“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situation, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favor from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life.
            At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive.”

- Paulo Coelho “The Pilgrimage”







            After years of stressful North American living combined with cold winters, I’ve decided I had enough. Since global warming still hadn’t postponed winter indefinitely, I said the hell with it! Gave my 2 weeks notice at work, gave up my apartment, sold whatever I could and gave away the rest, had a huge going away party and left behind my life in Jasper. Such that on October 6th 2004, the happiest guy on the face of the earth that day, homeless, jobless, single, free as a bird cruising through the mountains of British Columbia happened to be me, on my way to Vancouver to meet up with some old friends.
            I stalled in Vancouver for a while, but came January, it was time to get going. The plan was perfect. With the freezing winter season now upon us and after 4 month of delays, everything was finally coming together. Finding traveling companions to leave on a road trip to Mexico was the easiest part. We had it all: the rusted ‘91 Dodge Shadow coupe, non perishable food supplies for a week, baiting suites, mask and fins, camera with lots of film, oh… we were ready for winter all right.
Our intentions: leave Vancouver ASAP and cruise 20 hours straight south, non stop, to get to the California boarder on day one. Then take our time following Interstate Highway 1 on the pacific coast, enjoying the giant trees of Yosemite, the surfing beaches and plenty of sunlight. Get to the Mexican boarder, leave the car in the ditch somewhere and destroy the plates and serial numbers (because insurance in Mexico is quite pricy) and somehow get to Mazunte (Little piece of heaven we heard of) on the coast of Oaxaca. On the way, the Canyon de cubre, Mexico City, Guadlahara, Real de Catorce, San Miguel de Allende, and any beach we might encounter. Hammock, Tequila, Sunshine, good times and freedom.
The ’91 Shadow we attempted to drive to Mexico.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you can’t get lost”            -Herb Cohen
Mon, 4 Jan 2004 19:25:07 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  
Subject: Day 1
To: Friends@canada.ca

            After long, long, long last minute preparations, slowed down by the excessive drinking session performed the night before on a going away party (we managed to run the bar out of drink specials!), we finally got on the road for an “early morning” departure (@1:45pm). The car didn’t perform as well as I remembered it before Christmas. I mean, it’s not a Cadillac or anything, but it sill ran. We figured it was because on the inch of ice all over the roads and decided to leave anyways before the scheduled snow storm was to hit Vancouver (Generally, it never snows in Van). None the less, we got on highway 99 South, direction Seattle, with luggage, big smiles and loud hip hop. 

            About 20km from the boarder (not the Mexican boarder, the US one!), my fears became reality. We were doing 70km/h in 4th gear, engine revving @5200 RPM, no ice on the road anymore… the car is fucked. We figured we’d try out our luck and keep going as far as we could. Maybe the car would make it to California… maybe…

            Stopped at an Esso/Tim Hortons to get gas, coffee and check the transmission fluid level (hoping that maybe, hopefully, it had suddenly and for no reason dropped, somehow explaining the burned smell and blue smoke coming out of the hood).  Everything looked fine. Fuck! We finished our coffees and donuts and decided it would be wiser to turn around. Soon enough: “Vancouver City Welcomes you”, in big letter. We were still carrying our luggage and listening to the same CD, but our smiles were gone.

            Then it happened. While stopped at a red light on the corner of Oak and 72nd street -rush hour fun setting in- I put the car in 1st gear, drop the clutch, hit the gas and as we hear the engine revving like a mad horse, the car rolls backwards. Put it in 2nd, 3rd, nothing can get this piece of junk going forward. Clutch is burnt! As we backed up into the four lanes traffic behind us, the honking and flashing of middle fingers was getting bad.

            Put the 4 ways flashers and wait for the traffic to clear before backing up the car on a side street. We parked on 71st street and got a grumpy resident to call us a cab. We stripped the car of its valuables, and after massively denting the right fender with a necessary stress relieving roundhouse kick, we got in the cab. I don’t think the driver liked us. Not only did we have to pay him in USD (it was either that or Mexican pesos), but we also managed to break his tail light while unpacking the trunk. Good thing the duck tape was handy. 50$US later, we were home again. Yey!!
            Around dinner time, I dropped a jug of juice and lit a napkin on fire with a candle while replacing the pizza box.

            Let’s call it a day. I decided not to touch anything else and went to bed. We are going to investigate other transportation alternatives tomorrow.


See you.





Mon, 12 Jan 2004 19:10:10 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  
To: Friends@canada.ca

Subject: Estamos finalemente aqui


Que pasa!!

