TEOTIHUACÁN
Dec 5 - Los Pirámides de Teotihuacán

I did a school outing to Teotihuacán. We started by taking a Metrobus to the outskirts of the city. The bus and metro system here is interesting in that each station is assigned a picture and a colour. If you look at a metro map, it's almost like the station names are given as an afterthought. I live closest to the "bell" station.

Once around the outskirts, Mexico City is surrounded by grey hills covered in a dense haze of dust and pollution. Homes cover the sides of the hills like colourless barnacles. It's amazing how monochrome everything looks--the houses, the hills, and the air, all a hazy brown.

As we rolled through small communities, we were thrown up in the air every 20 seconds as massive speed bumps were laid every 30 feet. Grand churches stood out like rock stars from the drab streets. It's obvious that religion is a big thing in these parts. It's no wonder that next week will mark a huge religious festival where people will come from all over to a basilica on the north side of Mexico City. That should be interesting...

The pyramids themselves were pretty cool. All part of the remains of a huge ancient city--you could sit up at the top and imagine the throngs below going about their ancients lives before the Spanish invaded.

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NUMBERS 10.12.05 MEXICO CITY
metrobus to Indios Verde: 3P
local bus to Teotihuacán: 35P
entry fee, Teotihuacán: 51P
fabulous vaquero sombrero: 30P
Spanish speaking guide: 250P

MEXICO CITY - BASÍLICA DE GUADALUPE
Dec 11 - Pilgrimage

At a basic level I think religions are a beautiful thing. To see so many people believe something with everything they have. To bring people together and teach what is good and right. To give them hope for a life after suffering and death.

For me it's hard to believe completely in a God without any proof. But when my father passed away, suddenly I began to look beyond the provable. I wanted to find comfort in knowing that my Dad's spirit didn't just evaporate when his eyes closed for the last time. Suddenly, I wanted to believe.

So before I left on my sabbatical I made a list of things to accomplish while I was away. (I must admit that I only got through about 10% of it.) One goal was to "pick a religion". And I tried. I read books. Went to endless temples and chuches. Tried to feel what felt right. But ultimately I think religions are stories told to pass traditions and laws to the masses in a time before Google and Wikipedia. I must admit there's a nagging feeling in the back of my head that a piece of the puzzle is still missing--maybe one day it'll hit me.

Anyways, I went to the Basílica de Guadalupe on the north side of the city and joined the masses that make their annual pilgrimage to this holy place once a year, around December 12. It's called the Day of Our Lady Guadalupe. It's always pretty amazing to share in people's faith and devotion.

Scattered across the square were makeshift tents and a mass of believers. Some people carried images or heavy idols of Lady Guadalupe (not to be confused with Lady Gaga) on their backs. Some people even approached the church on their hands and knees. Sermons left people in tears. I wish I could be that passionate about something.

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TAXCO
Dec 17 - Drug Wars and Silver Cities

Before I came to Mexico, the first thing people would warn me about is the drug wars. I did my research and found that most of the violent stuff is happening around the border. But the interior, although heavily part of the drug trade, is relatively safe from the drug wars.

But the last week or so gunfire and road blocks have sprung up in the state called Michoacán right beside Mexico City. I was just planning an awesome road trip through the area to see a reserve where massive swarms of monarch butterflies blanket the trees, quaint towns with old Mexican ambience, and the self proclaimed guitar capital of the world. And then the shit hit the fan in Michoacán. The drug cartel there is basically on the verge of declaring all out war on the government. I feel awful for the people who live in this craziness.

So a change in plans. I'm just going to do a few smaller trips. Today I headed to a super cute nearby town called Taxco. It's known for its silver shops but the town itself is fantastic. I watched the locals cha-cha in the town square, shopped for jumile beetles for lunch, and climbed up a hill past the dirty hovels of poor families to reach Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

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MEXICO CITY - BOLÍVAR STREET
Dec 18 - Shopping for a Guitar

New guitar baby YEAH!

Because I wasn't about to die for a guitar by going to Michoacán, I spent the last week checking out music stores around Bolívar street (good place to find music lessons too). I also read a bunch about guitars on the internet. And learned about how they make guitars and the choices of wood they use.

But the best experience was just to try them out. They didn't seem to like to haggle much--maybe because I'm a foreigner. I must have tried 15-20 guitars in 10 different stores. From cheaper throw-arounds to better quality intermediate guitars. Up to now, I've only played the guitar I got in Buenos Aires. So it was really fun trying out the different brands and types of wood on the classical guitars.

I fell in love with a cypress body Ariana guitar made in Mexico. I picked it up at one of the bigger places, Veerkamp. It's so easy to play, like it's playing itself almost. The sound is rich and full. The action seems lower than the other guitars I tried, which means it will probably buzz if I start to bang out. I also read that it isn't common for classical guitars to be made of cypress, but it has a nice smell to it anyways.

So I'll be plucking on this guitar for a while.

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NUMBERS 10.12.18 MEXICO CITY
Guitars:
- Veerkamp QH02 by Ariana: 3439P
- Yamaha C40: 1550P
- Yamaha CG151C: 5050P
- Paracho Alhe: 4200P
- Tres Pinos with case: 4300P
Madarozzo MA-W020-C4 case: 1045P

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE and GUANAJUATO
Dec 21 - Road Trip to Puerto Vallarta

I'm going to keep this at Twitter-length. On my way out of the cold of Mexico City to the beaches. Stopped in a couple of super cute towns on the way. Loved the mariachi bands--they're not as cheesy as I thought they would be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NUMBERS 10.12.21
ETN bus ticket:
- DF to San Miguel: 325P
- San Miguel to Guanajuato: 90P
- Guanajuato to Puerto Vallarta: 730P
Casa de Huespedes, 1 night: 250P
breakfast, Tortitlan: 45P
dinner by the plaza: 160P
dinner, Van Gogh: 170P
slice of pizza + drink: 15P
book, La Grua: 80P
internet, 1 hour: 10P

PUERTO VALLARTA
Dec 25 - Feliz Navidad

They don't have Christmas trees here. They are all about their nativities. It's kind of neat though because they don't put the Jesus into the scene until Christmas Eve. How smart is that?

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