jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2012

50 days of Julia


I always cry when I have to say good-bye. It's one of those things I've picked up as I've grown older, like feeling anxious during airplane take-offs and landings. After almost two months of travelling with Julia, we split ways yesterday as she stayed in San Cristobal de las Casas and I headed back with my parents to Mexico City.


Driving through Zapatista territory

After a 5 hour ride on the pothole-ridden road from Palenque, we arrived to San Cristobal de las Casas on Monday night. We stopped twice on our way, to see the Misol-Ha cascade and later on to have lunch and swim in Agua Azul. Unfortunately, Agua Azul ("blue water") did not do justice to its name that day and had a murky brownish color due to heavy rainfall in the past days. Our arrival to San Cristobal was uneventful, as Monday nights don't seem to be party nights for coletos (the people from San Cris).
   
     
Misol-Ha and Agua Azul

Our next day started out early with a very aquatic agenda, as we went to see the beautiful lagoons of Montebello and El Chiflón, another cascade. The drive to Montebello was (surprise!) long and bumpy, but definitely worth it. The Montebello lagoons are composed of 26 individual lagoons which vary in color, ranging from dark blue to turquoise to green and with names just as colorful as the water, such as Laguna de Ensueño and Laguna Encantada. We stopped for lunch and had amazing cheese, zuccini flower and mushroom quesadillas with handmade tortilla. We moved on to El Chiflón, where we climbed our way up to the cascade and got totally drenched from the water that was carried by the breeze. Our second night in San Cristobal was very tame and we had some typical Chiapanecan food like sopa de pan (a soup made with bread, vegetables and banana), mole chiapaneco and coleto ham. 


Lagunas de Montebello
Our third day was less active, as we took a boat ride in the Cañón del Sumidero and then headed out to Chiapa de Corzo, a colonial city nearby. It was quite surprising to see that the zocalo (city center) in Chiapa de Corzo is decorated in a mudejar style, a type of architecture that is a fusion of moorish and spanish styles and is typical for areas of southern Spain. We had some more typical food for lunch and I had some chiapanecan enchiladas with a little too much Escherichia coli. 

     
Cañón del Sumidero and Chiapa de Corzo

We spent the rest of the afternoon in San Cristobal de las Casas, where I explored the city and its markets with the Acuñas while Julia went to the hostel were she will work. I went to the textile market and the handcrafts and sweets market with my mom and dad, walking down several streets and visiting churches on our way. San Cristobal is a beautiful and very enjoyable city. I only wish I had more time to stay.


   
San Cristobal de las Casas


At night, we met up with Julia's new found hostel friends in a bar, to have a beer and meet other travelers. This seemingly mild plan of going out for one drink was quickly watered with pox (pronounced posh, is not a deadly viral disease but a chiapanecan liquor similar to mezcal or tequila, although they probably make you feel equally bad the next morning). This slowly degenerated into a salsa class, more beers and unwanted invitations to elope. Julia and I made it safely back home through the rain and puddles. It was a very nice last night out.


Pox

For our last day, we visited San Juan Chamula and I think we couldn't have picked a better day. It was the day of San Martín and the entire village was a big party with music, firecrackers and pox. San Juan Chamula is special enough to deserve its own blog entry, so I won't go any deeper into it. We then went to Zinacantán, where we visited an indigenous family who works making textile handcrafts with a telar de cintura (a waist loom) and had lunch with them. Finally, we drove back to San Cristobal de las Casas to leave Julia in her new home for the next few weeks and then made our way to Villahermosa to take an airplane back to Mexico City.


I always cry when I say good-bye. It's one of those things I've picked up as I've grown older.


viernes, 14 de septiembre de 2012

Rocio Acuna, professional karaoke singer: A night in Mexico City

After a brutal return to un-beachy reality, our week was well spent in tacos, coffees and beers with friends, pyramid visiting and quality time with the Acuñas in Mexico City.

I don't really think that Mexico City is known for it's vibrant night life, especially on an inconspicuous Wednesday night. However, going out helped me rediscover the chilango party scene and remember that there are some pretty good places to go out in Mexico City that I never really dug much into. I even made some money on the way.

Julia and I went out with Michel (a brother from another mother) for a couple of beers in la Roma and la Condesa, some sort of Mexico City version of New York's East Village. It was really nice to see him (as it's been really nice to see everyone after a couple of years away). I think it's really special when you can pick up right where you left, despite two years of silence, as if the last time you saw each other was a few days ago. I have come to really appreciate this natural spark that comes when interacting with some people, I think it shows that your relationship to someone isn't circumstantial but that you're bound by something that doesn't change, even if the rest of your life does.

I digress.

