Saturday, October 26, 2013

Heavy Industry, Light Art

During my previous Mexican jaunt I had spent quite a bit of time among the northern, colonial mining towns such as Zacatecas, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. I had, however, missed out the largest of them all: Queretaro. I have no idea why I didn't go there the first time, but was glad as it gave me a point to visit on my way north as well as an opportunity to revisit the region with older, more understanding eyes (I'm a little mortified when I read what 23 year-old me was writing about the place). It also allowed me to meet some local people, and here I was really lucky to stumble upon Clara and Mario, a wonderful young couple who not only showed me the town, but also its varied culinary delights; the dry, semi-arid landscape of the central highlands; family life; and even the less picturesque, but deeply atmospheric, legacies of the mining history that can be seen in the ghost towns that dot the region.

The abandoned smelting furnaces of Pozos, one of the many ghost towns left over from the mining boom in Central Mexico.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mexican Interlude

I spent a few more days in Mexico city with my parents seeing some sites, spending time with my cousins who live there, before they had to fly back home. It was important seeing them again and knowing that I'll be back home with them soon. As well as revisiting family I had mundane matters to take care of, such as repairing my laptop screen and finding another rucksack buckle for the interim one I had bought back in Lima and that had cracked in El Salvador. I didn't feel the need to do much sight-seeing though, having been in Mexico City before. In fact it was here that I started my first round the world trip, all the way back in 2004, and it was the first time that I had ventured out of my Europe-USA-Canada comfort zone. It was here that my worldly learning curve began and so returning was thought-provoking exercise in reviewing past experiences and opinions and seeing how much my thoughts had changed in the intervening years.

Big public education sign exhorting people to pay for their electricity and to adopt a more "legal culture". The non-payment of taxes and services is a huge burden on many developing countries where the bureaucratic infrastructure often can't cope

Monday, October 07, 2013


At Chetumal, on the Mexican side of the border with Belize, I was met by my parents. Although I had seen my father a year ago I hadn't seen my mother in two and a half years ... and well, family is family. So my parents had decided to come out and travel with me for a while, see me and use my services as a tour guide in Mexico. They had already driven down from Mexico City and together we were to drive back up, catching some sights along the way. Of course with a hired car and staying in hotels this was not the sort of travelling I was used to, but I was determined not to let the softness get to me and tried to gently nudge them a little bit towards the edges of their comfort zone.

An advantage of travelling with my parents is that I get to eat far better than I usually do. Here we stopped at a lovely little seafood restaurant on the Caribbean coast in Veracruz.