Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

travelupdate from Mexico city

I have just left San Miguel de Allende (SMA) and went to pass a week or so in Mexico city before going to Oaxaca for December. I came here (SMA) because it was recommeded to me by a fine travelling mate of mine Mark, who is an artist who lives in California near where i used to live. We met in Colombia a few years ago and have kept in touch ever since. I arrived In SMA about 4pm from Guadalajara.My first impressions were excellent.
This is a truly beautiful small city in Mexico´s old colonial heartland. There are nothing but beautiful old homes and churches and nice parks and lovely cobblestone and riverstone streets. This place is famous for its architecture and ambience. It is also famous for its artist community.
Not un-like Ubud on the island of Bali except...This is now a colony of the United States of Babylon! Starbucks on the corner of the main plaza. Expensive gringo restaurants everywhere! Everyone (it seems) in the streets you pass is an american in American clothes speaking english and they are (it seems) almost all Liberal Democrats!! Bill and Hill would feel right at home! Truly nausseating in this respect!
It is fascinating to me, that, here in Mexico and San Miguel Allende too, all the Mexicans are so friendly to the Gringos. Well of course they are just naturally friendly anyway, as anyone who has been to Mexico for more than two weeks in Cancun can tell you, but when one thinks of how the Americans act toward and talk about and treat their neighbors to the south, as compared to the way the Mexicans treat the Gringos it just makes you feel ashamed.
The LACK of racist zenophobic attitude here is so refreshing.They dont talk about building a wall to keep out the gringos who are coming here in droves because it is too expensive to retire in USA. Because health care is the most expensive in the entire world. The contrast is very interesting and one cant help but notice just how racist the Gringos are. Of course not all Americans are racist zenophobes, but...well it is what it is I suppose.
Took a 2km walk up a hill and arived at the Charco del Ingenio which loosely translates as "Talent Pool" This is a little pond created by damming a river. Here we have the Jardin Botanico (Botanical Gardens) of SMA. It is 65 hectares (70acres) of cactus and other local plants. There are numerous hiking trails and of course a bird sanctuary all around the lake. Me and Steve, whom I met in Guadalajara and traveled with to SMA hiked around for a coouple or three hours. It was very nice. Beautiful warm sunny day and a lot of good natural stuff to look at. Steve had some binoculars so we could see some nice birds.
As one walks up the hill through the town, there are many big new houses built here to home the Gringo Retirees who are beginning to flood this town. all with high walls and security fences. All these enormous homes in which two old gringos will live while paying some servants 10 dollars a day to keep them from ever having to clean their own mess again... ¡¡Que Feo!!
These homes all have real nice views The Mexicans dont really like to live too far up because of the walk from town, but the gringos dont walk. The bring their SUVs (stupid ugly vehicle) with them. Actually at first it seems to make me angry and then sad and then just amused.It is rather amusing after all dont you think?
Here is the scenario...35 years ago they bought a tract house in Wheeling Illinois for $55,000 American. They sold it 5 years ago for 600,000. Now this retired hardware store clerk pretends to be rich while living like a colonial lord. Of course, at home he wouldnt have enough money to take a two week vacation in Atlantic City but here He is a big shot and a patron of the arts. Just amusing thats all. Nothing actually wrong with it I guess, just amusing...thats all...
So now here I am in Mexico city. They say this is the most populated city in the world. like 25 or 30 million people. no one knows exactly. How could they?
There are 4 main bus terminals. North South East and West. This way the busses never have to go through the city and add to the traffic jams. No matter which terminal you arrive at, there is a metro station just outside so you can just exit and then enter the metro (subway) and for 2 pesos (15cents) you can go anywhere in the city. The whole system is color coded. Each stop has a name and a little icon, so even if you cant read you can easily use the system. It is cheaper, faster and safer than taking a taxi. I took tahe orange line and changed at the pink line and got off at Isabela la catolica station the icon is a little caravel (a sail boat like the one columbus was on). walked 4 blocks and arrived at hostel amigo.
For eleven dollars I have a nice clean comfortable bunk bed in a dormitory. Free internet and free vegetarian buffet breakfast and vegetarian dinner buffet. voted best hostel in Mexico 3 years in a row from Hostelworld.com. I can see why.
My first night ñhere, I went to the big Zocalo or main plaza. They have a free lazer light show at 9 to celebrate some holiday ( i dont know what). WEll It was the ñmost amazing light show I have EVER seen!! absolutely fantastic. I went there with an Italian traveler I met
( a chef from Genoa!) and it was the coolest light show he had ever seen too!! Like taking LSD.
This morning I went to the grand palace of the government and to the supreme court building. I saw the amazing ( i hate that word) frescos of Diego rivera and of Orozco and of some other younger artists. Totally excellent. All for free. I cant l begin to say how much I have enjoyed my first 18 hours here!
There are people waiting for the internet so I have to go now
Peace and love to all who read these words
Rambling Robert
"Lasting peace will come only from a profound understanding of violence." Leland R. Beaumont

Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. William Shakespeare

Monday, November 09, 2009

travel update from guadalajara

I am in the wonderful city of Guadalajara Mexico. This is the second largest city in Mexico with about 5 or 6 million people. It is a very beautiful city. There are lovely plazas and lots of old colonial style architecture. The weather has been perfect here the last week, about 28 degrees in the day and it cools off to about 20 at night (between 60 and 80 degrees American) It has been one cloudless blue sky after another and I havent been bitten by a mosquito or a jejene or a fly in a week (hooorayyy!) my arms and elbows and knees have all stopped itching from all the bites I received in San Blas and I am feeling great!
I have been staying at Hostel Guadalajara Centro which is a good hostel (albergue) only a couple of minutes walk from the main plaza and where all the free concerts happen at night. There has been a cultural festival going on here and I have been going to a free concert EVERY night since I have been here! Last night was the Jalisco Symphonia Orchestra and they played very well in the plaz fro about 90 minutes. Finished up with "Stranger in Paradise" for which they brought out a 30 member choral group! Que Buena! and all for free.
On other nights I have been listening to Mariachi music and there have been two (at least) free BAllet folklorico shows too. The first was the best! There were all these little childresn I would guess between 8 and 14 years old and they were all dressed up in elaborate indian costumes and elaborate mexican costumes and they danced and played conch horns and it was just a fabulous time!
Every sunday here, they close down the main avenue and let bicyclists, roller skeaters and skateboarders and the like take it over and just cruise up and down the boulevard! The hostel has FREE bicycles for the guest to use so I went out cruising with the people of guadalajara. Perfect weather. all along the route were set up various things to see and do and buy. A natural foods plaza where there were tofu sandwiches and whole wheat cookies and organic treats and wheat grass drinks. Giant chess peices on a giant plastic board for people to play along with giant checkers and giant back gammon. The hare krishnas were out there chanting gods names and being generally ecstatic. I fell in with a nice group of travelers here and have had lots of good company to go to stuff whenever I want compañaros.
Oh yes, I may have forgotten to mention...just down the road from here is a little town called Tequila. Guess what they make there? I paid out the necessary pesos and took a drinking tour with the guide who works in the hostel. It cost 480 pesos ($35.00) but it was worth it (vale la peña). We tried a lot of tequila. The best wasa from Tres Mujeres. We saw how they harvest the agave and how they process it and the whole deal. we got to taste the juice at various stages and tried all the cheapest and all the most expensive tequilas each tequilaria had to offer. We was twisted!!
Tequla is alos the name of a volcano which is right there and aparently they named the town after the volcano and the liquor after the town. Real fire water!
Today I took a local bus to Tlaquepaque and went strolling along the peatonal (walking mall) and looked at nice aresan stuff. This is the home of Rodolfo Padrillo, a famous artist and sculptor. He has a factory outlet on the mall and he has donated a few statues to the town so you can go and look and check them out. You can pick up a bronze of his for 200,000 pesos (about $15,000) if you wish...I decided to pass as a 200kilo statue would be a real buden to a backpacker.
My second or third day here an american named Steve checked in. He is my age and we were at the same chef school (CI A) at the same time. We do not know one another as he graduated in 1980 and I in 1981 but we have been cooking in the hostel kitchen together. He is a nice guy and we have been out bicycling around the town together going to market together and smoking cocktails together too.
I have always loved Mexico and never have had a bad time here. My feelings remain the same. I can not understand why anyone in the USA would have anything bad to say about their neighber to the south, but ...They do. It is of course nothing but racisim and elitism. I will never understand anyone who could judge a man by the color of his skin or his accent or his bank account but there are lots of us who do. Pity that. Just today I received a racist e-mail from an old friend allegedly written by Bill Cosby. Disgusting! I doubt Bill wrote it but the fact that anyone would forward such zeenophobic racist trash is so disapointing. The weird thing is the guy who sent it would never consider himself to be racist or ethnocentric.
I am thinking of going to San Miguel De Allende next and then to Mexico city and then to Oaxaca but we all know how quickly and suddenly my plans changs so...Meanwhile, this kid is just in love with Guadalajara. I recommend any one who enjoys to be in a big city to come here some day and visit.
Well that is all for now. I leave you all with a few quotes to consicer until my next update.
Peace and happiness to all of you
"There will be peace on earth when there is peace among the world religions." Hans Küng.

