Guanajuato, Maybe The Most Abundant City in Mexico

In Peter Greenaway’s recent movie “Eisenstein in Guanajuato”, the famous Soviet film director arrives to Guanajuato to shoot a movie. After spending a few days in the city, he has a severe diarrhea, on which he comments: “In Russia you are always constipated, but here it’s the opposite…”.

Having spent my childhood in Russia, and having traveled enough time in Mexico, I can attest to some truth in Eisenstein’s character’s words. Continue reading “Guanajuato, Maybe The Most Abundant City in Mexico”

Mother! (US, 2017)

If you haven’t seen Darren Aronofsky new film Mother!, maybe you shouldn’t be reading this. Not because I’m going to spoil the plot but because I’ll be putting ideas in your head about what the movie is about. And that could diminish your enjoyment in trying to figure it out for yourself.

Mother! is an allegorical movie, a film whose literal plot hardly hides its mythical ambitions. But unlike some other enigmatic movies who are too cryptic to even try to untangle them (David Lynch enjoys making those), Mother! is open for almost too many interpretations. Which one is the “right one”? Or maybe we are looking at a stack of pieces put together from multiple puzzles, instead of a single one? Whatever it is, the experience is profoundly captivating. Continue reading “Mother! (US, 2017)”

Sanctuary of Atotonilco, the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico”

The town of Atotonilco, just 20 minutes outside of San Miguel de Allende is mostly known for its church complex, declared UNESCO World Heritage. Called the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” due to the mural work that adorns it, Sanctuary of Atotonilco is probably the best half-day trip you can make from San Miguel. Since it lies on the main road to Dolores Hidalgo, you can see both sites on the same day, tracing the Mexican independence movement and its religious underpinnings. Continue reading “Sanctuary of Atotonilco, the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico””

Dolores Hidalgo, The Birthplace of Mexican Independence

On one of the weekends during our stay in San Miguel de Allende we took a bus to the nearby town of Dolores Hidalgo. Considered the cradle of Mexican Independence, it’s a great day trip for anyone even marginally interested in Mexican history. And chances are, you’ll see here more visitors from other parts of Mexico than foreigners. Continue reading “Dolores Hidalgo, The Birthplace of Mexican Independence”

San Miguel de Allende – A Beautiful Baroque City That Lacks Only One Thing

Having spent a month and a half in San Miguel de Allende, I’m still not sure what to make of it. A beautifully preserved monument of history and architecture? A seductive refuge for artists? Or an overhyped expat colonia? Probably a little bit of each.

Becoming almost a ghost town in the beginning of 20th century, the town began to attract artists and writers in the 30’s and 40’s. After the WWII many U.S. veterans came to study in San Miguel’s art schools. Over the years, the city has become a sort of art colony in the heart of Mexico. Continue reading “San Miguel de Allende – A Beautiful Baroque City That Lacks Only One Thing”

Dogtooth (Greece, 2009)

My movie score: 4 (out of 5)    Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Dogtooth is probably the first Greek movie I’ve ever watched, and although there is nothing particularly Greek about it, the sound of an unfamiliar language adds additional layer of oddity to it. Not that there isn’t enough oddity in the movie as it is.

Ever since they were born, three teenagers are confined by their uber-controlling parents to their secluded villa. Everything they believe about the world is filtered and carefully constructed by the parents. Continue reading “Dogtooth (Greece, 2009)”

Queretaro, Probably The Most Underrated City in Mexico

After almost 2 months in Yucatan, we were ready to get back to central Mexico. Landing in Mexico City airport, the plan was to take a bus to San Miguel de Allende, and stay there for a month as the next anchor in our slow traveling drift. But the bus takes almost 5 hours to get there, so instead we decided to make a weekend stop in Queretaro, a city that lies right on the way to San Miguel de Allende. For some reason travel guides don’t mention it among Mexico’s highlights, but this one-time capital turned out to be one of the most stunningly beautiful cities we have visited in Mexico. Continue reading “Queretaro, Probably The Most Underrated City in Mexico”

Wandering Shadows (Colombia, 2004)

My movie score: 4 (out of 5)    IMDB: 7.1

Two men meet in downtown Bogotá. One is Mañe, an older man missing a leg and the means to survive in a city that couldn’t care less. The other is a “silletero”, a man with a chair on his back, who carries people around for money. Their strange friendship slowly takes them to the exact place from which both tried to escape: their past. Continue reading “Wandering Shadows (Colombia, 2004)”

The Grim Truth About Living in Latin America

Life in Latin America is easy, if you are an expat. The people are nice and friendly, the culture is rich and vibrant and living is usually cheap and with higher standards than those you are used to. But there are also grim sides to the Latin American story, that no one is talking about. Well it’s time someone broke the silence and told the truth.

Continue reading “The Grim Truth About Living in Latin America”

Celestun – Flamingos and Mangroves on the coast of Yucatan

On our last weekend before leaving Yucatan, we took a bus from Merida to Celestun, to visit the Celestun Biosphere Reserve, where flocks of pink flamingos come for the winter. While every hostel and tour agency offers a tour to Celestun, there is really no reason to take them. These tours are usually pricey, and don’t offer anything of extra value. Instead, we took a regular bus from the Noreste bus station in the center of Merida, where the buses leave every hour. Continue reading “Celestun – Flamingos and Mangroves on the coast of Yucatan”

The Rose Seller (Colombia, 1998)

My movie score: 4.5 (out of 5)    IMDB: 7.4

Hillside comunas of Medellin. Children trying to earn some money on the streets, girls fending off casual abuse from their mothers’ drunk boyfriends, boys waging guns, everyone getting high on glue fumes.

Monica, a 13-year-old girl with a bouquet of roses and a cherished memory of her mother and grandmother lives on these streets. Continue reading “The Rose Seller (Colombia, 1998)”

Yucatan Less Traveled: Yellow Izamal and Cenotes of Homun

“I can show you a little bit of my Yucatan. Where do you stay?” This was the message I received from Luis Fernando, a young yucateco that replied me on Couchsurfing, where I was looking for locals to meet and befriend. A few days later we were speeding in his car outside of Merida on our way to Izamal, a pre-hispanic city, known today for its yellow buildings. Continue reading “Yucatan Less Traveled: Yellow Izamal and Cenotes of Homun”

White Sands, Mayan Ruins and Underground Rivers: One Day on the Caribbean in Yucatan

White sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean, ancient Maya city of Tulum, underground rivers, and freshwater caves of Sac Actun. It’s all here, on the Caribbean coast of Yucatan, a result of an astonishing collaboration of circumstances, nature, and pre-hispanic Maya culture. Continue reading “White Sands, Mayan Ruins and Underground Rivers: One Day on the Caribbean in Yucatan”