Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tolerance

Let's take a break from my "Remembering my Central America trip" posts, shall we?

Yesterday evening I watched a documentary on TV about "Ramadan" and a guy talked about how much he appreciated his Christian friends for not cursing, drinking alcohol or smoking in his presence. He used words like "respect" and "tolerance".
This made me think of the first evening in Mexico City. At the restaurant I chose the meat dish on the menu without thinking. The server left with our order and only then I remembered that my friend was a vegetarian. Out of respect, I asked her if it was okay for me to eat meat and she assured me that she had no problem with me eating meat in front of her.

Both times, my mind produced one question: do I need to become someone I am not to respect and tolerate the person who has not my same beliefs?
A part of me yelled no (I strongly believe in freedom and in being who you are), the other yelled yes (I also strongly believe in respect and tolerance). But then I realized that I was asking the wrong question. I thought of John F. Kennedy's words:



Not cursing or drinking alcohol in front of a practicing Muslim (or Christian) or asking if eating meat in front of a vegetarian is NOT a sign of a lack of commitment to my own beliefs.
I thought it was about becoming someone I am not when it's actually about strength.
It's BECAUSE I am strongly committed to my own beliefs that I can accept the others for who and what they are.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Remembering: The Caribbean Sea

That is how the Caribbean Sea looked like in Tortuguero National Park.



I'll do more "remembering" of Tortuguero but today my mind is on something else.
Have you ever heard of Marcel Duchamp's Readymades? No? Then Wikipedia will help you out (what the hell did we do before Wikipedia???)
Anyway, while walking on the beach of Tortuguero one morning I noticed what the sea had "spit out" during the night (there had been a severe thunderstorm and when I say severe I mean severe. It felt like the end of world had arrived!). Astonishingly enough, there wasn't much plastic. Usually, beaches are full of plastic (isn't that a sad fact?). Not so in Costa Rica. What I found here was wood. And other "natural stuff". And looking at those items, I thought about Duchamp's Readymades. Because it felt like art. Art put together by mother nature.






And I promise, not one single item has been "rearranged" by me. This was exactly how the sea and the waves had put them on the beach!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Remembering: Mexico City (Part II)

There is another interesting thing about Mexico City (although I am not sure if "interesting" is the correct word here)

The city is ... sinking. Literally! And this is no joke!
The city is sinking 1 centimeter a year. 1 centimeter!
Can you believe it?

Back when indigenous people settled in the area (2000 or so years ago), they came upon a huge lake and several small islands. They started draining the area and building their temples and houses.
When the Europeans arrived in 1512, they destroyed the temples and built their churches and houses on top of the ruins. Not knowing that the land they built on was everything but solid.
Nowadays, the city is sinking and nobody does anything (no money in the first place and how to get about doing this Herculean job?).
It sinks less where the Spaniards built on top of existing houses or temples. It's worse in other places. That is why walking the streets of Mexico City felt strange. Up and down I went. Not like walking up and down a hill. No. But my body somehow "felt" that something was off. The houses go up and down while the street is straight. Or vice versa. Some houses are kind of "bent over". A couple of centimeters but nevertheless, one was different as the neighboring house.
My senses were in total overdrive all the time. I never get seasick but walking Mexico City's streets felt like being on board of a boat :-)

Can you see it? The row on the left goes "down" in the rear of the picture...

Same house, not the same fundament!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Remembering: Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City)

Cathedral
 You may have read about my first impressions of Mexico City where I used the word "overwhelming". It was. Still is, even now, thinking back to my week I spent there. My friend S., with whom I spent my days in Mexico (I traveled on my own in Costa Rica and met with S. in Mexico), kept saying to everybody who wanted to listen: Mexico City is the greatest city in the world.

Greatest city in the world?
Well, no, honestly, it's not the greatest city in the world.
Not for me.
It's an amazing city. A surprising city. But not the greatest. By far not the greatest, in my opinion.
I could compare Mexico City to other cities I visited but I'd never do that. It's not fair. One place cannot be compared to another.
I could enlist cities with better museums, more beautiful architecture, etc. I won't do that either. Not fair either.

What doesn't make it the greatest city in the world for me is ... its energy. It's difficult to describe and it took me a while to get it. First I thought it was because it's a huge city (23 million people live there - 23! imagine!). But then I had loved New York (but not Hong Kong) so it's not about the crowd or the traffic. In the end, I discovered that what I didn't like was:
a) the smog. The air was terrible and I had nosebleeds while there. I never have nosebleeds!! Never ever! Imagine what the air that I breathed was like to make my nose bleed! And please don't get me started on the water...
b) the police and the military standing on every corner (at every entrance). Having guns pointed at you is not a nice thing, let me assure you! (they keep their guns pointed at people all the time)
c) the way men kept staring at us and that they need to have extra cars in the metro where only women are allowed. I didn't like that several men got into these "women only" cars anyway because (I suppose) these ones were less crowded than the other cars. I didn't like THAT at all. No respect. Nevertheless, I have to say, I never felt unsure (but then, we spent our evenings in the hotel). It's just that their stares felt creepy...
d) the food. Nothing new here - Mexican food is still not my favorite and if the food isn't fresh and organic like in the places I visited two years ago? Impossible to love it.


