off to Mexico - not Juarez , dont worry ;)

Seattle Travel Blog

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WHY MEXICO U ASK ? why now? is it safe? etc.

WRITTEN MOSTLY BEFORE THE TRIP: This is a trip to meet a good friend finally in person and see some Mexican culture/sites and mingle and relax. I hope to try some new foods, both in small restos and some good home cooked ones as well :) This is not one of those "crazy busy" tons of photos of statues and sites type trips, more about the people and the experience. This blog is primarily for my memory but i will try to include info and photos that may help you appreciate the area or give info in case you plan to come this way someday. Also, I want to show that although mexico is struggling to cope with a problem right now(drug cartels), much of Mexico is safe and seemingly unaffected. Read the day 1 journal to see how easy and safe my entry was. I would like to add, that I hope the US offers help and the Mexican governemnt accepts = equipment and support in ways of training and whatever else needed to help battle the cartels the way it happened back when Colombia had a problem. Without the drug demand in USA it would not be a problem, so we should help and the government in Mexico should not be stubborn and accept the help(don't do whats right for your cushy political career, but whats right for the innocent people of the border towns, and the police and army people who are making the real sacrifices and making little money while you sit in your comfy chair eating and drinking well. Ok climbing down from my soap box now ;) Also note, that the fault is not just with the United States and drug use, its also about greedy people who would kill their own family if the profit was right, also the sad reality of the affect that the economy has on some of todays issues, how some people do things they wish not to just to feed their family.

WRITTEN AFTER THE TRIP: I had a great time in Mexico, most of it was spent in the state called "Michoacan" with a couple days in Mexico City(also referred to as "Mexico DF").  Thanks to my friends, I learned a lot about the current political state of Mexico and a lot about how the people view their neighbors and life in general. Now instead of wondering if certain stereotypes are true I got a good sense of what CERTAIN aspects of life are like(certain = some), especially food. Love the food, so much good food and my favorite new fruit "juayava" as well as curiso, chistoro(meats) and lots of unique breads(pan) and pastrys(pastels). I also found that in most areas I was in that the traffic style was very similar to the U.S., however instead of traffic stop signs it was more "first come" type thing on the smaller streets. There are a lot of restos(restaurants) and stores that I recognized but was also happy to see unique Mexican stores as well. I might add more to this later, but i will say i was very comfy there, and don't be surprised if I find a teaching job and go chill there for a while in the future. Thankyou so much to my friends down that way, who made my experience "wonderful" and helped me with my very beginner Spanish. I will always remember my experience and the help and patience given to me is very much appreciated. I thought prior to the trip Monica and i would get along good, but it was a nice surprise to get along so well with her family and friends and some of them spoke descent or good english so that was quite helpful. There are some friends like Monica where I have corresponded with for quite some time and I have become good friends with, so it is nice to finally meet and hangout. (I should mention that I was lucky and Monica had some time off from work, usually she is very busy and this is not possible for her, also as I mentioned we have chatted for a long time and had become very good friends over a couple of years, so this was a unique experience and I dont want people bombarding her with requests to visit).

MY DEPARTURE: My mom is always happy to wish me well and safe travels and all that "I love you hunny" type stuff ;) So my mom and brother dropped me off at seatac airport around 3:30pm, I looked for Mexican pesos, the first 2 stalls were out, finally i found just $100 USD worth at the 3rd stand(I left 2 days earlier than planned and so I did not make my bank appointment to get currency exchange prior to trip). Then I visited with a nice (little bit older couple from Whidbey Island and then took my 5pm flight and headed to Houston. Landed there around 11pm and chatted with a new friend for a bit until 1am then slept uncomfortably til about 5 am. Checked out the Houston airport and got more Mexican pesos and then waited for my plane to Toluca.

MONEY EXCHANGE SUGGESTION: Get some currency before you make a trip, at a bank if you can(make sure they carry that currency or order it to the bank prior and if they need to order it may take a couple of weeks) after 3 weeks here now I have had some issues getting money exchanged at regular banks, perhaps because of the drug situation the country is making new rules, I am not sure. In Colombia if trying to exchange money at banks and MOST locations you have to have a passport in hand or a 150% sized photocopy of passport to have US dollars exchanged(some places require signatures and fingerprinting). I will research more and mention later maybe, 2 banks wont even let my friend do it, because she does not have an account with that bank(or specific branch). The one exception I have experienced was in the Kuta section of Bali Indonesia(but back then you got a visa at the airport, now that has changed(I heard?) so maybe different money rules also(not sure), this was not an issue with many locals vendors in areas of Kuta(usually 1 per block or so) offering money exchange) or at the airport when you land. Also i found out the weekend I was leaving when I called to activate 1 of my bank cards(to make it work in Mexico) that if I go into the bank during the week I can edit my account and I wont have to pay the same fees when I withdraw money or maybe use my debit card overseas. Maybe something to look into for you, because generally you might pay a fee equaling 1 - 5% of transaction plus $5 for each transaction at some places(each withdrawal) and certain fees for purchases also. The Toluca airport was small, maybe they had an exchange person, but I was focused on taking the help I was getting and finding my taxi and moving on. I still use my debit card to take out money if need or exchange my dollars, but it is nice to have some local currency and not have to stress about finding it at airports or first moments and hours of your trip.

Well that's all folks ;) hope you had a good read. Take care, wishing you safe and happy travels!

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photo by: diisha392