Showing posts from March, 2014

Airline Review: Aeromexico

This was my first time to fly in Aeromexico. I flew twice, one international and one domestic. The first was from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Benito Juarez-Mexico City International Airport in Mexico City, and the second one was from Mexico City to Cancun International Airport.

Booking and Fare I booked my flight to Mexico City through, as Aeromexico and Delta belong to the Skyteam alliance and they have a code share agreement. It was DL8116 on my ticket but the operating flight was AM18. I paid $181 for one-way Class T fare. I booked early, about 10 weeks before, so the price that I got was a bit low, just marginally more expensive than that of Volaris, the Mexican budget airline, on the same segment. Class T is a discounted fare, but I get 100% of the miles credited to my Skymiles account. 

As Delta still counts miles flown as the basis for awarding miles, I got 1,553 miles for this flight. Things will change starting 2015 though, as Delta will then award miles…

Cenote Jumping in Mexico

It only took about three seconds between swinging from a platform, to letting go of the rope, and the plunge to the cold, clear water of the cenote but the thrill of the experience would last for a long time. Cenote jumping became one of  the most exciting thing I did in Mexico.
Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes that dot the almost barren landscape of the Yucatan Peninsula. They are formed by the collapse of the limestone bedrock above that creates a pit that are filled with water. Some of the cenotes are connected to cave systems too. 
As there are no notable rivers in the region, cenotes became the primary source of water to the Mayan communities since the ancient times. Some of the cenotes in fact are considered sacred by this culture, and now, a source of excitement for thrill-seeking travelers.
My trip to a cenote started with a bus ride from Cancun, on Day 8 of my trip. We started out early in the morning, and we arrived just before noon to a place called Hacienda Lorenzo O…

California Science Center

The first landmark that I visited as soon as I landed in Los Angeles on my third day of my California-Mexico trip was the California Science Center. Right after checking in my hostel and getting settled down I went to the subway and found my way to the museum.
The California Science Center is located in Exposition Park, which comprises of museums and other landmarks that include the Natural History Museum, the Coliseum, the Rose Garden, and the Sports Arena. The Science Center was established in 1951 but was remodeled in 1998 to its present setup.
As a geek who wouldn't pass up the chance to visit a science museum, there are actually three things that I wanted to see in this museum: first, the only surviving prototype of the F-20 Tigershark fighter jet; second was the engineering prototype of the Mars Viking Lander (NASA sent the other one to Mars in 1976); and third, the Space Shuttle Endeavor. This will be the second space shuttle that I'll see, the first one being the Enterpr…

St. Patrick's Day Parade

I missed seeing the St. Patrick's Day parade when I visited Chicago last year, due to a weather-induced flight delay. I caught it this time, in St. Louis, when I was in the city for a business trip.
St. Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland, was a kidnapped slave who later became a missionary (and a bishop). The day of his death, March 17, was marked as a feast day and is celebrated  in Ireland and in places with substantial Irish communities. 

St. Louis is one of such places in the United States, and every year, a St. Patrick's Day parade is held to celebrate the patron saint. The day itself also became a celebration of the Irish cultural heritage, with symbols such as the shamrock and the color green figure prominently in the event. They even dye the river in Chicago green as part of the festivity, and there's a tradition of pinching people who weren't wearing green during that day. 
The parade in St. Louis for this year was conducted on a Saturday, just a few da…

Pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

When I planned the trip to Mexico I have four major things that I wanted to do: visit the pyramids, jump in a cenote, go to a beach in the Yucatan peninsula, and make a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I managed to do the fourth one on my second day in Mexico City, when I took the trip that includes a visit to Tlalelolco, Tepeyac and Teotihuacan.

According to the official Catholic accounts, the Virgin Mary made an apparition to a devout Indian named Juan Diego in 1531, on a hill in Tepeyac, which is just on the outskirts of Mexico City. The Virgin then showed some more signs for Juan Diego, including flowers that were not native in Mexico, and an image of Her in a cloak (called tilma) that survived up to this day.
We arrived in Tepeyac around 10 am. The place was already filled with scores of devotees, among the millions that flock to the site every year. In fact the shrine is the most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. The veneration of the Virgin of Guada…

Visiting Templo Mayor, and the Center of the Universe

One of the first archaeological site that I visited as soon as I landed and got settled in my hostel in Mexico City was the ruins of the great pyramid of Templo Mayor. It was the main temple of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. The capital itself  - located right near the main plaza of modern-day Mexico City - was built on a small island on a lake, which had long dried up.

The temple has two shrines on the top platform dedicated to two main gods, Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the sun, and Tlaloc, the god of  the rain, water and fertility.
In the cosmology of the Aztec people, the universe is consisted of three planes, the middle one being inhabited by humans. Above it are the thirteen levels of heaven, and below, the nine levels of the underworld. Templo Mayor was built on the site that intersects the three planes, which means I was literally, as the Aztecs sees it, at the center of  the universe when I visited it.

It actually took me a while to find the center of the …