share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”

Just to sum up the cafés and coffees in my 2 weeks in Mexico, the best, the worst and the plain strange.

Best coffee you find at Café con Leche in Toluca centro.

Café con Leche

5 de Febrero #111
Toluca de Lerdo Centro

Cafe_con_Leche

Photo: www.cupcakesandcrablegs.com

Close to the Cathedral, city hall and los Portales, within walking distance from Cosmovitral it is easy to drop by for a cup. Great location and the café is not bad, but it would do well from a make over.
Serving coffee in traditional Veracruz way, very strong coffee with a plenty of warm milk with the high pour it is not only served with class, it also taste terrific. I just wish the staff would smile occasionally to make me feel more welcomed.

Continue reading… »

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“A cup of coffee is a wondrous way to associate”

This is the second outstanding café we found just by coincidence. Now positioned on my top 2 in Mexican coffee places.

Located in Metepec in the Toluca metropolitan area, personally I don’t know where Toluca ends and Metepec begins, Tierras del Café seems to be living a somewhat secluded existence. But it is well worth a visit.

Tierras del Café
Paseo San Isidro # 361
Barrio de Sta Cruz
Metepec
www.tierrasdelcafe.com.mx

If The Coffee Bar is a place for fantasy and exploring your mind this is the place for meeting your friends and exploring your taste. In a brown scale with a big wall painting of coffee producing countries the whole interior building up an anticipation of a good coffee experience.

If the sitcom Friends were shot in Mexico this would have been Central Perk.
With couches and tables spread out in the location and a large cosy terrace in the front and a smaller one in the back Tierras de Café invites you to stay and enjoy some time with your friends and loved ones.
In a corner they even have a bookshelf with books and magazines if you come alone and want to relax and enjoy your coffee.

Mexican coffee
Mexico is one of the worlds largest producer of ecological coffee
Most plantation go for quality before quantity and they don’t spend to much on advertising. Best known is the Veracruz district but if you ever come across the Oaxaca bean have a taste you, will not regret it.

But this first-class café is more than just coffee, it’s a café with a mission.
Actively trying to promote the Mexican coffee culture they offer coffee tastings and educating the staff in the coffee they serve. This alone is worth a visit since Mexico are much influenced by the US a little lighter coffee.
Being an all-Mexican café of course they serve Mexican coffee. Their selected house coffee is Oaxaca coffee, sometimes referred to as Oaxaca Pluma from the coffee district on the southerns slope of the mountains Pluma Hidalgo.

Tierras del Café not only serve coffee, here you can find and buy coffee from all over the world. Whole beans or ask to have them grained, the staff are happy to tell you about the origin, blend and quality. From Peru via Egypt to Indonesia they can take you on a trip through the countries of coffee.
The also sell cups, stovetop espresso maker and everything you may need to make a good coffee at home.

So what about the service and coffee?
To start with you order and get your coffee at the counter, a little unusual in Mexico where most people expect to be served. I prefer it though, that means no one come and take my plate or cup and discreetly try to show me the door as soon as I swallowed my last mouth. Once again, stay and enjoy time with your friends.
There is nothing to complain about with taste. As earlier mention the Oaxaca bean is splendid and make a nice espresso.
The Café Latte comes with a little foam, less than most other places, still – There should be no foam in a Latte.
The Espresso Cortado was almost perfect, just a thin surface of foam.
I would say the staff is well-trained.

This is a very nice café I highly recommend. The big risk for it’s existence is that Tolucans are very (read extremely) traditional and not that willing to try out a new place.

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Coffee is more than just taste – it’s an experience

The capital of Estade de Mexico, Toluca, is mostly known for being an industrial city.
Toluca is much more than so, there is the botanic garden, Cosmovitral, with it’s famous stained glass windows, maybe The Portales and not to forget chorizo verde, the green chorizo. But not enough to draw any herds of tourists.

Still there is more to see and do if you give it a chance. Whether you are here in business or as tourist and of course if you live here and you need to reload with a cup of coffee this is were to go;

coffeebar

The Coffee Bar
Ignacio Allende #200
Col. Altamirano
“Plaza Frezno”

• Coffee and tea hot and cold
• Also in Mexico City

The Coffee Bar. We found it by chance one evening looking for a coffee and a sandwich. I instantly treasured the interior. This is a place for creativity, to let your imagination and thoughts run amok. Colors and small detail everywhere. The longer you stay the more you see.
At first glance it can be overwhelming and look messy. But stay around and you will notice everything is placed with much thought and it all goes together.

