I haven't been everywhere yet, but it is on my list...
We are sorry your membership didn't pay of in the last month. Our redaction was extremely busy gathering stories in the field and this made it impossible to write anything down. We promise to make it up to you.
All jokes aside, December was extremely busy for me, and I just didn't find the time nor the energy to write about everything that happened. I did however succeed in immortalizing lots of memories with my camera. Since 1 picture is often as explanatory as a good story, I will put mostly a lot of pictures and videos online. Every picture or video will (as always) be put in a folder with a self-explanatory title and all of the images are (as always) linked to the world map where you can check out the trajectory I have been following.
Furthermore, I will try to summarize shortly in this blog post what adventures crossed my path lately. Date of writing is January 13th 2019, and I need to go back until the events of December 11th 2018. I'm a little ashamed and disappointed that I didn't share anything here for a whole month... The procrastination-monkey had me under it's control apparently...
December 11th 2018. I visited Copoya. Copoya is a nice little town, very close to Tuxtla. Tuxtla is located more or less in a valley between the mountains, Copoya is situated on top of one of those mountain ridges. At the boarder of Copoya, on the mountain ridge facing Tuxtla, they have build an immense Christ Statue, or rather a Cross with an imbedded Christ (difficult to explain, look at the pictures). This Christ statue is very impressive (it is bigger than the one in Rio the Janeiro), because it is build on the mountain ridge facing Tuxtla, you can see it from nearly every point in the city and it helped me yet many times orientation-wise. And although I am not religious, I can understand why this statue is important for the religious experience, it really gives you the feeling 'He' is always observing you. Being at the cross itself in Copoya gave me a really peaceful fealing. Temperature at hight is a little cooler (read: it was nice to not have the feeling I was melting for once), there is some wind blowing through your hair, and while you are standing underneath Christ you can enjoy the view of the city and some big birds (I think eagles, but not sure) soar a few meters over your head. The town itself also was worthwhile, apparently the government dicided to have an art project in Copoya about half a year ago and thus the facades of a lot of houses got painted by professional artists. Also the town had some Ocotepec-vibes (although it does seem a little less poor and it is better connected to the rest of society), which was a nice nostalgic moment for me.
As I remember, in Belgium december means: Christmas vibes all over the place, right?! It is not different in Albergue Infantil Salesiano (although it doesn't really feel like Christmas for me with almost 30 degrees of temperature). Lots of groups visited us to share the Christmas spirit. We went to a Christmas show with the kids. We prepared three weeks for a play (in which I played the arch angel Gabriel) and we performed it twice for audience. We prepared Christmas Carol songs and went to perform in restaurants as some sort of advert-campaign for the children's home. The home got decorated with Christmas trees, Christmas lights,... Several piñatas were smashed to smithereens,... Many things were going on, I suppose the best way for you to get a hint of the atmosphere is by watching the videos and pictures. Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful (preferable cruelty free: read Vegan) Christmas.
Then around December 20th the children left the home (with family or foster family) and we started a big clean up. December 22nd in the evening I boarded a bus to Mexico City where I arrived the 23th in the morning. In Mexico I was again very warmly welcomed by the sisters of Don Bosco.
The 23th I got a nice tour in the city by another volunteer, thank you Elsie.
I am not going to write much about Mexico City, look at my pictures and look things up if you are interested or ask me stuff. I think it is a city with an incredible rich history which left definitely visible marks. This makes this city absolutely worthwhile to visit, seriously, if you are into ancient cultures, this country and its capital is the place to be for you. But. There is always a but. I would never want to live long term in Mexico City. Although I didn't get robbed or anything myself, I never felt at ease here, I witnessed several thefts. I will try to explain. If you listen to local advice and you use your sound mind, Mexico City is not really dangerous, you will not be killed. But if you let your guard down for one moment, you will get robbed or pickpocketted. So... Just some safety measures when you go to Mexico city.
* Most neighborhoods are not safe to walk around after 21-22h. If you want to party all night long go to Amsterdam or Budapest, okay. Mexico City you visit for it's rich culture and you go to bed early.
* The Metro system works excellent, it interconnects the city very well and it is so cheap it is almost for free. There is only one downside, it is the most preferred hunting-ground for pickpockets. Thus, before you enter the subway, you make sure your pockets are empty, you put everything you have got with you in a purse or backpack and you hold that item very close to your chest.
* When you go eat or drink something, don't leave your wallet, phone or anything valuable for that matter on the table. All it takes is one skilled thief to distract you and his mate will make a run for it with your stuff.
* Don't take much more money with you than you expect to need and you have to be very careful when taking money from the ATM. Robbers will follow you after your ATM-visit to pickpocket you as if you are the ATM.
