GALLERY: Huatulco, Mexico

Scenes from around Bahías de Huatulco, a coastal town in the state of Oaxaca, known for its nine, beautiful bays and ocean-fresh seafood.

Live Inspired: finding peace on the road

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates •

I realized I felt it, truly, for the first time in weeks on the way to San Cristóbal de las Casas, a mountain town on the southern border of Mexico.

Already, it had been quite a day.

After a week each in Mexico City, Oaxaca and Huatulco, I was on the move again, a process that had become stressful as I started my transition from “avid traveler with a steady job” to “full-time nomad struggling to pay her bills.”

I’d taken two flights, discovered I needed to pay for my overweight carry-on (apparently that’s a thing in Mexico), and then nearly missed my connection from Mexico City after mistakenly walking out to Baggage Claim 7 instead of down to Gate 7 (why were they next to each other anyway?!), making my way through security again and then losing said boarding pass.

Now, after all that, I was on an hourlong shuttle to my next destination.

67 things I learned after one month in Mexico

Well gang, it’s officially been a month in Mexico. 

Four weeks ago, I landed in Mexico City, unsure of what I would encounter but incredibly excited for the vastness of possibility. 

Four cities, a small gaggle of new friends and a roller coaster of emotions later, I feel like a new person in some ways — one who is constantly re-establishing her needs, wants and personality in new places and with new acquaintances, often in a new language. The normalcy of routine is gone, but in its place have come so many lessons, realizations and a small understanding of life lived in different cities and towns — ranging from trivial to enlightening.

Here’s some of what I’ve learned:

CITY GUIDE: Huatulco’s secret beaches, fresh fish

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Enrique came upstairs to where I was drinking coffee, his eyes dancing.

“Venga conmigo,” he said, come with me. “I have something to show you.”

Downstairs, on the back patio of my Airbnb host’s cocina, was a white styrofoam cooler, overflowing with bright pink fish, their sleek tails and scales gleaming in the morning sun.

Live Inspired: a new, strange life

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates •

Over the last three weeks, traveling solo through Mexico has given me some of the most memorable moments of my life.

It’s also given me some of my biggest challenges. 

I’ve traveled overseas alone, a lot. But in the past, I’ve always had an end date, a more luxurious budget, an ability to go with the flow — because the pressure of getting real things done was low.

I would soak it up. Live in the moment. Then I would go home. 

Now, I am attempting to start a business while learning living abroad. Either situation, alone, might have be enough to overwhelm me. Managing the two, together, has been almost breaking at times.

Last week, I called my mom while sitting at a cafe in a new place, where the WiFi wouldn’t work. My voice cracked in a way I rarely allow in public. I hoped my sunglasses would hide the tears rolling down my cheeks.

CITY GUIDE: Oaxaca’s vibrant markets

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Travel around Mexico long enough and you’ll find that big, vibrant markets are one of the country’s calling cards. 

Markets, here, are part of daily life, operating as shopping destinations, social hangouts and community support systems. Walk through a given market and you’re likely to see families eating, watching sports on TV, playing cards, caring for their children, cooking and sewing.

But in Oaxaca de Juárez, especially, this wealth is elevated to another level, thanks to its enormous bounty of wares. 

The city, a quaint, walkable town with just 300,000 residents, is known for its craftsmanship — wood and leather goods, pottery and textiles among them — and its art. It is the Mecca of mezcal. And the food that originates here, from sweet black mole to tlayudas to fried grasshoppers, is unique, varied and flavorful.

As a result, sprawling markets seemingly wait around every corner, particularly in the south end of town. And all of them are just a little bit different. 

Here are 7 markets to know before you go:

Live Inspired: an introduction

• Brought to you by John Reamer and Associates •

I am extremely excited to officially announce my new partnership with John Reamer and Associates!

Every week, I’ll be sharing a short story about my travels here and on the John Reamer and Associates social media pages, under the banner Live Inspired.

My first post…

For the last eight years, I’ve worked as a newspaper reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and have lived a mostly happy, mostly comfortable existence.

But last month, I gave all that up. I quit my job, I sold all my things and said goodbye to my house.

Why? Because I was inspired to pursue a lifelong dream instead — traveling the world with an open itinerary. And in order to do so, I’m severely pushing myself out of my comfort zone. After a few weeks on the road (hola from Mexico!), I have a new appreciation for some of the basic amenities I’ve lost: hot showers, clean bathrooms, a kitchen to cook in and even conditioner (I’m carrying my life on my back, so toiletry items are very limited).

Still, I’m inspired to keep trekking, to see new things, to meet new people, to challenge myself, to find gratitude for things I’ve long taken for granted, to better understand a corner of the world so different from my own.

Along the way, I’ll be sharing my experiences, my victories and my struggles. Already, it’s been emotional… and I’m only just beginning. I hope you come along for the ride.

Mexico City guide: go forth, eat on the streets

Ciudad de México, or CDMX as its commonly abbreviated, is known for its historical beauty, it’s vibrant, bustling vibe and it’s incomparable style — represented in both high design and fashion, and the colorful street art that graces just about every block.

Mexico’s capital boasts world-class museums, epic public markets and sophistication that comes along with being one of the world’s largest cities.

But in a sprawling metro that seemingly has it all, Mexico City’s greatest treasure might come via lowly rolling carts bedecked with griddles.

Yep, the street tacos are incredible, and a trip isn’t complete without them.

In fact, Mexico City’s street food is so skillfully made and so nuanced in variety that UNESCO recognized the cart grub as “an intangible cultural heritage of mankind” in 2010. Pretty good for stuff made in a kitchen the size of a small closet.

Here’s what you need to know to eat like a pauper and a king, simultaneously: