While I was in the middle of a Bio-Reserve in Central Yucatan a couple of months ago, I met a long dreaded and bearded nomadic traveler. He was there at this remote Mayan Temple called Calakmul to visit the same day as me. As we got talking and exploring together, I came to find out Eldad was a lawyer and therapist in Tel-Aviv, Israel and enjoys taking some solid time off to enjoy our world. He told me he had been able to travel the world for one year, and was hoping to do another year this time.
Eldad “bush-camps” all over the place. He has a tent, hitchhikes and is a vegetarian along the way. He came across to me as a man who is connected to the universe in a unique way and is a very warm-spirited individual. The last time I saw him in person was on top of a tall Mayan temple, himself in a cross-legged meditative yoga posture.
Since I came back from Mexico, I have been receiving his blog from his continued journey in the area, so I thought I would post his words and photos from his latest post from Palenque to one of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City. It is a bit long, but the pictures and his experiences are wonderful. I did a little editing, but for the most part let his english be written the way he did. I also added some bolds and links. Enjoy~
“Los Angeles Mexicanos”
This mail is probably less informative, and as a result it is of a different style…but full of pictures & videos…
and this time I will write less about me and the places, and more about Angeles, most of which are mexicans (hence “los Angeles Mexicanos” - The Mexican Angels. I haven’t gone to LA yet…)
Starting where we last left off: the amazing Palenque. Having written a lot about it last time I will just add that until I left it, I was amazed again and again how green everything is, and I learned a lot from the jungle, the rivers, the waterfalls, the trees, vegetation, the animals… and basically had more of the same: jungle, good friends, waterfalls and, well, basically a lot of good stuff :-) which also means more pictures, so check out the updated Palenque album again HERE
In fact, just to get you to understand how big Mexico is, here is a map with indications of the places I have been to
Map of Eldad’s Mexican Travels
From there it was a wild ride with 4 great Germans and their great “beatle” car. Except for the great people and the great views, at all times 2 people were sitting on the roof all the way from Palenque to Mexico City(=MC)! everybody wanted to be on the roof of course, so we were taking turns…
This was really fun, especially since the views were most of the time so so beautiful…
Our first destination, except for evening stop-overs (it is a long road!), was Los Tuxtlas - an area that travelers don’t usually go to or even hear/speak about. But I was lucky enough to read about this beautiful area (thanks again, Lonely Planet guide!), which is a natural reserve with a lake, rivers, waterfalls and a lot of green forests and green land… and some beaches too!
so the road over there look like this
and pictures from that area itself are here -
In former mails I wrote how great the Mexicans are, but didn’t write too much about it. I guess I had to wait for some big, beautiful, heart-warming events to happen…
The first of which happened in our first night at Los Tuxlas. We were driving in search for a community we read about to camp for the night. But rain, darkness, our total weight and a steep uphill into the mountains made us turn the car back. On the way back, there was a sign for another “community” (probably more like a very small village than a community). As we were driving in, the people from the first house heard the car and came to see what is going on. We asked about a place to camp and they offered us their balcony, which was perfect because of the heavy rain.
Just think for a moment now – when 5 un-familiar guys from a different country who don’t speak much Spanish come up with a car in the middle of the night, how many people would show loving kindness, and how many people will be too afraid to even open their door? Sadly, I think most of Western Civilization city people would not only stay inside, but will also lock the door. But this was just the angels preview…
As we left Los Tuxtlas after 3 great days, we were getting close to Mexico City when we were stopping for dinner somewhere along the road. Coming back from the restaurant, the car refused to start… So again we were at night, stuck.
One Mexican guy that was there said he knew a mechanic nearby, and went with us to him. At some point, as everybody returned to the car in order to fix it, and the mechanic started working, another Mexican came by. His name was Jorge, and he had a problem with his car too (this place was actually like the Bermuda triangle of cars and trucks…). since it all took a long time, we started talking, and he said that if the car will not be fixed that night, we could come to his home to sleep and in the morning he will set us up with his mechanic.
After 4 hours, around 23:30 (11:30pm), the car was alive again. Jorge, who stayed with us the whole time (!), suggested we still come to him instead of driving to the big city in the middle of the night, and we of course were happy to accept his very kind invitation. And after 100 meters, our car (well actually it was not my car) broke down again… staying with us for so long, inviting 5 strangers into his home, which is not a small cabin but not a large castle either, knowing fixing the car might take some time, while already having in his home a wife, kids, a dog and 2 cats if I remember correctly, is a very kind, special thing to do.
This is the way love multiplies itself: I believe all 5 of us will now be more inclined to do the same in this kind of situation. All in all we stayed there for about 5 days(!) until the car was fixed, and they hosted us beyond any expectation. Imagine 5 young men sleeping in your living room for 5-6 days… not too easy for the family, I am sure! But they made us feel so welcomed and loved, so we didn’t feel like we were interrupting anyone. On the contrary-even their friends invited us to eat in their homes, and we were given nothing but pure love all the way. Did I mention I was dealing with angels?
So this is how the way to MC looked like – even driving in the highway had beautiful views…
…And then we arrived to the big city. How big? “only” 21 Million (!!!) people, almost 3 times the entire population of the entire country of Israel… very small ;-) but before arriving there I was actually thinking to completely skip it (Me? traveling in big cities instead of small natural places?)
I had 3 good reasons to go there – one was to get a new tent instead of the one that broke. The other was to meet great Mexican friends of mine that live in the city (whom I was lucky enough to meet while I was traveling here). And the last – to see another kinds of angels, of which I will write later on. As you can see, none of the reasons had to do with the city itself. With 21,000,000 people, I was sure I had nothing to do there. But I was wrong. Very wrong.