I know this isn’t as much of a personal message as I would have it, but the internet here is so slow that it is driving me crazy!

So the transmission of our pimp mobile broke down a few minutes after we began driving, so car got towed and we were back in Vancouver. We didn’t bother calling the people with whom we had a going away party the night before, and 2 weeks before, and a month ago. This rescheduling of our trip was to be the last one, and as far as our friends were concerned, we were already gone! We elaborated a plan “B” and searched for ways to get south, ASAP. We opted for the train to get us to El Paso, Texas, on the Mexican boarder. Bad idea! We spent three excessively long and painful days on a train. Because of the huge snow storm we so badly wanted to run away from, Portland International Airport was closed, so the train was jammed packed. Not to mention all the trees that had fallen on the tracks. At some point, there was “Something dragging from the back wagon” or so the intercom said when we stopped for the 4th time in 6 hours.
Fortunately, we met a bunch nice people on the ride south. We also met a lot of lunatics. I mean, I knew some people are odd, and its ok, but some of those train passengers… This women who smoked one cigarette after the other would not take her hat off because she said that birds spoke to her all the time and it drove her insane. Personally, I figured she was already insane to begin with, but I didn’t want to get her mad or anything, so I just sat there and listen to her strange and twisted stories. We still had a long way to go and even though she seemed a few beers short of a 6 pack, she was very pleasant to speak with. We finally arrived in beautiful El Paso, Texas. Berkh!! What a crusty town! It looks like a mini Tijuana. Ever seen all those cartel movies?! Well, they have a pretty accurate view on boarder towns. We left the train station and sprinted for the lines. Asked for some directions and followed the crowds going south. Crossing to Mexico was a joke. There was a little booth on the bridge that required us to pay the astonishing sum of 35cent (Each!), and that’s it. We didn’t even see any boarder patrol guards, no police, nothing.
Rio Grande in El Paso/Ciudad Juarez. Don’t go unless you have to!

We weren’t sure that we even were in Mexico. Everything looked so similar as the other side of the bridge. Mind you, there were more Mexicans and all the signs were in Spanish.

So there we were 3 obvious foreigners with the typical Canadian flag patches on our backpacks in Ciudad Juarez. Also bad place to be. Three million pore people, ripping off everything they can, fighting to survive. The town’s main economy revolves around smuggling drugs and Mexicans north to the US, and guns and stolen cars south to Mexico. We decided to go to the airport and leave this shit hole ASAP! No flight until tomorrow at 7am. The “Migration” tried to give us problems because our passports weren’t stamped. WTF? There wasn’t even anyone at the boarder! Arghhhhh…  What a bad week! Fortunately in Mexico, a few US dollars will get you out of any problems you might have with the local police. We finally got our paper work figured out and headed out looking for a hotel. Couldn’t find a place to stay, because all hotels were rented by the hour, for hookers, getting high and what not. We finally found a bed and went to sleep, hoping that if the day had been so bad, tomorrow had to be better.

The next morning we went to the airport and got us, as ACDC puts it, “Two tickets to paradise”! The Mexican’s customs security was a little odd. Everyone put their bags on an X-Ray machine, but there was no one at the screens looking at them; only 2 empty chairs. Union break, I guess. I still put my bag on the scanner, since everyone else was. Then you get to this room and press a little button. Green light you go, red you get searched. As I saw the 6 people in front of me get green lights, I knew what was coming my way. Press the button. BRRRRR! Red light! Damn it! I was a little stressed, but had nothing to fear. No drugs, no guns and now a legally stamped passport. I was 100% legit! The uninterested officer briefly looked at my hand bag, but I don’t even know if his eyes were open. I could have had like 3 hand guns at the bottom he wouldn’t have found them he was so useless. As I was struggling to open my main bag, which took me like an hour to strategically pack earlier that morning, I turned around and noticed the officer just brushing me away, saying “Todo estas bien, passe, passe!” I figured form the body motion that he wanted me out of there. Good. I didn’t argue and moved on.

Now that we had crossed Mexican customs (after a day in the country!), we headed to the luggage drop off. Took a last look at my cargo bag to make sure my hunting knife was there and spotted its casing. Everything good, dropped that off and cruised to the airport security gate. Then it struck me like a lightening bolt. I felt like a freezing hand was squeezing my heart, cold sweats, out of breath, my jaw dropped. At the same time I saw through the X-ray machine -there was a few military police officers sitting at this one- this big black knife shape, I remembered that I took my Rambo knife out the night before to cut some tomatoes and was planning to put it away but forgot. I’m not a terrorist; it was an accident… but do they know that? Was I going to jail? Where would I find a lawyer here? So many things to consider all at once yet frozen thoughts… Focus! And try to explain the situation to the 5 guards now surrounding me, all pointing their machine guns at my head and shouting I don’t know what in Spanish. I assumed they wanted to know why I wanted the knife on the plain and if I was planning to hijack it or something.

