¡Hasta Luego Mexico!

Gracias y hasta luego

Gracias y hasta luego

We are coming to the end of our time here in this marvellous varied country, the next adventure beckons in New Zealand.

We spent until the 18th January in our familiar shack, Casa Rosada in San Cristobal. We had some good times there, though we were both a little lonesome and blue around Christmas. The dodgy boiler and cabbagey smell were not among the highlights either, but we had some good tequila nights with our neighbour (who has seen Elvis, The Doors, and met Tom Waits). I had many moments of Hummingbird delights in our little garden and started up a new website which displays images much better. (have a look, do –  http://www.franriley.com). So, on balance it was all pretty good. The major excitement in our last week was Matt hooking up with an excellent guitarist and very nice guy. They played Gypsy Manouche music together playing three gigs and the sparks just flew!

We flew to Mexico City, after deciding against the bone numbing coach journey, to stay once again with our dear (and very patient) friend Angeles and her sweet cat Zaha. One of the lovely things about being return visitors is that Zaha went from hiding behind the furniture to sitting on my lap at any opportunity, I felt most honoured. Matt was nobly wading through 46 Queen songs so I went off adventuring on my own, continuing my Frida Kahlo pilgrimage.

Frida's house

Frida's house

I went to the houses that Diego Rivera had built for them, consisting of a big pink one for him and a smaller blue one for her joined by a walkway to the roofs. She was miserable here and I could see why, it felt like a functional industrial unit, such a contrast to the soft quirkiness of her family home, Casa Azul. I did some serious pavement pounding that day and got lost numerous times, I developed a bit of a system in asking for directions, if four or more people agreed it was one way then there’s just a chance it could be. They are so obliging most Mexicans, but they can’t stand to admit they might not know the way, so they just make it up!  At one point two traffic police joined in the earnest discussion of where I should go while the traffic waited in chaos.

Matt finishes 46 Queen songs

Matt finishes 46 Queen songs

We said gracias to Angeles and moved into an apartment in the city (after getting lost in the taxi!) From the outside it looked really grim and squalid, but was surprisingly clean and comfortable inside. Again I went off on art adventures while Matt was manacled to the computer and Queen. They have some mighty impressive museums and galleries here, I went to the beautiful art deco Belle Artes with murals by all of Mexican big boys.  Matt finished his work and we went out exploring, among our finds were the most fabulous post office in the world, a meteorite, a bizarre perfume shop straight out of Harry Potter, a magical cafe with a scary waitress, an Escher exhibition and a modern milagro (miracle) featuring Lila Downs.

Aztec centre of the Universe

Aztec centre of the Universe

On our last day we battled our way through a crowd clutching plaster Jesus’ posted some cards, Matt checked out a street of guitars, drank beer in the sun and I had a ‘limpia’, a traditional Aztec cleansing involving herbs and lots of incense. I then went and un-cleansed myself with more beer!

Now we’re packed and ready for LA, then NZ… see you there.

Gallery of pics Click on any pic below to see full size slideshow and also check the video at the bottom of the page too!

Video of the Zocalo in Mexico City


No sleep to Chiapas

Our garden

Buses in Mexico are fantastic, you can go pretty much anywhere in relative comfort and cheaply too.  Thus we left the familiarity of Oaxaca for the Southern mountain town of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas.  The bus left Oaxaca at 8.30pm and arrived at 7.30am – a bit of a journey! The seats were very comfortable but I managed about an hour’s sleep, Fran did a bit better, but we arrived feeling pretty exhausted and weird from lack of sleep.

Our BedroomOur new home for the next six weeks or so was to be Casa Rosada, an apartment in the central part of the city.  We had booked this some time ago on the internet and had arranged to meet someone outside the house at 8.30am, (we thought the bus arrived later) so we had to wait for 50 minutes outside the house on the street.  There was a lot of activity going on as we are opposite the store house for the local market, so there was a constant stream of people with massively loaded barrows and hand-carts taking their stalls to the market site just around the block. 8.30 came and went and no sign of our host, we gave it another 20 minutes but still nada. As you can imagine we were getting pretty tired and fed up by now, so we tried to call him, eventually getting through after some confusion with public telephones and cell phone codes (don’t ask).  Anyway, turns out we were supposed to be there yesterday, oops…. Luckily the next door neighbour had a key and came out to rescue us.  His name is John and he is a Mexican/American living here in San Cristobal for part of the year.  It was a relief to get in and John gave us the low down on the place and we finally flopped down for some sleep.

The first few days at Casa Rosada were difficult, mainly because it was so cold!  We were so used to the constant warmth in Oaxaca and it came as quite a shock as the temperature was way down at about 8 degrees celsius.  Also we could not get the Boiler working and the apartment seemed generally bloody freezing.  We were both feeling a bit like orphans as well because we had left all our friends behind in Oaxaca and knew not a soul here.  Eventually after a few days and with the help of Sebastian, our Mexican host, we got on a more even keel and things seemed a bit brighter.

The surrounding mountainsSan Cristobal is a fascinating city, a lot smaller than Oaxaca and with very high indigenous Mayan population. We have been walking around the shiny pavements and taking in the cafes and restaurants.  There is a more ‘alternative’ culture here, alongside the Mayan influence, the European side of things seems more geared towards new age styles. There is a big Zapatista presence here as well which is very tangible in all the graffiti everywhere. (San Cristobal was the centre of the Zapatista uprising in 1994). (See guide books/wikipedia for more blah).

It’s good to be somewhere else, although we are missing our friends and of course there’s Christmas and all that at the back of our minds.  I’m not sure if I care or about Christmas itself, but it’s definitely a time of year when friends and family are important and we are so far away.  We also decided not to go to Nicaragua, so we are going to miss our pal Austin which is a great sadness for us, (abrazos to you mate). Still, here we are a third of the way through our trip and soon we will kiss goodbye to Mexico, there’s still plenty of things to do here but the idea of New Zealand is looming…

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring more of the area, but here is a gallery of pics of what we’ve been up to so far. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to comment too..