Travel Diary: One month in Mexico

Pirekua-Band in Uruapan

Maria Schönhofer spent a month in Mexico visiting friends and family and exploring the country. She shares all of her incredible impressions with hey woman!

A month in Mexico – 30 days on the road visiting friends and family. And, of course, also discovering some of the countless treasures to be found in this exciting and magical country. It’s a country that has so much more to offer than tacos, margaritas, and avocados, one that shouldn’t be reduced to the cartel problem and the uncertain economic situation caused by devastating Trump policies. With its unwavering charm, it will naturally overcome the construction of a 3000-kilometer wall just as it has countless earthquakes.

30 days of the perfect mix of urban environments and nature, of jungles, mountains, and the sea, of road-tripping and lounging on the beach.

Our journey began in Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, formerly a small and unknown fishing village that became world-famous through John Huston’s film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. It also became famous in the 1960s through Burton with Elizabeth Taylor’s romance. The most famous lovers of film history even married here – for the first time. Today you can still admire the once-pink bridge modelled after the Venetian Bridge of Sighs, now painted white, that connected their two houses back then.

Situated on the Bahía de Banderas, one of Mexico’s largest bays, the city is still a haven of love. Its Zona Romantica is an absolute favorite destination for the LGBT community, but also for humpback whales that travel down from Alaska in the winter to mate and give birth to their calves: It’s the perfect love nest. You can even see the whales from the beach promenade. We had the unbelievable luck to see two whale families up close on a whale watching tour. The first one came so close that you could almost touch the hump of the mother and the calf; the second family carried out a breathtaking, ten-minute-long dance of joy with huge jumps into the air right in front of us. This indescribable spectacle alone is worth a trip to Vallarta!

From Vallarta we went up to the Mexican highlands. After a short stop in the college town of Guadalajara, we drove on to the Michoacán region. Here we made a stop in the picturesque colonial town – and capital of Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead – Pátzcuaro, and from there we went on to Uruapan, the birthplace of my husband, with its incredible national park and the endless waterfalls in the middle of the city.

From here, we took off again by car for a short stop in Mexico City before making a detour to Acapulco. And it was there that we finally redeemed our wedding present from a friend of ours: a stay at the Hotel Boca Chica. After three incredible days there, including a visit to the famous La Quebrada – where the world’s bravest cliff jumpers leap 35 meters into a narrow ocean gap, and even backwards and at night – we had two far-too-short days in Mexico City. César played in the new hot club Yuyu for the Stromotex party before heading back to Guadalajara for a gig at one of the most famous clubs in Mexico, the Bar Americas. For Leni and I, it was back to Puerto Vallarta.

For me, Mexico City was one of the biggest discoveries on this trip. This mega-city, this massive behemoth with its perpetual blanket of pollution that can be seen from the air, had almost frightened me before. But then, on my first visit, I was struck by a fever here exploring the green, vibrant Roma and Condesa districts – both of which were badly hit by the last earthquake – the museums, the architecture, and hearing all the stories. I was very disappointed that our journey continued on so quickly.

Back in Vallarta, we made an excursion to Yelapa, a fishing village that can only be reached from the water where we listened to the sounds of an Argentinean singing trio during the super moon in a jungle bar, rode on mules through the jungle to a waterfall, and stayed in an abandoned house where Bob Dylan and Dennis Hopper vacationed in the 1960s.

And the last ten days were spent relaxing with friends, doing yoga and surfing – yes, we finally dared! – in the surfing spots of San Pancho and Sayulita.

More highlights and the best places on our trip:

A hotel and an Airbnb address: The Hotel Boca Chica with its 50s Hollywood flair in Acapulco; best Airbnb address: Casa Oliva in San Francisco, Nayarit

Hotel Boca Chica
Caletilla 68B
Las Playas
39390 Acapulco
México
Additional information here.

If we had to choose just one of the countless, breathtaking sunsets we saw, it would be the one that we marveled at with margaritas in hand on the terrace of the mythical (and now run-down) Los Flamingos Hotel in Acapulco. Back in the 1950s, the Hollywood gang surrounding John Wayne, Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller, Cary Grant, Richard Widmark, Errol Flynn, and Elizabeth Taylor threw legendary parties here.

Los Flamingos Hotel
Av. Adolfo López Mateos s/n
Las Playas
39390 Acapulco
México
Additional information here.

Food: Mexican food is pure poetry, and so I don’t know where to start. My absolute favorites are the ceviche and aguachile tostadas from Lamara in Puerto Vallarta.

Lamara
Avenida Francia 199
48310 Puerto Vallarta
México
Additional information here.

Yoga: I was incredibly lucky to do yoga almost every day without exception, either in a guided class, alone, or in hours I gave to friends. Yoga studios abound in Mexico. The most beautiful ones were Shanti Yoga in Guadalajra and Heart Shala in Sayulita.

Shanti Yoga
Av. Naciones Unidas #5535
45110 Guadalajara
México
Additional information here.

Heart Shala
Calle Marlin 18
Colonia Centro
63732 Sayulita, Nayarit.
México
Additional information here.

A museum: The list of Mexico City’s attractions is endless, from the Nation Museum of Anthropology with its incredible Pre-Columbian art to all the Luis Barragan buildings and contemporary art galleries. But a jewel we chose for our only day there was the Frida Kahlo House, the Casa Azul, with a very special exhibition of Frida’s clothes and wardrobe and which was inaccessible for 50 years after her death.

Londres 247
Del Carmen, Coyoacán
04100 Ciudad de México
Additional information here.

Pyramids: Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the great pyramids of Teotihuacán, but we did stop by the rounded yácata pyramids of Tzintzuntzan and admired the ruins of the pre-Spanish Purépecha Empire.

Other favorite activities: watching the surfers, counting iguanas at the Iguana sanctuary in Sayulita

Books

The Mastery of Love by Mexican author Miguel Ruiz, neo-shaman and master of the Toltec (Mayan tribal) tradition, available here.

The Diary of Frida Kahlo. A New Perspective by Claudia Madrazo, Karen Cordero Reiman, Eduardo Casar, available here.

Shopping

Anndra Neen, the jewelry and accessories brand by Mexican-born sisters Phoebe and Annette Stephens, who have now returned to Mexico City after several years in New York.

The vegan earrings made of Kombucha leather by Mexican artist, and amazing character, Cristina from Sayulita. These can only be bought on the beach there.

 

Text + Images: Maria Schönhofer

Maria Schönhofer is from Bavaria and studied classical philosophy and French language and literature in Munich, Bordeaux, Venice, and New York. She spent the last ten years working in Paris in the fields of PR, communications, and image for Valentino, Acne Studios, and Chanel. She now lives between Berlin, Paris, and Mexico and works as a freelance consultant for Chanel as well as other clients.