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Gallivanting the globe 2019 - RTW and then some

JohnM

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I use a large Osprey wheeled duffel which has a low tare weight, but is tough and drags well across rough ground because of its large wheels.
Addendum: This is the bag I use: https://www.osprey.com/au/en/product/shuttle-130l-36-SHUTTLE36_563.html. The very large wheels are like a Humvee on rough ground and the large separate bottom compartment is good for hiking boots and shoes. The straps compress it nicely.

IMHO, Osprey come closest to making the perfect bag. Quality and durability is excellent.

Paddy Pallin is a major retailer.
 

tgh

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I have a well used large Tatonka Duffle… somewhere I read that they were the worlds best…..
To be fair…after quite a few miles in all sorts of conveyances ….. a wheel came adrift.
I have repaired it but was amazed at how lightly and cheaply it was made.
Will check out @JohnM 's recco sometime…,
 

JohnM

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OK, rewind time and slowly getting back into the groove, trying to recall the names of things I took pics of.

Waayyy back to late June. I had a day to kill in Miami before going to MEX, so just wandered around South Beach – along the beach itself and along Ocean Drive.

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I’ve already covered the AA Flagship Lounge for breakfast in MIA, the ride to MEX and the historical Hotel Geneve that was my digs for the three nights in MEX.

Centro Historico. Catedral Metropolitana on the Zocalo (main square) with the Sagrario Metropolitino (main parish church) next to it.

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Over the way, the Palacio Nacional, famous for its Diego Rivera murals (painted 1929-1951) that depict Mexican civilisation from Aztec to post-revolutionary times.

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Back outside and the Templo Mayor archaeological excavation, the site of a major Aztec temple demolished by the Spaniards and built over. Its significance was only re-discovered in 1978, the covering buildings were demolished and excavation began.

The destruction was massive. Models indicate the scale and complexity of the original.

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JohnM

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Moving on to the National Museum of Anthropology. Mexico, and the basin in which Mexico City is located has a very deep history.

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A couple of views near the hotel in the Zona Rosa (Pink – aka gay – Zone). My time in Mexico City was short. There is plenty to see and explore and the trip notes did suggest arriving earlier to do more exploration but I tend to be more interested in things outside major cities.

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Next day, it was a day trip (about 50 km) to Teotihuacan, the famed Aztec site of the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon. This was once Mesoamerica’s greatest Aztec city. There are, of course, significant alignments of structures and complex water capture and irrigation systems and a deep and complex history: Teotihuacan - Wikipedia.

Pyramid of the Moon, completed c. 300 CE. Not as large as the Pyramid of the Sun (which is the world’s third-largest pyramid), but the same height because the ground slopes.

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From the top, with the Pyramid of the Sun to the left along the Calzada de los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead).

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Steps are steep, but it’s not nearly as fierce on the legs as the Pyramid of the Sun.

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Along the Calzada de los Muertos, where some frescoes remain.

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From the top of the Pyramid of the Sun.

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In the adjacent Palacio de Quetzalpapatolotl complex.

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Drakecula

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I think I am doing a similar tour when I visit MEX in a couple of weeks! Your pictures are making me more excited to see things.
 

JohnM

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Next day, it was heading south to Puebla and its historic Old Town. Puebla is also the location of a massive VW car plant, the largest outside Germany. Volcan Popocatepetl (5400 m) was visible on the way.

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Old Town Puebla (UNESCO World Heritage) is characterised by colonial buildings adorned with azulejos – painted ceramic tiles. Fine pottery had long been crafted form the local clay. Gorgeous town.

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JohnM

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Continuing to the next overnight stop at Oaxaca City (the state is also Oaxaca). A pretty and arty WH-listed town.

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This guy is legendary for his fast-food cart on the corner of the main square. He works like a hyper-active one-armed bricklayer in Baghdad and has a constant queue of customers while all the nearby food carts languish. A blast to watch.

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The next day, on the way out of town to visit Mitla, a major pre-Spanish Zapotec religious centre (Mitla - Wikipedia), a brief visit to the Tule Tree, reputedly 1500 years old and 11 m in girth.

