Category: Mexico

RIP vocho

The life of our beloved, blue bocho (actually spelt vocho, which means Volkswagen) came to a tragic end one evening in March last year.

A horrific incident took place as my friend, Martin, drove the car down the road. The car caught fire while he was in the car. Miraculously, he managed to escape without injury just seconds before the car suddenly burst into flames.

On a more chilling note, ‘the girls’, Jen, Laura and Shauna were supposed to be in that car on that journey that night, but thankfully, for whatever reason, they decided to wait for Martin instead.

I remember coming back to the house from some sort of rehearsal, when the girls mentioned that Martin had been gone a while and that they were worried about him. I tried calling him a number of times but to no avail. I received a call from an unknown number, but I didn’t answer it, as I don’t tend to answer calls from numbers that I don’t know. It turned out that it was Martin who tried to contact me.

A while later, we heard a heavy vehicle pull up to my house. We saw Martin, and this is what else we saw:

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The story even reached the local papers, where Martin was described as a “North American”, which basically means American or ‘gringo’ as they are more affectionately known here, by a lazy journalist.


You took us on so many adventures, Ringo, where often times the journey was an adventure in itself, like the time where you caused us to get escorted by the Mexican police. We’ll always affectionately remember your beautiful blue colour, your plateless body, our often cramped journeys in your small body and your often temperamental character towards the end. And just like your character, you went out with a bang in flamboyant style. RIP

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Here some posts about the vocho that I made earlier.

My second encounter with the Mexican police:


My first encounter with the Mexican police:

And here’s some footage that I took from the car to show what my new home looked like:


‘Ello, ‘ello, ‘ello! Admittedly, this was a while ago, but here’s the story about my second (and final?) run-in with the Mexican police. My experience this time was very different to what happened the last time. This vlog includes some video footage of what happened at the time. And yes, it did end up with us being escorted somewhere.

Enjoy! 🙂

Proud Parent 2

Hi guys! It’s been a while since I last posted, buuutttttt here’s a vlog about the second time that I felt like a proud parent. If you’d like to find out why I was proud the last time, then check this out. Enjoy! 🙂

My first Mexican carnival

I remember being told about how big ‘Guaymas Carnaval’ is. I was told about how many thousands of people attend over the four-day period, about the party atmosphere that ensues and about the concerts that take place at night. I was also very much looking forward to having some time-off from school. I. Was. Ready!

So my band of friends and I made our way down to downtown Guaymas, and this is just a glimpse of what we saw.

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It was cool to see the parade and to watch the different colourful floats pass by. We even caught a glimpse of a Cuban celebrity, although I still have no idea who she is.


I think because everyone was hyping up the carnival so much, that it wasn’t as impressive as I had imagined it to be. I was expecting something on par with Nottinghill Carnival in London, or maybe even something as grandiose as Rio’s famous carnival. But it would be unfair to compare these carnivals, because they are so different and arise from different cultures and traditions. The Guaymas Carnival is distinctively Mexican; it boasts about its strong Sonoran traditions and its roots as a port town.

The Guaymas carnival is apparently one of the oldest and biggest in Mexico. It begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and ends at the beginning of Lent.

European immigrants and visitors passed through Guaymas’ port, and with them came the idea to organise a carnival similar to the festivals held in Europe. The first carnival in Guaymas took place in 1888 and was exclusively restricted to the upper classes. The lower classes could only watch the parades, while the main event took place at balls inside mansions.

This changed once the Mexican Revolution took place, and then over time it gradually turned into an event that could be enjoyed by the masses. The carnival is seen as an important cultural event, and in order to preserve this tradition kids have time off from school so that they can participate in, and enjoy, the carnival.


Overall I had a great time. I danced, a lot, I ate, and I was merry. I met someone who has become a great friend and did I already mention that there was no school? So I really enjoyed my first Mexican carnival. Who knew that I’d actually be participating in the carnival the following year…


Before I came to Mexico, my only experience of an earthquake was in an earthquake simulation room at the Natural History Museum in London. It felt pretty ‘cool’ to feel the ground shaking underneath me and to see the walls and the items on the shelves swaying to and fro. I spent a little bit too much time there, which would be fine if I was with a family or if I was part of a school group, but I was a vertically-challenged adult all alone on a half day that I had from work. But little did I know that I would actually experience an earthquake for myself… kind of.

It really was the most uneventful occurrence. I just remember hearing some rattling as I was teaching my 5th Grade kids. I thought it was just a really heavy vehicle driving past along the road, so I didn’t even bat an eyelid. That was until a student asked me if I had just felt that.