I am here for almost a month now (!!!). While part of it had to do with searching for a tent (you would think that with such large population you could easily find high quality tents. Well, guess again… and I looked really hard, as that would have saved me a lot of money I ended up paying for shipping a tent from the US), the truth is that it is a really great city. I stayed here so long because of my friends,and for the city itself. And the tent is already here for about a week (looking good, and waiting for nature adventures…).
So what is there to do/see here? A lot! The beautiful historical center with its many beautiful buildings, many beautiful fountains (water! always good, definitely in the big city!), a lot of new, tasty, cheap food (street food rules! in fact, Mexico has so much cheap good food all over which makes me and my belly very happy!), beautiful street art, meteors (yes, those big “rocks” that fall from the sky!!), many museums (they say it is the city with the most museums in the world. yes, I became a cultural guy for a month! ;-)), a huge amount of markets of all kinds-food, flowers, antiques (markets rule!), beautiful water canals with gondolas like in Venice (but with a Mexican twist: Mariachi music!), a lot of history (just remember that the Maya, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs and many more civilizations used to live here before the Spanish came and conquered the land…), a lot of colors and many more things. Get the picture?
But most of all, there are angels here too. My friends have been hosting me in their homes all of this time (1 month!) with amazing love & kindness. And again – their families, their friends, their flat mates, everyone – are making me feel so loved and welcome, even though for sure it is not easy to host people for such a long time. The flat I am staying in now is jokingly named “Hostel carta blanca chilanga” (too long to explain. let’s just say it is a Mexican thing…) because this 2 bedroom+1 living room apartment hosted, while I was there, up to 6 people (and also, as you could see in the pictures, it hosts the famous NBA basketball player Hakeem “the dream” Olajuwon!!!
It was really strange to wake up and see him every morning…) My hosts are golden hearted angels, especially if we consider that in both apartments I was hosted by these people who know me just briefly, for about 3-5 days… And even now that I am sick (I got a cold, the 2nd time in 1 month, ever since I got to the big cities. After about 2.5 months of almost only nature, I guess my body is used to the nature and not the pollution of the city, with other stuff that comes with living in a house like watching a lot of screens – computer, smart phone, tv etc, are causing my body to be sick). I am very lucky indeed to have met such wonderful people and have them as my friends!
But this doesn’t end with just the people I knew before coming to the city – while people in the streets are very nice to me here, some are fantastically amazing. For example, two great guys I met when going to the big “derby” football match of Mexico City – I only asked where I can get a ticket, and ended up with a ticket in 2 minutes, without being cheated on the price (some people do try to cheat travelers… but so far it didn’t happen to me a lot, thank god), I sat with them the whole game, singing and jumping for the whole 90 minutes, and in the end of the game one of them gave me his wallet which is with the symbol and colors of his team (America)given they are the “ultras” fans (the most passionate, extreme fans), giving me this gift was much more about a wallet. It was, again, an act of pure love, kindness and hospitality to a traveler who is in their country.
A few words about the game though, and especially the journey to it -
I was lucky enough to switch one metro line with the other exactly when the ultras arrived to the metro. drums, trumpets, smoke and singing were all part of the deal, as even the policemen took pictures of us (yes, us – of course I jumped right in and joined the party!), for this was truly a spectacular parade(don’t worry, pictures and videos are in the link of mexico city pictures below…). and the game was no different of course a huge crowed of about 100,000 people were singing, dancing and jumping in the stadium through the whole game (the game was held in the Azteca stadium – with 114,000 seats, it is the 2nd largest football stadium in the world. it was also where in the 1970 World Cup final, Brazil defeated Italy 4-1 and in the 1986 World Cup final, Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2. It also hosted the 1986 quarter-final between Argentina and England in which Diego Maradona scored both the “Hand of God goal” and the “Goal of the Century”. The stadium also hosted the “Game of the Century”, when Italy defeated West Germany 4-3 in extra time in one of the 1970 semifinals). oh, and we won the game 2-1…
and another friend which sometimes sleeps in the apartment I am living in now got me a ticket (for free!) to latin america’s biggest music festival-vive latino. being a 3 days festival, in the day I was there I got to see fat boy slim (retro!), madness (ultra-retro!), a good mexican band named molotov, and a good Argentinian band named Ilya kuriaky & the valderamas, in case you were wondering… some of my readers are Argentinian…
but the MC experience does not end here, as there are also a lot of things to see in 1-3 driving hours from here (in mexico it is nothing…), one of which is about another kind of angels – also with wings, but not human… every year tens of thousands (or more?) butterflies migrate from Canada through the US to a specific national reserve in mexico (Mariposa Monarca Reserva), and back to Canada again. if this doesn’t sound so special check out these photos and videos – especially the ones towards the end of that album (but not the last ones), as we got there very early so it took them some time to wake up…
another place my friend Rashid took me to (he was one of my “hosts” here) is Tepoztlan – a small town (in Mexico’s terms, right? we’re still talking about 15,000 people here…), beautiful and kind of hippie..
Speaking of hippies, I was lucky enough (yes! again lucky… thanks god!) to go to the ruins of Teotihuacan (which once, in more ancient times, was the most important city in the area) exactly on the equinox day (which is when the day and night are of equal length). This happens twice a year and used to have big significance for the population that settled the land here. Why was this lucky? Because some of the few indigenous people who survived the Spanish conquest came on this day with many colorful costumes and performed their special dancing rituals. It was extremely beautiful.
So what’s up next? First of all is to feel better. Later on, probably in a few days with Gods help, maybe even this weekend, I’ll be leaving the city. But as you have already learned in the past 3.5 months that I am traveling, all my plans might completely change…
peace, love and happiness to you all,
and may we all be as kind, loving, open-hearted and welcoming as the angels we get to meet (or read about…)
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