Friday, March 20, 2020

Home, not so Sweet Home, March 20, 2020

So I’ve been home 7 days and have been in isolation - well not really complete isolation because I was with my parents a couple of days and Jane and the kids for four days.  I’m not antsy - there’s piss all to do outside in -20 with the wind, my couch is comfortable and I have wifi.

Yesterday I vacuumed my place and my deck.  It was covered with bird shit and dirt, the deck that is.  My garden box lost a lot of soil due to wind erosion so I’ll have to cover it this fall.  I think someone in my building is feeding sparrows so they dine on their deck and shit on mine.  At least the pigeons didn’t spend the winter couch surfing like last year although there were two fluttering around this morning.  I’ll wait for it to warm up to wash everything off.

Besides that, I play a lot of Scrabble online - they’ve discontinued the real Scrabble app and come up with some new one that allows you to win points and diamonds that burst into points and other bullshit like that.  I think it’s a sad society that needs that kind of stimulus to play a game so I skip through all of that as fast as I can and dream of the good old days.

Oh and my Mexican sheets - the best sheets I ever slept on were in Bucerias so I made a special trip to the factory in Guadalajara to buy some.  They are yellow and look great in my room but even after washing, it felt like I was in a barn sleeping on straw bales.  So right now, they’re back in the washer in hot water and I may just keep on washing them until the fibres break down a bit, if they ever do.

I have also been watching tv - something I just about never do.  I like to watch the Riders and golf and pay close to $100/month for that luxury.  So I watched Schitt’s Creek - WTF I say, The Office - not quite as bad as Schitt’s Creek, Seinfeld which was really funny, The Simpsons - too whiny for me and Everybody Loves Raymond - I liked it.  Believe it or not, they were all new to me.  I’ll check out some more today.

I also watched Donald Trump address his people this morning.  I laughed - what a funny guy. The Chinese Virus - it is I guess and maybe it wouldn’t exist if they didn’t eat such weird shit.  Everyone is working really hard, really hard.  I liked how he spoke like a person, not a political robot and he stressed how Mexico isn’t being treated any differently than Canada at this time anyway as both borders are closed.

So, I guess I have another week left to spend by myself although I read today that symptoms present after two to four days of exposure.  I guess they don’t really know and we are lucky they haven’t suggested a month or a year of self isolation.

And the really bad news?  Based on my wine consumption last night, there is no way my supply will last another week....

Monday, March 16, 2020

Home! March 15, 2020

Well, my 2019 - 2020 winter trip is over.  I enjoyed four and a half months in western and northern Mexico.  I saw a lot:  beaches, canyons, the inside of buses, Colonial architecture, Air BNBs, beaches, Oxxos, mercados, street food restaurants, bars, museums and did I say beaches?

I stayed in 24 different places, rode in luxury coaches, old retired school buses and mini vans, in the back of pickups, in planes, trains, Uber and subways.

I fried a lot of omelettes and camarones, drank a lot of beer and spent way too much time in the sun.

My favourite place was Zihuatanejo and La Ropa Beach, however the interior Colonial towns: Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Queratero, San Luis de PotosĂ­.... were beautiful too.  

I met so many interesting people along the way - new ones everyday and occasionally old friends.  

My Spanish improved to the point I could go on a Spanish speaking tour and understand.  

I enjoyed travelling alone again, I never once felt lonely - bored maybe but never alone.  

Will I go back?  Most definitely.  Mexico is a hidden gem: it’s a five hour flight from home, the dollar is very strong to the peso, the food is unbeatable, the Spanish is excellent, as is the climate, the culture and the people.  The public transportation might just be the best in the world: it’s convenient, frequent and cheap.  

Next winter I’m seriously considering staying home.  I have a couple of larger trips still in my head but I’ve been away for 6 years and had a great run.  I think maybe I’m missing out too much on watching my grandchildren grow up - Nico’s already 4!  So, that’s what I’m thinking right now but when it hits -40 next winter, I might be booking the next fight south!  For now, I’m looking forward to being at home, visiting with family and friends, meeting a new grandchild the end of April, golfing, motorcycling and being grateful for the life I have.

I am a bit confused by the fuss over the Coronavirus that has more or less shut down the world. I am supposed to be self isolating for the next 14 days because I have just returned from somewhere else. It’s quite unbelievable really.  Fear has gripped the world and it’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.  

We celebrated March birthdays in Saskatoon today.  My Dad was 90 on March 9, Nico was 4 on March 3rd and Andi will be 2 on March 26th-

Jane and I went to Costco and when we came back, Andi had crashed on the living room floor-

I’m looking forward to spending time with these two little rats!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Ciudad de Mexico, 🇲🇽 el trece de Marzo, 2020

I was on my way by 8:30 and my first stop was at a street stall for breakfast.  What a selection!