“Felt what?” I asked. “That was just a really big truck or something dri-“

“No, no – teacher! That was an earthquake!” they all pretty much said.

As I quickly rewound what happened in my head, I realised that I heard the door shaking, but even then I kind of dismissed the idea that I had just experienced an earthquake, because according to the earthquake simulator that I was in, which must be true, (and the information desks around the display, of course), I thought that earthquakes were more dramatic. But a friend of mine likewise reported that her students also confirmed we had all in fact experienced an earthquake. Unless it was a really, really big lorry that made its way down to her side of the school, too, which I think is still a strong possibility.

Even though nothing happened during that incident, thank God, and I haven’t experienced anything similar since, it was an eye-opener. I am living in a country where earthquakes take place pretty regularly (well, more so than what I’m used to), where in previous years they have been pretty destructive. This information fed my fear monster that I’ve already spoken about on numerous occasions, and my imagination ran wild… until I forgot about it… and now that I’m writing about it, I’m reminded about it again. Curses.

Two weeks before I arrived in Mexico, I remember hearing about a hurricane that slightly damaged the area that I would be living in, and that freaked me out a bit. I have experienced strong wind, but the only damage I have personally seen the wind do was blow down a tree outside my classroom, which was the school news story of the day.


Speaking of other natural disasters, I had always found it amusing that Mexican schools have a rain day. So whenever it rains, schools and parents are on the lookout to see if the government will suspend classes. And it’d always be a running joke on a Sunday night that the teachers at my school would wish for rain so that they didn’t have to go into school on a Monday morning. I thought it was funny, because if that were the case in England then there wouldn’t be any school, ever. Ok, well maybe for about a month, but that’s it. But then I understood why that happened when it rained heavily in September last year. Certain areas of my town were flooded, and school was suspended for about two weeks. Teachers at my school still had to go to school, even though no students were present, so be careful for what you wish for. But this incident will be explained fully in a later post.

And I just want to mention one more thing that happened as recently as this week. I know, I’m so behind, that this is actually surprising. As a teacher of the primary school, we have to escort the kids to their cars. But one day this week, I saw what looked like some sort of huge dust cloud blowing towards the school. But a teacher with a petrified look on her face told the teachers to get the kids inside the school – immediately.

It turns out that my ‘dust cloud’ was in fact a massive swarm of bees and they were hovering around the school gates. I’ve never seen anything like it before and we had to rush the kids safely into the closest classroom. The bees finally settled in a tree right by the school gates and formed a nest on one of the branches of the tree. It was a horrible ordeal because there were so many flying around the young kids. And I tried my best to look calm and collected even though I was screaming in my head, as only one bee terrifies me, much less a whole colony of them. I think I held it together though, so I’m giving myself a pat on the back.


This is an example of what it looked like…

I guess the point of this post is that these personal experiences with nature has opened up my eyes to how I’m no longer living in my little bubble in London; I’m becoming more respectfully aware my natural surroundings.



The first time I consciously felt homesick was on New Year’s Day in 2015. This was since I’d been working in Mexico for about three months. I remember it so vividly because I felt so low. I was alone in my hotel room for the first time during my travels in Guadalajara, an unfamiliar city in Mexico, a foreign country on a different side of the world to where I’m from. A friend from home, whom I had been travelling with during the Christmas holiday period, had left earlier that morning.

I distinctly remember thinking that the city was so big and that I was all by myself. And then I thought about all my family being together at that time, as New Year’s Day with my grandma and most of my extended family is traditionally a big deal for us. I was being attacked by the pangs of homesickness, and it was preventing me from enjoying my travelling experience. I have no idea what came over me; I just felt so anxious for some reason, when only a few hours ago I was having a blast, welcoming in the New Year. I just cried. I just sat in my room for about an hour and refused to leave, just spiralling into despair.

That was until I kicked myself into action. I thought that if I didn’t leave then, then I would never leave. I thought about using the opportunity that I had to just roam around on my own, to explore, to immerse myself in my surroundings and take photos. I’d be free to stop whenever I wanted, and to move around at a moment’s notice, because I’m sure my friend was annoyed by my constant stopping all over the place and just dragging her around left, right and centre. I also arranged to meet up with some people that I’d met, since I’d been in Guadalajara, in the evening. So thankfully, this change in perspective pushed me to leave my hotel room, and I ended up having a fantastic time, alone and with other people!

