Trip to Villahermosa, Tabasco

Hotel Quinta Real Villahermosa

We’re almost done with the year and I realized there’s much to post in this blog. Back in July we went to Villahermosa, Tabasco for the wedding of a friend. It was my first time there so I didn’t know what to expect. Very soon into my trip I found out that they have very interesting food and recipes. We went to a traditional Villahermosa cuisine restaurant to try it out.

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No, this is not the traditional restaurant, that was a quick stop because we were running late.

Okay back to my story. The pejelagarto is a very popular dish around there. They prepare it in several ways: grilled, stuffed, in fillet, etc. In my case, I got to try it in empanadas. To me it tasted like crab (yes, with a B not a P).

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After the wedding, we went to a cacao farm where they give tours to show how chocolate is made. I was expecting to see a big factory and large farming lands, but it was a lot simpler. The farming land looks like a small jungle in the middle of the town, which grew around the perimeter of the old cacao fields. The place feels like a real jungle with the humidity, the plants everywhere covering the sun and the sounds of birds and other animals. The tour guide told us they have a section where monkeys live. This was their habitat before the town came into the jungle, so they are trying to preserve them there. We couldn’t spot any of them but sometimes you could hear them in the distance.

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Guacamayas

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We saw several types of trees that I’ve only read about in books. The rubber tree which produces a resin that native Mexican tribes used to create shoes and the first balls to play games. A cinnamon tree, which I never stopped to think how cinnamon is obtained. The tree is small and you can peel a part of it’s trunk or branches and that’s the cinnamon sticks. Then a gum tree used by Mexicans for centuries for chewing gum before Thomas Adams created the chewing gum industry world wide.

Rubber tree | Arbol de hule

Cacao plant

We also got to try freshly done hand-made chocolate. They demonstrated the traditional process of making chocolate from the cacao seeds. I participated adding the spices and trying the resulting mix. Then they explained how that process is now translated into industrial processes and how most milk chocolate has barely any of the outstanding health benefits of the cacao (also, white chocolate is just fat, no benefits at all).

Hand made chocolate

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It’s been a bad year for my writing but I started experimenting with video recording and editing. So I’ll be posting some of my video experiments using mainly a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver. I hope you enjoy this first one about this trip.

Mexico Independence day in Coyoacan

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There photos were not taken this year. I’ve wanted to share these images I took last year but by the time I got to edit the RAW files, it was around November, so it would feel weird to post September’s Mexico Independence day photos very close to Christmas celebrations.

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This time, since I didn’t go out this year to celebrate (I had an early work meeting at 8:30am the next day), I can now post timely the Independence day pictures that are timeless, since there are no dates showing anywhere. They work as well for any year.

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We went to Coyoacan for the celebrations, on my first september in Mexico city. Although I wanted to go to the Zocalo, the main place where the president does the main ceremony that is televised internationally, we opted for a smaller town. Zocalo gets too crowded, with very intimidating security and police and snipers and worse than TSA personal searches.

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Instead, Coyoacan feels more like a little old mexican town, no excessive police, friendly walks, a small fair with rides, traditional food and games. I was told you can enjoy this a lot more, and so we did.

Huge buñuelos

Mexican traditional bread

Mexican chorizo

Grilling buffalo chicken wings

Mexican corn stew

Balloon dart shooting range

Fair air gun shooting range

Cotton candy maker

Cotton candy sombrero figure

Little girl with huge cotton candy flower

The cotton candy man was a true artist. He made several huge figures, but I could only capture two of them. It was very entertaining watching him work.

We’re planning to go to Zocalo next year, but we’re looking for the safest way to do it. Nearby hotels have a view to the Zocalo from the top and offer dinners. We’ll try to make a reservation in one of them.

Fish market in Mexico city

Mexico city is full of awesome little places here and there. It has so many places for so many things that I’m considering making it a hobby to explore the city. A few days ago, knowing that I love my fish tanks, my friend Luis Perez told me about the Fish Market where I could find anything I like for my fish tank.

We planned a visit on a Sunday and spent most of the day there. At the fish market you really can find anything you need or want for salt or fresh water tanks. The variety of species found is impressive and the prices are great too.

Fish in bags

Not only crowded by fish, but also by people. Very hard to walk in this tiny crowded aisles.

Mexico fish market

You can find exotic species like a fresh water ray, alligators and even a Mexican axolotl (endangered species by the way, but oh well…Mexico)

Fresh water ray

Alligators in a fish tank

Alligator sleeping in the tank

Mexican axolotl

There’s not only fish and tank gear, you can also find a few other pets around like dogs and birds.