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JohnM

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The next day it was a flight to get considerably further south Oaxaca-(xMEX)-Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas state. There’s obviously not much of tourist interest between Oaxaca and Tuxtla. I did notice that some tour companies bridge that gap with a cost-saving overnight bus trip.

The first destination near Tuxtla was Sumidero Canyon, and 800 m deep canyon and WH site. A hydro-electric dam built in the 1980s has created a large reservoir in the canyon and boat trips popular.

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Then on to nearby San Cristobal de las Casas, a lively colonial town, for the next two nights.

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tgh

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Was this sector a commercial tour John ?
 

JohnM

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Was this sector a commercial tour John ?
Yes: Peregrine: Mexico & Cuba Highlights overview | Mexico & Cuba Highlights

Intrepid (Peregrine is a sister company) does a 'Basix' version of Mexico that follows a very similar path (in fact we crossed paths with an Intrepid group a few times): Mexico Unplugged | Intrepid Travel.

I was initially going to do the Intrepid tour but the Peregrine combo with Cuba particularly appealed to me, so I switched.

I have no hesitation in recommending it. Plenty more sights to come!
 

JohnM

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Just out of San Christobal lies San Juan Chamula.

Pinched from Wikipedia (Chamula - Wikipedia): Chamula is located in the Chiapas highlands, at an altitude of 2,200 meters. It is inhabited by the indigenous Tzotzil Maya people, whose Tzotzil language is one of the Mayan languages.

The town enjoys unique autonomous status within Mexico. No outside police or military are allowed in the village. Chamulas have their own police force.

It’s an unusual fiercely independent society associated with the Zapatista movement (Zapatista Army of National Liberation - Wikipedia), whose relations with mainstream Mexico can get a bit touchy at times. The people dress uniquely and they have unique religious customs that are a hybrid of Mayan and Catholic.

It’s almost impossible to take photos. The people don’t like it and strictly none are permitted inside the church with its unique ceremonies, but we were able to witness those and have them explained by a local guide. Too hard to describe, so pinched from Wikipedia:

The church of San Juan, in the municipal cabecera (headtown), is filled with colourful candles, and smoke from burning copal resin incense, commonly used throughout southern Mexico. Along the walls of the church are Catholic saints resting on tables posted in the church, but they represent Mayan gods. Candles are lit and the people sit on the floor and pray below the saints. The local form of Catholicism is a blend of pre-conquest Maya customs, Spanish Catholic traditions, and subsequent innovations.

There are no pews in the church, and the floor area is completely covered in a carpet of green pine boughs. Curanderos (medicine men) diagnose medical, psychological or ‘evil-eye’ afflictions and prescribe remedies such as candles of specific colours and sizes, specific flower petals or feathers, or - in a dire situation - a live chicken. The specified remedies are brought to a healing ceremony. Chamula families kneel on the floor of the church with sacrificial items, stick candles to the floor with melted wax, drink ceremonial cups of Posh, artisanal sugar-cane-based liquor, and chant prayers in an archaic dialect of Tzotzil.

Quite fascinating – but do not ignore the photographic restrictions if you go there; big trouble could erupt for violations.

The church and opposite side of the square.

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The next day was quite a long drive NE towards Palenque and the start of heading into the Yucatan Peninsula. On the way, a stop at the Agua Azul waterfalls. Very pretty and soothing.

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JohnM

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Arrival at Palenque in the evening and off to the site the next morning. Again, for details: Palenque - Wikipedia.

It’s one of the best examples of Maya architecture in Mexico. It flourished around 650-750 CE. Some amazing construction techniques and advanced astronomical knowledge – to the point that some towers lean by the number of degrees Palenque is N of the equator (17.5) to correct for sun angle at key religious/seasonal times.

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JohnM

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Moving on that afternoon to Campeche on the Gulf of Mexico (NW) coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Campeche is a WH-listed walled city that was once the main Spanish port on the Yucatan.

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JohnM

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Moving further NE along the Gulf of Mexico coast to the Celestun Bird Sanctuary. Flamingos are the main attraction. There were a few there.

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Then a brief poke about in the mangroves.

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JohnM

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Moving on to Merida, essentially the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula. The digs and a walk around town, finishing at the Palacio Municipal and its large abstract murals depicting eternal Mexican struggles.

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