July was the month that Veeran and I had both been needing and craving. After months of taking flights, constantly repacking our bags and sleeping in far too many beds, we needed to rest and have a base- our own base. Truth be told, we were exhausted and we needed a bit of stillness and the chance to recharge our worn out batteries.
Because of this, we spent most of our time in Guadalajara but still took some weekend day trips to escape the city and have a break from working! Here’s how we spent our time.
Where We’ve Been
The majority of this month was spent in Guadalajara where we flocked to with the intention of getting work done. Boring chat, but the realistic side of long term travel is that money doesn’t grow on trees and you have to do what you can to sustain yourself on the road!
Months of flying, changing time zones and eating out meant that my routine was completely out of whack. Plus, I’ve been starting to seriously pile on the pounds and I’m now the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life! As soon as we arrived in Guadalajara, I scoped out yoga studios and started practising regularly again. I’ve set myself the aim to lose what I consider to be the excess weight by Christmas. Hopefully, when we leave Mexico and I’m not constantly surrounded by ridiculously cheap tacos on every street, I’ll be a bit less indulgent!
Having a routine was the best thing about our month there. Travelling makes me appreciate the smallest things like having a local fruit and veg shop. It’s just nice to have familiarity after months of being strangers in new places.
It wasn’t all chilling out, though. One of the highlights of our time was watching Lucha Libre which was one of the most entertaining and fun nights I’ve had in a while. Who doesn’t enjoy drinking micheladas and watching grown men in sparkly masks pretend to kick the shit out of each other?
We also met up with Radhika and Johnny from Full Time Nomad who were, coincidentally, around Guadalajara at the same time as us! Their blog was a huge inspiration and help to me when I was starting out freelancing so it was amazing to meet up in person.
All in all, Guadalajara was an awesome and underrated city to live in as a digital nomad. It has a great mix of traditional food markets, international restaurants, cool bars and awesome architecture to keep anyone entertained! Plus, it’s not as high on the radar as usual hotspots like Medellin and Chiang Mai which are full to the brim with laptop clad westerners. If you’re a digital nomad wanting to go somewhere a bit different, I’d definitely recommend it.
(But, shhh, let’s not let the secret out to too many people!)
When we discovered that there’s a town in Mexico called Tequila, we had to visit! Much like the champagne region of France, tequila can only be called so if it’s made in certain parts of Mexico, and Tequila town is one of the biggest producers.
We spent an afternoon there, walking around the town and took a tour around Jose Cuervo world. Although this is the biggest and most commercial distillery (many people compare it to a tequila Disneyworld), it’s also the most accessible so it’s perfect for independent travellers.
The tour ended with a pretty fancy tasting where we were given 4 tequilas to try. I honestly thought it would be rude not to finish them all and was the only one with polished glasses. Fellow Scots will be glad to hear that I’m keeping our reputation alive and well on this journey!
It’s funny the way things turn out- I had never heard of Ajijic until arriving in Mexico but it was one of my favourite places we visited in July.
Ajijic is a small village on Lake Chapala; the largest lake in Mexico. We spent a Sunday there drinking vampiritos and micheladas (my new obsession!!!) along the pier and appreciating the amount of colour everywhere. Mexico honestly must be one of the most colourful places in the world.
The lake was full of day-trippers- both foreign and Mexican and the atmosphere was buzzing with music playing out on the street. I loved the arty, hippy vibes and amount of cool, independent businesses!
Now that our month in Guadalajara is up, we’re on the road again for about a month! The first stop of our trip was Guanajuato which I’ve added to my ever growing list of favourite cities in the world.
Set in a valley surrounded by mountains, Guanajuato has that slightly chilly climate that I weirdly miss now that I don’t live in Scotland! Old Nicole wouldn’t be impressed that I now favour 20 degrees weather over getting my tan on….
The absolute highlight of our trip was doing a street food tour with Mexico Street Food. I’ve been doing a lot of food and drink experiences on my travels recently and it’s my favourite way to learn about a new culture. It’s a pretty well-known fact that I just switch off in museums and don’t do well with history. But if someone is feeding me and telling me about history then I’m quite content.
Our guide, Ashley, has lived in the city for 9 years and is also an English teacher! It was great to actually learn about the city from a local perspective and she was such a gem that she even gave us a list of her favourite drinking holes- thanks again, Ashley! We’d definitely recommend this awesome, friendly tour to anyone visiting the city. (Review coming soon!)
Guanajuato reminded me of Edinburgh, weirdly. There are bridges over streets- just like the old town in Edinburgh and the city has lots of souvenir shops and an obsession with death! We even visited a mummy museum and saw a mummy foetus which isn’t something that I’ve ever had on my bucketlist but can now say I’ve seen. Is that something to brag about? I dunno!
Any Other News?
In a desperate bid to get better at Spanish, Veeran and I have been trying to speak to one another in Spanish more often. We tried to have an English free week but it ended up being far too time consuming! But still, we’ve been practising when we can and it’s coming along ok(ish.)
