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A rainy day picnic

April 24, 2016

picnic in the rain

I love Auckland, I really do. I love the beaches and the parks and the malls and the dumpling restaurants. I love that most of my friends and family are here. I love that it never gets too cold in winter or too hot in summer. I love all the memories I have from growing up here. What I don’t love is that it rains – a lot. Sure it’s green and beautiful but it can be lush without the rain? Or can it at least wait until the evening to rain? In case you can’t tell I hate the rain. In the past it’s really gotten me down especcially in the middle of winter when it rains non stop for two weeks so in recent years I’ve been working on not letting it bother me so much. Luckily we’ve lived in Wellington for the last four years where it doesn’t rain much (but it is the windiest city in the world….) so I haven’t had to try too hard, but being back in Auckland now I’ve been reminded by how much I hate rainy days and I’m having to focus a little harder on staying positive.

I woke up this morning wanting to go for a hike and a pinic, I just had it in my mind. I spent all of yesterday – which was a gorgeous blue sky day – cooped up inside catching up on work so I was determined to get out today.  I knew Guy wouldn’t be quite so keen so I let him watch Netflix while I made a kumara (sweet potato) soup and got some blankets together. Then I announced that we were going on a picnic and pretended not to hear his protests – two can play at the selective hearing game right? 😉

a rainy day picnic

a rainy day picnic

a rainy day picnic

We actually had so much fun and Guy was really happy we went. We managed to find a place under some trees where we were somewhat sheltered from the rain and our popcorn only got a little bit soggy haha.

a rainy day picnic

Even on a grey and rainy day you’re still beautiful Auckland.

pippa vague

At the risk of sounding narcissistic I really love this photo –  I love that it captures my wrinkles and lines – seriously! I’m noticing my face ageing more and more these days and I love it! I really do. I love seeing the experiences and memories of my life played out on my face. The worry lines on my forehead from negotiating foreign countries, the crinkles at the edge of my eyes from laughing with my girlfriends, the bags under my eyes from staying up late whispering about the future with Guy.

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Back Home

April 19, 2016

We’ve been back home for nearly a week now and, it’s strange.

It’s strange being back in our parents homes, not because we’re unhappy to live with them but because we don’t have the same freedoms and independence that we once had. I’m not doing the food shopping and cooking so I’m not in control over what we eat. I didn’t realise that would be such a big thing to me but I love to cook, and I explored so many new ingredients and recipes in Mexico City that I’m quite sad to not be doing it still. Also, we were eating really well – (no processed foods, lots of vegetables) – and drinking less and just generally feeling really healthy.  Since returning home those healthy habits have been pushed to the side, at least for me.

It’s strange having no time. It’s really strange actually because we’re not doing anything here but yet we always seem to have things to do and no free time, and then if we have free time I feel bad not doing anything (not that I have anything to do anyway).  I’m hoping it’s just a holiday hangover thing and that it passes cause pretty soon I’m gonna get back to my beloved Netflix and I do not want to feel bad about doing so!

It’s strange seeing our friends and family for whom nothing’s changed, at least nothing that we’ve noticed, yet we feel like everythings changed.  Sometimes someone will ask me “how was your trip?” and I just have no idea how to respond. What can I say to someone who’s never been there? It’s something I’m trying to work on – describing little snippets, a funny story or a clever anecdote. I feel so inadequate saying “oh it was wonderful!”. I want to tell them about the food and how much better it is than anything we think of as being Mexican food, the friendliness and warmth of the people who greet you with a genuine smile, the hip hop music that blasts from a furniture store, the men who walk around selling literally everything and the exhilaration of getting a phrase right in Spanish. But instead I just say “oh it was wonderful”.

It’s just strange being back home in New Zealand when we didn’t expect to be home for many more months, or maybe years. I know I’ll adjust, and I’ll probably forget what it feels like right now, this strangeness – this transition of fitting my new self back into my old life.

We haven’t done much exploring yet but I am looking forward to getting out and seeing some more of the North Island, and maybe later in the year a little of the South Island too.  I’m looking forward to catching up with my girlfriends too and eating as many fejoas as I can before the season finishes. I literally ate about 40 yesterday – they are soooo good! And, I know I’ve been neglecting this wee blog too but I’m going to get back into regular posting soon :).

