Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mi Mexico

North Carolina, USA >>> Sinaloa, MX >>> Nayarit, MX >>> Jalisco, MX>>> California, USA >>> North Carolina, USA

To say that Christmas was an adventure would be nothing short of true! I had so much fun visiting family, sight seeing, and exploring the places my family call home. Also.....we drove there. A complete 45 hour non-stop road trip from North Carolina to Sinaloa, Mexico. We normally don't travel much as a family so this was really fun. Cramped, but fun. I spent one week in Sinaloa visiting my mom's side of the family, and a second week in Nayarit and Guadalajara visiting my dad's side of the family. Overall? best. trip. ever.

You guys, this is my backyard. I know, I know.

There were also some humongous cactus (cactuses? cacti?) that I was never pictured with because my parents did not deem it important enough for me to pull over and snap a shot for the blog....sorry ya'll. I did try and make up for it by posing with just about every other semi-large cacti I found on the rest of my week there though, so there's that.

We visited old family friends, grandma's, great-grandma's, aunts, uncles, cousins, and just about everyone. The atmosphere there is so stress free, I thought it a little strange. I loved it though. Do you ever travel somewhere and then just not ever want to leave? Even though you know you aren't living there the way other people are? Well that was me. Actually, that is me almost everywhere I go....

Overcast day at the beach, but it was still lovely. (Also my 9 year old sister is my best photographer)

We were about 20 minutes from the beach, so that meant we got to eat a lot of delicious seafood! Oysters and shrimp being my favorite! We got these fresh off the boat of local fishermen (so cool!). Can I just also mention that it is not mosquito season in Mexico right now, and yet, every mosquito within 300 miles of me seemed to have found me. This was somewhat torturous, but I was determined to grin and bear it!

La Reforma

We visited the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan. Crazy driving, hectic and noisy. Pero me gusto! The lights at night are just so bright and exciting. And leaving the city in the dark, you can see endless amounts of stars and blackness! It is just beautiful! Like it will never end. The mountains, the fields, the sky, it just puts you in your place and reminds you of how small you are in this world.

A pretty aunt of mine.
Handsome cousin that was just the sweetest!
Cousins, and another sweet Aunt
What was the hardest part of this trip you might ask? Not being connected to the outside world via wifi. It might have also been the best thing about this trip though. No distractions and plenty of time for relaxation.

I met a few girls around the neighborhood that were really friendly and I now have a sushi date lined up for next time I am in town. 

The second week was spent in Nayarit visiting my dad's childhood home, my grandpa and old family friends. I cannot say just how at home I felt with all of these people. They are people that I've only seen a few times in my life but I can say that I left a piece of my heart there.

These delicious fruit cups. I mean how pretty are they? 

We visited an Aunt in Magdalena, Jalisco and spent the rest of the week there with my grandmother. We were there to celebrate her 82nd birthday and it was so special to be able to spend some quality time with her, ask her questions, hear her stories, and make her feel loved. I also got to enjoy the cutest plaza there with it's street vendor fresh churros (so yum!), taco stands, and the cutest artisanal shops! The city is surrounded my cliffs and mountains that are rich in opal and they have many cute little knick knacks and items made of just that.

Churros from the street vendor in the plaza? Check. 

We also took some time off to explore Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco. It. Was. Beautiful. If I could move and live in Mexico, I think I would move here. I loved the buildings, the atmosphere, the hustle and bustle, the street musicians, the shops, the people, and just being able to BE there! We visited the local artisanal shops and got the cutest of souvenirs and treats, and let me just say, I am not a price haggler. That was probably one of the hardest things I tried to figure out how to do on my own. I did improve over the course of the day, but I can't say that I enjoyed doing it. On a happy note, I got a wonderful leather handmade satchel that is just the most perfect laptop bag (happy sigh).

Beautiful buildings literally everywhereeeeee in Guadalajara
Mom and sisters exploring the local market in Guadalajara
Street view below from the McDonalds where Jalapenos are served beside the ketchup....
La familia de aventureros

We spent Christmas eve with my grandma, aunt, uncle, and their 4 daughters, and about 10 grandkids. It was a lot of fun! We opened presents, had some of the tastiest carne asada with all the necessary sides, champurrado (my favorite!), buñuelos, karaoke, flying lanterns, and piñatas for all the kids (ahem, grownups). I had so much fun meeting everyone, getting to know them, and just knowing you're going to love them anyways, because they are family! 

How cute are my cousins right??
When your mom says "open  your eyes!"
Christmas Eve with my cousin and her adorable son
My dad's aunt Victoria (sweetest.person.ever.)
Early Christmas breakfast 
Did I mention my cousins have the cutest kids?
I left on the day after Christmas to head back home and to work. At this point I did kind of miss my own room (and my cats). My parents remained an extra week in Sinaloa, and drove back to NC (a trip of which I was wanting to avoid). As I was flying alone my dad was a little worried (typical parent style) about me going through customs and Tijuana on my own. It just so happened that Jesus thought it best for me to have a friend to do that with, and seated the sweetest lady beside me. We literally hit it off and talked the entire flight (sorry fellow passenger neighbors). We are in the same career field, both in college, love to travel, similar family background, similar taste, so much! There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus placed her there at the right time. She showed me the new Tijuana airport bridge that had just opened up a week before, and we explored the town a bit together. I had a few hours until my next flight from San Diego back home, and she took me out for a dinner on Coronado Island. It was so cute! The sun was just setting, we got an outdoor table, had more than enough tasty food, and did a little bit of shopping ( what better way to get to know somebody than to play dress up right?). 

Loading, loading, loading.....
New Tijuana Airport Bridge
Back home you go
Mariela: new friend I met on the flight! (aka best tour guide ever)
San Diego Skyline from Coronado Island
Coronado Island at Sunset
This view!
Exploring friends

Cutest Italian restaurant with a beach view

I made some wonderful memories. met some wonderful people, and had a wonderful time. Hasta luego Mexico!