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Dispatches From Mexico City: More Than Just Beaches

Author: Ty Trumbull
Author: Ty Trumbull

About a year ago a friend was planning on visiting us here in Mexico. We were excited by the prospect of showing someone around our new home. Plans were made and in motion when a single question derailed the whole trip.

“Can we spend a day at the beach?”

Umm… no. Mexico City is nowhere near the beach. In fact, as a person who grew up on the water, the lack of available swimming locations is one of my biggest complaints about this place. Still, just outside the city are a number of beautiful places you can take off to for a day trip or a short vacation.

Recently, my band had a show in Cholula, about an hour and a half outside Mexico City. We decided to make a trip out of it and explore the town.

The Trip

We started by walking into city’s main square where we stumbled upon a chili festival. As we walked through the circus-sized tent unfamiliar aromas greeted our noses and vendors called out to us to try their dishes.

From there we crossed the plaza to visit the 16th-century monastery, San Gabriel. Inside the walls of the convent is a large yard, which was littered with families picnicking and enjoying the sun. There’s also a church and a Franciscan Library. We picked up some chapulinas (grasshoppers) to snack on as we walked around. The church was built upon a former pre-Columbian temple, a practice that was widespread throughout Mexico. The atrium inside the convent has some beautifully restored paintings dating back to the 1530s.

The city is probably best known for its Great Pyramid. A largely overgrown structure with a 16th-century church sitting on top of it. According to legend, the original pyramid was built by the giant Xelhua after he escaped a flood in the Valley of Mexico – where Mexico City now stands. It’s a steep climb to the top but the view is worth it. Just outside the church doors your permitted unobstructed views of the Malinche, Popocatépetl, Iztaccíhuatl and Pico de Orizaba Volcanoes. (Popocatepetl is a fascinating story in of itself.)

We then escaped the heat in a nearby restaurant and enjoyed some guacamole and beer, while listening to a local musician playing for the diners.

After that, it was back to our room to prepare for the gig at a place called Jazzatlan. In case you ever visit the food there is delicious. The show went off nicely. After we packed up our things we walked a few blocks over to an electronic dance party in some sort of mansion before hitting up a taco stand and heading back to our beds.

The Point

Our visit lasted less than 24 hours, but I can’t recommend the place enough. The sense of history coupled with the small town feel make it one of my favorite places to escape to outside the city. What I want to drive home here is that Mexico is a lot more than just beaches and swimming. When you're taking a vacation from the daily grind of the MSP world, it's nice to remember there are more options than just jumping into an ocean or pool.

Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday (well, sometimes Wednesday...), he offers views about his new hometown.