The Migrant Project seeks to record the faces and stories of migrant workers passing through Mexico on their way to or from work, both documented and undocumented, in the United States.
Central American Adventure
6,000 kilometers overland from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to Montezuma, Costa Rica and back in our beloved NAS-D 90. We'll be looking for action, seeking natural beauty and culture, and writing back to you about it all - from the first detail to the last. The plan is still in the works, so we invite you to be part of it!
My Grocery guide to San Miguel de Allende has been one of my most popular articles. While it still offers many great options, a few places and categories got left off the list and deserve their spot!
Everyone talks about the spectacular, periwinkle Jacarandas that bloom in April; and yes, they are worth seeing, allergies and all. The pale pink or purple Cosmos are a much less widely talked about natural phenomenon, but just as beautiful.
What do wish you had more of in life? Time to relax and spend with family and friends? Tranquil, quiet space? More nutritious and less expensive food? Less worries and more experiences? Less carbon footprint and more self-sufficiency? Clean air and nature?
Everyone loves a good massage. Whether long hours traveling, exciting days jam-packed with activities, or just the daily grind, massage is an amazing way to let go of physical and emotional stress, leaving you rejuvenated for what’s ahead. Watsu, a type of massage done in warm water, is particularly relaxing, putting you in an almost trance-like state as your tension melts away.
One of the only hard parts of traveling is deciding what to bring with you. It’s a process most hate and procrastinate until the last minute, traveling with more stuff than they ever intended to bring and somehow missing some absolutely necessary item that got left behind. Here is a guide to packing light and packing right.
The impeccable design alone of this adorable deli could pull you in: recycled wood furniture and floors, vintage clipboard menus, black and white fine art photography on striped walls, even the logo is beautiful. But the mission statement is that much more impressive – eco-conscious and local.
Travel is all about learning new things and meeting people. Of course, we want to communicate with the people we encounter and understand more about the place we’re visiting. But how do we do that if we don’t speak the language? It’s difficult, but with these tips you’ll be working your way toward better communication.
We’ve all visited somewhere we thought was just perfect. Every detail seemed picturesque and dreamy, and we caught ourselves saying we never wanted to go home. Imperfections are easily overlooked and those that we catch can appear curious, interesting or even downright sweet. We’ve also all had the opposite, the nightmare trip that couldn’t end fast enough. Both of these scenarios only skim the surface, though.
San Miguel is known for many things: colonial architecture, hundreds of festivals, beautiful weather and all the art you could ever want. Cheap eats is not something that appears on this list, however. Certainly it’s less expensive than restaurant prices in the United States, but it’s one of the more expensive cities in Mexico, due to its tourism. This isn’t a bad thing – it means we have eclectic, delicious restaurants serving the highest quality of yumminess …but what if you’re on a budget and want to travel or live in this area inexpensively?
Mexico is known for its abundance of traditional candies, differing from one region to the next. While your average foreigner may be aware of some of them, the variety is astounding, often using fruits and combinations we otherwise wouldn’t be able to imagine. I’m not going to lie to you – some of the sweets are downright magical and others …well, I’m not sure what they were thinking.
Recently one of my readers commented that we make this whole vagabond-traveling-duo-thing look easy. “You must have a big fat trust fund to live on while you flit around creating magic, right? How could any normal person do what you do?” he asked.
Mineral de Pozos, an old silver mining town about 45 minutes outside San Miguel de Allende, is a recently revived but still sleepy relic of Mexico’s past: narrow cobblestone streets devoid of people, picturesque abandoned and dusty landscapes, and the ghosts of miners to haunt them. It’s beautiful and strange, magical and spooky.
Recently, I encountered a couple of friends chatting. One was saying what a challenge it is to make ends meet; the other quickly responded, “We’re all broke. Nobody wants to hear about it.” That got me thinking. If we’re all broke, isn’t it something we need to discuss? Certainly there are factors beyond our control, but how can we change this experience? In my experience, it’s possible to live simply, and more economically, by changing perspective and habits.
Belibeya Festival, in its eighth year, was the first Tribal style belly dance festival in Mexico. What pretell is Tribal style belly dance? It’s an art form I fell in love with a few years ago here in Mexico, studying with Elsanne Barrows one of the two key sources of this dance in Mexico. She and Xiaron Kerr originally brought tribal style from the states to our beautiful country, where it has spread like rabbits reproduce.