From the chandeliers to the pink bathroom there has been much consideration with the interior. Nothing is done by accident.
You could even think the house across the street is part of the interior. A residential house in an area that seems to mostly have storage buildings and small businesses. Who lives there? Why? Does anyone live there?

The walls are covered with pictures and boards to lure your brain start working and soon your fantasy will fill the empty frames and mirrors spread out in the establishment.

Not to forget, this is first and foremost a café and we should do what we came for, have a coffee and something to eat.
The atmosphere is good, in many cafés and bars around Mexico the music is to loud, at The Coffee Bar people at the same table can speak to each other with normal conversation tone.
The staff is friendly and helpful, smile and laughter all around. If they have the ingredients they have no problem going outside the menu.
First time we were here, a Saturday at 10 pm, one could think there would be mostly guests in the mid 30’s and up. Much to my surprise it is a good mix with the majority just over the 20’s.
For testing the coffee I had an espresso to taste the bean without complains. An order of Café Latte gave me something more resembling a Cappuccino, very common all around Mexico – There should not be foam in a Latte – but it tasted good and the milk had the right temperature.
Espresso Cortado wasn’t on the menu, when trying to explain a language problem gave me a double espresso with milk on the side, beside from that misshapen the amount of milk was in right proportion and with very little foam.
For eating they offer bagels and sandwiches. My first time there I had a bagel, very good. Most likely store bought, but they treat it good. The big surprise was the sandwich, served with potato chips, even here they chose a bread with more color.

For my testing the young man working daytime did not know what a Club Sandwich is, it’s not on the menu, I finally ordered a tuna. But my girlfriend got a Club Sandwich at our first visit so it’s more of a personal issue than a café problem.

This is on my top 2 list of cafés in Mexico, first or second place depends on mood and need.

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Ignoring climate change will be the most costly of all possible choices, for us and our children”

Back from two weeks in Mexico.
Not the Mexico I am used to, it was chilly and rainy. This was my ultimate proof for the environmental changes we go through, I wore jeans my whole stay, linen trousers and shorts laid unused in my suitcase.
Of course I was in the Mexican highland in the Toluca area. With an elevation above sea level close to 2700 meters (8800 feet), Swedens highest peak is about 2100 meters (6890 feet), I expected it to be a little colder than the Mexican beaches, but I have been here earlier and it should not be this chilly this time of year. Even worse was the rain, the rain season came a month to early, usually the wet season start in around “El Grito,” Mexicos independence day September 16.

metepec

Rain rolling in or Volcano erupting? Photo: Dan Freed

Still Mexico is always Mexico, it never disappoint me. Every trip give me new experiences. And with this weather I had no problem sitting in a car most of the days.
After about 1000 km (625 miles) on the roads up and down in Estado de Mexico, a state in the Republic of Mexico, I have seen more roads-kills, Virgen Guadalupe statuettes and Police cars than… Well, ever before.
And some things have become very clear;
It is no news that there is no city engineer deciding color range on buildings, or if they even should be painted. But clearly there is no road engineers either. Intersections, slipways and turn-offs looks, as best, as someone throw dart on a map.
And talking about roads, traffic rules are clearly not so much rules as recommendations in Mexico, not that anyone notice. Coming from a decently organized traffic country I would be run over or hit someone in the first crossing if driving.
Even if you would like to follow the traffic rules it is almost impossible. I have seen a stop- and a yield-sign on the same slipway and once in an intersection I pointed to the green light in front of us and asked my love why she didn’t drive, she pointed to a red light just above us. I don’t know, I guess you just choose what to follow.

Beside from traffic Mexicos road have a lot to offer. So much beautiful nature and it becomes clear that this is a country built on mountains and volcanoes.
I have visit some picturesque small villages, walked through caverns, seen rests from ancients cultures and noticed that Toluca have more to offer than just industries.
In the coming posts I will right more about the best and mention the worst. I just need to go through 400 photos and thousands of memories first.

Once again I left my love in Mexico, this is becoming a bad habit.

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“If you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans”

New times, new adventures deserves a new theme.
I was going for a more simple theme, amazing how much code was needed to make something look plain. Of course I could choose one of the hundreds, thousands of theme already existing, but how fun is that? And make adjustments are less complicated if you know how the foundation is build.
At the same time I had an annoying spam attack which had to be taken care of, I tried out a few different solutions until I found a good one. I needed something effective against spam bots without too much of a hassle for real commentators. You see it in the comment form, just copy and paste.
I have been quite busy the last week.

free

Anyway, while this is published I am on my way back home, to my second home – Mexico!
Different from my previous trips to this wonderful country I actually know what to expect this time and I will probably not come back to Sweden with some fun-embarrassing-striking stories.