Hope y’all are having a great week!

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A little white wedding

April 15, 2016

Things have been kinda quiet around here lately but for a good reason!  We’ve been up to all kinds of mischief…like eloping in Las Vegas.

the traveling anthropologist wedding

Getting married in Vegas is something I’ve wanted to do forever. I’m not sure why but I’ve never liked the idea of having a big wedding (for a long time I didn’t want a wedding at all) so eloping has always really appealed to me.  Guy took a little convincing, but the timing worked out really well and we liked to break traditions so we thought why not?  Las Vegas wasn’t actually our first choice.  We initially wanted to get married in Oaxaca on our 12th anniversary back in November, but there was too much paperwork and translation to figure out so we postponed it until we learnt enough Spanish to be able to do it ourselves.  When we decided to return home at the end of this year we decided to visit New York on the way back and get married in a Manhattan courthouse with a couple of our friends who are photographers, but then Guy’s mum got sick and we ended up coming home a lot sooner than expected. We knew she would be happy to see us married before she died, and we still didn’t want a big wedding so Las Vegas seemed like the perfect place to do it!

It was such a chilled out day even though everything kinda went wrong. * Guy injured his knee about a week before so he was on crutches (but out of a wheelchair at least!). * The hairdresser I’d organised didn’t turn up so I tried to curl my own hair but ended up with kinda limp waves instead. * I went around every store Downtown trying to find fake flowers to make a flower crown but no one sold any and the florists were seriously expensive. * It rained. A city that gets less than 5 inches of rain in a year rained on the day that we got married! * We hired an amateur photographer from Craigslist who turned up 45 minutes late and then was really pretty crap (and he hasn’t replied to our emails since).

lucky little chapel las vegas

But despite everything it was perfect, it really was. We started the day off with a buffet where Guy ate a huge plate of ribs and I nibbled on about 20 different desserts.  I highly recommend dessert for breakfast it’s rad! Starting the day off on a sugar high can only mean good things right? I ended up buying some frangipanis from a little stall on Fremont St which I kinda liked cause they reminded me of Samoa which is a country we both love, and also Laos where we got engaged.

lucky little chapel wedding las vegas

We spent the afternoon playing music, sipping on craft beer and writing our vows as we got ready.  We got married in front of a minister/officiant who corrected our Spanish grammar when we read our vows (ha!) and it was all over and done in about 15 minutes which we loved.

the traveling anthropologist wedding

the traveling anthropologist wedding

And here are some from walking around Fremont St

the traveling anthropologist wedding

the traveling anthropologist wedding

the traveling anthropologist wedding

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We spent the rest of the evening exploring Fremont Street, taking cheesey photos with the performers and doing a little gambling.

the traveling anthropologist wedding the traveling anthropologist wedding

the traveling anthropologist little white wedding

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We had so much fun in Las Vegas – we’re already planning a ten year vow renewal! 🙂

Blog Mexico

A trip to the chocolate shop

April 14, 2016

This afternoon we both had a craving for chocolate, Guy because he was hungover from last night and me because, well I constantly crave chocolate. We went into a tiny little tienda just around the corner from where we’re staying where we were warmly greeted by the shop owner.  We exchanged pleasantries and comments about the weather until our Spanish ran out.  After looking around for a few minutes I selected two different blocks of dark chocolate. One was small and commercial looking and was $5, and one was large and homemade looking and cost $3. I held them up to the store owner and asked him which was better (half expecting him to recommend the more expensive one). He told me the larger (and cheaper) one was very delicious, and proceeded to break a piece off for me to try. It was delicious and I told him I’d buy one. He took another unopened bar from the shelf which he sold to us. Then he spent a minute wishing us a good afternoon and thanking us for stopping by – while three other customers just stood patiently waiting.

This simple act of kindness is so common here, we honestly experience something similar everyday.  Sometimes it will be a free lime at the markets because the stall owner likes my dimples, or someone will help us order food when we’re lost for what to do, or when I apologise for my poor Spanish at the hairdressers they laugh and tell me not to worry and then tell me I’m beautiful.  Just little moments that are so genuine and sweet they literally warm our hearts. Thank you Mexico.

