Three weeks in Mexico and our journey was just beginning as we crossed the border into Central America. Looking back on my time in Mexico, in the initial leg of the trip we witnessed the cactus and shrub dotted mountains of Sonora. There was magic in the air, butterflies fluttered through the sky, swooping daringly in front of our van, orange and yellow wings glinting in the sunlight. Our first night was spent in Alamos due to the van incident that altered our itinerary.
The second day saw us on the road to Mazatlán, bumping along the highway, learning how to deftly negotiate a multitude of pot holes and cracks, and becoming pros at passing up slow-moving semi-trucks. Nearing our beachside destination, we were greeted by a landscape of rugged coastline, reminiscent of the scrub brush covered stretch of Highway 101 between Orange County and San Diego in California.
Continuing on our journey to Guadalajara we passed countless fields of corn, rice, and sugar cane. Eventually the fields transitioned to the bluish-green agave plant, marking the home of tequila. After experiencing the traffic and crowds of Guadalajara, a night in the small charming town of Tequila would have been preferred.
Leaving Guadalajara we drove through the state of Michoacán to arrive in Metepec, a suburb outside Mexico City. Staying with my family, we were given the full tour of the area, visiting Mexico City and other places nearby like Teotenango, Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, Toluca, Teotihuacan, and La Marqueza. Our days were packed with places to go, sights to see, and food to eat.
As two weeks came to an end in Metepec, we loaded up our van for the drive to our final destination: Palenque. We drove though the mountainous state of Puebla, at one point driving high atop a misty mountain range jutting towards the sky. The winding road down brought us into an entirely new landscape in the state of Veracruz. The dry air became humid and the land covered in the greenery of tropical forests. That night we slept in a hotel in Minatitlan, the only place in the entire trip where I was almost overwhelmed with the feeling of homesickness. A heavy gray cloud blanketed the sky with yellow and black fumes drifting into the air from distant industrial operations. The air was oppressive in its heat and humidity, the only refuge was our small hotel room which smelled of old cigarettes.
Bound for Palenque, we hastily left the next morning, happy to be out of the depressive town. Driving through the states of Veracruz and Tabasco we finally made it to the state of Chiapas – tropical greenery, humid air, and long stretches of empty road greeted us at every turn. Our excitement built as we turned onto the road to Palenque, our last stop in Mexico before we crossed into Guatemala.