I do however have something to tell. More of personal information to friends and family.
Not too many of my friends have heard it and no one in my family knows, so this could be a good test to see how many and whom actually reading my blog.
A couple of month ago I had a beer with a friend and of course we spoke about tech, Internet, social media and blogging. The name Planning Mexico was a topic, the name could mean a lot of things, when started this blog is was just another mean for me to write about travel, Latin America, Mexico in general and more specific my plans to move to Mexico.
Well, that have change a little. I have found love in Mexico, as it turns out it seems like we will be living in Sweden.
I can understand that, just to make it clear I do love Mexico, but my Mexico.
My Mexico is that of a tourist, it doesn’t matter whom I spend time with, where I am or which language I talk, I am still a tourist, a foreigner. I can even find it neat to pay an occasional bribe to smooth things over or make things go faster, but live with it every day is probably not that fun.
Further more my woman works, among other things, with womens rights, holding seminars for local authorities, corporations, communities. She really see and hear the dark side of Mexico, her work is much needed, but not always appreciated. Even threats have occurred.

mexico-women-s-rights

Mexico Women's Rights Pictures & Photos

This is a real Sisyfos work, machismo is deeply rooted in the Mexican culture and system and in a country teared apart by poverty, crime and violence women and children pays the ultimate price with harassment, abuse, rapes and murders.
I have seen how many women are treated, specially service and catering business. Trying to explain for my Mexican friends that they should show some respect they usually look at me as I were from another planet. Which I just as well could be.
I do hope my new love find a way to keep working for equal rights in Mexico even if living in Sweden.

Enough about that, I am on my way to 2 great weeks in paradise with Mexican food, beers and Tequila!

My thoughts goes to my mother, who on her first trip abroad in 34 years, decided to spend her anniversary in Turkey. Go mom!

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Home is the place where it feels right to walk around without shoes”

I am back in Mexico. A painless trip, even Mexican customs and security went smooth. They ask me how I felt, I answered I am a babe, after some discussion they agreed and let me through without hustle.
Feels like being home again if only for a day. Arrived last night and tomorrow the adventure continue in Guatemala.
This #MexMonday as it is called on twitter I will spend in the Toluca/Metepec area.

I have some mixed memories from my visit here last year. If it was the local Metepec liquor Garañona or something I ate that gave me Montezums revenge I don’t know, but it was a very unpleasant (and messy) story. Besides that I had a great time, about 65 km (40 miles) west of Mexico City it feels very much like small town Mexico although the population in whole metropolitan area is closer to 2 million.

If you ever get around of course you should try the Garañona, it is a sweet, quite strong drink made out of 15 herbs, only served and sold on the bar 2 de Abril, downtown Metepec. But also take a morning ride on the road between Metepec and Toluca, pull down the car window and smell the chocolate and fresh roasted coffee beans from the industries along side the road, that is all you need for breakfast.
Hotel staying may be a problem for non-smokers, the cheap hotels in the industrial area are a big no, I checked out a few of them and turned them down one by one, even for a smoker like me the reeking rooms were just to much to take. Best chances for a better room are in Toluca, but even there you should ask to see the room before checking in. If I have to recommend something I would choose San Carlos in Los Portales, they at least try to get rid of the smell. The hotel is also close to Cosmovitral, the botanic garden which should not be missed while here.
There is a lot to see in the surroundings, to much to write about now (I have to make the most of my short visit), but if you’re not going to a tourist resort on your Mexico trip at least try to leave Mexico City for a couple of days.

Off to new adventures!

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Some men change their party for the sake of their principles;
others their principles for the sake of their party. ~Winston Churchill

When I first thought of this blog I said I would never go in to politic, I am not conversant enough with Mexican politics to be certain I apprehend it right. But this really bugs me, it has been for a week now and apparently I am blocked and cannot move forward without writing something about it.
Mexico’s former president Vicente Fox went belly up and say Mexico should legalize drugs. Full story; Times
I think the keyword here is former, no sitting head of state has never aired the idea. It is easy to say when you are in opposition, but to do it when you have a country to run is not that popular. Since Felipe Calderón proclaimed his War On Drugs about 36 000 people have been killed and it is easy to point and say we are loosing. But is “if you can’t beat them, join them” the right philosophy for a government?
And what Fox seems to forget is that Calderón only continued and escalated what the Fox administration started. Even if there were some disturbance in the 1990’s violence started to increase back in 2000 when Fox sent troops to the US-Mexican border, and in his shaking last days of office Vicente Fox beat his chest and pointed to the over 70 000 arrested suspects and major extraditions to USA. Calderóns War On Drugs have led to even more arrests and extradition but now, apparently, Mexico is loosing the war.