Blog

March

March 31, 2016

This has been a strange month.  We decided to go home to be with Guy’s mum who’s sick.  We’ve spent all of our time in Mexico City alternating between slow days spent reading and working, and busy days exploring the city. We love this city, we really do, but we’re also getting a little tired of it. I’ve been working more than usual this month which means that Guy’s been left to his own devices and we’ve both been trying to find the balance. I always want just a little more time to work, and he always wishes we had more time to explore together.

We’re feeling mixed emotions about going home (just two weeks left). We’re excited to see our friends and family, but we’re reluctant to have to get back into the working grind, and we can’t help these icky thoughts trickling in every now and then about how much more we wanted to see and do before going home. We know this isn’t the end of our traveling, and we have a couple of trips in mind for this year and next but still it’s not quite the same, a holiday as opposed to an open ended trip. And of course we know how lucky we are to even be able to entertain the idea of trips – not that reminding myself of that helps stop the thoughts.

Anyway, we have a couple of really exciting things coming up in the next few months which I can’t wait to share, actually I think if it wasn’t for those we would be feeling positively crap, but we’re focusing our energy on those and getting really excited.

It’s been a slow and quiet month. Easter weekend was a totally relaxed affair here. It seemed like all of Mexico cities residents left to go visit family in other parts of the country, and a whole bunch of domestic tourists flooded in. The roads were CRAZY, and the museums had lines stretching out the door and down the street, but there wasn’t any sense of Easter – no decorations, no parades, no special foods. Seeing all the wonderful photos from our friends in Oaxaca made us miss it even more! We spent pretty much the whole weekend inside reading, watching movies and eating chocolate and cheese. It was really nice actually ha. It’s also inspired me to start some Easter traditions from now on, something to make the holiday special – I think that’s something America does so well, they seem to throw themselves into every holiday and really make the most of it. In New Zealand Easter is pretty low key, a lot of people go away camping since it’s the last long weekend of warm weather, and we exchange easter eggs but it’s all pretty casual. Next year I’m going to change that! 🙂

the traveling anthropologist

Watching

QI. I’ve been a fan of QI for a few years now but this month I’ve spent several afternoons lying on my bed watching the episodes on Youtube. Part of it is my addiction to Stephen Fry and part of it is that it really is so damm interesting! Any episode with Bill Bailey or David Mitchell has me in tears before it’s even started.

I watched a few movies this month too which I haven’t done in ages – something about having to sit still for an hour and a half instantly makes me restless (although I can sit and watch five TV episodes no problem).  The Imitation Game with the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch was good, My beautiful broken brain was quite fascinating and Bridge of Spies was Tom Hanks at his best. I also re-watched a few of the Harry Potter films which were playing in a marathon on TV here, they are nowhere near as good as the books so it normally annoys me to watch them but I actually enjoyed them this time.

Reading

Still Alice by Lisa Genova. This was a sad book (I normally try to avoid sad books) but it was so touching and well written that I really enjoyed it. It’s about a lady who is suffering from early onset dementia and how she comes to grips with the effect it has on her life, career and family.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  The cover of this book really irritated me and I almost didn’t read it because of it but I’m so glad I did because it was wonderful. It reminded me a little bit of my brother, and a little bit of Guy – they both possess a tiny bit of Don’s single minded logic (something that I completely lack).

Is everyone hanging out without me? by Mindy Kaling.  I haven’t watched the American Office (I loved the British one too much to dare) so I didn’t really know who Mindy was before reading this, but I loved this book. At times it had me laughing out loud and at other times I just appreciated how well written it was.

Americanah by Chimanda Ngozi Adichie. This book is nothing like I was expecting and I love it. It’s incredibly well written, but also a fascinating glimpse into life in Nigeria which I previously had no knowledge of at all. The struggles faced by youth trying to merge modern influences with their families traditional values and societies expectations of them is something I think everyone can relate to.

The Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I’ve wanted to read this book for ages now but have never gotten around to doing it. I’m halfway through and so far it’s fascinating, though it’s definitely the kind of book you have to be in the mood for – it’s not exactly light reading (though it is written very well).

