Root (Heliopsis longipes). It's a rare plant only found in a few places. We were told to try a sip of the drink, then have some of the Golden Root, and try the drink again.

Well, the Golden Root is actually an analgesic (painkiller) and it made our mouths go numb. It did change the taste of the drink, and also made us feel a little euphoric. And caused us both to have dreams that night.

Sunday, January 26th

- Went to Masala Y Mais for breakfast. Couldn't find the door for a while. Indian/Mexican fusion (scrambled eggs with mole sauce on a biscuit, and some fried chicken).

- Walked over to Paseo Reforma to try and find some bikes. Ecobici was broken. Then we tried Uber bikes. Then we tried Mobikes. Nothing seemed to want to work for us, so we ended up just walking.

- First we walked through Alameda Central Park (oldest in Mexico City) and then over to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Popped our heads inside.

- Then it was over to the Palacio Postal. Pretty impressive looking post office!

- Tried to look inside the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico. Didn't seem to be allowed.

- Walked by the Zocalo plaza and the National Palace.

- Walked up some *really* busy streets to find the Torre Latinoamericana building, one of the tallest in Mexico City.

Took the elevator up to the 40th floor and had a drink in the best seat in the house, with views of the city all around.

- Came back to the house and went for dinner. Had pizza at Nosferatu. Good raspberry beer (Ale Baja Razz).

Monday, January 27th

- Went to Panaderia Rosetta and picked up some bread. Took an Uber to the bus station, it was nicer than we had expected.

- Took the bus to Teotihuacan, a large archaeological complex not far from Mexico City. Dodged/ignored all the tour guides, map sellers, etc.

Once inside the gates, you still had to avoid people selling jewelery, and 'jaguar calls'

. - First we climbed up the Pyramid of the Sun, the 3rd largest pyramid in the world. 248 steps.

- Walked down the Avenue of the Dead. More jaguar callers. Had lunch on top of some ruins.

- Walked up the Pyramid of the Moon. Awesome view looking back towards the Pyramid of the Sun and down the Avenue of the Dead.

- Took the bus back to Mexico City and went for lunch at El Cardinale, a traditional Mexican restaurant in the Hilton. Tasty Fideos Secos.

- Went back to our place, both cats were waiting for us.

Tuesday, January 28th

- Got up and decided to take an Uber from Mexico City to Macheros, about 3 hours away. Lots of tolls along the way. The bus we could have taken ended up passing us.

- Checked into JM Butterfly B&B and walked over to Cerro Pelon. Met our guides and horses (Rubio and...)

It wasn't too steep at the beginning but that changed in the second half of the ascent. Part way up a whole bunch of Monarch butterflies started flying around us. This was already more butterflies than we had ever seen at one time.

- Made it to the top and saw large clusters of butterflies in the grass, basking in the sun.

- Then we walked into the forest a bit and looked at the colonies on the Oyamel fir trees. There were so many butterflies on a single tree that it looked like the butterflies were leaves on the branches.

- Going down the mountain on horseback wasn't very comfortable.

- Went for dinner at the only restaurant in town, next door to our B&B. Pretty good!

Wednesday, January 29th

- went for breakfast at the restaurant next door. Had oatmeal and scrambled eggs with tortilla chips.

- met our group and learned a bit more about the butterfly migration.

- walked over to Cerro Pelon. Met our guides and horses (my horses name was Negro). Chris's horse had no name yet, but Hope was pending.

- We went up the same trail as yesterday - only this time there were more butterflies, and they were all around us as we rode through this cloud of Monarchs.

- Today the butterflies were flying around more, as opposed to clustered on the ground.

- Then we walked into the forest a bit and looked at the colonies on the Oyamel fir trees. At a slower pace than yesterday.

- Going down the mountain on horseback wasn't very comfortable, again.

- Went for dinner at the only restaurant in town, next door to our B&B. Pretty good!

Thursday, January 30th

- Got a taxi to the Ziticauro bus station at 5:15am and took the bus to Mexico City. The bus ticket included juice and chips.