I thank God that I haven’t felt as low as how I felt that New Year’s morning. But that doesn’t mean that that horrible feeling doesn’t rear its ugly head from time-to-time, even if it is just to a lesser extent. I feel it whenever I hear about a friend’s engagement. It pops up whenever I think about the numerous weddings that I won’t be able to attend in England. It amplifies itself whenever I hear about the death of a neighbour, a companion, or a loved one. It returns when it’s a family member’s birthday, or when it’s Father’s or Mother’s day.  I’ve even felt it when I reminisce about eating certain foods or doing certain activities that I can’t really do in Mexico. Heck, I’ve even felt it when I’ve watched flipping Misfits, for crying out loud, because of the familiar settings and accents (shout out to all my UK people, haha! Ok). And I’ve realised that the Christmas holiday is still one of the worst periods to be away from my family, even if I’m not alone and I’m surrounded by people who care about me.

It’s constant, it’s never ending; it never really disappears. It’s always just kind of hidden, just out of your consciousness until some news or an event brings it to the forefront of your mind. And that’s the downside of living so far away from home, sometimes. But having said all this, most of my time is filled with building happy memories of new adventures, new experiences and new opportunities, and for now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Life is for living, not for being immobilised by fear, isolation and despair.

Hi! Welcome back, guys and Happy New Year! In this episode, I talk about my experience with Mexican flirting rituals that I’ve experienced… before I met my boyfriend ;-D. This is episode is actually entitled, ‘Mexican Men, part 1: So do you have a Mexican boyfriend?’ But that’s a rather long title, wouldn’t you say? Even so, in this vlog, I’m just mainly recounting some stories about some things that my friend and I have experienced in Mexico, so this pretty much specifically relates to me. However, if you’ve been in this situation in Mexico, then you may recognise some of the phrases.

More general information about Mexican flirting/dating rituals will be given at a later date, in Mexican Men, part 2. Enjoy, folks! 😉


Hi – welcome back to my blog! I’ve posted a vlog about some pre-Hispanic Mexican traditions that I came across during my travels, which were pretty interesting to see. Enjoy! 🙂

After my incredible time in Puerto Vallarta, the next stop on my travels during the Christmas holidays was Guadalajara. Guadalajara is only about 4 hours away from Puerto Vallarta, so the journey seemed incredibly short compared to the epic 21-hour journey by bus from Guaymas to Puerto Vallarta.


Guadalajara is Mexico’s second major city and is located in the state of Jalisco. I heard it can get really busy, but luckily for us, apparently, not as many people were around as there usually are, because they flocked off to Puerto Vallarta during the Christmas holidays. It was still pretty busy though, so I’d hate to see how rush hour is on a weekday.

Guadalajara is huge, but my friend and I stayed in the Historic Centre part of the city and we ventured out to Tlaquepaque, one of Guadalajara’s neighbourhoods. I spent about a week exploring these areas of Guadalajara, and I believe that this was enough time.

I instantly felt at home in Guadalajara. It is so busy, so metropolitan, and so eventful, that it offered me the hustle and bustle of city life that I sometimes miss and crave. The city, well at least the historical part of the city, is so scattered with colonial and modern architecture and art that it reminded me of a European city, and it made me think about going out and about in London.


The city boasts some pretty impressive colonial buildings, which is why I guess many Mexicans rave on about how beautiful Guadalajara is. And I can definitely see the appeal of this electrifying hub, especially if many towns are like the one that I’m currently based in. But I guess because I’m familiar with seeing this type of architecture around me, I was just a little bit underwhelmed. Even so, I loved Guadalajara and how energetic and full of life it is, and it is still one of my favourite cities in Mexico so far.


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There is a lot to see in Guadalajara’s historic centre. I recommend strolling around the Plaza de la Liberacion area, where there is sure to be many different type of activities and food stalls to sink your teeth into, depending on the season. My particular favourite activities when I went just after Christmas were the makeshift ice-skating rink in the middle of the plaza, the Ferris wheel and the ice slide.

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You also have to visit Plaza de los Mariachis, where mariachi music originated from. You’ll find many mariachi bands serenading diners or just chilling in the area. Be careful though; don’t venture too far into that area after dark as I was told by the police and by locals that it can be quite dangerous. I just remember seeing a security guard keeping watch over a video game store with a machine gun – an actual machine gun. “You steal, you die,” I can almost hear him say.

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There is a really big market place called San Juan de Dios, and there is a lot of things happening in and around that area. If you are feeling super adventurous, then you could walk down the really long road to see the Vallarta Arches and the Minerva Goddess statue guarding the city. Please only walk there if you have a lot of time on your hands. I totally underestimated the distance and I ended up walking for an eternity. It seemed a lot closer than it was on the very basic map we were given; little did I know that it missed out a load of streets. But I saw some cool sights on the way, so it wasn’t that bad.