Clicking on

My new favourite Instagram – The Momo Twins Unbelievably gorgeous. Total babygoals!

 

 

 

Blog Mexico

Mexico City I love you! [part two]

March 23, 2016

If you haven’t read it you can part one of this post here

We’ve been in Mexico City for a little over three weeks now and we’re still loving it. We’ve been spending our days slowly and sweetly, visiting the local market every couple of days to pick up fresh produce, walking around exploring new suburbs, eating all the tacos we could possibly find (including goat head) and returned to Coyoacan to feed the squirrels a couple more times.

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We’ve only got a couple more weeks left here, and I’m going to be so sad to leave. I’m a teeny bit excited about going home – I’ve been making lists of places to explore and visit – but I’m also sad. This wonderful adventure is coming to an end.

Here are some of the special moments we’ve had here (and way too many photos)

mexico city travel blog

 

calle donocles mexico city

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We celebrated Guy’s birthday by exploring Calle Donocles – a street full of second hand books stores, and not just any bookstores but gigantic stores with precarious floor to ceiling stacks of books in every language imaginable.  We picked up some more treats from a bakery and had a picnic in one of the many gorgeous parks, and then headed to what we thought was a bar for a drink – but what turned out to be a brothel…then we came home and spent the afternoon reading our books in the sunshine and finished the night off with a delicious meal of tacos.

chapultepec park mexico city

chapultepec park mexico city

We re-explored Chapultepec Park on a Sunday when it was seriously busy! It’s amazing just how many people are in this city, I never cease to be astounded by it.  I bought a giant stick of candyfloss which made me so excited but about halfway in I got so sick of it and it started melting all over my fingers and sticking on my face ha.

mexico city travel blog mexico city travel blog mexico city travel blog

Guy really wanted to explore the big university here (for reasons unknown to me) so one day I agreed to go along with him. I cannot describe how big this place is. It’s big enough to have an entire section dedicated to sculptures (below). We must have spent three hours walking around the buildings and looking at the artwork and we still missed sections of it out.  It was actually pretty cool, there was so much artwork around depicting the struggle for Independence and I just love being back on campus –  I miss being a student!

mexico city travel blog mexico city travel blog

The Zocalo is so different to how we remember it.  The last time we were here there was a giant ice skating rink taking up most of the space and there were market stalls and performers in every free corner. Now it feels so empty – although the Cathedral is as gorgeous as ever. One morning we were walking through it and stumbled across a free Opera concert on one of the road leading off the Zocalo. People were sitting under umbrellas and standing in the shade just taking it in.

 

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mexico city

One day Guy dragged me up the top of the highest building in the city. I wasn’t that keen because I mean how good can a view really be? It turns out really good. Really really good.

mexico city travel blog mexico city travel blog

We visited the National Palace one day which was wonderful except we went hungry and after an hour of walking around we got hangry and left before seeing everything there.  The Diego Riviera murals were wonderful though – so detailed. This one apparently took six years to paint.

mexico city mexico city

mexico city travel blog mexico city travel blog

One of the things I love about Mexico City is the diversity in the neighborhoods here.  Within 5 minutes of walking you can go from a very local feeling area where the streets are lined with food stalls and men standing around gossiping, to a very cosmopolitan street where each cafe is more expensive than the previous one and where armed police stand on every corner. They also do parks and monuments really well.

While it wasn’t high on my list of places to visit I’m so glad we got the chance to return to it because this time round I fell head over heels in love with it.  From the tacos prepared right in front of us while we chatted to the cook to the beautiful parks with squirrels running around in them and the stunning architecture everywhere downtown! This is such a vibrant, fascinating city I can’t wait until we return again!

Mexico City I love you!

Blog

What is this blog and why am I writing it?

March 16, 2016

This is something I ask myself a lot (probably because Guy asks me every other day – he’s not on board with the whole working hard with no clear purpose and no clear return) and I still don’t have a good answer.  Recently, I’ve been asking myself even more than usual (and I still don’t have a good answer).