My forehead was drenched with sweat, my hands were shaking, which made me look even guiltier, I’m sure. Not to look like a pansy or anything, but it’s was the first time I ever got five loaded AK-47s pointed at me. And the fact that I didn’t speak the language that the people behind them used to yell at me, that those people had their fingers on the trigger, that I was alone and 4000km away from home… it just shot my nerves. I managed to spit out a few Spanish words to pathetically explain my point of view, and after a few minutes of diplomatic discussions, I think they told me I had to check my bag in the cargo or they wouldn’t let me in the plane. I didn’t argue, and as soon as they lowered their guns. I ran back to the luggage drop off, grabbed my journal from my hand bag, dropped it off and got on the plain. We took off to Puerto Escondido!

I met a guy on the plain named Mario. A Chilango form Mexico city. He practiced his English, I practiced my Spanish. I learned a lot about some Mexican history, geography and culture. There is a volcano by Mexico city named Popocatepetl. It took me a while to say the whole thing at once

We landed in Puerto Escondido at 4:20. It was a breathtaking experience. I could tell this was going to be good just by the line of palm trees on both sides of the runway (I had never seen a real palm tree before). Through the door, we crossed a wall of ocean scented humid heat. Late afternoon in January, it was thirty degrees in the shade! Palm trees, cactus and piss warm ocean. Everything is cheap here. You can buy a Corona for a dollar. It’s cheaper to drink bear than bottled water!!
We ended up at the hostel Shalom -means welcome in some language-. First night, I slept in a hammock, hung between 2 palm trees and met tones of travelers. Everyone is so… Spanish here. Most of the time I kinda listen to them, nod and say yes for a few minutes, then tell them I haven’t a clue what they just said when they stop speaking. I’ll learn the language eventually. It’s just so confusing at the moment, and the cheap beer, even though it takes some shyness away slows down the learning process.
First night in paradise, after a long and exhausting trip.

Today, we took the bus to Mazunte, a small beach town an hour south of Puerto Escondido, then a Collective (They are pickup truck- halfway between a bus and a taxi- they follow a route like a bus, but will pick you up and drop you off anywhere like a taxi) took us "downtown" (En la calla principal). Nice little town. Got a room made with bamboo sticks, with view on the beach. It’s so close we can hear the waves at night.
Tomorrow, we’re gonna look for a more steady home so we can start living the life we came here for, and hopefully get to do some laundry done.

            If you visit, don’t bring pants or sweatshirts. Useless. I got rid of all my warm clothes already.

Entonces, hasta luego.

Miguel (figured I’d get a Spanish name while in the country. No one knows me here anyways. Still getting use to it) 




“Everything that is born is subject to decay. Since there is no external savior, it is up to each of you to work out your own liberation”
- Buddha’s last words


Fri, 16 Jan 2004 17:45:08 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  
To: Friends@canada.ca

Subject: ¿look what these Mexican keyboards can do¿ñ



So we finally found a place to live in a small fishing village called Mazunte, 100km south of Puerto Escondido. It’s amazingly beautiful, and so much smaller than Jasper, which isn’t really big to begin with. Only one paved road (“paved” is used as a figure of speech to describe uneven cracked cement blocks), and very few tourists. Paying 75$/month for rent, and 4$ for a fresh fish meal in a restaurant. I can’t believe how cheap everything is over here. On top of that that, I found a HUGE bottle of Mescal for 2.50$. Mescal is a local drink in the region of Oaxaca, kinda like tequila but fermented from maguey –a different kind of cactus-. The recipe dates back form the Maya days, so it’s got to be somewhat good.


Our home in Mazunte, a 2 minute walk from the beach. Our 1st Mexican friends: Jessica, Mellisa and Carlita.


Last night was crazy. Those Mexiacnos sure know to party. Insane fiesta! It was la fianle del “Carnival del año nueve”. A huge stage with musicians, the craziest (and definitely most unsafe) fireworks I’ve ever seen. It was a big wooden tower on the beach (In the middle of the dry season, of course, it hasn’t rained in 4 months). As they ignited the bottom, the fire works attached to the frame would light up in phases, kinda like dominoes, exploding and firing blazing colors over the crowd. In the mean while, little kids were running between the flaming projectiles with rockets they’d shoot at each other out of their backpacks. Damn thing lasted till 4:30 in the morning, and its not like you can sleep in or anything, cuz there’s a bunch of homeless roosters and donkeys all over the streets that wake up at 7. Then more fireworks at 9am. I really don’t know how they do it.


