Random post

Did you know that there is a button in the Archives that says “Random post” ? Clicking it, you get to a random post from between June 2009 and today. It’s risky business for me, haha, but it’s all me and I have told you before that I use my blog like a diary, and that it has the ability to throw me right back into a moment and the way I felt at that point. Like this picture, when I clicked random post just now, it took me to the days when I used to stay in the office at UNICEF Nicaragua until long after working hours – because I had a deadline that was very optimistic from the first place. But hey, a deadline is a deadline – especially when you’re a consultant, and I really don’t mind working late when I’m excited about what I do. Not kidding!

Ms freckles

On another, dead serious, note. I was just at the gym. And I realized my arms are ridiculously weak, while my legs are kind of super strong. After realizing that, I drove back home and ate almost an entire bar of dark chocolate. Because dark chocolate isn’t not really candy, right? haha

Click the picture above for a random post. And let me know which one you got!

Mexico City – the bizarre, the crowded, the sad.

I spent a bit over a week in the capital of Mexico – an overwhelming place at the altitude of almost 2300m where traffic decides whether you will have time to do more than two things per day or not. I had the bad luck of being “sick” and having to run errands, so three mornings were cut out of my Mexico City schedule. However, as visiting a place isn’t about ticking the box of the tourist attractions for me, but rather trying to get a feeling of what the people and the athmosphere are all about – I think I got my proper dose of the big, crowded, anguish filled city and the chilangos.

Ady took me to the house of Frida Kahlo, which was beautiful and interesting but very sad at the same time. Just the fact that this amazing woman lived her entire life in sadness and pain – and then became an inspiration and muse for such a vast amount of people. It bothered me how her painful story is a huge reason to why she is so loved, I do get that it is her strenght, depth and endurance that inspires – but it’s still complete strangers giving the crying self-portraits of Frida Kahlo some kind of catharsis function, feeding on her pain.

As if Frida’s obsession with her own uterus and paintings of her body pierced with spikes wasn’t bizarre enough – I visited a market where puppies in small cages were crying out for love along with exotic monkeys, lizards and colourful parrots. Just next to this terror of animal abuse were stands with animal heads, statues of saints, herbs, voodoo dolls and “magic powders” to cast spells of love, hate and revenge. The market was sickening in many, many ways – but it needed to be seen and showed how there still is a big demand based on superstition and jealousy. One interesting spell was that of “Con nadie más podrás” which basically translates to, “You won’t be able to with anybody else” and is a powder one (always the woman) is supposed to put in a drink of the partner for him not being able to have sex with anybody else. Ever. Then of course there was the “closing mouth” spell that will stop people from talking about you, which I understand could be pretty useful in a soap opera society, the straight up “hate” powder, and then the “regresa a mi” powder for the lost lover to come back. How is that supposed to work, anyway? Is it during the “So, I thought we could have a last coffee together” that the obsessive woman is supposed to throw the powder into the drink? It was all awkward and pretty ridiculous, but mostly sad. There is a considerable amount of people who turn their hopes of revenge and hate to magic powders, instead of letting go of their latino drama and caring about the suffering of animals instead.

The city in itself, its buildings and architecture, was beautiful, and we went up the highest tower to have a look at it from above. Mexico City is a neverending carpet of houses squeezed together in a valley, hosting a bit over 21 million people. That’s entire Sweden times two. I was with Chema and two friends who also lived in the same apartment in Barcelona in 2011 when we all were there – it was such a nice reunion! During all of the time as we walked up the tower, sat there, and came down again, a big group of people were dancing non-stop in a traditional ceremony. I was watching, taking pictures and would have loved to stay for longer, but then we kind of had to rush home because it would take us more than an hour to get there. Gah! At least the food was wonderful and the company good fun, even though some actually call their own city Mexico Shitty, and I’m not very surprised – it can be a frustrating place.

The last photo is of Chema’s toys. Next time I’m close to them I’ll make sure to have enough time to play.

Cats, the Musical!

We went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Cats in Mexico City as Chema’s mother was doing the role of Agilorum. I have never seen Cats live before so I was very excited to go and enchanted by the colours, the voices, the cat-like dancing and the make-up. Seeing Chema’s mother sing and dance was extra fun as I had never before seen anybody I already know enter a personality on a stage like that. I wish I could share the videos with you right away but my internet connection is busy with other things. Next time!

Anyway – Olivia, Hector, Chema – Thank you for a great night!

Mexico City, where the cats and kittens are. Mjau!

Cañón del Sumidero

During one of our days in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chema’s friend came from the nearby city Tuxtla Guiterrez to pick us up for a daytrip to the Sumidero Canyon, it was a beautiful canyon surrounded by lush vegetation and small waterfalls, and the company was stellar. Many many laughs followed by very very very good sushi back in San Cristobal de las Casas. Lovely day!

