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The Ultimate Christmas Gift Guide For Your Friends And Family With Disabilities

With Nochebuena and Dia de Los Tres Reyes Magos right around the corner, you’re probably scrambling to figure out what your family and friends want. Gift giving is a little difficult in general but if you have disabled family or friends or you’re disabled and what to get yourself something nice, you may not know what gifts will make someone happy while also being accessible for them. Some of these gifts may seem simple but you’d be surprised just how great they are at improving disabled people’s lives! Here are 20-holiday gifts for your disabled familia y amigxs!

1) Electric Blankets

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Most likely where you live, it’s going to be cold during the winter months…unless your from the hell hole that is Florida. Literally, it’s always hot there. Anyway, sometimes during the cold months la cobija just doesn’t cut it at keeping you warm. And for someone that’s disabled, the cold can trigger painful symptoms such as tight joints. Electric blankets are the perfect gift for someone disabled in your life who needs that extra warmth for their body to relax. And don’t worry, electric blankets have come a long way and have timers built in that turn them off after a few hours.

Get an electric blanket here!

2) Vogmask

Credit: Instagram // @vogmask

Looking at these masks, you may be confused about what it is and why anyone would want to cover their face. Sensitivity/allergic reactions to scents are very common among disabled people. And during the holidays when your mami is preparing the house for family and using cleaning supplies like fabuloso, it can mean abrasive scents for some. Vogmasks not only cover a person’s face, but they have a little filter to help eliminate scents. It’s a simple, small gift that will help your disabled family or friends participate in activities and help without worrying about their health!

Get a Vogmask here!

3) Phone Stand

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Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they can’t be a chismosa! And the easiest way to stay up to date on the latest chisme is using your phone to get on social media. Holding phones though can be difficult if someone has joint issues in their hands. This little stand would make a great stocking stuffer for the chismosa in your life without worry of them injuring their hands and it’s pretty affordable!

Get a phone stand here!

4) Hello Fresh Or Any Food Services

Credit: Instagram // @hellofresh

Everyone likes to eat, and nothing beats Nochebuena when you’re stuffing your face with pasteles, arroz con frijoles negros, tostones and pernil! But cooking can be draining and often inaccessible for a lot of disabled people. A lot of food services have online gift cards where you can send someone in your life a free meal and they can have fresh ingredients delivered to them with ease and start cooking! The perfect accessible healthy cooking gift!

Get Hello Fresh here!

5) Weighted Blankets

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Similar to electric blankets, weighted blankets will have anyone feeling safe and comforted. Weighted blankets were created for Autistic people but are now being used for a wide range of disabilities. If you have someone in your life that lives far away and can’t come home for the holidays, this little gift will comfort them while they sleep and is a nice reminder that you’re with them, giving them a hug.

Get a weighted blanket here!

6) Foot Massager

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Being on your feet all day helping Mami so you never hear her say “Nadie me ayuda en esta casa” can be very draining, especially if you’re disabled. If someone has poor circulation in their feet, they swell adding to the pain. But this compact foot massager is a dream come true for anyone disabled! Just stick your feet in and you’ll feel like you’re at those fancy spas you see in novelas.

Get a foot massager here!

7) Gift Cards For Makeup, Yes Please!

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Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean they don’t like dolling up for celebrations! Sometimes though finding makeup products, someone likes can be challenging but if you know where someone likes to get their makeup, but them a gift card to that place! Also, many gifts cards can be used for online shopping, making getting makeup way more accessible. But make sure the gift card is a good amount, it takes a lot to look this good!

Get an Ulta gift card here!

8) Smart Devices For The House

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A lot of people loving using smart devices for their homes like the Echo Dot, Google Home or the Apple HomePod. It makes it easy to play music, set timers and search online for answers when your know it all hermana starts talking about something she heard at school. But this gift will also be great for your disabled family/friends for days when they are stuck in bed. Being in bed all day may seem like a vacation but for disabled people, it can be boring and isolating. With these devices, it can make recovering fun with music or using the devices to turn on and off lights. All this tech will do wonders for a disabled person!

