Taking its name from a little alley in Mexico City’s Chinatown, Dolores is a series of notes and anecdotes from favorite places across Mexico by Jill Neitzel. We catch up with Jill about her travels across Mexico and how BALANCE is essential to her travels and a health focused lifestyle.

Where is this postcard from and where did you buy it?

This postcard is actually a photo that I took of Peña de Bernal in the state of Querétaro. A friend took some of my photos and as a present, had them turned into postcards! Bernal is one of the world’s tallest monoliths and supposedly gives off a strong magnetic energy. It’s a popular pilgrimage during the spring equinox.

Why Mexico?

It was a series of events that lead to Mexico, but I knew from the first time that I came to Mexico City that it was somewhere I’d keep coming back to, and it eventually became a more permanent arrangement. Between the colors and flavors and shouting street vendors and all the people, it’s such a stimulating place. Even though there’s kind of a constant chaos, things more or less function just fine, and I find it very charming for that.

One of my favorite things here is the fluidity between indoors and out. Being from the Midwest, it’s such a simple but luxurious experience for me to eat a meal in a courtyard or to shop for produce in an open-air market. I love the Mexican people; they are so generous and eager to share their culture, it’s really been heartwarming to feel so welcomed here.

What’s in your travel bag?

I like to err on the side of traveling too light. It’s amazing what you end up not needing if you just don’t bring it in the first place. So, most of what I’m carrying is not that exciting, but they’re my tried and true necessities.

BALANCE hemp oil to keep me feeling calm and energized.

Denim jacket: One thing that ruins being out and about for me is being cold, so I like to carry layers. This jacket has been with me to Berlin, New Orleans, Sydney, Buenos Aires… it’s a been a trusted companion.

Sunglasses: Self-explanatory, I think.

Water: I’m working on curbing my consumption of single-use plastics, so I try to bring some water with me. I like to use re-use these little Colab Cold Brew bottles because they’re the perfect size and don’t weigh my bag down.

Chapstick: My husband Quintin and I always asking each other who has the chapstick before we leave. It’s a serious necessity around here.

Delfonics pouch: A mix of some simple cosmetics - like chapstick and brow gel.

How do you balance travel and living a wellness focused lifestyle?

Food and drink are a big part of getting to know a new place, so I am pretty lax about my diet while traveling, but I try to make up for it by doing a lot of walking. I usually resist taking taxis unless it’s absolutely necessary. There’s just so much you miss if you’re moving too fast, and it’s easier to get a sense of a city’s layout on foot. Plus, it’s inevitable that I’ll come across a shop or café that I wouldn’t have found otherwise, so walking is a win-win for me.

When I’m at home in Mexico City, I try to live in more moderation. One of my favorite things about living here is the access to so much interesting and affordable produce. I go to a market or tianguis at least once a week to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, which helps keep me away from too many tamales. Like when I’m traveling, I walk a lot in the evenings partly because it helps clear my mind and de-stress and partly because it’s just how I love to experience the city. Yoga has also been an important part of my routine for a long time now.

What is the last thing you took a picture of?

I’m constantly taking pictures, it’s ridiculous. Lately, Quintin and I have been getting coffee and pastries from Panadería Rosetta on Friday mornings, and I always order this croissant-type roll filled with guava jam and cream - unbelievably delicious. Anyway, I took a photo of mine this morning, even though I’ve taken one almost every other time too. So, at this point I probably have twenty photos of Rosetta guava rolls.

Mezcal or Beer?

Am I allowed to say both? I do love a mezcal margarita, but more often than not I drink mezcal neat with a beer on the side… even better if you add some orange slices and worm salt.

What entices you to capture a specific moment in your travels?

I’m really drawn to spaces and capturing their energy. It’s usually just a feeling I get when I’m somewhere and I think, “I want to feel this again later”. Also, I’m super inspired by small, quirky bits of everyday life in all of my work, and I enjoy taking photos that give those details attention that they don’t normally get.

What has been the most impressive architectural space you’re been to in Mexico?

Such a hard question! Mexico has so many styles of architecture that I love - the colonial streets of San Miguel de Allende and Taxco, the Art Deco buildings around La Condesa, not to mention so many contemporary projects by talented Mexican architecture firms.

But for a proper answer, my favorite space is Museo Jumex in Mexico City. I think it’s the tones and organic textures in the building’s travertine stone, but it has this warmth that I feel is lacking from a lot of contemporary art spaces. Going in the late afternoon when it’s getting a lot of soft sunlight… it’s just the best.

Land or Water?

Water. I grew up near water, swimming and being on boats, so there’s something nostalgic about it for me.

A little anecdote about water I’ll never forget: I studied abroad in Valparaíso, Chile - a very artistic, coastal city built into hills, so pretty much every house has a view of the ocean - and a friend there once told me that there’s so much creative energy there because people have this vast open space in front of them and feel the need to fill it.

That idea is maybe a little romantic, but I do think there’s something about being by the sea that gives us a better sense of our own smallness, as well as a perspective that’s not so short-sighted. I find it very meditative and therapeutic.

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