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Tour du monde en autostop - Jeremy Marie

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 Travel Diary : Maxi Mexico

Mexico... That's quite a big country. Indeed i have needed 6 weeks of time to be able to cross the entire country from the Yucatan peninsula on its south-west extremity to its border with the United States on the North.
And what richness got Mexico, and at every levels. Here, we can talk about cultural heritage thanks to the Mexican cuisine, music or even its people of different origins. We are talking about the civilizations Aztec or Maya... Yes, crossing Mexico does mean jumping through the Time and trying to recognize the different influences that went through each areas.
Meanwhile, the climates and landscapes are completely changing according to the places. Mexico is indeed big but it is also as diversified as the whole Central America's countries.
Unfortunately I didn't have room to get bored and I haven't had the chance to waste my time in this Spanish talkative country. Traveling there has been a real pleasure, especially thanks to its generous population.
Here is the story in 3500 kilometers by hitchhiking and 53 vehicles of this country which was also meaning for me the entrance in a New Territory: North America..

Ah yes, what about the Swine Flue?

I almost forgot to talk about the most important... Most important ? Yes, medias talking, that was the most important in Mexico!
The Swine Flue my friends! Many people definitely warned me before I entered this country. This Storm with was crashing on the Planet Earth, with was coming at light speed... Everybody was going to get concerned by this virus... Yes well, I was already in Belize, I honestly doubt about the capacities of the border officers to control all the little viruses H1N1 who were going to try to cross the border... I indeed decided to enter.
Once in Mexico and for the month and a half that i spent in it, I haven't met a person who was sick of it. I also haven't met a person who knows somebody who was sick. Plus, I haven't met a person who knows a person who knows somebody who would have maybe heard about somebody who caught its sickness...
I even met people who were working themselves in hospitals, even in the capital Mexico City, which would have been the most touched. No, nobody heard anything...
So what can we think about that?
The Mexicans protected themselves very efficiently and they have been very actives to react to this serious information.

They even protected the statues...

 Who are the mexicans?

Mexico was a roundabout of civilizations and get a very cosmopolitean population nowadays. From the Olmecs to the Zapotecs, the Mayas to the Aztecs, there is a possibility to be confused with all this various informations.

A Huge Olmec head in Villahermosa

One of the seven New Wonder of the world is in Mexico, in Yucatan. You have maybe heard about the Mayan Pyramid of Chichen Itza. Maybe not... but you have surely seen this picture somewhere.

Chichen Itza

(After a technical problem, this picture has been taken from internet... but yes, i was there! The proof:
http://www.poresto.net/yucatan/deportes/37365--aventon-hacia-el-record )

Unfortunately, those civilizations have been almost destroyed some centuries after, when the Conquistadors from Spain came around 1519. The project de "New Spain" changed completely the Mexico that we know today. The official language in Mexico is nowadays the Spanish even if a lot of dialects still exist. The food is a mix of the Spanish culture and the indigene one.
War, famine, extermination, genocide, racism... I have unfortunately the feeling to tell all the time the same thing when I am talking about the History of the countries I cross... To believe that the History of the World is the fruit of massacre coming from the hand of the Man. Let's hope that we are still learning from our mistakes, which is difficult to say when we have the occasion to open a newspaper.
Anyway, the Spanish civilization who came there let a quite interesting heritage (when it was not to build directly on the top of the monument of the anterior civilizations). We can admire nowadays the historical center of cities like Morelia, Puebla, Zacatecas or even Veracruz.

The Cathedrale of Morelia, the country having an important Catholic majority

 A square in the center of Zacatecas

A square but it wasn't the main square of the city. Indeed, in this case, I would have say "Zocalo".
Zocalo means « base » so nothing to do with « Square ». This is coming from an historical fact when a general would have like to erect a statue on the central square of Mexico City (by the way the most populated city in the world with 25 millions inhabitants!). This man didn't have enough funds and he couldn't go further than the construction of the base. Ironically, the Mexicans gave the name of "Zocalo" to this square, which by extension is the name of every central square of the cities and villages of the country.

The Zocalo of Mexico City and the National Palace

Nowadays, the proximity of the giant neighbor United States has of course an influence in Mexico. The country is still keeping its culture but still by trying to catch some part of the "American Dream".


An advertisement in Saltillo:"New York is a little bit bigger, but... Saltillo is something else!"

Also, the closer i was going to the United States, the more i felt that the cities were « americanizing ». Indeed, the city of Monterrey in the North-East of the country has for me a foot in each side of the border so much Uncle Sam seems close.
A shop Oxxo in Monterrey

Oxxo, you will find it everywhere in Mexico. Often, this one will be associated to the petro station Pemex, that I had of course the chance to "visit" when I was on the road hitchhiking this North-American Land.

The typical in Mexico

Many things are unique in this country. The culture is rich and various and fortunately, "It Is!".
The number of those little things, those small details that you will notice because you will only be able to see them there. Let's start with those famous Volkswagen Beetles, you will meet them in every street corner in Mexico. Of every colours, the Mexican Beetle is completely part of the urban landscape.