I grew up only speaking English, like most other people in Scotland so I’m pretty envious of people like Veeran who are bilingual (his mum’s first language is Afrikaans so he can understand it fluently.) Much like in Korea, he’s doing a lot better with the language than I am- he definitely has better language ears than me but I’m hoping I make a breakthrough soon. I can put pretty complicated sentences together and express myself fairly well- I just can’t understand what on earth anyone is saying to me!
My laptop died and went to heaven
The definite low point of the month was sending my laptop to laptop heaven. We’d only been together for about a year and a half but she had been acting up for a while and ended up completely blanking out.
I managed to find someone to fix it for me but, in the end, the CPU was damaged and would cost more to repair than it would to buy a new one. My new laptop is much less sexy than my old one- it’s a bit heavier and it’s not turquoise, but it does the job. Plus, it’s much faster, too.
After working just from my phone for a week, I count my blessings every day to have a keyboard and being able to type again!
What I’ve Been Reading
20 years after the release of the first Harry Potter and I’ve just got around to finishing the books. Honestly, I feel like such a fan girl who’s decades late to the party. I’m obsessed with Harry Potter now and wish I could experience camping out for the next book while kitted out in my Ravenclaw uniform (because I’d defos be Ravenclaw!)
But, seriously, why did I shun them so much when I was younger and how on earth am I going to fill the Luna Lovegood sized void in my life?
No Contacts, No Problem
Another month, another self-help book! This month’s area of need was my freelance writing. I wanted to learn more about pitching properly and not just relying on Upwork and this book is full of useful tips and exercises. I would recommend it to any budding freelancers!
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk is a sophisticated and beautifully written account of an 84-year-old women’s journey across Manhattan on New Year’s Eve. On the way, she meets several people including bartenders, families and criminals as she reminisces about the long life she spent in the city. While the book doesn’t have much of a plot, per se (I mean, there’s no Goblet of Fire in it), I haven’t been able to put it down at night!
I’d recommend this book to anyone who loves words as the writing is eloquent without being stuffed full of flowery language and cheesy cliches. One of the best things I’ve read in a while!
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Saving & Spending
July was a month of work, work, work but, unfortunately, I had a pretty expensive pay out to make this month when I bought my new laptop. I’m in the process of putting together a post outlining exactly how much I spent in Guadalajara for any other digital nomads thinking of going there!
Also, I’d love your opinion on what type of posts you’d like to see going forward? I’m committed to being fully transparent about how much this lifestyle costs and want to report back on the real side of things on a regular basis. Would you rather see monthly round ups or round ups per country? Let me know in the comments so that I can plan accordingly! I’m leaning towards country but maybe your opinion is different- let me know!
What’s Next in August
The next stop of our Mexico trip will be to the capital- Mexico City, and we have a pretty packed schedule! We obviously can’t miss the pyramids so that’s a must but we’re also doing a bike tour of the city and another street food tour, too! I also really want to visit Frida Kahlo’s house and a neighbourhood called Pequeno Seoul which is Mexico’s own Korea town. I’m hoping that they’ll have some cosmetic shops because my face masks are running low!
Our next long(ish) stay will be in Oaxaca where we’ve got an Air BnB for the week. I’ve been intrigued by Oaxaca for a while now which, let’s be honest, is because of the food and the mezcal!
I suspect that our week there will consist of breakfast, work, lunch, work, dinner, mezcal, sleep repeat and that is completely ok with me! I feel like I need to write us an itinerary of everything that we have to eat and plan our meals wisely. So much food and only 21 meals to eat in the city!
We’re looking forward to seeing what the Pacific Coast beaches of Mexico have to offer, and what they’re like in comparison to the Caribbean coast. We’ll be in Puerto Escondido for 3 days which will hopefully be enough time for me to top up my tan!
Maravillosa fotografía. Felicidades 💥✔ Sigue colaborando en nuestra galería 💬👏 ⚠Visita México etiquetando @Mexico_Tour⚠ Y no olvides compartir tus fotos con las etiquetas #mexico_tour Autor: @kombirutera ・・・ San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas ・・・ Seleccionada por: @karina__lara__ #visitMexico #sancristobaldelascasas #chiapaa #pueblomagico
Everyone who visits San Cristobal can’t stop raving about it so it’s the perfect place to spend our final week in Mexico! We’re staying at a hostel which has daily classes and plan to just chill out, work, do yoga, go hiking and sample all the little veggie restaurants around the city.
And, after all that, it’ll be time to settle down again. Slow travel is the aim of the game for us these days and I’m much more content travelling this way- it’s a marathon, not a sprint! We’ll be staying for a month in Lake Atitlan in a gorgeous Air BnB looking over the lake and all the volcanos. It’s one of the places that I’m most looking forward to visiting and I have a feeling that we’ll end up staying much longer than a month.
If I had to describe my ideal place, it would be something like this. Moderate weather, mountains, water but no sand (love the beach, hate the sand so no beaches), lots of yoga places, a nice community of both local and international people, good coffee and a choice of different places to eat- again, a mix of local and international. From what I’ve read, that seems like Lake Atitlan in a nutshell!
As always, I’d love to hear any hints and tips you have about any of these pleases so leave me a comment and let me know!
Until next month xx