Get an Echo Dot here!

9) Drinks That Are Safe!

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Now, this gift might be given a little early before people usually exchange presents but if you’re hosting a Nochebuena or having an office holiday party, this gift is kind and lets your disabled family/friend know you thought of them and want them to still feel included with the party. A lot of disabilities require a person not to drink, either because of the disability itself or the medication, someone may be on. Partake Brewing Non-Alcoholic IPA was created just for that. Ted Fleming, the creator who also has Crohn’s Disease, created these IPAs for those who want the taste of beer without harming their health. They’re a great gift for anyone and can mean a lot to a person receiving it if they love drinking but can’t anymore.

Get Premium Near Beer here!

10) BearHugs Care Package

Credit: Instagram // @bearhugsgifts

Sometimes travelling during the holidays can be difficult for disabled people, and they may not make it home to see you. A lot deal with guilt but these little care packages that are made to send love and comfort is a great reminder that you’re thinking of them. The creator who is also disabled made them after her disability kept her at home and having friends send her care packages really helped her in difficult times.

Get BearHugs Care Package here!

11) Coloring Books

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If you think coloring books are only for your little primxs to keep them busy, think again! So many adults are using coloring books to zone out and relax, and disabled people are included in that. Giving coloring books to your disabled family/friends will be a gift that keeps on giving throughout the next year. Coloring books come in handy while waiting in doctor’s offices or recovering in the hospital. They’re light, easy to use and fun no matter what!

Get a coloring book here!

12) Audiobooks

Credit: Instagram // @audible

Audiobooks are the easiest things to give someone disabled and you don’t even have to drive anywhere to get it to them! Services like Audible have online gift options where you can help someone sign up and pay for however months they want to use it. Audiobooks are a great accessibility gift for those who can’t read traditional books either because they’re visually impaired or they process information better when it’s spoken out loud.

Get Audible here!

13) Noise Canceling Headphones

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Noise cancelling headphones is the perfect gift when you’re tired of hearing your Tia ask “y el novio?” but they’re also a great gift for your disabled loved one for when the house gets a little too loud during gatherings, and it will. A lot of disabled people can feel a sensory overload especially during a party, these headphones allow them to have some quiet time especially if they can’t actually leave. And since they double as headphones to use for listening to music or watching movies, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Get Noise Canceling Headphones here!

14) The Calming Jar

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This gift is a little cheap DIY for your disabled loved one but so beneficial. Similar to what was explained in number 13, sensory overload is common during celebrations. Sometimes disabled people need something calming to relax them, this little jar is just that. All you need is a plastic or glass jar, some uncooked frijoles and that’s it! You pour the frijoles into the, put the lid on and gift it. Tell whomever you’re giving it to that when they’re stressed or overwhelmed to put the hand in the jar. The concept is similar to when you’re at the mercado and put your hands in the frijoles, you know what I’m talking about! It feels amazing and is very calming.

Get a jar and frijoles at any mercado!

15) Bath Bombs

Credit: Instagram // @lushcosmetics

We all love a good warm, cozy bath after a long and stressful day. Bath are also great for disabled people who have achy joints and swell. Thankfully bath game has improved and now you can get bath bombs everywhere! They’re simple and pretty inexpensive depending on where you go and can make any disabled person incredibly happy!

Get bath bombs here!

16) Face Masks

Credit: Instagram // @april.simoneee

Nothing says “treat yourself mija” like a nice face mask. Any face mask will work for your disabled loved one, the peel-off masks are great though for a great sensory experience. They’re small enough to be the perfect stocking stuffer. Just be sure to check to make sure that whomever you give it to, they’re not allergic to any of the ingredients.

Get a face mask here!

17) Lyft And Uber Gift Cards

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Lot of disabled people rely on Lyft and Uber to get around considering owning a car can be expensive and all cars don’t come with hand control accommodations. Lyft and Uber have features that are for disabled people that use mobility aids and are perfect for your disabled friends to use to keep their independence. A gift card for them goes a long way and will help out with doctor visits, hanging out or anything that comes up!