I’m not exactly sure why I decided to start this blog. I think the most honest answer is that I wanted a creative outlet, and one that combined some of the things I love most; cooking, traveling, writing & photography.  Around the same time I decided that I wanted to become a freelance writer and I realised that having a blog would be a great portfolio.

the traveling anthropologist

Eating churros in San Cristobal de las casas, Mexico

It’s been almost a year since I started The Traveling Anthropologist – although I’ve only been blogging for about eight months. I love this blog (sorry if that sounds super arrogant but I do) and I love blogging. I wrote my dissertation on online communities and I think that’s the best way to describe the blogosphere (it’s an actual word I swear!). Being a blogger is akin to belonging to an online community. You make friends, share stories, support each other and just generally enjoy each others (virtual) company.

But I sometimes wonder, why am I doing this? Why am I spending so much time creating this blog? What is it for? Every now and then I make the mistake of reading a ‘how-to-blog’ post which tells me that first and foremost I need to have a niche.  In fact the most important thing – after having an extremely catchy, clever and simultaneously generic but specific blog name – is to have a clear niche. At that I seem to be failing. I don’t think you can categorise this blog into a niche – I share photos, write stories, make food…it’s not exactly a travel blog but it’s not exactly a lifestyle blog or a food blog either.

I do know that I love blogging.  I first started blogging when we came to Mexico four years ago – it was just a simple blog for family and friends to keep up to date on our adventures. I enjoyed it so much that when we returned home I started up another blog on Tumblr where I posted mostly photos and happenings from my life. I kept that up for a couple of years but I too shy to share it with anyone and apart from my mum and a couple of close friends no one knew about it. I had the idea for The Traveling Anthropologist when I was at a party with some colleagues last year (a proper house party of the kind that I hadn’t been to in many years – they even had a cheese ball!) and we were talking about writing and blogging and I found myself so inspired that I went home, poured myself some more wine and this blog was born.

the traveling anthropologist

 

[Completely unrelated photo – I just love this kitten. This morning I was doing some yoga and he jumped on my back and fell asleep while I was doing ‘cat-cow’.]

This blog is a lot more work than I previously anticipated.  Aside from all the technical stuff like learning how to use WordPress, I’m teaching myself how to write, how to take better photographs, how to use social media – and so much of my time is devoted to the blog.  It really is constant.  If I’m not typing on the computer I’m scribbling into my notebook. But I don’t mind that because I really do love blogging. I love reading other people’s blogs and I can only hope that some people love reading my blog. But if no one did, that’s okay too because I love reading my blog. Does that sound egocentric? Sorry! Ha 🙂

Anyway recently we decided we were going home – a lot earlier than we expected and it’s kind of thrown me for what to do with this blog.  Admittedly I’d been thinking a little bit about what to do with this blog for a while. I’ve been wondering what direction I want to go in. I don’t think I ever wanted to have a travel blog, I just got caught up in all of the (wonderful) blog posts and articles about ‘how to start a travel blog’ and decided that that’s what I should do. But really I just want to take beautiful photos, create new recipes and write the odd story.

the traveling anthropologist

[Another unrelated photo – I just really like my hair in this photo, it looks so shiny!]

So does that mean I need to change the name?  Some days I think ‘oh it’s just a name don’t worry about it’, but then other days I think ‘it’s more than a name – it’s a brand and it’s not very representative of what you want the blog to be’.  When I first created my blog I loved my name, I really did. It just came to me as I was sipping my coffee one morning and staring at my computer and I loved it instantly.  I still like my name, and I feel like its representative of me. If  I have to describe myself anthropologist and traveler are the fifth and sixth adjectives on my list (after professional sleeper, avid eater, Stephen Fry enthusiast and all round awesome person). So I kind of like that my blog name has those words in it. But at the same time my blog has little to do with anthropology, and will soon have little to do with travel so I feel like a bit of a fraud.

I’m not normally the sort of person to worry about such things, I spend my time worrying about how long I can decently wait until I can have a snack, whether I’ll have time to squeeze in some Netflix watching before bed, if there’s definitely enough coffee for breakfast in the morning and other important matters that deserve my brain’s energy.  But I really do love this blog, and I really do want to turn freelance writing into my career for which this blog is a small part of.

So what should I do? Should I change the name? Should I scrap it and start a new blog? Should I just shut up and keep blogging about what I want to?

Any advice would be much appreciated! Have you gone through something similar and can offer some help?

