Guelagutza me out of my Mind

The Guelaguetza is a annual festival held in the city of Oaxaca and the surrounding villages. It takes place during two weeks, dated on the day of the prehispanic god of the maiz. The festival celebrates the diversety of the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca. Each region has different traditional dresses and dances which are precented on stage. The Guelaguetzas are goods, which are distributed by the performers to the crowd, at the end of a dance, such as sweets, fresh onions or tamarind sauce. The dances and differ from village to village, it is hard to find background informations on them, so pictures explain the Guelaguetza better than words, see for yourself.

The title refers to a little anectote:

Gary, our friend from the Mezcal fair, is a photographer of the traditions of Mexico (his instagram is garykarolli, check it out, the pics are amazing!). Gary kindly escorted our little group of new found friends to the various parties. As it was a lot of times us and the family of his friend, we rode in the back of the pick up truck to the villages. Not very safe but so common in Mexico, everybody does it and the police gives the example by riding in the back, standig up, with the machine gun around the head.

The drink of the region, Mezcal, was omnipresent and served out of gas tanks to the visitors for free. Saying no, was not accepted for an answer, so the smoky liquid run down our throats many times. Yet the Mezcal was not what made our heads turn the most in those days.

One night we decided to go on a mexican teacup ride, and as we got on, I was joking with my ride comany, Luke, that the price was so high, maybe the ride would last thirty minutes. We both laughed and squicked with joy, when the ratteling, old lady of a ride, started. Our handle didn’t close and a floor plate was missing half of the screws. At some point, the employee started to grab our teacup and spin it even more manually. Now that was kind of intence, but still fun! The ride went on and on and on and the lesson that experiencing more of a pleasure does not allways accumulate to extacy, slowly sunk in. Now the guy had stopped turning us manually and as I look around, to check if he went to stop the ride, I realized he left. The ride had been running for about ten minutes at this point. I started to feel sick, anxious and sweat from every pore. It felt like we were stuck in the moment, in a different time dimension. With every round it got worse. When the guy finally got back, only our signals made him  put a end to the madness. We all need a moment, before getting up. As we walked, we must have looked like a group of drunkards, not being able to walk in a straight line. The dizziness lasted for another hour, we defenetly got our moneys value from that ride! Later, as the best Tlayuda ever helped our stomacks settle down, we highly insisted on not drinking Mezcal!

 

How the Police interrupted our Streetfood Festival

 

Just before I left home, a new trend seemed to invade swiss cities. Every couple of weeks a streetfood festival was held in different places, attracting tousands of people.  In Lima (Peru) every evening turns into a streetfood festival. Tempting hungry stomachs with intruging smells of fried meat and  moulthwatering displays of freshly chopped fruits towards their small stalls, the streets of Lima hold countless small businesses.

With our small backpackers budget and hungry stomacks, Janice, my canadian friend I met at the hostel, and I made our way through the night, heading towards the basar/ china town area.

Janice tried a dish called “Mollejitas”, fried meat with cooked patatoes and fresh salad. She had no idea which type of meat it was, but thought is was delicious. Later we found out , it was chicken intestins.

I tried some of the quails eggs which can be found at ever corner throughout Lima, they are served with a tasty sauce containing various herbs.

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Another awesome thing about streetfood is, that the porcions are so small, that you can try various things in one meal. After a sandwich of porkbelly (took some delicious break from beeing vegetrian), I was just about to buy some sweet bread, as the vendors face turned to disstress. Lowering my camera and turning around,the reason was standing there, a police officer looking at us gringas with an annoyed face. Suddenly all around us the goods were packed up, the vendors rolled their stalls away , half running. The, before so vivid scene, became deserted within the shortest amount of time. We were wondering where they would go, just a couple of streets further? Did this occur every night? How much struggle must it be to run this kind of honest business, always in the back of the mind that one single police officer could destroy a nights income.

With full bellies we headed back, through the insane traffic of Lima, burning the first calories by crossing roads. Even when the lights are green, it is advisable to run as fast as one can, in order to escape the anarchist Peruian drivers.

 

#Streetfood #Travel #Peru

 

3 Days Guest in another World

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Since I saw a documentary about Salar de Uyuni a few years ago, my interest in latin America was awakened. It is the largest Salt desert in the world its area covers 10’000 km2. It is located on 3600 m in the south of Bolivia. Underneath its salt crust lies a huge amout of lithium, the extraction has only begun recently This material, used for cellphones, could finally make the region rich after the silver and gold mining all over the country has only made first Spain rich and after the foreign investors. President Morales passed laws which limit foreign investment and property owning (the laws are quite controversial as the economy of the country has failed to catch up with its neighbours).

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I booked one of the tousands of tours offered in the town Uyuni, which lives off the herds of tourists. We are a group of 2 Dutch, 1 French, and a Brazilian/Belgian couple. Over the three days we all get to know and like each other, I travelled evn further to la Paz with Vera and Clint, the two Dutchs. Gabriel our driver lead us with a calm driving and a friendly reserved mood during the three days desert.

Our first stop lead us to a street with tourist shop and a couple of houses, I assum the people live off the tours which all stop there. I became a total victim of the souveniers like a magpie is atracted to shiny objects, I can’t resist colourfull things which lead to my hiddeous gringa look of the lama earrings and the headband. After we visited an old trainstations with trains that were left there to rotten. When we reached the Salar, we all were speachless, the nothingness, the silence it all seamed like another planet, totally surreal. Of course we all could not resist to take  a couple of silly pictures. We slept in a hotel which had the whole interrior equipped with salt, even the walls.

 

The second day led us further into the altaplano platform, the area between Chile, Argentinia and Bolivia is full of deserts, volcanos and colored mountains (they contain various minerals which gives them a look of being painted). The landscape was breathtakinh beautiful, the only life we saw all day were the flamingos, which populate the by alga colored lagunes and every now and then some lamas. It is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, the mountains mirrored in the lagunes, it seemed like the perfect piece of art created by the universe or god just to entertain itself. The railroad tracks were built by chile, as an agreement after Bolivia lost it’s costal region in the war. A fact Gabriel points out in a tone that lets us know that this national trauma isn’t quite forgotten yet.

 

 

 

After a cold night on 4200 m we get up at 4:30 to see the geyzirs, which are located in a volcanic region on 5000 m. Yet again we are out of breath not because pf the low oxigen on this altitude but by the sheer beauty of this place. The landscape makes me dream of dragons flying around the corner or the little prince appearing in the scenery with his tamed fox. We are all cold to the bones (temperture -10)  me in a riddicolous outfit, wearing layers off all my clothes I carry, through the mostly tropical regions on my initianary. When we reache the last highlight of the trip, hot springs in the amazing scenery, it is reliving to sit in the warm water and heating up while the sun makes it’s way on the horizon.

 

 

 

If things could talk….

So I’ve been crazy about old things and secondhand shops since I can think of. Looking @ items from the past, knowing each piece has belonged to a human with a life and a story behind it, it made each little item magical. Yard sales fuel my fantasy with exiting stories about the former owners of the items for sale.

I had no idea about the treat I was up to when I asked Gustavo, one of the owners of the hostel, I am volounteering, where I can find secondhand books. He recomended me the rua ruy barbosa just outside of touristopia Pelourinho. The area is considered to be a kind of dodgy, so I just went there with nothing on me and was sweeped of my feet by the shops I found in those rugged old buildings. I walked back with a grin on my face, just like I’d fallen in love.  There was no question about this, I just had to go back and take pictures even at the risk of getting robbed: