Archive for the ‘Mexico’ Category

December 18. Yellowknife Bay. “High Noon”. Just a couple of days before the solstice, when everything will start to get better or at least brighter I tell myself.

This time of year midnight, 8 am, 4 pm, it doesn’t really matter, it’s all dark. Around 1 am on the solstice I tie a string of Bhutanese prayer flags between some birch trees then lie down in the snow on Yellowknife Bay to watch the lunar eclipse and make angels. -30? -40? Whatever. My Snowgoose parka, skipants and Baffin boots will keep me warm. Distant snowmobiles roar across the lake, a few pickups drive by on the road above. I hear the swish swish of the skier coming out of the night before I see him and call out, great eclipse, eh? in case he is about to run me over. I’d like to take out a couple of those streetlights he says pointing up at the road before continuing on his way. Later I can hear engines starting across the bay, see single headlights aimed back towards the lakeshore. Although my parka is striped with reflective tape it occurs to me that might not be so useful laying in the snow within metres of a skidoo trail. I get up and walk home.

The next day I fly to the Okanagan to spend Christmas with my Mom and Dad. The joy of waking up to daylight at 7:30 am. I’m tempted to cancel my trip to Mexico on Boxing Day. Inevitable airport and customs hassles, ridiculous connections, and really, what are the chances I’ll make it through Kelowna, Vancouver and Portland this time of year without getting fogged in at least once. Is a mere 6 days in Mexico worth all this? The thought of it all makes me feel like a grumpy bear dragged out of hibernation.

But I do get on the first plane. And the second. And the third. And the fourth. And then I’m in Playa del Carmen. Days and days of friends, sun, sand, sea, rum, hammocks, quesadillas, bright colours …

New Years’ Eve. How can 2011 be anything but a letdown after 2010, my year of Andes Rockies Himalayas Alps Himalayas Alps Rockies South Atlantic South Pacific North Pacific North Atlantic Mediterranean Caribbean Italian Riviera French Riviera Mayan Riviera Huron Superior Maggiore Futaleufu Po Seine Tiber Thames Pho Chu Mo Chu island valley rainforest glacier pampas bog plain meadow tor steppe desert taiga. A voice on the breeze whispers that some how some way believe it or not 2011 will be even better. For me, and, I sincerely wish, for all of you.

Post script: January 6, 2011. 7:45 am. I’ve traded flipflops for mukluks, swimsuit for parka, and set out on my 45 minute walk to work. It’s only -20 something, and I’m grateful for that. Dawn is just close enough that I can make out the silhouettes of the prayer flags fluttering below as I pass by. I hope they’ll make someone else smile too.


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After 3 shots of tequila and one of mezcal, I could no longer delay the inevitable. The bag of fried grasshoppers, which Irma had just purchased from the market in Tepoztlan awaited patiently in the middle of the table. Dozens of detached insect legs clung to the inside of the plastic. “OK, just put one in my hand,” I asked Gabriel, already cringing. I squeezed my eyes shut and he dropped one on my palm. I screamed and threw it across the table. He picked it up and ate it while Irma laughed at me. On the second try, he slowly placed one in my hand. I had intended not to look, but could not resist. This one had no legs, and its tapered body reminded me of a tiny mummy. I popped it into my mouth. “You have to taste it, don’t just swallow it,” said Gabriel, reading my mind. It was crunchy and lemony, not bad, but I didn’t ask for seconds.

Despite the grasshopper episode, the weekend at Gabriel’s family’s vacation home in Tepoztlan was very relaxing, spent mostly throwing the frisbee for their tireless border collie Matteo, sleeping in the sun, playing Scrabble in Espanol and enjoying one delicious meal after another. We had initially planned a more ambitious weekend including visits to Puebla and Taxco, but one look at this peaceful place in the shadow of a pyramid and cliffs renowned for positive energy and UFO sightings, and I didn’t want to go anywhere else! My kind hosts agreed to stay.

On Monday, Gabriel and Irma were back at work, and I took a day tour to the pyramids at Tetuhuacan. Our guide disappeared for a couple of hours after dropping us off at the pyramids, but the other guests were fortunately good company: a young Parisian couple with an adorable 5 month old baby who just about puked on me on the ride home (his mom got the worst of it), a young American on a temporary assignment to the embassy, a Brazilian firefighter named Fabio who seemed to have a few fans among the English girls from his hostel who we ran into in front of the Pyramid of the Moon, a woman from Cleveland, a couple from Omaha, and a French woman who had been living in Washington DC for 40 years. The pyramid visit was followed by lunch at the nearby “Montezuma’s Revenge” where we were greeted by “Montezuma” himself.

It’s Tuesday and already I’m at the airport in Mexico City waiting for my flight to Buenos Aires. I’m going to miss Gabriel, Irma and Matteo, this smoggy, gridlocked, but fascinating city which I’m just starting to feel comfortable in, and this country of bright colours, shiny silver, ancient old and new, and Indian, Spanish and mestizo, of which I’ve only seen so little. Someday I know I’ll be back for more …

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Treasures of Mexico City

The traffic is insane – in fact I’m sitting in gridlock as I write this (my friend Irma is at the wheel) – but this has to be one of the most beautiful, surreal, eclectic cities in the world. My feet are killing me after two days of sightseeing and it’s been well worth it.

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