Little Meals

Mango, banana & mint smoothie

March 12, 2016

healthy, low calorie summer smoothie

Another smoothie! I just can’t get enough of them, especially when the produce here in Mexico is so bursting with flavor – everything tastes so good! This is probably my favorite smoothie I’ve ever made I think – I love the kick of mint that comes through, it’s just what I need in the morning to wake me up and switch my brain on.

ingredients

1/2 mango
1 banana
a handful of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of water or milk
1/4 cup yogurt

method

I cut all of my ingredients up and put them in the freezer, mostly to save space since we’re in a hostel with a tiny kitchen. It worked out well though because it made it even easier to make the next morning and it was wonderfully thick and creamy.  I let it defrost for about 20 minutes before blending it because the blender here isn’t great but if you have a more powerful one I’m sure you could do it straight from the freezer.

Enjoy!

healthy summer smoothie: banana, mango & mint

I’m on the lookout for more smoothie recipes, let me know some of your favorites!

img class=”aligncenter wp-image-2564 size-large” src=”http://www.thetravelinganthropologist.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Ristorante-683×1024.png” alt=”mango, mint & banana smoothie” width=”683″ height=”1024″ />/div>

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We’re going home

March 9, 2016

the traveling anthropologist

A couple of weeks ago right after this picture was taken at Coyoacan Park, we got a message from Guy’s parents asking us to call home.  We expected them to tell us that the (very old) family dog had finally died.  Instead we found out that his mum has been diagnosed with lung cancer and that the tumors have spread to her lymph nodes.  It wasn’t exactly a shock – Guy’s mum has been a heavy smoker for 40+ years and she’s never lived a healthy lifestyle – but it was sad nonetheless.

We briefly discussed our options and then decided the best thing to do was to go home.  Although it’s not quite ‘home’.  We’ll be returning to Auckland where we both grew up, went to school and university, and where both of our families and most of our friends still live.  But we don’t consider Auckland home anymore having lived in Wellington for the last four years.  I’m really interested to see what it’s like being back in Auckland actually – it will be great to be around our friends and families again (for a while at least ha).

We’re feeling positive about it although we’re sad to be leaving Mexico and sad to be cutting our trip so short.  We’d envisaged being on the road for many more months if not years. But, family first of course. We want to keep traveling. We will keep traveling. Next year I want to visit my brother in Perth, Australia and we want to visit Argentina for a month in our holidays.  We also still want to live and work overseas when the time is right. But right now our priorities lie elsewhere.

I’m not sure what it means for this blog here. Can I still be ‘The Traveling Anthropologist’ if I’m no longer traveling? I do know that I want to keep blogging, and creating and sharing recipes so maybe it will head into more of a food/lifestyle blog? Does that mean I have to change the name and rebrand? Will anybody still read that? I’ll worry about that at another time! It’s a freezing, windy day today and our friends that just left the hostel to go to Cuba left us a couple of bottles of wine so I think I’ll pour myself a glass – just in the interests of keeping warm of course!

Blog Mexico

A day with the squirrels [Coyoacan Park, Mexico City]

March 7, 2016

One day last week we went out to Coyoacan park so that Guy could go for a run (he’s training for a long distance event and hates running on the streets here).  I walked around taking photos of the squirrels, and eating most of the bag of peanuts I had bought for them ha. I love this park so much, it feels like you’re in a forest, where there just happens to be a Mexican marathon being run (the amount of people I saw jogging in jeans!).  But despite all the people it feels so peaceful and tranquil.  I also love how each part of the park looks so different. I ended up walking around the track twice (4km!!) just because I was enjoying it so much.

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico

Apparently squirrels are considered pests in Mexico by many people which I just can’t believe because they’re so cute!!!!

feeding squirrels at coyoacan park feeding squirrels at coyoacan park

I love how they take the nuts so gently from your hands.  Sometimes they rested one little paw on my hand as they picked one out. So cute!

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico city

feeding squirrels in coyoacan park, mexico

After Guy had finished running (and I’d eaten all the peanuts) we walked into the town of Coyoacan where we ate tacos for lunch and picked up some treats at the bakery for the walk back to the metro. We love this city!