"The pursuit of truth does not permit violence being inflicted on one's opponent." Mahatma Gandhi.

"For every dollar that the developed countries spend on international assistance, they invest $10 in military budgets." d'Escoto, senior advisor to the president of Nicaragua, 2008-SEP.

Monday, November 02, 2009

travelupdate from San Blas

Hello from San Blas,
So, The last time you heard from me I was in Creel in The heart of mexico's copper canyon. I got back from Batopilas and the hung around Creet a couple more nights and then went back on the train from Creel to El Fuerte. This is the most beautiful part of the train trip. If you did not have time to do the whole route I would say to do this part. El fuerte to Creel.
Beautiful alpine lakes and wonderful cliffs of different colors. Tree covered islands in the lakes waterfalls cascading down the slopes of the canyon walls. Indian women at every stop in beautiful colored costumes selling the usual baskets fruits and trinkets. But their grace their style and pride affect you as you look into their eyes.
We stopped once for about 20 minutes for a look out view and there were a dozen street food vendors all shouting at once! Good food though. I had a couple of chili rellenos wrapped in flour tortillas and some blue corn tortilla tacos with mashed potatos that were topped with cabbage. Very good indeed!
So myself and roberto and Diana from Tulum all arived after dark and took a cab to Guerrero Hotel. negociated a good price with Don Edino, and I stayed three nights while they split to catch the over night ferry from los Mochis for la Paz the next day. what a great time I had in El Fuerte!
The owner Endino was very friendly and took me to his lake cabin and we got it all fixed up for the following day to go fishing and boating and swimming at the lake. We ( me him and his two friends) went out there and they caught a bunch of fish and we all drank a bunch of beer, a bunch of beer. and went swimming a little and saw a beautiful sunset and drank a bunch of beer and one of them gets his guitar out of his truck and they all started singing. these old mexican "I am in love and my heart is broken" songs. All drunk and singin the blues under a night of thousand stars and the clarity of the milky ways cosmic clouds. No on vomited.
I love my life. Next morning I am off about 10 am and I change buses in Los mochis and arrive in Mazatlan at about 5pm. I am having trouble witht he phone system and can't get hold of my friend who lives here, so i taxi to the Mexico Hotel, and get a room with a private bath for 100 pesos( $7 USD). Only two or three blocks from the Malecon. It is old and run down and tired but good enough for me. I call and get in touch with my buddy and he picks me up and we go driving around and drinking scotch. We wind up at a street food stall that sells giant baked potatoes with like sour cream and cheese and stuff like. Really good! So then he comes back for me the next day and i stay at his house for a week.
Just hanging around walking on the beach. Mazatlan is deserted no turists anywhere all empty hotels and bars and restaurants.Ocean view rooms right on the malecon on the beach, from 200 pesos ( $15 USD).
I am waiting for my drivers license to arrive from California. It got sent via regular mail and now I am not sure how long this might take.
Meanwhile, I am here. I have wanted to come to san blas for 20 years since i first heard of this sleepy little fishing village. it is "famous" for bird watching and infamous for bugs.
Mosquitos are said to be bad here but the jenjebes are the worst. little tiny sand flys. i hope they are not so bad. i will let you know soon.
Now it is 2 weeks later and i am going to mazatlan tomorrow.I have had a very nice stay here in San Blas.Nothing much to do around here except walk on the beach or surf or swim,in the ocean.There is a nice beach with some waves. I go there every morning for a long walk and thenI just hang around my room at La Quinta California. I chat with other guests or the owner.
I have been studying my spanish and reading rodney collins Theory of celestial influence. which i have completed! Wow. a real hard book to finish so i feel good that I have done it. I am reading Beelzebubs tales to his grandson again for the 3rd time now. It is going well and I am understanding much more each time I read it.
So I really enjoyed my time in San blas. it is very peaceful little town and the beach is nice for long walks. Of course there is the issue of bugs. Aye Caramba there are a lot of bugs there. Not as bad as i had heard, but still there are a lot of bugs there! The worst are the no-see-ums, or jejenes is the mexican name. These little devils sting you and they itch for days!
So i am in back in mazatlan, I just received my new driver license from California in the mail (Thanks RB!!) and tomorrow morning i will go to Guadalajara for 5 days or a week and then down to the pacific coast and head south to Oaxaca.
I am loving mexico and I am going to stay in Oaxaca for at least 5 weeks for all of December and the first week of january.
So here are a couple of thoughts to ponder until my next update.
Peace and Happiness to all of you
Rambling Roberto

"If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?" Thomas Jefferson
"Human identity is no longer defined by what one does,but by what one owns." Jimmy Carter
"You got to love what you hate." Hank Levine