Sunday, March 29, 2015

My World - My Travels (Michigan, USA)

I've just decided today that I will start a new weekend post series. I realized that I have all these wonderful pictures of my travels and that I rarely look at them any more or think about why or how I took that particular picture. I will therefore post a picture every weekend and tell you something that comes to my mind while looking at the picture I've chosen.

The one above was taken in Michigan, USA - Pictured Rocks on Lake Superior.
I remember that day.
I had been travelling more than 3 weeks already, all around Lake Michigan, and had arrived in Munising, an ugly little village in the middle of nowhere and I was tired. Really tired. I had traveled long hours, it had been raining, the village was so totally ugly and I kind of felt ... down. I decided that my mood would not spoil my day and instead of staying in the hotel (I had arrived in the afternoon), I took my car and went to this viewing point (the guy at the reception had said that it wasn't far away - and he was right). I stood there, marveling at the beauty of nature (as I often do), and suddenly felt better. Much much better. I will never forget how my soul just absorbed this beauty and how my mood vanished from one second to the other :-)

Alebrijes

workshop where I bought my Alebrijes
I haven't told you about Alebrijes. Alebrijes are painted animal figurines - imaginary creatures, craved out of wood and colorfully painted with a love to details that amazed me.
I have bought two of them - really small ones in the workshop you see above - in a tiny little village not far from Oaxaca. I loved that the idea to create these kind of creatures had come from an artist that saw those "creatures" during a dream ... or so the story says ... and during his dream he heard as well that they should be called "alebrijes".
I love a good story, you know that!
And ever since the 1930s, other artists keep copying the art of the first artist (Pedro Linares Lopes - I've looked in up on Google!). These creatures are, at least some of them, frightening. Others though are quite wonderful and unique. I bought a whale and a peacock. They were painted by hand by a friendly lady who owns the said workshop. I saw other alebrijes, in the various mercados I visited, but, I fear, most of them were made in China (but, obviously, nobody would admit to that!!). Unfortunately, it was forbidden to take pictures in her workshop and as my figurines are quite tiny, no pictures available. But if you are interested, look it up on Google ... and be amazed, like I was.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Everyday's Life

Physically I am back to everyday's life (obviously!!). Mentally? Not so much. I am still in a kind of cloud ... in a "I am feeling good in Mexico" kind of cloud. I am in wonderful place in my head and in my heart where there is no stress and there are no frustrations. Just well-being. Just being in the moment. Still being in the moment. Wonderful. I didn't think that it would last so long but it does!
One funny thing though.
My dreams.
I dream like crazy these days - ever since I came back.
I don't remember the details of the dreams, unfortunately, all I know is that there is a lot going on in these dream. AND that that the people in my dream ... speak in Spanish??????
Do you believe this???
When I woke up the first morning - I had to laugh! But laugh really hard! I managed 3 weeks in Mexico with a vocabulary of about 20/30 words and now I dream in Spanish???
hahahahahaha it's just hilarious
I don't speak Spanish in my dreams though, I just listen to the others (and that's what I mostly did during my trip :-))

Anyway. I already knew before having those dreams. Spanish is gonna be my next language. For real this time. Not just some 20/30 palabras but a real vocabulary. That is what I want to work on these next couple of months and who knows? Maybe I will find the money and the time to actually spend some more weeks in South America and get to practice mi espanol?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Back Home

Here I am. Back home. Back home to spring weather, luckily! It would have been much more dramatic to get home to snow and cold weather so I am a lucky girl, again!
Being back, going trough my stuff and my pictures and the souvenirs I bought, made me realize how lucky this whole journey has been. Everything about it, actually.
The weather.
The sites I've visited.
The people I met.
The hotels I stayed at.
The food.
The beach.
The flights were all on time and my luggage was always there as well.

I am sitting here, writing these lines and am deeply grateful for what I have been able to experience.

Gracias. Thank you.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's almost time to say: Hasta Luego Mexico!

