There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

Definition of Walkabout :

a short period of wandering as an occasional interruption of regular work
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mexico. Show all posts

10 August 2017

Palacio de Bellas Artes

A random conversation being had in Spanglish leads to me overhearing about a place called "Palacio de Bellas Artes", located somewhere in the historic district of Mexico City.

My only problem was that everywhere in this massive city (one of the ten largest cities in the entire world) seems to be a historic district.

I take a chance and have my cabbie take me to a district where I think this place may be, and I start wandering the streets....I turn a corner and find the building staring at me in ominous fashion...
The artwork and photography displayed inside once again amazes me. More from Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo, plus many, many other Mexican artists. There is so much beauty inside that I can barely contain my excitement as I try and take it all in.
Come with me on a trip fantastic through the artwork on display during my time in Palacio de Bella Artes.

You won't be disappointed.

27 July 2017

La Casa Azul de Frida Kahlo

This adventure started from the television show "American Pickers", of all places, in which a person had some old furniture that appeared to have belonged to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

This got my curiosity going, as I was heading to Mexico City in a couple of weeks. I found that her home was now a museum, and one the the top places to see in Mexico City. I wanted to learn more about this artist.
On an early weekday morning my cabdriver drops me off in front of Casa Azul. The vibrant blue walls surrounding the home already have a large line outside, and it is nearly one hour before the place opens. I find that I have plenty of time to relax and reflect as I'll be waiting a few more hours in this line before finally entering Frida's home.
After the madness at the entrance, a calm is found inside amongst the gardens. I start exploring the life of Frida and her husband, Diego Rivera.
The pain of Frida's life from her constant battle with polio and her devastating bus accident as a teenager are on vivid display through her self portraits and artwork.
Her tumultuous relationship with Diego is also on display, as they had married twice, both having multiple affairs, including one in which Diego was sleeping with Frida's sister. The intense love and loss is on full display in Frida and Diego's art.
You also learn about their relationship with Russian author Trotsky, whom was given asylum in Mexico after being banned from Russia. Their relationship with the USA and the world regarding communism, fascism, capitalism and democracy are all eye opening tales that cause one to look at the world from a different angle, a new perspective.

Which I think is one of the greatest gifts that travel and exploration can give.

08 July 2017

museo nacional de antropologia

A giant Mexican flag is slowly flapping in the soft breeze as I make my way toward the entrance to Museo Nacional De Antropologia. After a little confusion due to the language barrier about where I needed to store my backpack, I hand my ticket to the lady officer and enter this all encompassing museum covering the history of Mexico.
Hall after hall showcase different time periods and civilizations of the regions of Mexico. It is a fascinating walk, and one that will continually surprise you.
One of my favorite areas was a screen that took an x-ray image of your face as your stood facing the wall, then projected your image for you to try and find among the many faces. Can you locate me?
Artwork, stone statues, ancient craftwork, etc...it all can be found in the beautiful National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City.

Don't miss it.

23 June 2017

Chapultepec Park

I'd been in Mexico City about one hour, readying myself to start exploring this new destination. I like to start out slowly so that I can familiarize myself with the lay of the streets and my new surroundings.

Chapultepec park is across the street from my hotel, and seems to be the perfect place to get acclimated.
Being one of the largest parks in the western hemisphere, I have no goal of trying to see it all, I only want to get familiar with the people and culture of Mexico City. Cobblestone paths take me past statues of heroes and great political figures that helped shaped Mexico's history and future.
The park has Aztec history, castles, monuments and museums, merry-go rounds and giant fallen trees to climb upon. Beautiful flower gardens and lakes for couples to take a ride on in a boat.

Families are enjoying the day everywhere you look.
It is the perfect place to start exploring a new city.

28 May 2017

The Ritual of the Voladores

As I'm walking around the Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, I look up to see the most bizarre sight....men hanging upside down spinning around a pole while a flute is being played.

I see this again and again throughout my travels in Mexico, and finally learn that this is an ancient tradition of the Totanac people.
A long time ago, there was a severe drought in the region. The elders decided that a ceremony should be performed to ask the Gods to return the rain and bring fertility to the soil.

From this ceremony of old comes the practice that is continued today, as the people are thankful to the God Xipe Totec, God of agriculture and fertility, for the rain and land that he has continued to provide for the people that reside and flourish here.

13 November 2015

Cancun

I was told that the place I was staying at in Cancun's hotel zone had the best beach in the area. I would walk in the wet sand most evenings and just take in the surroundings.

Couples holding hands, children laughing, millionaires making out with big breasted women in the shallows of giant yachts.
The water was always smooth, never a rough surf. I wade in the clear blue ocean, letting the salty wonder lap over my sun kissed skin.

I head to the bar when thirsty or hungry, and then slowly make my way back to the beach chair.
Best beach in the area? Who knows, but one thing is for certain...
the beach was better than being trapped in a kitchen doing dishes.

10 November 2015

Climbing Coba

A clearing ahead gave one it's first glimpse of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid rising high above the Yucatan Peninsula. One hundred and thirty steps to the summit. I stand at the base and look up in awe.
The stones are as slick as black ice, my foot barely fits on the narrow step. I understand why the rope was put into place and grab it tightly with one hand.

The final step brings me to an unparalleled view of the area. I let the sweat drip off my brow as I sit and cool down atop this sacred place.
After a spell, I look down and try to calculate the best route to take back to the ground. Others are sliding down on their backsides, or crawling in reverse on hands and knees.

Inadvertently worshiping the Mayan Gods of old as they descend. Bow down new humans.
I reach for the sky one last time, then slowly make my way down from the mighty pyramid.



17 October 2015

biking around the ruins of Coba

The large and peaceful grounds of the ancient city of Coba awaits me. It is here that I am searching for a large pyramid that I can climb to it's peak and feel the Mayan spirit of old.

To do this, I decide to rent a bike and ride along the flat Yucatan roads among the symphony of the jungle.
It was quite the experience to quietly come to a clearing in the jungle and find the remains of a city that once held up to 100,000 people.
As I was riding around though, I started to notice that I was the only one at these sites. I found this strange, and started to wonder where the mighty pyramid was...
Tracking back, I find a fork in the road that I missed seeing initially. Sweaty but excited, I head down this new path. People and bicycles start to appear and the road becomes more populous.
Luck strikes me again, as I saw the sites of the mighty Coba first, but unknowingly saved the best for last.....

but that will be a story for another time.


19 September 2015

Cenote Ik Kil

The Cenote Ik Kil was as different from the Cenote Maya as New York is from Los Angeles. You can't even compare the two, and I recommend going to both places if you can.
Ik Kil is much larger and more designed for tourists due to being so close Chichen Ixta. Since I was going to swim in the cenote, I first went to the lady to get a locker for my stuff, and securely fastened my locker room key around my neck.

I showered, as we want to try and keep as many chemicals from lotions, deodorant etc, out of the pristine waters. It was then time to get wet.
The water was cold as I entered, but the spectacular scenery abates the chill quickly. I decide to first swim to the other side where waterfalls cascade lightly down on to those that venture to this side of the cenote.
The water is so clear it takes my breath away. As I submerge, schools of tiny black catfish are teeming below the surface.

I decide to step up the adventure to the next level, eyeing the jumping platforms of various heights built into the right side of the cenote.

I choose the middle platform first. A deep breath, a little prayer, and then....
the thrill was amazing!

I turn into a child after their first bite of candy....more, more, more!

I go to the highest platform, and jump in time and time again. 5 times, 10 times, perhaps 20 jumps in total, I lost count.
The bubbles free the poisons in my life, re-oxygenating my spirit. I am cleansed anew in this sacred and special place.
The only downside? My locker key wasn't as secure around my neck as I thought, due to my repeated jumping.

The lady wasn't too happy that I lost it in the cenote, and charged me twenty dollars.

Lesson learned.


17 August 2015

Chichen Itza

"No worries Senor, we have three hours of driving through the jungle. You sleep, I wake you when we get close...."

He pulls his hat over his eyes, and dreams of ancient Mayan civilizations. Stones rising high from the jungle treeline, to the heavens above.

Great empty courtyards and endless columnata norte are found in the mighty Chichen Itza, his pilgrimage in this revered Mayan center of worship begins.

The Kukulkan serpent God is represented on the corners of most remaining buildings, reminders of what happens during the equinox.

Modern day feathered serpents guard the steps and passageways today, a stark reminder to the new visitors to tread lightly.

Up and down the many paths of this Mayan spiritual stronghold, awakening the stirrings of a world much greater than his small life force can grasp.


02 July 2015

Tortugranja

The signs for Tortugranja were everywhere as I cruised lazily along the streets of Isla Mujeres. Curiosity got the better of me, and eventually I parked my golf cart and walked to the entrance of this Sea Turtle farm.

My first indicator that something may not be right here was with the admission price. For only thirty pesos (three US dollars) you could go in to see the turtle's that this nature conservancy claimed to be protecting, with the money going towards that goal (so the sign proclaimed).
I gasped at the small and dirty little pools that the turtles were living in. Bare and sterile. I turned from tourist to investigator, trying to get footage to bring back and show the world.
For an additional dollar, you get a bag of pellets to feed the turtles. These pellets were mostly floating in disgusting fashion in the water, as the turtles weren't interested in constantly eating. The sadness in their eyes, to me, looked more like a person trapped with no hope.
The unhappiness of these turtles became vividly apparent. As I was observing, two older ladies were gawking at the turtles. Being horrible tourists (and completely disregarding the signs about strictly NOT touching the animals), one of the women reached into pool to actually grab one of the appendages of the turtles, trying to swing the turtle around to face them so they could get a proper photo.