Get a Lyft and/or Uber gift card here!

18) #DisabledAndCute Accessories

Credit: Instagram // @misstheabella

Nothing shows more that you support your disabled family/friends then getting them disability pride merch! Of course, some disabled people may not be comfortable with showing pride, for those in your life that are, cute enamel pins, shirts or patches are a great accessory for your disabled loved one to show the world who they are while looking cute!

Get disability merch here!

19) The Vamp Stamp

Credit: Instagram // @the_vampstamp

As mentioned before, a lot of disabled people like wearing makeup to give them that extra boost for the day. There’s one lookthroughh that gives both disabled people and abled difficulty when applying makeup, and that’s the fierce cat eye. But this product, created by a fellow disabled person, helps anyone achieve the cat eye. It’s a stamp that allows you to put on your favorite eyeliner and create a perfect cat eye with ease. It’s great for those who may have shakey hands and trust me, your disabled loved one will adore it!

Get The Vamp Stamp here!

20) Mitu Barrio Box

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This gift is perfect for you disabled amigx who lives away from home. This adorable box is filled with Latinx goodies and is accessible because it can delivered right to where they live! You may miss them during the holidays but you can send a piece of home straight to them!

Get the Mitu Barrio Box here!

All of these gifts are great for any disabled loved one you may have and show you truly care for them and their disability! Happy Holidays!

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Día De Los Reyes Was The First Time I Allowed My S.O. To Experience My Culture

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Día De Los Reyes Was The First Time I Allowed My S.O. To Experience My Culture

For many who regularly take part in the holiday season, Christmas traditions are strongly tied to religious beliefs and practices. The ways in which the customs around the holiday season are carried out often deeply rooted in cultural rituals and they often vary from family to family. For my Puerto Rican family, the holiday season is drawn out well past the first of January when radio stations reel back on the jingles and Mariah Carey classics. For us, the Twelve Days Of Christmas sales or songs we know of don’t relate to the days leading up to December 25, but rather the twelve days in between Christmas Day and January 6 The Epiphany, a biblical day that marks the final leg of the  Three Wise Men’s journey to deliver gold, frankincense and myrrh to Jesus Christ.

Día De Los Reyes has always been an especially important day for my family. The fact that “reyes” is my mother’s maiden name has only made the day a little sweeter.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

A more popular holiday back on the island, my abuela and abuelo Reyes brought their traditions to the mainland with them in the 1950s.

On the evening of January 5, each member of my family from grandfather to my youngest sobrino pull out cardboard shoe and clothing boxes (all marked with our names, drawn on and decorated over the years with crayons, markers, and glitter pens) to take part in a tradition that we hold dear in our hearts. After we’ve filled the boxes with snacks like carrots, lettuce, and sometimes grass for the Three Kings’ camels to munch on as they pass through our town we stick the boxes under our beds. Finally, just as we would with Santa Claus, we write the Three Kings–Los Reyes–a handwritten note wishing them safe travels as the journey to see the baby Jesus hoping that as they did with him on that first Epiphany, they’ll leave a small gift or token of some sort under our boxes.

Dia De Los Reyes functions similarly to Christmas Eve in my family. We all wake up and check under our boxes to see if we were good enough this year to receive any gifts. We’d go to mass together, where as kids we’d hope that maybe Los Reyes stayed in town with their camels long enough that day to be at the church community center to pose for photos. We would visit family and eat pernil and arroz con gandules, dishes reserved for celebrations and holidays.

As I got older I went to mass only sometimes and stopped looking to get my photos with Los Reyes.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

I never stopped checking my box for gifts though, or remembering each rey by the names older relatives taught me to write in my letters: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. As an adult I focused on new ways to celebrate “being a king,” as my family would say, and took on the role of expert coquito maker.

When I started dating and began wanting to bring boyfriends home for the holidays, part of my new role during the holiday season also unintentionally became one of both gatekeeper and teacher of my Puerto Rican culture. As a sophomore in college, I brought my then boyfriend home for December for the first time. In my household, Noche Buena, Christmas Day, New Years Day, New Year’s Eve, and Dia De Los Reyes were all days set aside for family, exclusively. I knew not to ask for exceptions, and in the past had willfully or grudgingly passed up holiday and New Years parties to honor the expectation of being en familia.