The pink one, in Zacatecas

Pedro Infante, Vicente Fernandez... This may not be very helpful to you but there, they were and are huge Stars. I want to talk about the music of the mariachis ! The movement originally coming from the town of Guadalajara (you can try to pronounce it properly by the way) is THE popular mexican music. I spent very good moments with my drivers listening all the classics of the greatest singers of Mariachi, when I wasn't seeing them going to play straight inside a shop in the capital of the State of Jalisco.

The Mariachis are coming to play in a Jewelery shop in Guadalajara
Watch here

The Sombrero is a kind of huge hat with large edges. This Mexican hat got more a folkloric aim than it is really used in the everyday's life. Basically, we can find it more in a football stadium for a match involving the national team, than in the street to go to work.

Nevertheless, I couldn't miss to try the Mexican sombrero.

Yes, the football... passion of the people...Le Mexico doesn't avoid it, but really not! This is the sport the most followed in the country, with the "Lucha Libre", a kind of Wrestling like we know it. The football got his temple in Mexico City, which is called the Aztec Stadium. 110 000 persons can follow a show of young men on short passing the ball. I didn't want to miss the event, Mexico was playing Trinidad and Tobago when I passed by the capital of the country.

The Aztec Stadium, impressive of size

The street commerce is very important in Mexico. The grocery of the population in on the sidewalk. In every street, some micro-commerce are organizing, with kiosks selling a little bit of everything from newspapers to chewing-gums, beverages, etcs... This is also possible to go to the stand of the shoeshiner, on top of your pedestal, while your shoeshiner is making shining your shoes...

The stand of the shoeshiner, higher... always higher

The gastronomy

 Ahhhh... The food!
The Mexican cuisine is indeed very well known worldwide, for its variety and its exotic taste. Anyway, I think that to know really the Mexican food... you have to go to Mexico! Especially that most of the Mexican restaurant abroad are offering TexMex dishes, in another words: TEXans MEXicans... An American adaptation of the mexicano-americans. Forgot the "Chili con Carne", you will not find it there. Let's talk more about Tacos, Tortas, Enchiladas, Quesadillas, Tamales and so many more!

A Tamales in Chetumal in the Quintana Roo

Every area got his own speciality. From the cochonitas of Merida to the Mole of Puebla, I was delighted. Also, the local population felt it was their duty to make me discover their culture, and very often around a table.

Some Enchiladas has been served to me in Guadalajara

Seen as exotical... I had the chance to have some exotism me too. Indeed, in some areas, I could taste some dishes I would never think I could taste. In the hot and humid State of Tabasco (nothing to do with the sauce by the way), I found myself in front of a plate of meat of turtle. I took the challenge, taking care to not bite the shell!

Eating the meat of the turtle... without torturing it

 
A lot of sauce as you can see. The sauce in Mexico has to be hot. Believe me, the Mexicans have another definition of the word "hot" and I have been very surprised while my first experience of "sauce tasting"!
Either, you could burn your tongue with the cactus but fortunately they are taking off the spines. The cactus of Nopal is famous for its fruit but the plant is also eatable.

A Nopal on a market in Zacatecas

« Aventon » in Mexico

After those last countries of Central America, it has been difficult to stop so easily the vehicles. However, hitchhiking in Mexico has worked well. My average waiting time went from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, which is really correct. I felt anyway that it was getting a little bit more difficult to get a lift towards the cities and the center of the country. In the Yucatan, I think it was more easy.

A stop... "Alto"!

 
« Aventon », it does mean traveling by HitchHiking in Mexico. Often I was using the entrance of the highways to stop the drivers. By the way, the road system seems to be very good in the country... especially after having crossed Central America before, without talking about Africa of course!
Traveler fashion... even if I look like a tyrolean on this one!

 Some Hidden Wonders of Mexico

When I am moving by hitchhiking, I have only very few informations about the places where I am going, about the beauty of the landscapes and this is very often a surprise to end up in front of the wonders of the nature.

The Lagoon of Bacalar in the Quintana Roo

Believe me, Mexico got plenty of it ! From the semi-arid climate in the North to the tropical landscape in the South, the vegetation and the formations are at least diversified.

From the semi-arid climate in the North

 
To a more tropicale climate, here on a canyon close to Guadalajara
 
Variated Mexico is, and you have seen a microdrip of it in this summary of the the country. In every case, I really love this country, which is one of my favorite so far. I maybe don't have say it enough but the population has been very pleasant to me.
Of course, like in every country, there is good and bad people but I only had very rarely the occasion to have bad meetings, and in no case those one were dangerous. A very good sympathy in a country that I felt very secure to travel into... even in time of "Swine Flue"...


Today I entered a country which is even bigger by its size, the United States. A different country, crossing the border was more rude than was I was thinking. I am back in this kind of more developed countries, with its assets and disavantadges. A new challenger is is front of me: Simply traveling by HitchHiking. Believe me, this is not already won! Hopefully, I have the time with me!
For information, my activity on the website is going to be more important, i will tell you more very soon for the details.

See you very soon then!

Jeremy



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