Time has gone by so fast - incredibly fast!! Today, I spent some time at the beach, sitting there, being in the moment, starring at the wonderful colors of the Caribbean Sea and then thinking about everything I saw, people I met, places I visited, etc. I will probably need a couple of weeks, once I am back home, to digest all my impressions. For the time being though, I don't want to think about what I'll do when I am back home. For the time being, I am here, having had dinner, writing these words (and packing as well, but, hey, I am not talking about it, OK?). Tomorrow morning I'll head one last time to the beach, for a long walk, then back to the hotel, final packing and then some lunch in one of my favorite places! And then it will be definitively time to say adios! A taxi will take me to Cancun. I'll be staying at a hotel near the airport as my flight to New York leaves early on Tuesday. But I am not talking about that yet, as you know.

I will enjoy my last day tomorrow in Tulum!

PS: the internet connection is still pretty slow and therefore, still no pictures of yesterday's tour. You'll see them once I'll be back home (of which I am NOT talking yet haahahahahaha)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka'an

A last guided tour for today (I hated it to write "last"...). I had wanted to go to this UNESCO site of Sian Ka'an ever since I had read about it back home and was very happy to find out that my hotel organizes tours to this lagoon! It wasn't quite easy to actually get there (bumpy roads!!) but once we were sitting in the boat and driving along the lagoon? I was the happiest person alive! Not only because I totally love boat rides but also because there were no hordes of people today. Wonderful. We've seen dolphins and a sea turtle and all kinds of birds. At some point our guide got excited. He wanted to show us the crocodile. Apparently, or so the legend says, this crocodillo had eaten a human being! (this is a story which my nephews are gonna like!!). they call him "il sicario". The croc is about 3.5 meters long, the guide told us, and at some point they moved him to another place in the lagoon as it was eating ... too many dogs of the small village. Crocodiles being very territorial though ... the guy moved back! We haven't seen him though (would have loved to!) but listening to this story was cool enough!
A wonderful day! I got a bit sun burned and tonight it will be extra hot (not that it's ever cold and not humid, mind you!).

PS: I wanted to post some pictures of today's tour but the internet is so slow - I can't upload them. Will try again tomorrow or then once I am back home. Because yes, two days left and I will be at the airport of Cancun heading back home! Don't wanna think about it yet :-9


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Tulum, the Ruins

Did I say there were many people in Chichen Itza? I was wrong. That wasn't many people. What I saw today in the ruins of Tulum WERE MANY people. Oh my God. It was incredible. Luckily I started my tour before the hordes got in but at some point I had to leave. The hordes were going on my nerves. 
About an hour later I booked a tour with a small boat (I wanted to see the ruins from the sea - and what a sight, and what a ride!! I love boat rides!!). While sitting (all alone with my guide) in the boat, I saw that the people in the ruins had even increased. wow. And it's not even high season. Incredible. Tulum being near to Chancun and being very small in addition, gets crowded rather quickly. The view though was amazing! And the place, crowds disregarding, was magical. They really knew where to built there cities, these Mayans!





Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lazy Days in Tulum

Have I mentioned that it's hot over here? So very hot. And so very humid. I went on a long walk today, along the beach (see pictures of previous post) and it was OK because it was rather windy. But then, at around noon time, when I took my bike back to town - oh my, no wind there. By the time I arrived in town, I was sweating heavily! Therefore, I spent my afternoon in my room and in the (mini-)swimming pool of my hotel. I am no crazy gringo that spends her time in this heat on the beach, without any shade! No way!! (all the gringos I see around are in fact sun burned - easy to get why they are, right?) At five temperatures got better and I went out to have lunch/dinner and walk around the shops. Suddenly it started raining. Very heavy rain. For about 30 seconds / 1 minute max. Then blue sky again and it got even more humid than before! Welcome to Yucatan!

I drove by (with my bike) the ruins of Tulum this morning. It was about 10.30. I saw a lot of people. Hordes of people actually. Like they were going to a concert or some other grand event. Then I realized they were all heading to the entrance of the park! Oh my. I don't want to spend tomorrow morning with hundreds of others in the ruins and have therefore decided that I will wake up early and hit the ruins at around 8/9 max. (the site opens at 7am - now I know why!!).

My last days of my trip are gonna be lazy. Lazy and hot :-)

Tulum Beach

No additional words needed, in my opinion!





Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tulum

Another smooth and punctual ride ... this time by bus! There was not much to see during the drive - Yucatan, I may have already told you, is just flat flat flat flat. Nothing to see actually.
I fell in love with Tulum at first sight. And I choose my hotel well, again. All my hotels have been wonderful. It's not easy to choose by seeing pictures on the internet but my insticts were right on all of them! This one is again a cosy, small one and guess who welcomed me at the reception? Francesco from Italy SMILE
I walked around a bit, had some wonderful lunch at five pm (getting totally into Mexican life style hahahaha), and walked around more. Now I am sitting on my small patio, writing these words ... and I sweat and sweat and sweat. I thought it was hot in Mérida but here? Oh my, even more so. Tomorrow I am going to rent a bike and I don't know if I am gonna make it in this heat. I will probably have to take siesta during the hottest period of the day.
Tulum's ruins are by the sea (how cool is that?) and I can reach them ... by bike.
I can feel it. These are gonna be some wonderful last days of a wonderful trip altogether.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mérida

Mérida and I, well that wasn't love at first sight, you may remember my post of a couple of days ago. It wasn't love at second sight either, I have to admit.
I have no idea why.
Today, I felt good and was eager to discover the city. But hey, it didn't feel good. Nothing did. I have no idea why. I even took one of these bus tours around the city (I thought that it was maybe due to the fact that I hadn't had a whole impression of the city). Well, it wasn't that.
Mérida and I simply didn't click.
It happens. I can't click with every place I travel to, right?
So, instead of getting frustrated about this non-love, I simply went back to the hotel and spent the afternoon at the swimming pool. Not bad either :-)

Tomorrow I am off to Tulum. Let's see what I'll say about this place!
Hasta luego!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Uzmal Yucatan

Another precious and wonderful place today ... and as Uzmal is quite far away from Cancun and Playa del Carmen there weren't many tourits around. Which allowed me to wander around and get a real feeling of the place. Magic. The Mayas knew not only how to build their temples but as well how to choose the location! I can't add more words to today's excursion. The pictures say it all!

it's the only half-round temple that the Mayas have built





the steps were steep but the view from the top was so worth it!

here we go - that was the view

this is how Yucatan looks like - flat flat flat land! Just bushes and small trees (and some wonderful temples in between obviously)

cool, don't you think?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Spanish

Since arriving in Mérida, I hear all kind of languages again! Oaxaca was a Mexican and American kind of place. Not Mérida.
Today, on the guided tour bus we had a Brazilian girl (who is working in Mexico City for 6 months for Danone!), a couple from France, a young guy from Taiwan (who wants to move to Paris!). All the others were Mexicans though.
The guide spoke Spanish and English . His English was well-meant but not that good therefore I decided to join the Spanish speaking group. I am soooo glad I took lessons with Gustavo back home. I have no idea what I would have done without my 20 words of Spanish. No idea. So, I try to have Spanish conversations and lucky for me, when I can't think of a word, saying it in Italian is mostly sufficient to continue the conversation. I find that Mexican love Europeans (well, not the Spaniards, you know, history...) and they are thrilled if you try to speak their language and they don't look at you funnily if you make mistakes (not like the French, for instance). I love them! I have to get fluent in order to have an actual conversation (should I come back - and I am sure I will!).

Chichén Itzá

I spent my day with hordes of tourist - but that was to be expected. One can't visit Chichén Itzá without bumping into other tourists. But luckily our guide knew his way about the site and therefore we got some nice views and stops in shady spots (you cannot imagine how hot it got!!! No, you can't!!!). These Mayan were smart - I knew that they had a huge knowledge of astronomy etc. but hearing it all today (our guide was quite prepared) made me realize again how advanced their culture was.


words are coming out of his mouth



death and the dead were important (and still are)


Caracol Obeservatorium

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mérida - the cathedral

I loved the interior of the cathedral - so different from all the gold barock back in Oaxaca!




Mérida

Arriving in Mérida was a bit of a shock, I have to admit. This is no cute little town, with cute little colored houses and cute streets. No, no, no, definitively not. Mérida is how I had actually imagined Mexico (before visiting Oaxaca that is). Nothing cute here. It's loud. The houses are not well kept. Countless beggars and the streets are incredibly lousy - the traffic is incredible and I have yet to understand why every store plays loud music!
As I said. bit of a shock. I was tired, that didn't help. I got up at 6 this morning and was on two different flights (everything went smoothly BTW and my luggage was at the baggage claim of Mérida!!). I was overwhelmed. And then the heat. Oh my God, it's hot over here. Hot and humid. At some point it even rained, for maybe three minutes. I got a bit wet but five minutes later I was hot again (and dry as well).
After having had lunch (at 3 pm like the Mexicans obviously hahahaha), I wandered around a bit and finally sat down at a bench. Suddenly it was all too much. I decided to go back to the hotel to enjoy the swimming pool.