But in my twenties I badly started to yearn for my first New Years kiss and wanted, even more, to share part of my twelve days of Christmas with somebody who mattered to me.

My parents, on the other hand, were hesitant. Dia De Los Reyes was about Los Reyes, as in my family.

My boyfriend was someone they saw a few times a year and knew of only from phone calls, letters, texts, and video chats. Someone so unfamiliar certainly wasn’t considered family, and moreover someone who wasn’t Latino couldn’t possibly understand the sanctity of the day we’d honored so lovingly all our lives.

Most concerning of all, Dia De Los Reyes is also known among some circles as “the poor man’s Christmas,” my grandparents’ explanation being that back in the days of Jesus, being a king didn’t mean wealth like it means today. It meant that the giftschildren and observers receive in their boxes today are small, like a $10 gift card, socks, some mittens, or maybe candy. The last thing my family needed was for some guy they didn’t know to reach into an old shoebox of all things, pull out socks, and think we were cheap. With some convincing and a little grumbling, my family allowed me to write my boyfriend’s name on a box, fill it with lettuce and put it under my bed on January 5.

That night as I lay in bed, I did feel nervous knowing that I was bringing somebody into such a special part of my life that no one had ever seen before outside of my parents. Earlier in the day, I made sure to explain to him how seriously my family took our family only traditions, and how it wasn’t just about the religious holiday but the namesake that ties us to one another. I felt silly as I highlighted decorating beat-up boxes as one of my favorite traditions, something I hadn’t ever admitted out loud. Quiet and reserved, he listened to my stories but didn’t ask any questions.

In the morning, I still had my family only morning mass and our opening of gifts, but later that day my boyfriend was invited over for pasteles, coquito, and the checking of his first and only Three Kings Day box.

My parents observed with critical eyes as he went through the motions of our traditions, seeming charmed by the gifts of a hat and gloves left resting on top of torn up shreds of lettuce, proof that Los Reyes had come through our house. As he followed our lead I sat hoping that by participating in the events himself, he might better understand where my love for my culture comes from, or maybe even briefly feel the same sense of childhood joy I do on that day each year. Admittedly, it was an awkward day for everyone involved and not filled with all the magic I had hoped for. Nonetheless, I still felt proud of myself for being able to break down a barrier that had long existed between myself and not only romantic connections but a friend, too.

I wanted the opportunity to show those outside of my family the part of my identity that I hadn’t always made transparent in my daily life, even if that meant that they didn’t understand or wouldn’t “get it” at first.

Photo provided by Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Even though the person who got to take the test run of my family only traditions and I aren’t together anymore, a few years ago he broke the mold for being able to bring others into a part of my life I was using to shutting so many close to me out of.n Maybe he did think that of us, our gifts, or the day we celebrate as cheap, but after the fact I, didn’t care. In the years that have followed, what has mattered most to me has been that I could start sharing Reyes, this name that laid down the foundation to who I am before I was ever born, and all the nuances that come with it with those I want to know me better.

This Dia De Los Reyes will be one of a few Reyes family festivities that my current boyfriend will be participating in, and another year where my family pulls out his box and welcomes his extra cheer into our holidays. While he’s still learning about my roots, I’m still learning that I can take these moments and use them to bring myself closer to my culture and my loved ones.


Read: Twitter’s Latest Hashtag Fights Back Against The Normalization Of Death And Violence Against Migrant Youth

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18 Places To Visit If You’re In CDMX During The Holidays

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18 Places To Visit If You’re In CDMX During The Holidays

This holiday season I took a trip with a couple of colleagues to Mexico City. It was my first time visiting the capital of my parents home country and all my expectations were exceeded. I have to admit that I have been curious about visiting Mexico City for a few years now but I let the rumors about Mexico not being safe (especially for women) stop me. After spending five nights in Mexico City, walking through Condesa for morning coffee, talking with locals and tourists, exploring landmarks and Ubering everywhere, I can’t wait to go back and see more.