While in centro, there's an Italian Coffee Company literally on every corner. Imagine my disdain: looking for an authentic taste of Puebla and corporate restaurants and cafés crowd every corner. However, unique coffee shops exist in centro too. I had the pleasure of enjoying a truly exceptional espresso and a few hours work at Zaranda Café. Friendly staff, fast internet, and inexpensive, quality coffee made this café a winner.
At the mention of Puebla, people begin salivating. I’ve never seen a city so consistently remind people of food. But many Mexican folk are quick to say that Puebla has the best food in the entire country, which (might I add) is a lot of competition. I left San Miguel with a list of about 15 things to try, and, as a lover of food, I was ready to try them all.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for a dive bar. This recently remodeled treasure, located on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, was quite the find. From deep fried macaroni and cheese wedges to a deep fried burger, the Tune Inn had great food, cold beer and a constant Motown groove playing over the stereo. A friendly staff made us laugh and took great care of us – so much so that we went twice in our four day stint in DC. It even inspired Sean to get surreal with the photography.
When visiting Baton Rouge, I love to go to my old tried and true hiking trails through the swamp, though when I mention them to Friends back home, I get blank stares. There are hiking trails in Baton Rouge? Not only are there hiking trails, but their quite unique and beautiful (though flat) because of the swampy terrain surrounding the paths.
I know I’ve already had one chicken and waffle rant in my Louisiana food blog, but I just don’t feel I’ve driven the point home yet. There are many parts of the world, and dare I say America, who’ve not tried this delicacy. The time is now, friends.
One of the best parts of visiting Louisiana is eating. That’s not to belittle the myriad of other reasons one might visit: the stellar music scene, the unique natural beauty of the swamps, and all the fun to be had in the partying in the French Quarter or outdoor activities in the Sportsman’s Paradise. But, for me, I tend to plan my trips around crawfish and strawberry season.
Among travel options in the States, Amtrak is a personal favorite. I love trains for many reasons: the rhythm of the rails, the experience of the passing scenery, the slow but steady getting there. For me it's a complete travel experience. Not to mention that Amtrak has a variety of other benefits, including a friendly and helpful staff, a cafe with simple food and a lounge from which I'm writing you right now.
The least expensive way to make it to San Miguel e Allende is the bus. While timewise, it can be exhausting, the conditions are quite good and it's very inexpensive. When flying, the choices include Leon, GTO or Queretaro, QRO, both of which are close (about an hour to an hour and a half) but can get quite pricey. Flights into Mexico City are less expensive, but require a 4 hour (50 dollar) bus ride upon arrival, as well as a basic knowledge of Spanish to navigate a significantly large international airport.
In the state of Guanajuato, we discovered this dilapidated treasure: the Ex-Hacienda Jaral de Berrio. On par with the opulence and decay we found in Havana, Cuba, the ex-hacienda was owned by one of the most influential families in Mexico. Miguel de Berrio, for example, was named Marquis and acquired 99 haciendas by 1749. Ex-hacienda Jaral de Berrio functioned as the capitol of the family’s agrarian empire.
It’s no secret that the Beat poets tipped us all off to San Miguel de Allende. They’d been hanging around the cantinas and spouting off poetry, alerting everyone that this was the place for creative inspiration. The artists flocked and made the city into an ex-pat hub with a booming art market.
A good coffee shop is at the top of my list when traveling or settling in to a place. For me, a space where I can work, eat and enjoy a cup of high quality Joe is quintessential to brainstorming and research. Living in San Miguel de Allende, I naturally have some favorites …and so, in no particular order, these are my most beloved haunts.
When I moved to Mexico, I didn’t plan to stay. I thought that San Miguel de Allende would serve me as a hub to travel around Mexico for 3 years or so, at which point I’d head to Central America for the same stint, then Northern South America, and so on. But, like many pre-planned long term goals it changed – or I changed – I’m not sure which. Today it’s been 5 and a half years and I guess you could say I’ve learned some things.
Mexico is known for its charm, friendly folk and inefficiency in all matters bureaucratic. When I realized that I needed to renew my passport with an international trip on the horizon, I dreaded the oncoming experience. Who would field my questions? What kind of insane office hours would I encounter? And would I need a rush placed on the passport?
I always consider a holiday as an opportunity to try something new, create a new tradition and get creative. However, I must confess, that New Year’s Eve has become a bit of a joke. With the hype of being the last night of the year, I walk out of the door with enormous expectations and find myself consistently disappointed. This year something new was in order.
There’s always a mixture of excitement and nostalgia during the holidays, especially if you’re outside your country of origin. While many traditions are different, others are the same, and many people struggle to find themselves and their authentic experience away from home. Here are my tips for kicking the holiday blues.