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You can also take in the sights of the cobblestoned streets of Tlaquepaque and shop in the various markets and boutiques where you can buy a lot of handcrafted items, jewellery, shoes, furniture, paintings and other items.

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Aside from the action-packed festivities that you can indulge in in Plaza de la Liberacion during the Christmas holidays (they are free, but free also means that there are long queues), my friend and I went to Plaza de los Mariachis for NYE. It was a quieter affair than we expected and the sky hardly lit up with fireworks as we were hoping and expecting, but we were entertained by the singing, the traditional dancing, and the mariachi band playing. This was pretty much the first time that I encountered the famous outburst of laughter during the middle of a mariachi song, even if it sounds sad. We were given 12 grapes for each month of the year so that we could eat it during the countdown to midnight and make a wish. It wasn’t properly explained to us what we had to do though; they just made a nice snack.

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Disregarding the Christmas season though, there are various street performances that take place throughout central Guadalajara. There is pretty much always something happening if you walk in the area between San Juan de Dios and Instituto Cultural de Cabañas, which is a gallery. The gallery itself is a pretty interesting place to visit, especially if you have time to just roam around. What’s more is that it’s free one day during the week and free is always good! You just have to enquire for details, because I forgot which day we went there for free, sorry.

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In terms of the nightlife there, my friend and I love salsa music, so we frequented El Callejóon de los Ruberos and La Mutalista. If bars are more your thing, then there are plenty dotted around, especially in the fashionable Chapultepec neighbourhood. If you just prefer drinking in general and you love Tequila, then you can go on day trips from Guadalajara to the surrounding towns of Tequila, Amatitán or Atotonilco El Alto.


If you feel the urge to do something healthier, then on Sundays, central Guadalajara’s main roads are closed for a few hours to provide a clear path for cyclists, runner, skateboarders, skaters, walkers, etc.

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Or if you prefer to watch physically challenging feats rather than partake in them, then you can head down to Arena Coliseo to watch the Lucha libre, Mexico’s version of WWF, but with masks and costumes. I’ll go into more details about this in another post.

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We stayed in a place called Hostal Plaza Liberacion. It was pretty cheap and you have the option to stay in the hostal or the hotel part of the building. My friend and I shared a twin room (hotel) and I felt pretty comfortable. It also has kitchen appliances, so you are able to cook if you want to save money. What I really loved about this place was its location. And I liked this place so much, that I decided to stay here when I returned to Guadalajara for Easter for a couple of days.

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I absolutely loved Guadalajara, so much so that I even considered moving here. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that the city is 4 hours away from the beach.


As I’ve already stated elsewhere on my blog, one of the main reasons that I am teaching English is that it gives me the chance to earn money while I’m travelling. Obviously, my travelling is restricted to the holiday periods, because of the fact that I’m a teacher.

So for my first actual travelling trip during the Christmas holidays, I went with a friend by coach to Puerto Vallarta. It was far too expensive to travel by airplane, because there are only few domestic airlines, which then means that they can charge an arm and a leg for the ‘privilege’ of you using their services. And for some reason, even though there used to be more passenger trains, this is no longer the case. Passenger trains are restricted to certain areas in Mexico; only freight trains run up and down the country. So the most economical way that most people travel around Mexico is by coach.

Puerto Vallarta is located in the state of Jalisco, which according to Google Maps is approximately 734 miles from where I live. This was my first epic coach journey and it lasted around 21 hours. It was only when I was planning my trip that I realised how humongous Mexico actually is, because Puerto Vallarta is only kind of situated in the middle of Mexico; I would hate to travel by bus to Cancun. But my first bus journey (yes, I annoyingly am succumbing to using the American word for coach – curses) was very luxurious and comfortable. But this special TAP coach service set the bar far too high, and all my other coach journeys since have paled in comparison. As we travelled to Puerto Vallarta, I got to see the different kinds of landscapes that Mexico had to offer, and it was awesome to see greener surroundings in comparison to where I had been living.

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Once we arrived and had checked-in to our accommodation, my friend and I tried to do as much as we possibly could in Puerto Vallarta (P.V). We covered a lot of ground in a short space of time and we had a lot of fun. P.V. is a coastal town and a lot of activities focus on, but are not restricted to, beach life. We were there for about a week, and I think that’s more than enough time to see what the place has to offer. That is unless you are one of the Americans or Canadians, who like to ‘winter’ here for months on end, taking everything in at a laid-back pace.