Red stars in the sky – San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

San Cristobal was a big contrast to Palenque – it was filled with a mix of hippies selling handmade jewellery and ladies in traditional clothing selling blankets and other treasures, it had a wide choice of restaurants with really nice food to very affordable prices, and one could feel a strong influence of – or at least affection for – the Zapatista movement. Just there, right beneath the surface, empowering women cooperatives, supporting indigenous rights, a strong sense of community and red stars all over the place.

We made our way south from Palenque to San Cristobal de las Casas, and met Javier on the bus, a chilean filmmaker that I had gotten to know on the bus+boat from Guatemala a couple of days earlier. Javi took us to the place he usually visits when staying in San Cristobal – El Paliacate – a “cultural space” where travellers, artists and socially active (or just politically upset) individuals gather for music, exhibitions and talks. El Paliacate refers to the handkerchief that the Zapatistas use to cover their faces. You have to watch the beautiful video in the end of this post – it’s made by Javier!

San Cris was much colder than anywhere else I had been in Central America. And rainy. To the point that Chema and I bought new (matching) shoes – oldschool mexican PANAM sneakers! (haha) We spent quite some time walking around the lovely town – and we hung out a lot at El Paliacate where Javi introduced us to the owner and where the vibe was perfect for hanging out after a long day of walking. Once, after spending the evening in a Lebanese restaurant, making our way back home, we stepped into a fantastic live Latin Jazz Fusion concert at a bar named Cocoliche. After wine, guacamole and very good music by IntermitenteJovel, we went back to Paliacate again and stayed put with Javier, the owner and another friend after all the people had left after a concert. The guys decided to start playing on the instruments the band had left behind while Javi and I had a long talk. Random and lovely, there was even a jaw harp! (No, I didn’t really know that name – I just googled “mouth instrument” and google completeted my search with “boing” haha!)

On our last night before leaving San Cristobal de las Casas, I went out for a walk on my own, and met the two 11 year olds Danilo and Daniel with their younger brothers Alexander and Alfredo – they wanted to play and pose in front of my camera, I’ll show you those videos at some other point. :)

On our last day, before leaving for our flight to Mexico City, we went to the café/restaurant/gathering place TierrAdentro – run by Zapatista supporters and offering really good Mexican mole and locally grown coffee.

Sangre, Sudor y Polvora, by Conga Films
The language is Tzotzil, as spoken by the indigenous people in Chiapas.

Wonder what happened to the Mayans that built those amazing pyramids that I showed you in the posts before? Here you have them.

Blue waterfalls in Mexico!

An eight hour bus and boatride after leaving Flores in Guatemala, I found myself on the Mexican side of the river – and made my way to Palenque where I met up with my friend Chema. The first thing we did in Palenque was going to the waterfalls called Agua Azul – and I want to dedicate an entire blogpost just to that, because of how beautiful it was. And because I have a video – I was so happy in the water!

Tikal, the Maya capital – Guatemala part 2

After a 30 minute walk in the dark early morning, with the humid air smelling of jungle and mystery – we climbed Tikal’s temple number four, to await the rising sun in silence and watch the mist slowly lifting and revealing the rest of Tikal’s grandeur. It was magical.

Guatemala winning again? Definitely. I like temples, but tend to find them boring as they get flooded with “please don’t sit here” signs and tourists in orange caps. In Tikal, there were tourists, but not too many, and the dense vegetation always allowed for a moment of solitude and experiencing the pyramids and temples as if there was nobody else there – or actually, as if it was still the time of the Mayans and everybody were just still asleep. I went with George, and we spent hours just sitting on different pyramids and exploring by ourselves. “George, you need to climb this one, I feel so small up here – it’s amazing!” We sat watching the tourists come and go again, looked at the amazing stone buildings, and spoke about essentials.

Tikal was an amazing place. Without any doubt topping my list of places worth visiting, much of it thanks to that jungle around the temples, but mostly thanks to the fact that it felt so real.

Traditional Antigua – Guatemala part 1

People don’t have to ask me twice about which my favourite country was in Central America, Guatemala wins hands down.

Antigua was a place filled with tradition, fragrances, tastes and impressions, and I was happy to be able to walk around by night without fearing assault and without being called a princess. Even the most traditional ladies were open for a chat that didn’t feel like I was buying something – valuable talks about life and their convictions. I was in Antigua only for two days and spent most of my time with two new friends who I met on the road – George who I met already on the bus from Nicaragua, and Stephanie who we met on the shuttle between Guatemala City and Antigua. Both lovely people.

Hover the photos for more info. I’m sorry for shortening the stories like this, I will share some highlights separately on a different occasion – right now there’s just too much.