Eric Castillo

Writing, traveling, politics, food, coffee, etc.

Had to introduce the Couchsurfers to Lotaburger post-Fiesta, of course. #blakeslotaburger #abq #followeric
Best traffic jam ever . Couchsurfers have a way of turning every experience into a little adventure. On our drive to the Balloon Fiesta it became pretty clear we were never going to make it to the field—or even off the freeway. I thought, worst case scenario, we’d watch from the car. Next thing I know, we’re pulling off to the side of the freeway (usually a no-no but the cops were letting it slide) and joined a bunch of cars who had also abandoned the hope of driving any further. . We had a blast. Like seeing children discover something new, it’s amazing to watch visitors experience something for the first time as magical as hundreds of balloons lifting off and dotting the clear blue sky. “Best traffic jam ever,” they kept saying. . I’ve been to the Balloon Fiesta plenty of times and sometimes take for granted that it’s there every year, but watching it from the side of the freeway with a group of brand new friends standing on the side of a freeway was a first for me and very much like experiencing it for the first time again. . #couchsurfing #balloonfiesta #followeric
A 5AM toast with a group of Couchsurfers to kick off the first day of Balloon Fiesta. Popped open a bottle of Gruet for the occasion. #couchsurfing #balloonfiesta #followeric
Culinary memories from Mexico City. #traveleats #cdmx #followeric
I faced my fear of fireworks by braving the día de independencia festivities in Mexico City. #worthit
The main event What drew me to visit Mexico City, besides the inevitable buildup of wanderlust and the allure of authentic street tacos, was the desire to witness the celebrations for día de la independencia—Mexican Independence Day. Specific to Mexico City is the chance to participate in El Grito, a rallying patriotic cry led by the president of Mexico on 15th of September, one day before the official holiday. The crowds are huge. El Zócalo—the main square where the National Cathedral and National Palace sit—is massive. The flag in the center, an impressive 82 feet wide, defies gravity as it stretches out in the wind. The square is decorated in bright lights of red, white, and green and many people have chosen these colors for their outfits as well. I stand among a group of friends from the hostel. Indonesia, Russia, Mauritius, China, Germany, and the U.S. are represented but we are all there to witness the patriotic pride of Mexico. The live band wraps up. We press closer toward the National Palace where the balcony has been decorated with banners and a large rope hanging from a bell where eventually Enrique Peña Nieto emerges for his last Independence Day as president. He pulls on the rope to ring the bell to alert the already captive crowd that the main event is about to begin. He repeats the words shared every year by every president, a cry modeled after the call to arms first called out by a Roman Catholic priest which helped spark the Mexican War of Independence. After each line, the crowds shout back “VIVA!” With each line, another enthusiastic “VIVA!” And after the final “VIVA!” goes up, the president wraps up the ceremony and begins the fireworks, a literal bang that kicks off a party that goes on throughout the city all night long. And I can say that I was there. ¡Mexicanos! ¡Vivan los héroes que nos dieron patria! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva Hidalgo! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva Morelos! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva Allende! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva Aldama y Matamoros! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva la Independencia Nacional! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva México! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva México! ¡VIVA! ¡Viva México! ¡VIVA!
I’ve been guilty of a common pitfall concerning eating out while traveling: an over-reliance on online reviews. I’m not saying Yelp/Google don’t have useful functions, like confirming hours and location, but I made a point during my recent trip to Mexico City to rely more on two non-digital factors: recommendations by locals and long lines. Two places near my hostel fit the bill. The first pic, Tacos Cucuyos, was recommended by staff at the hostel and always had a crowd of customers, even after midnight. The tacos were flavorful, the tongue in particular was tender, and the service was quick. I was reluctant to try the second place, Casa de Toño, because it was a chain. But the fact that it was local and people were always queued up out the door, made me curious enough to try it. I loved it enough to go a second time with a new friend from the hostel so he could try the hearty pozole, filling quesadillas, and a whole slew of salsas. Lesson learned: Local recommendations and long lines will never steer you wrong. #streetfood #traveleats #followeric
Street food from a bicycle around 3am on the streets of Mexico City. Yes, that’s a pail of salsa hanging off the front. #cdmx #streetfood #followeric
Another shot from the Palacio de Correos. The mix of architectural styles is a playground for a photographer. Just peep this description from Wikipedia: Its architectural style is highly eclectic, with the building being classed as Art Nouveau, Spanish Renaissance Revival, Plateresque, Spanish Rococo style, Elizabethan Gothic, Elizabethan Plateresque and Venetian Gothic Revival and/or a mixture of each. The building also has Moorish, Neoclassical, Baroque and Art Deco elements.
The Palacio de Correos, built in 1907 and designed by Italian architect Adamo Boari. I had a chance to explore this historic post office while in Mexico City during a walking tour with Casa Pepe. #soycasapepe #cdmx #followeric
Teotihuacan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just 25 miles north of Mexico City, is totally worth the day trip. Having never seen ancient pyramids before, it was pretty cool to get to climb them. I mean, just look at that view. #teotihuacan #teotihuacanpyramids #followeric
I ate a lot of delicious food while in Mexico City recently. By far the most *adventurous* thing I ate was this little alacrán which I followed with a shot of mezcal and a pinch of grasshopper salt. Scorpion isn’t all that bad. A little crispy, a little chewy. Meatier than you’d expect from a little insect. #🦂 #cdmx #followeric
I’m still sorting through my photos from Mexico City but I wanted to give a quick shoutout to @soycasapepe for truly maximizing my experience in #CDMX . This hostel is perfectly located a block away from El Zócalo in the historic city center and the staff were always extremely friendly and helpful. It was a place where I could meet other travelers to hang out and go on short adventures with and also rest up when needed. I highly recommend Casa Pepe. I can’t wait to go back when they’ve completed the rooftop terrace and pool! #soycasapepe
First, apologies for falling off the radar for so long. Life got a little crazy after returning from Europe last year but some great opportunities came from it that have kept me extra busy. But nobody should be so busy they can’t take time to explore the world and find new experiences—which is why I’m in Mexico City this week celebrating Mexican Independence Day. I’ve explored ancient pyramids, went cantina hopping, watched the president of Mexico lead El Grito, and have eaten delicious street food. The picture is me in El Zócalo last night and I hope to share more pictures soon. For now, hasta luego!
My third Easter pilgrimage. Second time walking to Chimayo. Won’t be my last. #santuariodechimayo
I feel bad for people who have never had green chile for breakfast. #abqeats #greenchile
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