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P.V. is a pretty, coastal town and it really doesn’t take a long time for you to feel relaxed. And in comparison to Cancun, it’s pretty cheap, and that’s why many Americans, Canadians and Mexicans choose P.V. as a holiday destination.

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The beaches are a pretty awesome sight as well. Just be aware that there is a beach with ‘pebbles’/big arse rocks on it, and then there are the sandy beaches as well. Also the waves can get pretty huge unexpectedly as well, as I’ve personally experienced. I just remember one minute that I was standing up in the water, I turned my back to the sea to say something to my friend (school-boy error), and then the next minute I was knocked over, surrounded by water, looking at the light so that I could get out of the water. As a new swimmer who doesn’t feel comfortable in the sea, that was a pretty traumatic experience for me, but I like to think that I played it cool.

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There are many different types of excursions that you can go one to suit your taste. There are many stalls and many people walking up and down the beach who will try and sell you the best offer. Your waiter may even hustle in on the action, and claim to know someone who can give you the best deal. My advice would be to shop around different sources, and then haggle. But don’t expect a luxury service if that’s not what you have paid for. For me, the highlight of the trip was what we ended up seeing. Also If your excursion involves travelling from the Port then be prepared to pay a little bit extra to enter the port.

On our first excursion, while half of the people on board went to Las Animas, a beautiful beach that hardly had any people on it, we ventured on to a place called Quimixto to go horse riding to see a waterfall.

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Our next excursion on Christmas Day was to see the Marietas Islands, in particular Playa del Amor, also known as the Hidden Beach. We had a little detour on the way as there were some dolphins and whales that were swimming by, so we stopped to watch them. Once they swam away, we then continued on our journey to Playa del Amor. The beach is a beautiful place, and it was truly awesome to see it. But there were a few downsides though, which you should be aware of.

First of all, despite what photos show you, you will not be the only person on the beach. In fact, you will share the small beach with many, many people, which makes for a very crowded experience. What’s more, you’ll only have 15 minutes to enjoy the beach, as there are so many tour companies that have allotted times to visit the beach. Taking into consideration that you have to swim about 150m to get there, because it’s a protected area, so boats aren’t allowed past a certain point. This is fine, if not long and arduous, if you’re an ok swimmer like myself with a life vest. But it’s a bit more challenging if you don’t swim at all, like my friend and a few other people on the tour. But the tour guides were always there to help you if you got into trouble so that was fine.

The real challenging part of the experience was swimming through the cave. Whenever you tried to swim inside, the current would push you back. There were so many people there, so be prepared to get limbs hitting you left, right and centre. It was particularly dangerous because the water rose every so often, so you risked hitting your head at the top of the cave or you getting pushed under. Therefore you had to time your swim through the cave perfectly. For all I tried, I just couldn’t do it by myself, so a guy encouraged me to grab hold of his lifesaver with a couple of other people. “Fuerte, fuerte,” I remember him shouting. He was telling us to kick harder against the current. It was a huge relief to just be able to lie on the beach after having gone through all of that trauma. Little did I realise that I was walking around half-naked for a good few minutes until someone alerted me to that fact – how embarrassing. Regardless of all the negatives, it really was worth seeing Playa del Amor.

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The cave of doom

After our tour here, we went near one of the other islands to snorkel, kayak or body board. If your tour operator is anything like my one, then they don’t have enough equipment for everyone to kayak or body board at once, so you’ll have to wait until it’s your turn. I went snorkelling, but it wasn’t the best experience I’ve ever had. Even though the facilities and the resources weren’t great, the entertainment on the boat was excellent. I have videos, but I’m not allowed to make them publicly available.


We stayed in a place called Hotel Ana Liz. Even though it was a budget hotel, with our room costing around $390 pesos per night, the location was great. We were only a ten minute walk from the beach and we had everything we needed close by, including a launderette.


There a many restaurants that you can eat at, and a few food stalls that can whet your appetite as well, and although many of them are really good, some of them are only ok. There’s one place in particular that had awesome food and superb service, and that was Bravos. Every time we went in there, we felt like celebrities. This, along with another restaurant that was a few doors away from it, if I remember correctly, quickly became our favourite place to eat.

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There is a lot of entertainment in the area, from groups recreating ancient rituals by the sea, to outdoor plays and comedy acts that you typically see in the evenings in a Mexican town.

There are also a myriad of bars and clubs along the beach, particularly close to the malecon. I particularly loved La Bodeguita del Medio, because of its melodious Cuban vibes, which I love.

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Overall, my friend and I had a great time in P.V. and my experience there is something that I would treasure forever.


*Aside from the map and the pictures of Playa del Amor, the rest of the photos are mine.