If anyone is considering visiting Mexico City, go! I walked and Ubered everywhere and I felt completely safe at all times. There is way too much to see, eat and drink in just five days, but here is what I did during my trip this holiday season.

Day 1

Breakfast at Lalo!

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

You can kiss your dieta goodbye as soon as you touch down. Mexico City has the best pastries I’ve ever had in my life. Lalo has everything from Mexican staples like Huevos Rancheros and Chilaquiles to American favorites like French Toast. Everything here is delicious.

Day at the museum at Diego Rivera Anahuacalli

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

My jaw dropped the second I walked into this museum. The Día de los Muertos exhibit is still open and it is absolutely breathtaking. I 100% recommend a guided tour. There’s so much history and so much of Diego Rivera’s backstory that goes into the building and unless you’re doing hours of research, the only way to get the full experience is through a tour guide.

Day at Casa Azul

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

Frida Khalo. Enough said, right? Stepping into Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera’s house is a surreal experience for any art fan. Original photographs of Frida hang throughout what is now the museum, her kitchen is close to how she left it, but what left the biggest impression on me were her dresses. Elaborate garments made of linen stand in wire mannequin shaped hangars and even more impressive are her thick, leather corsets. Something not many people know is that Frida’s ashes are inside Casa Azul. Before she passed away, Frida had an urn made in the shape of a toad because that’s what she used to call Diego, Sapo. The toad-shaped urn sits next to the main dresser in her bedroom.

Snacks and a walk at the park at Villa Coyoacan

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

After hours of museum-ing, you’re going to be hungry. I walked a few minutes until arriving at the Villa Coyoacan. It’s a park surrounded with different food and accessory vendors. This is a good place to get yourself some authentic esquite, tostilocos or my personal favorite, papitas preparadas con chile y limón.

Dinner at Dulce Patria

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

Dulce Patria rose to popularity in 2017 after being listed as one of the best restaurants in the world. Almost two years later, the restaurant is still a packed house on a weekday night. I started with a two mezcal cocktails that I couldn’t get enough of. For dinner, I had the enchiladas de mole with a platano macho as the filling — a delicious option for vegetarians. By the time the dessert menu came out, I was absolutely stuffed but if dessert is your thing, you have to order from Dulce Patria. The desserts here are a work of art, just like everything else en la ciudad. Something that makes this restaurant extra special is that the main chef is a woman, Chef Martha Ortiz. #SupportLatinaEntrepreneurs

Drinks at La Unica

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Nothing helps a heavy meal settle like some more cocktails. I walked through the super posh neighborhood of Polanco and headed to La Unica where I enjoyed another mezcal cocktail. If you have something to celebrate, let the waiters know, they step out singing with giant sparklers.

Day 2

Airbnb Experience: Alebrije Painting Class

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

This was the first AirBnb Experience and I am hooked. The class started with a lot of information on the origin of Alebrijes and how they gained enough popularity to make it to the big screen of a Disney movie. Everything the instructor shared was fascinating and she was so passionate. Following the mini history lesson, we chose the Alebrije we wanted to paint. My four classmates and I had about an hour to paint designs on our figurine, but the instructor was kind enough to allow us to stay as long as we’d like. We took advantage of this extra time because who knew painting Alebrijes could be sooooo therapeutic?

Dinner at Lardo

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

Another very cute spot to head for dinner is Lardo. It is also listed in many top restaurant lists and with good reason. Their bread is absolutely amazing and they have a great wine and cocktail list. The portions here are big enough to be shared family style. Our group shared a few appetizers including hummus and ceviche. For my entree, I went with curried veggies and it did not disappoint.

Mezcal tasting at La Clandestina

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

There’s something about dinner in Mexico city that makes you want to have mezcal after. If you’re a beginner mezcal drinker, head here immediately after dinner. This cute half-outdoor and half-indoor bar serves mezcal flights complete with a breakdown of the type of mezcal it is and what to pair it with. The servers and super friendly, bilingual and this place is a good vibe all around.

