10.09.2012 - 19.09.2012
My $1200 35 hour flight via China went surprisingly well, it wasn't the most comfortable of journeys, but i hate bitching about air travel...it's the ultimate first world problem. What I do have to say is that the border security officers at LAX are total fuckwits. I handed this dude my passport, and told him I was only there for one night. He started asking me where I was going and I said Mexico. Initially I thought he was trying to engage me in small talk, but then he asked me, "where's your itinerary?" When i said i had it in the form of emails on line, he told me I was lying. Taken aback at his douchebagness, I said i thought when he scanned my passport into the computer it would show where i was going. Again, "no, why would it show that. I think you know it wouldn't." Oh I don't know, because we are in an airport and the US spends billions on the Department of Homeland Security every year. Eventually he tried to test my Spanish by asking me "where are you studying in Mexico?" I told him again I was travelling, not studying, then he said "stare at me again" and let me through.
I don't think I could live in a country where tipping is a necessity, add 20% odd to the bill and I'll be much happier. Plus do you know how awkward it is when you only have big bills and ask for change? It's very awkward. In my extensive travels through the United States, aka one night in LA, this was my experience and I found it stressful. How much is too much? How much is too little? Why don't you pay people properly so they don't have to rely on tips?
My hostel is Mexico City was heckerrrs and narly, as this Aussie guy kept saying. Kinda getting sick of Aussies, they are everywhere and totes obnoxsies. But anyway, I met some awesome people, some of who I am in Taxco with right now. I was delirious when i first arrived in Mexico, but since the hostel was so close to the main square, I decided to have a bit of an explore. What i discovered was a political science major's crack, a bunch of Mexicans that had set up tents protesting the recent elections in which a man named Enrique Pina Nieto of the PRI was elected President. The fascinating thing about this is that PRI was the party that held a monopoly over Mexico's political system from the 1930s until 2000 under what some labelled a perfect Dictatorship, given that the President's overwhelming power was hidden behind a democratic curtain. Despite a win for PRI in the recent Presidential elections, there seems to be widespread belief that the electoral process was rigged and hence the tents in the square. The tents were occupied mainly by Marxists or progressives, with many doing what I call the Nazi dance; comparing Pina Nieto and other Mexican leaders to Hitler. They had constructed their own fascinating, yet probably inaccurate, version of recent Mexican history.
Initially intending on going to the Ecuadorean embassy to try and get a visa, the day after I arrived I met a few people from the hostel who were heading to the pyramids of Teotihuacan. I heard they were amazing, so i decided to go with. These things were massive. I was only after I arrived that i realised the biggest pyramid there, the pyramid of the sun, is actually the third biggest in the world. The entire site is said to be around 1750 years old, and at its peak had a population of 125 000, then one of the biggest cities in the world. It's founding however, is much of a mystery, with archaeologists debating who built it...no doubt surrounded by their superior smugness, unable to concede any ground. Of course, the place was flooded with people flogging mostly useless shit. We met one seller who was 70 and had been selling his artifacts, mostly pipes, for 50 years. Some of the people I travelled with had an in depth conversation with him about which pipe was best to smoke pot with.
From here on I am going to have difficulty what I did on each day, so here are the highlights.
A couple of us worked our way to the colossal mercado de la merced, which has to be one of the biggest markets I've ever seen. There seemed to be a 'porn' street, where DVD sellers proudly displayed their high class Mexican porn to the public (no, unfortunately they didn't play any). I also don't know what people can do with soo many pigs heads, one sign read "Pig's Heads, 100% Mexican," as if a pig's head not being Mexican would be the only thing stopping you from buying a FUCKING PIGS HEAD. I bought a Mexican wrestling mask and a LITRE of juice for one dollar each. That night, if I'm not mistaken, was Ema's birthday, a new friend I met at the hostel, so we decided to go out for a "few beers." We ended up at this taco joint/drinking hole where we met Mexicans who insisted on communicating through song, alcohol, and telling us which celebrities we looked like. Apparently, I'm Kurt Cobain...before he put a gun in his mouth (too soon?). It was certainly a night I will never forget, especially this Mexican who came onto Ema, who seemed to forget whether or not he had a girlfriend.
El dia de la independencia was interesting, that being the day and not the night before. The night before was anticlimatic, between it pouring down rain and my $130 gortex jacket going missing (#whitepeopleproblems), I decided that was a sign that I should stay in and get 10 hours of sleep. The next morning I felt like I was in North Korea. The Mexican military put on a march in an impressive fete of dick measuring with other countries. It would be funny and ridiculous if it wasn't quite so scary. The city was packed but we had a good day walking around, and met this clearly fucked up American who had lived in Mexico for 12 years. I was with two Israeli friends and when he was informed of their ethnicity he turned to me and said, "don't fuck with them muthafuckas man, them muthafuckas is tough." He then ranted for a bit about fuck knows what until he said, "I got the good shit man, want some?" No, I thought, I don't want to smoke anything that you've been on.
I forgot to mention the Museum of Anthropology, which was without doubt the best museum I have ever seen. Words can't do it justice, at least not mine, so I will just post some photos.
On the Tuesday, the two Israelis, an American who left the navy disgusted at American foreign policy and a Swiss girl and I all headed to Taxco, about two and a half hours south of Mexico City. Taxco was a beautiful little town, but the sellers were way too aggressive. The founding of the town is pretty much due to its nearby mineral wealth, where Silver mines nearby drove its development. Unlike most mining towns, which in my extensive experience have been not easy on the eye, Taxco was an architectural masterpiece, especially seeing the view from the big Jesus on the mountain.
That brings me to now, where I write on a rooftop terrace in Zacatecas, about eight hours North of Mexico City. I wasn't intending to get here until a bit later, but due to unforseen circumstances of me being a complete idiot, making one mistake after another, here I am. More explanation to come