- Took an Uber to the airport and got there way to early. After some confusion about which gate we were at, figured out our flight was delayed. It was not clear when boarding began, luckily we asked if the flight was going to Cozumel instead of just sitting there and missing it.

- Checked into our airbnb. Our host opened the giant wooden doors to a grand marble foyer and the showed us the sitting area and our room and the bikes. Our room had a balconey with a nice ocean and beach view.

- We biked 6km into town along the bike path. Went for dinner at at Kondesa. The reason we picked this restaurant was because a lot of people mentioned a cat (named Dexter) in the reviews. Dexter came by to visit us once at the end of our meal. The food was also good and it was a nice garden setting. Chris had his first burger of the trip and I had shrimp.

- Biked 6km back home again, felt more difficult going this way as my bike was in a hard gear and didn't want to risk switcheing it.

Friday, January 31st

- Had cornflakes and toast for breakfast the grand dining room with an ocean view.

- Took a cab to the harbour to meet our snorket tour, Cozumel H2O.

- Luce was our guide and the owner of the company and our boaat captain was Chorlito.

- All together we went to 5 snorkel spots. The first one was a 45 minute snorkel where we saw green moray eel and a couple of turtles.

- Spot 2 we saw a barracuda and 2 rays. Spot 3 we saw a spotted eagle ray - well, I saw it, Chris's mask was too foggy to see anything. The ray was huge, about 3 meters across.

- The 4th spot we saw lots of fish, including a puffer fish. The last spot we saw a shipwreck, a sunken minesweeper, and lots of fish swimming close to us.

- After that we came back to our airbnb and decided to have a hot tub to warm up. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a 'barely warm' tub.

- The tub had nice ocean views though and we saw a big iguana.

- Had a margarita on the deck and then biked back into town.

- We stopped at Hemingways for a sunset drink. The good music was interupted by some terrible music as people were getting ready for a dj/party later that night.

- Had dinner at Cielito Grill. I had the enchiladas and Chris had a quesadilla.

- Once again, the good music got interrupted. This time by a busker playing cover songs.

Saturday, February 1st

- Woke up and met Joel (Hoe-Elle) who was dropping off our rental car, a VW buggy with no doors that you had to climb into ('the Mexican Ferrari' as Joel put it).

- Swung by the Mega to pick up some food and drinks for the day. Started our driving tour around Cozumel island. First stop was the Mayan Cacao Company. Bought some coffee flavored chocolate. It was hard to find decent chocolate bars in Mexico.

- After that we tried to visit a few of the beaches, but they all seemed to be 'private' beaches with beach clubs on them.

Finally on the East side we found a spot to pull over and go for a walk. There was a lot of garbage.

- Driving a bit further we found a really nice beach with a palm tree for shade.

- We continued on to the Mayan Bee Sanctuary and picked up some honey.

- Drove back into town and went for lunch at Crazy King Buritto. We had the normal size as the 'grande' looked pretty intimidating.

At this point, the weather started to turn. A bit of rain and became windy.

- Went back to our place and had a drink. Went for a walk along the beach. At one point on our walk Chris noticed something washing up in the surf - a ziplock bag full of U.S. bills. It took a few waves going in and out, but we finally grabbed it out of the water. Took a look around, but nobody seemed to be looking for it.

- Went swimming in the warm water. Chris had her first enjoyable ocean swimming experience. Warm water, sandy, no rocks, and fun, gentle waves. And no sun to burn Chris.

- Came back to the room, dried out our money, returned our car, and went for dinner at Kinta. Sat within view of the wood fired oven. Nice garden setting. And best of all, a bonus, a black cat named Pancha. And then another cat, a white one that didn't appear to live there, came by as well.

- The food was really good at Kinta, one of our favorite meals of the trip. We had all the vegetarian options, stuffed chile relleno, roasted cauliflower, and roasted potatoes and corn. A guy from Northern Argentina started playing music. And then a nice dessert, banana bread pudding.

- Bought a drink at Oxxo and came back to the room.

Sunday, February 2nd

- Went for a walk along the beach. Too windy to go swimming. Didn't find any money today.

- Back up to our room to pack for our journey home.