Nearby was a cool clock known as the Ottoman Clock.  It was given to Mexico in 1910 which was Porfiriate or the Centenial celebration of the War of Independence.  The Ottoman Empire was showing their gratitude to Mexico for accepting migrants from Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey-

I was on my way to Calle Regina, known for it’s street art and along the way there was a lot.  I was walking through the music store part of town and there were paintings on most doors.  I was lucky to get here before the stores opened because once their doors are up, the paintings are hidden for the day-

Right at the start of Calle Regina is the Parroquia de la Natividad de Maria. It was interesting how the sun was shining directly on Jesus-

The side walls are very ornate-

This church even has a pipe organ-

Homeless sleep near the church. For the size of the city, I have only seen a very few-

Further along was the green wall of one of the many universities. I like how the bike and tricycle are also on the wall-

More street art-

After, I was on my way to Palacio National when I spotted this flower. I have seen this grass everywhere - here, in Central America and in the U.S.  In fact, I brought a plant home once from South Carolina but I’ve never seen it flower-

Beautiful buildings along the way-

From one side to the other of the Zocolo-

The Cathedral-

There were a few demonstrations:  oil and gas, unions and university students manifesting just to manifest. They had extension cords strung across the sidewalk and one woman was cooking breakfast on a hot plate while sitting in the entrance of her tent-

The National Palace has been the seat of the government since the 16th century.  There are many courtyards but few are open to the public-

The main attraction are the murals by Diego Rivera which are found on the second floor and in the staircase-

The parliament-

The mural shows the history of Mexico from 1521 to 1930.  It’s 4800 square feet and was painted by Diego Rivera between 1929 and 1935.  The work is actually a triptych which means three murals forming one picture.  On the right side is pre-Hispanic Mexico and the life of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl who is wearing the green headdress of Quetzal feathers.  On the right side, men and women are working in arts and crafts but on the left, Huitzilopochtli, another god, leads war, destruction and slavery-

On the left side of the staircase , Diego demonstrates the Marxist ideology and critiques Mexico post- revolution.  Capitalists exploit the workers and it’s all controlled by New York bankers.  We can see class struggle and the destruction of the Church which leads to a new dawn with Karl Marx at the helm.  The rising sun promises a new future-

The middle mural shows the history of Mexico-

The mythical eagle holds the atl-tlachinolli, water and fire which are symbols of war-

The Spanish Conquest of the Aztec Empire-

The evangelization-

The Inquisition-

Other murals in the hallway show The Arrival of Vernan Cortez in Vera Cruz.  He founded La Villa Rico de la Vera Cruz in 1519 and it was the port of entry of the conquerors, the Christian religion, cattle, black slaves and the European culture.  It’s hard to see in the picture but the child on his Mom’s back in the bottom middle of the picture has green eyes-

Feather work and gold smithing were talents of the Zapotec culture in the Oaxaca region-

Maize, yellow and blue was the main staple.  Cocoa beans were used as money for trade-

After about an hour, I took the metro to the Anthropology Museum.  I wanted to visit the rooms of the states I had just been to but found that most of the country has similar artifacts however in the west they did a form of stack burials where the corpse was positioned with its head to the east and many gifts were left to help the person transition to the afterlife.  Sometimes others- family members or the Shaman were buried with the dead person-

I like the mosaic work on this mask-

He’s kind of cute-

I took the metro back to the historical centre and travelled most of the time in the women only cars.  There’s a sense of calm here, one doesn’t have to be on guard all of the time-

I had lupper at a restaurant my landlord suggested - it’s a beef, chile and cheese burrito that was very good-

Next to the restaurant is a sculpture by Pedro Friedeburg, a Mexican artist-

I came back to my house and enjoyed a couple of beer up on the roof.  I’m catching the bus tomorrow morning to the airport for my 12:30 flight via Toronto.  I have mixed feelings about going home - I’m always a bit sad when my trips are over.  They seem to go by so fast but I guess that’s because I’m having a good time.  I like to go home to see my family and friends but I do find it a bit boring there.  Yes I go to the gym, walk, ride my motorcycle, golf and work but ‘real’ life is different from ‘travelling’ life but I wouldn’t want to be away year round - I want to be ‘Home’.  I am thankful that I have the opportunity to travel like I do.  The corona virus is destroying the world - fear is an emotion that is created from the imagination.  What if?  What if?  We can drive ourselves crazy with scenarios that aren’t likely to come true.  Things at home are going to be quite different from when I left.  I hope I’ve got enough toilet paper!  

  Cancun, Mexico to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,     December 31, 2023 I was up at 4:30 and walking to the bus depot by 5:30.  I wore my headlam...