Rediscovering my second home
Last March I took a special trip back to Mexico City–a place I’ve visited dozens of times–but this time explored some new and magical corners.
Mexico City is an intimately special place for me.
It’s where my mother was born. It’s where my parents met. It’s where my grandparents and family all live. It’s where I first fell in love with the whole country when I visited so many times as a young girl. It’s where I first fell in love with my boyfriend, when I spontaneously decided to join his group of friends last year on their weekend getaway to my favorite place in my parents’ native country. So, when he got us tickets for our one year anniversary as my birthday present earlier this year, I was ecstatic to return to the city that holds my heart so dearly in its arms.
If you’re a wanderlusting traveller like myself, you might wonder how I haven’t grown sick of visiting the same city so many times. And to tell you the truth, I wonder, too. Don’t get me wrong, my list of dream destinations is endless and always growing longer. But if you love to travel as much as I do, you know how special it is to find a place that enchants you with its unique charm, and its magnetic allure that keeps drawing you back.
Living in Austin, I’m very fortunate to find a trip to Mexico not only easy, but rather inexpensive. So it’s super convenient to make it the perfect weekend getaway.
And the more I visit, the more I discover.
As I said, growing up my family and I would visit Mexico City rather frequently: for my baptism, my first communion, later it would be to take small vacations with my aunts and uncle and grandparents. Then I grew up and went to college, and later moved out to Austin and it became more difficult to join my family on their trips. It didn’t occur to me that, as an adult, I now had the freedom to go as I pleased, until one day a friend of mine mentioned he was going on a weekend trip to CDMX with some friends and extended me an invite. At first, I said no thanks, but there’s no way I could just leave for a weekend to go to Mexico City just like that.
It only took a short while, when it hit me–yes I fucking can! Why not? This was, after all, the sort of thing I had always dreamed of doing when I was younger: traveling. So, I quickly messaged him after my “groundbreaking” realization and said, I’m in!
Well, as you know this “friend” became my boyfriend over the course of that wonderful weekend and a year later we went back to enjoy the city we both love so much and celebrate a great year together.
This trip was special for a myriad of reasons. We were celebrating a year together, and for the first time, we didn’t have everything planned (well apart from the food we would be eating, of course).
As soon as I learned we were going, I reached out to my beloved godmother (who lives in the city) to see if she was interested in taking a day trip to a nearby area with us to explore. Being quite the adventurer herself and not often getting an opportunity to spent time with her goddaughter, she immediately said yes, and suggested the Nevado de Toluca for us to visit for a day trip/hike.
El Nevado de Toluca is a volcano located about 50 miles west of Mexico City, in the city of Toluca. Before this trip, I’d never heard of it, and I was eager to explore what seemed like a hidden treasure in the country of Mexico.
My godmother arrived early Saturday morning at our Airbnb to pick us both up and begin the hour and a half trek out to Toluca. To be honest, if I didn’t have family in the city, I wouldn’t know much about how to get there otherwise. The population make-up of the visitors at the volcano reflected my suspicions, as it mainly consisted of Mexican tourists. I felt even more grateful for the opportunity, like we were tapping into something truly special.
We arrived and enjoyed a delicious breakfast of tlacoyos and hot café de olla, then made our way over to the line of trucks ready to take passengers up the dusty, winding road to the top. Now, when I say dusty, it feels like an understatement, because it was quite intense. And in true Mexican fashion, we were loaded into the truck like packed sardines. Luckily, we found this amusing and honestly, once we arrived a the top, we forgot all about it.
Because the view was breathtaking–literally. If you’ve never been to CDMX, you should know that it sits over 7,000 ft above sea level…and this volcano is more than double that elevation. Coming from the flat plains of Texas, visiting Mexico is always an adjustment–but this was more like a shock to the system.
Carefully, we began our slow hike towards the top. I thought it was kind of funny, to see how slowly everyone was moving on an incline that truly wasn’t that steep, and a distance that couldn’t have been more than 2 miles round trip. But the fact is, the effect the elevation has on your body is difficult to ignore, and we all had to stop and take several breaks along the way.
For a photographer, this was ningún problema.
The day was dense and overcast–my favorite weather to photograph in. As you can tell in the images, the contrast of the beautiful, fluffy white clouds against the almost golden landscape was so captivating–I felt as though we were on a moon perhaps, or some foreign land mass. As I watched the other travelers making their way, it dawned on me the power of the earth, the power of wonder and beauty. We were all there to see the famous sister lagoons that sat opposite each other in the craters of the volcano. The trek was arduous, uncomfortable–and yet, here were all of these humans of different sizes, ages, backgrounds–all willing to make the journey to experience a uniquely exquisite sight.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t often have these musings from the comfort of my couch or sitting behind a desk.
I have these musings when I’m on a difficult path, when I’m outside of my comfort zone, when I am experiencing the world in all its glory–painfully beautiful and alive.
(Pictured above: Boyfriend admiring the volcanic landscape as he so kindly carries my girly ass bag for me.)
It’s necessary for me to have these experiences–as a part of my creative and spiritual journey. If I am seeking inspiration, I will not find it within the confines of my comfort bubble. I have to climb the mountain (or in this case volcano).
It’s challenging-sometimes seemingly impossible, but the reward is always, always, always worth it.