Day 3

Air Bnb Salsa Making Experience

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

I signed up for this class expecting to learn how to make basic pico de gallo, salsa verde y salsa roja. Little did my tastebuds know what was about to hit them. The class starts with a trip to the mercado in tacuba to hand pick all of the ingredients. Natalia was great about explaining why we’re going with certain chiles over others, what their origin is and what flavors they give. Bonus: she also tells you what to look for when you’re picking your fruit. From the mercado, we walked a few blocks to her place to start cooking. From dicing the fruits and veggies to crushing them on the molcajete, every step of the class is completely interactive and explained thoroughly. Of course the last part is the best where you get to sample every salsa with ships and homemade quesadillas with queso Oaxaqueño. Warning: If you don’t do well with spice, bring extra water. I tolerate spicy food but the habanero chiles are on another level.

Lunch at Parcela

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

Parcela is unlike anything else I had seen before. This restaurant makes you feel like you’re eating in a treehouse — in the best way possible. The ambiance is relaxing, the appetizers and micheladas are amazing. Although I’m vegetarian, people at different tables kept ordering burgers and they looked incredible. This is a must for anyone who wants to have a serene lunch experience.

Chocolate Making Experience at La Rifa Chocolatería

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

I have never really been into chocolate but this experience changed my life. At this AirBnb experience, the hosts explain the origin of Mexican chocolate and how with the labor of dozens of men, women and children, it arrives to CDMX coming from as far as South America. There’s a mini tasting session that happens during the lecture part of the experience but it gets better. After that, we were taken to where the magic happens and employees peel, crush and mix that cacao with sugar to make the chocolate. The chocolate is then cooked and the baristas turn that into hot coco. It’s soooo good.

Sightseeing and shopping at El Zocalo

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

El Zocalo is so beautiful during the holidays. Hundreds of lights and Poinsettias adorn the city square. No matter what time it is, the area is full of tourists and families taking selfies and playing with the light-up toys vendors are selling. If you’re in need of some shopping, this is a good place to get it done. There are stores many of us are familiar with such as Zara, and smaller, authentic Mexican stores as well. I bought one thing and that was the famous Mexican mascara to bring back to my coworkers.

Day 4

Walk to Ojo de Agua

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

This brunch place was highly recommended by several friends and colleagues and I’m so glad I followed their suggestion. Everything is prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables as seen by the displays of fresh produce along the walls. The place is well-lit and has fun music playing. The neighborhood is especially enticing for dog lovers since there’s a fountain across the street where dogs are free to run through.

Pyramid watching at Teotihuacan

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

If you’re in Mexico City one of the bucket list items on most people’s list is the pyramids. Although it was about an hour and 20 minutes from where I was staying in Condesa, I made the journey in an Uber ride. My regret during this activity was not doing a guided tour. It was an incredible feeling to stand there in front of the pyramids but I feel like I didn’t grasp the entire experience without learning more about the history.

Visiting the Virgen de Guadalupe at her Basílica

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

I grew up Catholic and going to Catholic school, so I’ve always had a desire to see the Basilica in person especially because year after year I watch las mañanitas on tv. I happened to visit on December 8th and the area was already crowded with busloads of peregrinos. Regardless of religious beliefs, it was very moving to see so many people come together to say thank you and to pray for their well being and that of their families. Outside of the main Basilica, there is a statue of Pope John Paul III, a few other small churches and indigenous dancers. Also a must for anyone visiting CDMX.

Tacos at El Caifan

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

Taco stands never get old but if you’re looking for a place where you can sit down and eat El Caifan will give you that same taco fix. This is a chain but the tacos are still very authentic and include a salsa bar and tacos al pastor directly from the trompo. The one I went to is next to Barrio Chino and lots of small shops and vendors.

Day 5

Rosetta

Credit: @wendybey / Instagram

My trip started with pastries and it ended with pan dulce and I have zero regrets. This panadería has conchas, croissants, muffins, basically anything you could dream of — but better. I had a concha and a taste of an almond pastry and I was blown away. Go with friends, order a dozen different panes and share.

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