We were at a bar having a couple of beers, when a group of people promoting a soft drink showed up by our table and offered us cash in exchange for some karaoke singing. Man, I like money. And after two months of vagrancy, I can use all the money I can get.

Julia spun a giant-sized pirinola, a typical mexican toy, which had marked the type of music and the prize on the side. I got Rancheras for $150 (roughly 12 dollars). Now, this would have been fine but for two things: there is no such thing as a ranchera song in English (making the entire process more difficult for co-singer Julia) and I don't know the lyrics to many ranchera songs myself due to a general distaste for the genre when I'm sober. After some struggles, the ranchera turned into Soda Stereo, which went a little smoother and we got our pic taken and our money.

Ever since, I've been considering dropping my plans for the Netherlands and the PhD to pursue a career as a professional karaoke singer. I could seriously do this for a living, they didn't even hear me rapping.

lunes, 10 de septiembre de 2012

Km 11,631: Mazunteando

After an adventurous night in which the roof of our cabin was almost ripped off by a gigantic storm, we started to make our way back to the airport in Puerto Escondido to catch our plane back to Mexico City. Our bus ride was livened up by a vendor who was selling ointments with natural ingredients capable of healing ovary pain in grown women and treating bedwetting in children (note: the ointment has to be rubbed on the right side in girls and the left side in boys for it to be effective). He also had chamomille extract drops to treat all eye ailments, ranging from infections, to cataract, myopia and retinal diseases. Su precio habitual es de 60 pesos, pero sólo por hoy, llévese uno por 30 pesos o 2 por 50 pesos. All this to the sound of a neverending marimba concert.

We made it back home to Mexico City and we actually hit the 12,000 km mark in the process. I promised I'd upload some pictures, so here they are.

Landing in Puerto Escondido
View from our cabin

Sunset at Punta Cometa

Sunset at Punta Cometa

Jules and I (Punta Cometa)

Sunset at Punta Cometa

Freakishly large praying mantis that kept flying into our faces, trying to mate with us and rip  our heads off

Luisandoval, renaissance man

Dogs chilling out under the sun

Luisandoval, the dog whisperer

Beautiful little Mazunte


domingo, 9 de septiembre de 2012

The happy life in Mazunte

I am one terrible blogger and lack the discipline to sit down and write about what I've been up to or about the cool places I've had the chance to visit. In any case, I downloaded the Blogger app for iPod this morning and I'm currently using up some of my free time to finally write an update. Pictures will follow... eventually. ;)

We've made it to Mexico and what's more we've made it to Mazunte, which must be one of the happiest places on earth. Mazunte is a gorgeous little beach on the coast of Oaxaca, between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco. Mazunte is inhabited by about 700 locals and a bunch of imported hippies, who've brought along a series of alternative businesses and shops. This includes several pizzerias (one of them is owned by an italian couple who figured out they'd be better off spending their retirement money on a beach in Mexico than in Italy), european bakeries, vegetarian restaurants, yoga studios, cafes and bars. The last time I was here, there was no cell phone signal and internet was only available through satellite. Now, WiFi has spread throughout the town, giving Mazunte's hippie population the chance to earn a living by playing poker on internet casinos, while sipping on café de olla, with the sea breeze in their hair.

Either way, it's always a pleasure to come back to Mazunte to relax for a few days. Despite its warmth, the sea is quite rough and you need to watch out for raping waves, which will throw you to the ground and rip your bikini off. True story and no surprise there, as neighbouring beach Zicatela is a premium surf spot. I wish I could give some sort of update on the amazing things I've done here but, truth be told, I've spent most of my days doing unproductive things: swimming (while holding on fiercely to my bikini), laying in the sun, playing cards and eating stone oven pizza.

So, instead I want to tell a nice little story. A few years ago, I came to Mazunte with Rodrigo, my boyfriend at the time, and we went on a boat ride to swim with turtles, snorkel and see dolphins. On that ride, we met an Australian couple who told us that they decided one day that their routine on Australia was unbearable, so they resolved to sell their house and use the money to do a 2 year long trip around the world. Back then, I had never heard of anyone doing anything like this before and I thought it was very cool and very brave. I still think it's very cool and very brave and I hope their trip around the world worked out safely and beautifully for them. Now I know a whole lot of other people who decided one day that their routine or their job or even their life the way it was at that moment was not satisfying and they chose to do something radical about it and find something else to do somewhere else, even if it wasn't a safe move. And I very much admire all those brave people who decided to get off the path, even if it was for a few months, and I'm happy to see that there are seldom regrets. So one thing I learned in Mazunte a long time ago (and that has only been confirmed ever since) is that taking risky decisions to end up doing things that make you happy tends to be more satisfying than sticking to a secure but unsatisfying life. So there, coming to Mazunte is not totally unproductive. I sometimes learn life lessons here.