The turtle snapped and try to bite the woman's hand. She was shocked, screamed, and dropped her phone into the pool.

Karma.
I ventured outside to the ocean. They had a section barricaded off with a sharks, stingrays and more turtles.

All of the creatures were pacing along the fence line, looking for a way to escape their entrapment.

It was heartbreaking to me, but I'll let you be the judge as to whether or not you think a place like this is actually doing turtles any good.


30 June 2015

Isla Mujeres

I could see the passenger boats cruising past me, seemingly every hour or two, before disappearing into the ocean blue.

"Amigo, they are going to Isla Mujeres, the island of women. Si, you should go!"

The dock was only a mile down the road, so I stuff my pack back with essentials, and head down to the pier to catch the next boat.

The breeze cools the nap of my neck as I sit in the ocean side bar waiting to board. I see the allure of the beach life.

As the boat pushes back from the dock, the ocean water transforms into various shades of azure blue, hypnotizing me as we make our way to the Island. A local recommended renting a golf cart, as it is the easiest way to get around.
It's paradise, pure and simple. I quickly maneuver the one way streets and get my bearings straight, then hit beach after beach. A drink here, a bite to eat there, you go at your own pace as time stands still here.
Local iguanas become my fixation, as the variety here is endless. I try to count the different types I see, but the incoming lullaby of soft waves breaks my concentration.
Oh Isla Mujeres, you had me at "Island of Women".


04 June 2015

Rappelling into the Cenote Maya

"Have you rappelled before?"

"Once, but not a free fall rappel..."

"You'll be fine amigo. Keep one hand down by your cuco (butt) and keep the other one free, up in the air, waving and giving the thumbs up. Ok?"

Just like that, the instructions were given in friendly Mexican fashion, and I was teetering on the edge of the mighty Cenote Maya. Excited, a little frightened, but with my adrenaline taking control of my body, I started my descent....

Quickly the scenery changes and I try to slow myself down to try and take in the majesty of the cenote, but it is all too much to comprehend. Before I know it,  my feet are getting wet....
I get the harness unbuckled and swim towards the platform built in the middle of the cenote. The water is cool at first, but my body quickly adjusts and I focus on how clear and clean my environment truly is.

The Mayan people have built a small zip line, jumping platforms of various heights, and a rope under the water that extends to the far end of the cenote so that one can traipse across if you choose.

I go for the highest platform, summon courage, and run off into the darkness.

It's such a rush I do it again and again, loving the splash and rising to the surface amidst the surging bubbles and clear water. I walk the underwater rope and find small black catfish everywhere. I swim backstroke most of the time so that I can soak in the view.
For my first day in Cancun, it was incredible, to say the least.

30 May 2015

Mayan shaman blessing

As we are walking along, our guide Saul explains how the land around the Cenote Maya is sacred to the Mayan people. We are heading to get a blessing from the local Shaman before we can enter the Cenote area....
Wisdom of many years is apparent on the Shaman's friendly face. As he starts his prayer, the smoke fills my nostrils and an overwhelming sense of peace washes over the group.

We raise our hands in celebration.
After the ceremony, we meet a young Mayan man dressed in warrior attire of old, and a woman in a local Mayan dress worn today. Saul cracks us up with this pose...
as we head toward the Cenote. I have chills....


27 May 2015

Ek Balam

After driving for a few hours through the dense Yucatan jungle from Cancun, we arrive to the unassuming entrance of the Ek Balam Mayan ruins.

Ek Balam is translated to mean "Bright Star Jaguar", a sacred animal to the Mayan people. Walking along the path listening to these stories of old I search for glimpses of the stealthy beast in the trees.

One can feel it's presence.

As the jungle opens to a clearing, I see my first Mayan ruin, a very beautiful arch presents itself, being connected to a sacbes (ancient road) which would have led to other Mayan kingdoms. It is through this arch that one enters the city.
The main temple of El Torre here is impressive, one of the largest structures found in the Yucatan. To the Mayan it represents a portal to another world, and a place to connect to the Mayan Gods when at it's summit.
I feel empowered as I climb the steps, sweat pouring off my brow the higher I ascend. The view is breathtaking, the wind cooling the nape of my neck as I rest on stones that supported a culture for a millenia, from 100 B.C to 900 A.D.
A good start to my days of exploring the Yucatan, and the Mayan culture.