I feel better now and am ready for new adventures. Like to Chizén Itza tomorrow :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Oaxaca - it's time to say goodbye!

Last day in Oaxaca. Wow, I can't believe how quickly time went by. I had a lazy morning at the hotel. And got to talk with the boyfriend of the owner's daughter who is ... Italian! We had a nice chat! He is an interesting guy and his girlfriend is really friendly and speaks English fluently (which is NOT obvious here).
Then with my friend S. we went to visit two small museums and later met some American friends of her, which became sort of my frineds as well during this stay, for lunch.
Later in the afternoon I met S. at her appartment where we had a farewell drink with other Americans up on the roof (really nice teraza!). One last tostada and here I am, back at the hotel, packing my bags.

Tomorrow I will be going to Mérida. Even though I am kind of sad to leave this place and S. and all my new friends, I am nevertheless looking forward to discover new places!

Hasta luego Oaxaca!
Buenos dias Mérida!

Temples of Monte Alban

It's not yet the Mayan culture that I am getting to know. It's Zapotec land here. The temples of Monte Alban are on a mountain and we went there by bus (it's a short drive from Oaxaca), up to almost 2000 meters! Incredible, don't you think? They discovered the site only in the 19th century and not all the temples are recovered yet (missing funds!!).




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Walking the Streets of Oaxaca











Having Time

I could have stayed less days in Oaxaca and go visit some other place before heading off to Yucatan. Could have. Yes. But did not. Fortunately.
Fortunately, because there are many places to go to in Oaxaca or places around Oaxaca. And also because this leaves me ... with time. Time, like today, to take it easy. We went to a museum, then strolled along the nice streets of Oaxaca, had lunch in a wonderful place where they serve one menu (for about USD 11) but what a menu!! Then I spent the rest of the afternoon strolling along the streets once more, by myself this time (I can't get enough of the lovely houses!) and got back to the hotel by 7 pm, quite tired (after having had dinner in another lovely place).
Tired and happy.
My brain finally stopped hyperventilating (like it did the first days). Now I can simply be. I am totally in the moment.
And then sometimes, a feeling of total happiness invades me. It lasts maybe a couple of seconds, a minute max. A moment where I just am. Grateful for what I have. Grateful for what I am able to discover. Happy for who I am and where I am. I love these moments. Wish I had more of them while being in my every day life :-)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Oaxaca's surrounding area

This is how the surrounding area of Oaxaca looks like:





Hierve el Agua, Mexico

I had the most wonderful of days! Not only because I got to visit wonderful places but because on my guided tour to Hierve el Agua I met these three (elderly) Mexican ladies who were just funny. Hilarious, I'd say! We had a lot of laughs and they taught me a few fancy Mexican words. I honestly have no idea how I got to have mas o menos conversations with these ladies with my 20 Spanish  words but I somehow managed (which I am pretty proud of BTW).
Anyway, I have now a standing invitation to visit Mari Carmen in Mexico City. And Pilar and Conchita in Veracruz. And should they ever come to Europe (they love Europe!! And they love shopping and when I mentioned going shopping in Milano Mari Carmen's eyes went big!) they will let me know.
Isn't traveling wonderful? You get not only to see the most amazing new places but meet all these wonderful new people!

Hierve de Agua (for more infos just google it!) was on my list because I had seen pictures and I absolutely wanted to got there. It's only about a 1.5 hours drive from Oaxaca and on the drive there we went to Mitla (archeological site) as well.
Hierve el Agua was magical. Even better than in my imagination (and you know how fertile my imagination is SMILE). This is how it looks like:

seen from the view point


looks like a waterfall but it's just sulfur

I have no idea how this tree can grow there - there is nothing beyond the water! Just a steep cliff!


don't you love the color combination? I do!