To be fair though, I want to point out some things that I loved because there were things that I loved!
I loved the Murales of Diego Rivera.
I loved the architecture.
I loved their history.
I loved the people (even if they need to work on their macho behavior hahaha)
I absolutely loved the nieves.
Ah yes, the nieves! It's some kind of sorbet but not sorbet (no dairy products in there). I can't find adequate words to describe how delicious it was!

One thing is for sure though. Mexico City doesn't leave anybody unaffected! Are you planing a Mexico trip and hesitate now because you just read my words?
Don't hesitate. Go. Go and see for yourself. Don't listen to me and my "it's all about energy" gibberish! My friend still thinks it's the greatest city in the world!
In the end, traveling is about listening to others and doing what you want anyway!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Remembering: Frida Khalo's museum, Casa Azul (Mexico)

I discovered Diego Rivera's murales during this trip (I want to read more about his art and his life!). So while in Mexico City, it was a must to visit Casa Azul, the house where he and Frida lived. They were kind of THE couple in the Mexican art scene at the beginning of the last century.
The museum showed some of her paintings but it was more about how she/they lived. A wonderful place. In a wonderful neighborhood (that alone was worth the trip!). A cute little garden. Nice spacious rooms. A lot of light. I could easily live there :-)

Frida, for sure, was a fascinating personality.
On the one side she must have suffered a great deal. Not only because of her accident (she was on pain pills all of her life) (the pain she must have suffered!) but also due to her tumultuos relationship to Diego Rivera.
Then on the other had was her deep joy and love for life that you can see and feel in her art!

I bought a "Catrina" to be reminded of this day at Frida's house (I found this picture on Pinterest - mine looks slightly different):

Cool, don't you think? You find them all over Mexico...

Here some of the very few pictures I took during my visit.

Casa Azul means Azure House and it's meant literally!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Remembering: the Temples of Teotihuacán (Mexico)

I'm (almost) my old self again. The flu is gone, my stomach is doing considerably better and I am back to my normal sleep pattern. What a way to come back to my everyday life :-)

It's time to share some pictures and words on my three weeks in Central America. Let's start with the day spent at Teotihuacán on Monday before flying back to Europe.

Teotihuacán. I had to actually google the word of the temple complex just outside of Mexico City (again!) because I keep forgetting it. Teo... what's its name again? Teotihuacán. Easy, right? hahaha Prononciation: [teotiwa'kan] If you are interested in knowing more, Wikipedia will tell you the details.

The temples are located northeast of downtown Mexico City and getting there was quite the adventure! We decided against a guided tour (too expensive) and took the metro and a bus instead. They are situated "just outside the city" but translated to Mexico City's size it meant not only taking 3 different metro lines but also a 50 (yes, fifty!) minutes bus drive. This city is crazy!

The temples were just awesome (and I mean awesome as in "to awe"!). The temple of the sun, the temple of the moon, the smaller temples in between? Incredible.

view from the Temple of the Moon

Temple of the Moon

Temple of the Sun (I didn't climb on this one - too many steps and it was too hot that day!)

Usually, I don't take pictures with other people on them but here I had to. Otherwise, one doesn't get how huge these temples are!



Sunday, April 9, 2017

Back Home

I have the flu.
A stomach flu in addition.
And a crazy jetlag.
This nice trio welcomed me at my arrival back home.
Sigh.
I was feeling very good in Mexico City during my last day. Walked around the neighborhood, had some lunch and some "nieve" (I will have to tell you about the nieve another time). Then I was informed that my flight would have a 3 hours delay.
Sigh.
To cut a long story short. The flight had a 3 hours delay in Mexico City. Another hour in Madrid (stop-over) and another 30 minutes before it finally landed in Zurich.
Somehow, during this what seemed like a never-ending journey back home, I got infected with some nasty viruses. (Or is it my body simply being unhappy about being back?? SMILE)
Oh well, any way, I am taking it easy. Nothing I can change about it anyway. I had wanted to share some of my best pictures with you ASAP. That'll have to wait, I'm afraid.
My bed (the jetlag this time is driving me crazy - I am unable to find my normal sleeping rhythm)
and the bathroom (yeah, I know, gross, right?)
are calling :-)