Vicente Fox, Photo:Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun/AP

Vicente Fox, Photo:Omar Ornelas/The Desert Sun/AP

Felipe Calderon, Photo:CNN Expansion

Felipe Calderon, Photo:CNN Expansion

If we should point finger maybe someone should have done more before the cartels got so organized and heavily armed.
Fox goes on blaming the drug war for the decreasing tourism and I can give him a partial point, but the big drop in tourism was 2009 due to the swine flu outbreak. 2010 the trend is up again. I feel he is diminish us travelers. Mexico is a big country, even though there is violence in parts of the country doesn’t mean we cannot go somewhere else. It is like saying we cannot go to Europe because there is some trouble on the Balkan peninsula.
Anyway, 2012 is election year and I am sure we will hear much more in the subject the coming year.

I hope I can go on and write about something else

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

“Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil.
Our great hope lies in developing what is good.”

~Calvin Coolidge

I have been scanning the news the last weeks trying to find something good to write about regarding Mexico. Beside the Cancun Climate conference, there is just drugs, killings and death.

So I’m going to stick my neck out and say that Mexico is a land of opportunities.
Now matter what the trade, with the border to USA and being a door to South America Mexico is in a perfect geographic position for investments. The cartels noticed, so when will the legal business world catch up?
And for developing within Mexico I have two areas just on the tip of my tongue but there are many more when you look in to it.
One of my thoughts is Technology – Yes, Mexico has educated programmers, maybe to many, but in technical infrastructure there is more to do. And I have seen a lack of skilled systems developers, technicians and everyday repairs and maintenance. Every time I go back I help a friend with a computer, mobile or something else malfunctioning. On one of my trips I fixed a friends mobile phone with a drop of vodka and a napkin, by the look of the crowd gathering to watch me I could just as well have turned water to wine.
It seems like if a computer breaks down or you get a virus you need to know a guy who know a guy who know a guy who works in a basement in Mexico City. If you don’t know that guy you more or less need to buy a new computer. And electronics does not come cheap in Mexico.
Another area is, of course, tourism. In my twitterstream I can read about different ideas to attract new, and more, visitors. But most advertising is directed toward US and North America, missing a market of 830 million people a cross the Atlantic where an estimated 25 percent travel for vacation every year. I met Europeans on my adventures all of the world. We like to travel, we are financial stable and usually have more vacation weeks per year than Mexicans and other North Americans for me it is a mystery why Mexican tourism organization don’t do more to advertise towards Europe.

I’m just laying it out there… Think bigger

  share on facebok
share on facebok    

Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Perhaps I am a bear, or some hibernating animal underneath, for the instinct to be half asleep all winter is so strong in me.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Yesterday was not a good day with the trademark winter weather in south Sweden. Snow-mixed rain that froze through the bones. This time of year I always wish I could hibernate, sleep away a few months until the spring brings back the sun. There isn’t very much to do this season, everybody stay inside in various degrees of boredness.
It comes easy to dream away about spending the winter in Mexico.
I think this guy is on to something, I’m homeless and this is why I have an ipad. An Ipad and living the life he want. I have 3 laptops, an Android and one Sony Ericsson walkman, probably a couple of mp3 players as well. I should do pretty good as a permanent traveler.

In my first post I wrote about how I like Mexico and it gave me positive response from my Mexican friends. And some doubtful response from friends never been in Mexico. If you only know Mexico from the news I understand their doubt, all you read and hear is drug wars, gunfights, natural disasters, tropical storms and flooding.
Despite all that this friendly people still reach out a hand to help a visitor.
A few days ago I found my notes from my first trip to Mazatlan, Sinaloa, and it woke some memories, while I was going through customs and trying to figure out how to get to the hotel, the first person I met outside the airport offered me a ride, and I hadn’t been on Mexican sole for more than 30 minutes.
Walking around in the city everybody I asked was eager to help me find my way, if they themselves didn’t know they just asked the next person on the street. Some even followed me and showed the way. A cynical friend said, “Sure, they help you if they can get something out of it”. So what? In Sweden they don’t help, just expect you to give them money anyway.
However I don’t care what other people think. I have seen enough of the world to now we all value different things. I always make sure to get my own opinion of places and people and is traveling with an open mind.

Keep your hat and winter coat on, it’s freezing outside

  share on facebok