Studying Spanish in San Pedro, Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan In The Rain
Lake Atitlan In The Rain

I’d been travelling alone for a just little less than a week. For the past two days I had been stopping in Panajchel, known as Pana locally, where it had rained pretty solidly throughout my stay. I’d come to the conclusion that I’d made a mistake stopping here at all, as I’d found it to be little more than a main street with restaurants, bars and shops that catered to us tourists. I discovered too late that it is very easy to skip past Pana and get a boat across the lake straight away.

So, first thing that morning, I had dragged my suitcase round to the jetty, clattering along the cobbles as I went. At the quayside I pulled my suitcase on to the roof of the boat and squinted at the rain pummelling against it. It looked precarious, and wet already. “Safe?” I asked the captain, “Yes” he agreed. My Spanish perfectly matched my mood, hesitant and a bit miserable. Continue reading Studying Spanish in San Pedro, Lake Atitlan

Churches on Pyramids and Shipping Containers

Photo of a trumpet player seemingly sucking smoke from a volcano
Volcanic Trumpet

During the?time we spent in Puebla I was desperate for a decent day trip out of the city. Fortunately the neighbouring city of Cholula has a quite spectacular church sitting atop an ancient earth pyramid. Oh, and is if that isn’t impressive enough, ?there is a view of the ever-so-slightly active Popocatepetl from the top.

I got there early in the morning, as that is when the views are best. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day and so I didn’t get that clear a view of the volcano. As it turned out, going straight to the top probably wasn’t the best way of touring the site. Unless you are eager to get to the top for the view of the volcano, I’d strongly consider doing the site in the following order.

  1. Zocalo – main square
    Cholula claims to have the largest Zocalo in Mexico (and in Latin America) and it is certainly a decent size. It’s worth starting here to have a coffee and snack under the (longest in Latin America, honest) arches that line the far side of the square. You can also pay a visit to the Casa De La Cultura. This has recently opened, as of October 2015, and I was given a free guided tour round the exhibition which included the photo of the trumpet player at the top of the post. The Ex Convento de San Gabriel, along the east side of the main Plaza is an enormous complex of three religious buildings. From the Zocalo, walk along Morelos to get to the site.

Continue reading Churches on Pyramids and Shipping Containers

Oaxaca: A city of galleries

Frida Khalo with a mohican
Frida Khalo with a mohican

One of the things I really enjoyed about Oaxaca was the number of art galleries and museums that there are close to the centre. I spent quite a time wandering alone (this was when Vicki had started to feel unwell) visiting different places.

I enjoyed a quick nose around Espacio Zapata, which was has a small exhibition space-cum-shop as well as a workshop with cafe. They did a nice line in Frida Khalo-with-a-mohican memorablilia the design being the same one as this graffito on the wall opposite.

One museum I visited, el Centro Fotogr?fico Manuel ?lvarez Bravo, was dedicated to photography, and had two exhibitions showing. The first was by an American photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, working in black and white. She had visited Oaxaca for a period of twenty years, right up until her death this year, and her photography consisted largely of portraits of poorer people in the region.

At the time I remember being struck by the downtrodden expressions of her subjects and wondered how representative they were. The overall impression I came away with was of a particular viewpoint that showed poor Mexicans as being immobile, helpless and pitiable. Continue reading Oaxaca: A city of galleries

Oaxaca: Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Vicki and Simon at the baseball game in OaxacaIn Oaxaca we rented a house share through AirBnB that was just a few blocks from the zocalo. Passing through an unassuming door on the street we entered a passageway that led to a small complex of houses belonging to two sisters, Sylvia and Olga, and their families.

Soon after we arrived we mentioned to Olga that we were thinking of going to the baseball to see the Guerrerros de Oaxaca (Oaxaca Warriors). It turned out that the rest of the family are big baseball fans and were planning to go to the game that weekend as well. So, on Sunday afternoon we climbed into the family car and were driven out to Eduardo Vasconcelos Stadium.

Oaxaca had got through to the playoffs and were in a series of games against the Tigres de Quintana Roo. It was 2-2 in the series and Oaxaca needed to win some of their home games before going to Quintana Roo for the deciding games later in the week. Continue reading Oaxaca: Take Me Out To The Ball Game