Man, what an awesome place! Me gusta mucho Mexico, the country where you can get your tacos and enchiladas covered in chili and jalapenos, any day of the week. A big and varied country, Mexico is full of friendly people, rich history, and big hats. Check it out, amigo!
Well, the first month of my world trip has come to a close, and what a month it's been! Mexico has been, for me, the start of a whole new phase of my life; and I know that from this point on, I'll never be the same again. This trip to Mexico has been my first time travelling alone; my first time dumped in the deep end with a foreign language; my first time I've gone a month straight without being sober; and my first time doing more other crazy things than I dare to even think about.
Also, putting me aside for a moment, Mexico itself has proven to be a much more beautiful and vibrant place than I ever imagined it to be. The friendly locals; the ever-present fellow travellers; the stunning natural scenery; the imposing ancient ruins; and the excellent infrastructure, have all blown me away. Mexico, my heart will be with you always.
After a month of Mexican hostels, I'm more certain than ever that Amigo is the best damn hostel in the country, and it was great to return and to spend one last night here. I didn't do anything much for my final night in Mexico; just hung out at Amigo, and had some drinks with the other folks staying there. Also had a little reunion with Alan, who has returned from his volcanic expedition, and who's going back home to England soon.
Saw some interesting stuff on the bus from Oaxaca back to Mexico City today. The road is beautiful: is passes through sharp, jagged mountains; and in some places, there are delicate cactus plants in every direction, as far as the eye can see. But the road is also treacherous, as it winds its way through the harsh landscape: we passed several roadside accidents, including a truck that had completely rolled over and off the road. For beauty's sake, and for safety's sake, I'm glad I took this road in the daytime.
You know, Mexicans really are a funny lot. At first glance, they seem very similar to their neighbours up north. They do (now and then) eat McDonald's, watch The Simpsons, and listen to 50 Cent. But after a while, you realise that they actually prefer their own stuff, and in their own lovable way. This couldn't be evident in anything more than in Mexican music.
This is Oaxaca's biggest market area, and exploring everything inside it is quite an experience. The markets are large, varied, and easy to get lost in. The more tame areas sell bags, music, kitchenware, and clothing. Further in, you can find the fruit and vegetables, the live chickens, and the cooked food stands. Venture in as deep as you can, and you'll find the really strange stuff: whole dead chickens, still with heads and feet on; piles of dead fish staring up at you; and of course, the famous fried grasshoppers of Oaxaca.
Seems like I'm losing my knack for finding good hostels, because this place was dull as batpoo. Very nice building and all, but hardly any kind of common hangout area, and almost nobody else around to meet and do stuff with. The best word to describe this place would be: sterile. Sorry, Lonely Planet, but you've let me down again. Maybe the ones further down the list for each city are the better ones. Anyway, next time I come to Oaxaca, I'm staying somewhere else.
This afternoon at Posada Mexico Hostel in San Cristóbal, we were a crew of six yobboes from around the world, united together to lay waste to the cultural soul of this town. We were: myself; Sean and Lachlan, two more Aussie boys, from Melbourne; two heavy-drinking Scottish girls, whose names I can't remember (hey, I was drinking heavily as well!); and a hippie girl from Baltimore, USA, who had a massive tattoo on her back. Together we sat on the grass, ate BBQ chicken, drank beer and tequila, and wore colourful Mexican wrestling masks. Good times.
I only had it so I could say: "I went to Mexico, and I ate a falafel". There, see, I said it :P. But actually, the falafel in the small, Israeli-run shop in downtown San Cristóbal was one of the best meals I've had in a while, and it was possibly the best falafel I've had in my whole life. Fresh pita pockets, hommus mixed with oil and whole chick peas, coleslaw salad on the side, and sauces of salsa verde and salsa rojo. Mmm... ¡sabbaba, amigo!
My first experience of mailing stuff home from overseas wasn't as difficult as I was dreading; but then again, it also wasn't without its hurdles. There was no way I was going to cart around all the shmontses and shmutters that I bought this morning, so I quickly made my way to the San Cristóbal oficina de correos (i.e. "post office"), and arranged for it all to be sent Down Under.