I swear, non of these measures is exaggerated... And that made it quiet a stressful experience for me. So visiting the city again: would love to; but I'd rather live alone on the moon than long term in Mexico City.
December 24th, I visited one of the most beautiful archeological sites I've been in my life: Teotihuacán. (And I have Angkor Wat as an experience to compare With). It is impossible to describe the magic you can feel standing on the piramide of the sun looking to the piramide of the moon. I direct you to my pictures and I strongly advice you to visit this place. If you don't feel any spiritual connection in this place, I'm afraid nothing will do it for you.
Also December 24th, it was going to be quiet a lonely Christmas for me (although I was invited to join the sisters in their celebration, you know, it's not that same cozy-warm-family-feeling you long for at Christmas). But fate was generous to me, Astrid and Denis are two volunteers of Don Bosco as well, and I got invited by them to celebrate with their family. It was an exceptional experience to be invited at Christmas by such generous people. Did you ever invited a lonely stranger for Christmas? I think now that's actually a perfect way to symbolically celebrate Christmas. They even made sure I had a vegan meal, 1000 times thank you!
December 25th. I went with Astrid, Denis, Paco (boyfriend of Astrid) and Santiago (a friend of Denis) to Tepoztlán, a so called "Pueblo mágico" in the state Morelos. And it really is magical. It is a beautiful small town and you can eat and drink very well here. I tried my first Pulque here and I had some excellent vegan tacos with mushrooms and potatoes here. From here you can hike up the mountain to El Tepozteco, an archeological treasure. Here on top of the mountain you find the remains of an ancient piramidal structure that once supported a sacred temple. Absolutely amazing.
December 26th I spent another day with Denis in the Mexico City and we went to the top of the Torre Latinoamericano. When you go to Mexico City you definitely need to go to a high point (for example Torre Latinoamericano or the monument of the revolution) to be able to appreciate the magnitude of this city. It really is a big big big big city.
December 27th and 28th I went to the state Michoacán to meet an old friend: Bryan. When I came as a volunteer to Mexico in 2015, Bryan was there too. It was really nice to meet him again in his home city Morelia. I was welcomed in his home and met his lovely parents, thank you for giving me a place to sleep and Bryan thank you for being an excellent guide. Morelia really is the capital of the world. Opposed to my feelings for Mexico City, Morelia would definitely be a place where I would love to spend the remainders of my days. Also Bryan showed me the nearby Pueblo Mágico Pátzcuaro and the nearby Island-town Janitzio. Truly wonderful.
From the 29th of December until the first of January, I went on a road trip with Astrid, Denis and Paco to the state Oaxaca. I was already completely blown away by the landscapes of Michoacán, I thought nothing could top that, and then we drove through the state Oaxaca. Just... Waauw. The city Oaxaca is nice to visit but for me personally Morelia was a thousand times more beautiful. We did visit a lot on our road trip. Short summary:
* city Oaxaca
* Monte Alban, a big archeological site
* El Tule, a really, really, really big tree. This fellow is over 2000 years old and still alive and kicking. Just as a reference, this was a little tree when Jesus Christ roamed the earth.
* Mitla, another beautiful archeological site.
* Teotitlán del Valle, another pueblo mágico.
* Hierve El Agua. I don't know what you did on the 31st of December, but I celebrated the end of 2018 by swimming in paradise. Just breathtaking.
* I hope you had all a nice party to start 2019. My year had a little bit of a rough start. I got a little sick... Well... Sick... In Oaxaca eating Vegan wasn't that easy, but there was one vegan plate they served everywhere: playuda with nopal. (playuda is something between a very big tortilla and a pizza, nopal is a cactus) I didn't know Nopal is also used medicinal as a laxant.... Let's just say that after the Nopal made its natural way to the toilet, I had the cleanest digestive system you can imagine...
Anyway, Astrid, Paco, Denis, I love you, thank you for an amazing road trip!
January 2nd I spent another day with Denis in Mexico City, we visited the wonderful archeological site Templo Mayor. I Will definitely return to Mexico City. Still have a lot to visit there and I want to see my new friends over there again. In the evening I boarded the bus back to Tuxtla.
In Tuxtla we had spent some more days cleaning and preparing the home and Sunday the 6th of January or kids arrived again. Since then we are back in our regular routine.
I think that is enough to give you an idea what the passed month looked like for me. Definitely take a look at my pictures and videos and enjoy with me. There are some more things I want to write about, I promise it won't take another Month before you hear from me again.
For now: Peace out. Happy and prosperous 2019
Ps: Go Vegan