Getting so lazy with my roommates, we kinda all lay down in hammocks for most of the day, roast under the sun, listen to music and smoke cigarettes (dollar sixty a pack -how sweet is that-). As a project for tomorrow, we intend to build this invention we have designed: a plastic bag attached to a broom stick with duck tape, so we can reach stuff and pass it to each other without getting up. Hopefully we’ll have time to build it tomorrow. 
Typical day in Mazunte. Rest well in the shade before going to the beach.


I decide to go snorkeling today. Since the beach is pretty plain and boring to look at (from a snorkel perspective), I figured I just might try my luck and see if I couldn’t find something more colorful than sand by the big rock cliffs around the beach area. See more stuff, you know. Bad idea!!! Sure, I saw some alleges and sea urchins, but as I was saying wooow, something happened. I didn’t really know what the moment. My mask was off, everything was dark, my mouth was filled with salty water and I couldn’t breathe. I could feel loud rumbling of waves breaking on rocks and felt sharp pains on my arms, my knees, my head. I panicked. I mean who wouldn’t? I sporadically tried to grip whatever I could and push myself. A wave had sunk me in an underwater cave and I was freaking out like a fish on a dock, in the dark, out of breath and not knowing which way is up or down. I finally reach fresh air and sunlight. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline now flooding my veins or the same current that had brought that wave, but I made it to shore in no time.

There I stood for a while, besides Meredith, not quite knowing how to verbalize what had just happened and how much I felt like I needed some sort of comforting from her. At the same time, I was enjoying the sun like never I had enjoyed it before, my heart was just starting to slow down but the adrenaline still stopped me from feeling any pain… thinking about all those what if’s. It’s not everyday you get to stair at death right in the eyes, when you’re alone in the dark, far away from home, and tell it to fuck off. I stood under the blazing sun for a while and just enjoyed life in it’s purest form.

 You should have seen her face when she slowly turned around and opened her eyes, obviously not in the same state of mind as I was after a long tanning session. I was covered in bruises and blood dripping in the sand that was now burning my feet (mind you, that was the least of my concerns at the moment). Knees, elbows, arms and back are all sliced up. And those stupid fucking sea urchins!!!! Stabbed me all over the hands and fingers so badly I look like a porcupine. I figured at least I could get something back out of my medical insurance, but the thought that the nearest hospital was an hour and a half away brought me back to more immediate concerns. This village only got running water 7 years ago, and the odds of finding a pay phone are pretty low. We were lucky to even have electricity.

We found out from a group of fisherman repairing a boat that the sea urchins were not poisonous. So I wasn’t going to die. Good. I felt better, but the adrenaline rush was wearing off and pain was kicking in. We got to serious business. Pore Meredith who never wanted to be a doctor… She performed a little improvised operation with a razor blade, tweezers and peroxide. WORST half hour of my life!!!! You see, sea urchins’ spikes are not quite like blisters. They feel like rock and break up into sand very easley. The rubbing of tweezers held by my shivering friend’s hand against their grainy texture while moving in my now paralyzed hand’s muscles was one of the most unpleasant things I ever felt. Every time she’s slice my skin with the razor blade to get a new spike, my heart would freeze and cold sweats would go down my back. I was just staring at all that blood making the burning peroxide boil as the two mixed. I found it quite hard to remain focused and ignore the pain.
A couple of chugs of mescal and a well deserved cigarette later, I still carry a bunch of spikes that are too deep to remove, but I hope my body will reject them… eventually. Over all, I’m pretty glad I’m not dead, and in my books, that’s enough to call it a good day, believe it or not.

So here I am, sunburned all over (mores tanned than I was at the end of last summer), and typing with my remaining 3 usable fingers, still enjoying the fresh coconuts (¿you know they are green when you get them from the trees?), and the fresh sea breeze here.

I feel awesome!

Nways, we’re going to “La punta” to see the sunset, ttl.





Thu, 22 Jan 2004 20:45:30 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  
To:       Friends@canada.ca
Subject:            So you had to drink the water, he?