Puppies in a box

Sleeping puppies

Bulldog puppy

Bird cages

Cardinal bird

I ended up buying some gear for my tank, a few neon tetras and a freshwater shrimp that looks awesome in the tank and will help clean it up too.

Freshwater shrimp

Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico

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I’ve lived in Mexico almost all of my life (except for one year) and I had never seen any of the pyramids we have. I felt like I was a “bad” mexican or “incomplete” mexican by not knowing these amazing historical landscapes that everyone around the world talk about when visiting Mexico, besides the tequila, the beaches and the food.

So I finally planned a trip to Teotihuacan and take a few photos there.

The entrance was free, but I was not allowed to take my tripod with me. A security guard stopped me and told me that I needed a special permit to be allowed to use a tripod inside. I’ve heard about this rule for some churches in certain places but it’s the first time I get stopped for it myself. And of course as most security guards behave, I didn’t get informed on how or where I should ask for that special permission.

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Since it was a weekend, the place was crowded with people. Ada and my uncle, who grew up in Mexico city and had visited the place several times told me that it usually is not as crowded. But when they visited, most of the times were school trips during the weekdays and they say those days the place is almost desert. So if you plan to visit to take some photos (with your tripod special permit), plan your trip for a week day if you want photos without people.

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Ada and I met with my uncle, who’s a year younger than me and whom I hadn’t seen in several years. Little did I know, my uncle had just partied the night before and got home 1 hour before I picked him up. But he was a fighter and got up to the top of the pyramid of the Sun while hangover.

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When we got to the top of the pyramid of the sun, there was a large crowd looking at something at the very center of the area. I asked what was going on, they told me that people were “recharging energy” by touching a little hole in the center of the pyramid. I got close enough to try to see this hole, and it was a little dent between rocks that was like a stone had been removed because it didn’t go deep at all, and people were putting their index fingers in it. It is always hilarious to me when people believe these kind of things.

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So it was a very nice experience, lots of sun, we had to carry our water because it is a long walk between pyramids and in general we just had a nice time.

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San Francisco and the Bay Area through a mirrorless camera

San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge

I had the chance to try out the Fujifilm X-M1 mirrorless camera. All the images in this post were taken with it, no post processsing, and I think the results are of great quality.

Back in the Bay Area once again thanks to my job, I mainly visited Oakland, Fremont, Berkeley, Pleasanton and of course, San Francisco. Since my friend Basilio moved to California a couple months ago, I had the chance to stay during the weekend for some sightseeing and shopping.

I tried ramen for the first time at Japan Town, visited my favorite restaurant in Chinatown and at night we stopped at Treasure Island to take some city skyline shots. I love visiting San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Gabriel Saldana testing the Fujifilm X-M1 camera

Soldier at the Japanese fountain

Japanese ramen restaurant

The Tesla is closer than it appears

Light at the end of the tunnel

Alcatraz and sails

San Francisco Chinatown entrance

San Francisco steep street

Chinatown's dragon lamps

Chinatown trade mark

Chinese tamales

San Francisco Van Ness cable car

Old lady playing rock in the street

SF subway station

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A visit to the Guadalajara Zoo part 4: The Aquarium

Finally after my long break from posting on this blog, here’s the last part of the Guadalajara Zoo visit, for the previous posts check part1 – Big animals, Part 2 – Birds and Part 3 – Reptiles. The last section visited was the aquarium. I have a special feeling
towards fish in the water, I don’t know exactly what it is. Maybe it’s
the calm sounds of water, maybe it’s the freedom fish express by
swimming anywhere. I really never thought about it before, but I enjoy
watching the fish.

Ever since I left my parents’ home and live my myself, I’ve always had
fish tanks at my place. Nowadays a home without a fish tanks doesn’t
feel like home for me.

Smiling ray

Blue cichlid

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Big cichlid tank

Pejelagarto

Piraña

Seahorse and little red lobsters

The lion fish

Clown fish and a blue mask

Shark in the tank

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A visit to the Guadalajara Zoo part 3: Reptiles

Smiling croc

In this third post I’ll show some of the reptiles at the Guadalajara Zoo. See part 1 for the big animals and part 2 for the birds.

A big old turtle

This sign was a bit of false advertising to me, or the croc went into the iguana area

False advertising

Crocodile

I finally found the iguana

Iguana

I think it was the mating season for snakes because there was a lot of love at those exhibits

Snake porn

Rattle snakes in love

Boas

Green snake

Angry rattle snake

Yellow python