Friday, August 7, 2009

Mexico : the travel notes

<< straight from the Moleskine >>

22/07, 4.00AM : Hola!
Son las 4 de la mañana, y estoy “wide awake”. I’ve spent the better part of about 13 flight hours listening to “Earworms – rapid Spanish” on my iPod. So captain, please put this plain on the ground, I’m ready!

22/07, 6.30 AM (Belgian time) : final destination
It’s 6.30 in the morning Belgian time, and it’s sometime in the evening here in Mexico
“Lost in translation”: Mexicans have numerous expressions to say “sorry”. I thought “Lo siento” was a save bet, but apparently that’s rather heavy. There’s also “disculpe”, “perdone”, and “con permiso”. Furthermore, I practised “encantada” as “pleased to meet you”, but here everybody goes “mucho gusto”. “Vale” is supposed to be “ok”, but only so in Spain. Here it’s “bueno”. So far the success of my Earworms.
24 hours without sleep + all the above + the stress of meeting “la abuelita” for the first time, and my mind went blank. I started speaking in French without realising it. I really did.

23/07, 8.00 PM (Mexican time) : primer dia en Mexico
Surprisingly enough, I slept until 9 AM this morning. We were served a lovely breakfast by Juliana, the housemaid. Right, housemaid. Something I’m really not used to, nor have any experience with. But here, it’s appears to be the most normal thing in the world.
Then hopped onto the roof of the “turibus”, visited the cathedral, el templo mayor, and the palace. Also bought two lovely dresses (at the ridiculous price of 10 Eur/dress). We had a lovely lunch overlooking the historical centre in La casa de la Sirena.
Short of breath and slight headache all day long because of the height. Plans for dinner are, at the time of writing, still vague. I’m doing my best to get into Latin-mode, but it ain’t easy...

24/07 (well, no, make that Saturday 25/07, as it is once again after 1.00AM)
We did : museo antropologico, A quick tour in the zoo to see the giant pandas (who were fast asleep). Big walking tour through fancy neighbourhood Polanco, and shopping mall. Dinner in a famous restaurant with P’s tio Alejandro. And again midnight madness at casa tio Victor, our home during these holidays. Now sleep, finally.
Words of the day:
- “padre” : I guess it means nice, cool, beautiful. They say it every 5 seconds.
- ‘muy tuju” : meaning very trendy, à la mode, fancy.

25/07 (actually, once again, already 26/07) : The village feel of Mexico-city
A few words before going to bed for barely 4 hours of sleep (as we take the early plane to Oaxaca in the morning). We went to two different “barrios” today: San Angel and Coyoacan – lots of colourful colonial buildings, cobbled streets, craft markets,...Also the double house of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and the blue house of Frida.
In the evening : dinner with P’s nieces + husbands + kids. And in the end of course : nocturnal tales by tio Victor.
I could write so much about all the impressions of today, but I simply can’t keep my eyes open anymore. I start to understand why the have siestas over here...

26/07 : Oaxaca
After a very early flight, we arrived in Oaxaca this morning. The cathedral of Santo Domingo is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. Our hotel room looks out over the main square : “El Zocalo”, always filled with bands, music, playing kids, colourful balloons, vendors, etc. A lot of tropical rains in the afternoon and evening.
Great dinner at hotel restaurant, were we had “chapolines” (um, yes, indeed: grasshoppers).

27/07 : Latin rhythm
The grasshoppers are hopping around in my stomach, so we decided to take it slow today. Just hanging around @ El Zocalo, watching the world go by, walk slowly around town, wander through numerous craft markets, spend all the time of the world in a great bookshop, and take sprints to the nearest toilet.
We discovered a great juice bar for lunch in a tiny square surrounded by colourful shops. I took the “gastritis” – which actually helped.

28/07 : The real Mexico
Visit to the Zapotecan temples of Monte Alban : very impressive! Driving through the countryside and small pueblos : also very impressive!
Visit Guilapan de Guererro, a convent and roofless church build by the Dominicans in the 16th century. Onwards to San Bartolo Coyotepec, famous for its black pottery, and to San Martin Tilcajete, where they make “alebrijes” : very colourful wooden sculptures.

29/07 : Aerotucan
8.30 AM : ready to board a small Cesna that will (hopefully) bring us to the “bahias” of Huatulco.
14.00 PM : 39°C – that’s not only the outside temperature, but also P’s fever. He promises to call a doctor tomorrow of the fever persists. Needless to say I’m “slightly” worried.

30/7 : Lazy pool day
This is my first “huge beach resort-experience”, and I still don’t know whether to love or hate it. P and I installed ourselves at the most quiet pool we could find, far away from the open air Zumba classes, the ping-pong tournament, the aqua gym, etc.
The fact that a lady walks by with drinks every 30 minutes is nice. As is the fact that room service is also “included”.
Unfortunately, El Pacifico is a bit too rough today for swimming. Too bad, ‘cause the water feels nice & warm. P’s fever is better – almost gone.

31/07 : First break from Mexican food.
Simply ‘cause we needed it.
Other than that, nothing exciting to report. Swimming, sunbathing, reading,....

1/08 : Last of the Lazy Pool Days
Um, yes, so more swimming, sunbathing, reading,...

2/08 : Day in transition
Flying back from the beaches of Huatulco to Mexico City. It’s good to be back @ tio Victor’s.
In the evening: romantic dinner with P in La Condesa.

3/08 : Mas shopping
World’s 3d largest shopping centre in Santa Fé. 70% discounts : Olé! Whole “petite” – departments for ladies : double Olé!
In the evening : dinner with tio Victor in La Condesa. Enough material there for at least 10 blog posts. Key words : bread, art deco buildings, Pain Quotidien, random German guy)

4/08 : A day off
8.30 AM : suffering from “intestinal upheaval” for the last 10 days, covered in an itchy skin rash, at least 15 mosquito bites, again headache from height....
9.00 AM : cancellation of plans to go on a day long tour. I just feel not up to it. Instead we go to the local supermarket to buy Mexican food, and relax for the rest of the day. Evening: dinner with the whole family.

5/08 : El ultimo dia
Morning : visit to the soap-factory founded by P’s grandfather, and named after P’s grandmother. Very interesting industrial tourism! Then walk through La Condesa by day.
Afternoon : beautiful dinner with tio Alex @ lake-side restaurant in Chapultepec Park. Back home : visit to P’s grandmother + packing all our stuff.
Evening : late-night dinner with tio Victor. Again up talking until 1.00 AM. Lot of wise words from el tio. I love this guy! Also saying goodbye to Juliana, who took excellent care of us. I’ll miss being pampered by her.

6/08 : Leaving
Saying goodbye to tio Victor at 6.45 AM, and then taking a taxi to the airport. Starbucks-breakfast. Bumpy flight to Washington + sleepless flight to Brussels.
Loaded with “regalitos” for everyone.


stallie said...

Moleskines are great and so was your trip!!!

Anonymous said...

omg... extranio mexico muchissimo. thanks for this post - brings back really fond memories. i spent a summer living in Oaxaca, dancing salsa, cooking in a restaurant. such good memories.

did you also pick up on everyone saying 'que onda, guey? que pedo' or did you hang out with more refined folk?