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.
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”
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)”
“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 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”
Having made Merida our base in Yucatan, for the first few weeks we limited ourselves to short day trips to Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Kabah. But it was time to venture farther east – where the white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean sea are the spectacular setting for an ancient Mayan city of Tulum. So Saturday morning we rented a car and headed to Quintana Roo for a long weekend on the Caribbean. Continue reading “On The Road in Yucatan: Colonial Valladolid and Mayan Coba”
Kabah is a small Mayan site, lying 22 km south of Uxmal. But what it lacks in size, it makes up in sheer eeriness. Empty of visitors, the silence isn’t broken by the large iguanas, embodying the solemn atmosphere of the place. We came here for a short visit, after spending half a day in Uxmal, and were glad we did. Continue reading “Kabah, A Maya City Where Iguanas Outnumber Visitors”
As everyone else visiting Yucatan, Chichen Itza was our first encounter with Mayan civilization. Advertising works – if something is recognized as a New World Wonder, you are going to go there first, no matter what. But while Chichen Itza may be the most famous Mayan site, the less-known Uxmal, in my view, is even more breathtaking. Continue reading “Uxmal, The Ancient Maya City You Have To See to Believe”
Having stayed in Merida for more than a month, we had plenty of time to explore the city. Beyond just taking a quick tour of the historic center, visitors often rush off to see the pyramids, which is understandable. But if you have more than a day or two in the city, check out these less-known spots, whose discovery was a pleasant surprise for us.
For the first time in my life I don’t have a physical home to return to. All the stuff that I ever owned is either in my suitcase, at my parents house or sold and given away. For 6 months now I don’t pay any monthly bills. I don’t have long-term rental contracts. I don’t receive spam calls – an unexpected benefit of changing the sim card every now and then. Continue reading “The Unexpected Side Effects of Traveling Slow”
After 2 months in Guadalajara, coming to Mérida was almost like visiting another country. Different people, different food, in some places even signs in a different language. On our way from the airport, the driver was telling me that his father is Maya while his mother is a mestizo. “Did your father speak Maya with you?”, I asked him. “No, my mother wouldn’t let him speak Maya in the house”. Continue reading “Merida, The Colonial Capital in the Land of the Maya”
My score: 4 (out of 5) Rotten Tomatoes: 97%
Without a background music, violence or complex plot, Toni Erdmann, a 2.5 hours German movie from 2016, relies solely on acting, character building and dialogue to keep our attention. And keeping attention it does – I didn’t register a single boring moment in the movie. Continue reading “Toni Erdmann (Germany, 2016)”
The biggest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala and its coastal towns attract many expats due to its comfortable climate. But what it offers travelers isn’t immediately obvious. So one weekend we took a car from Guadalajara and drove south to discover it ourselves. Continue reading “Lake Chapala, Where Expats, Pelicans and the Dead Are Neighbours”
That morning a car was taking us through the streets of Tonala, a south-eastern suburb of Guadalajara. World away from the elegant craft markets of Tonala centro, we were passing through some of the poorest neighbourhoods in Guadalajara. Continue reading “How a Charity from Kansas Helps the Children of Guadalajara Break the Poverty Cycle”
Guachimontones is probably one of the most interesting archeological sites in Jalisco, Mexico. One hour of driving from Guadalajara is all it takes to see the only circular-stepped pyramids in Mesoamerica and the world (update: Cuicuilco in Mexico City could also be considered circular pyramids). Even though there are buses to the site from Guadalajara, we preferred the convenience of Uber (the cost was around $20). Upon arrival we took a guide, and started the climb up the hill. Continue reading “Guachimontones – World’s Only Circular Pyramids Near Guadalajara”