I know for sure now, I’m an idiot. Even before I left, people said: “don’t drink the water”, Guide books, other travelers… Even the locals don’t drink the water. So a while ago, we decided that we wanted to cook some home like pasta. Out of bottled water, and too lazy to walk to the store next door to buy more (our stick was great, but didn’t reach that far away), we figured we could boil some tap water for a while and it would be ok. Boy were we ever wrong! I have never been that sick in my whole entire life. The constant humid heat and the dirty toilet that flushes with a bucket of water you fill up in the shower didn’t make it any better. Some might argue that it was the insanity pepper sauce we used instead of pasta sauce (once again because no one volunteered to walk to the store) that rotted my stomach, others might say it was the excessive amount of really really cheap mescal we drank that same night that did it, but deep inside... very deep inside me, I know it was the rotten sour milk flavored water that did it. I just know.

On top of that, I made the mistake of passing out on the beach that night. No one ever mentioned anything about sand fleas! I was covered with itching red dots. I thought the rashes were related to my nauseas and that I had caught some weird unknown Mexican disease. Still recovering from the snorkeling accident, I figured this is it. Either I pack up and go home or I’m gonna die right here. Fortunately, the lady down stairs was a naturopath and gave me some weird herbs to eat that made me feel a lot better.

Since then, I’ve been sticking too simple Canadian like foods. Fish (and none of those exotic florescent ones), Ritz crackers, eggs and oatmeal are the main components of my new daily diet. And no, I don’t miss at all those pescadillas, enchiladas, tamales and all that other stuff I can’t even pronounce.

I figure you have to play it safe, you know. Considering my luck, if I don’t do anything, nothing bad can possibly happen to me. So I focus on spending as many hours in my hammock as I can.

Aside from the food, I’ve been slowly assimilating the culture, chilling with Mexicans. Rapidly falling into the doing nothing groove. Mañana, mañana, as they say here. The freedom is overwhelming. No phone, no address, no home, no job, no pet, no TV, no responsibilities what so ever. I don’t even bother moving fast any more. I still see people running all over the beach, like I use to do when I first got here, thinking I’d get to see everything. Soon enough, they’ll realize there isn’t really a point in wasting all that energy, when you can easily see the entire beach from one spot. Besides, it never really changes much from day to day, so even if you take a nap all day, you don’t really miss anything. Just day after day after day... Relaxing…  Always so hot here. It’s the dry season. The worst weather we got were a few clouds one day. 

I had a chance to go visit the “Centro Mexicano de la tortuga”. Very nice, and lots of big turtles. They had the same ones as in the movie “Finding Nemo”. Speaking of which, remember those crabs at the end, there’s millions of them on the San Auguostonillio beach, next door. Excellent beach for surfing and skim boarding. I like to chill there.


I’ll send more news when something happens.






The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits”
                                                                                                -Albert Einstein


Mon, 26 Jan 2004 22:16:51 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Con un ¡Hola! grande de Mexico

To:       Friends@canada.ca

Hey! ¿Commo estas?


I went to Zipolite today. It’s a gigantic 4 km long nudist beach. I didn’t get fully naked, mind you, because I heard some nasty stories about people falling asleep and burning at rather unpleasant places. And with my luck, I figured I wouldn’t take a stupid chance. Went snorkeling for the first time in a while. Quite a challenge in a surfing beach, but a lot of sea shells and pieces of coral all over. I managed to gather a pocket full of wonderful sea goodies I picked up beyond the breaking point of the waves. Returning to shore was the real challenge. It’s like everything is fine... la-la-la… signing in my snorkel, gently rocked by the waves…  too calm to be good. There had to be a catch! I poke my head out the water for a second, and all I can see is a huge 6 feet tall wall of water right in my face, breaking in slow motion over my head. Awwww shit… I figured at the moment that the best thing to do was to hold my breath. Then everything goes black and I start spinning. I’ve never been in a washing machine before, but I now have a good idea of how unpleasant it must bee. Water tumbles so badly it’s all foamy, I hit the sand a couple of times, trying to keep optimistic by thinking about how lucky I am not to be over a coral reef right now, do a couple of wicked flips and finally poke my head out of the water to catch my breath, ready for the next wave. After 4 of those, I finally got to stand up and walk to shore. I reach in my pocket, and all I have left of my treasury is 2 skinny shells. Of course my friends don’t believe me when I explained to them how I had a bunch but lost them all. Idiots! I gave away my 2 shells. My backpack is too full of junk already anyways. Mot importantly, I had a blast and managed not to hurt myself too much.

I’ve been hanging out with this sweet girl named Jessica. I guess you could call her my girlfriend, except for the fact that she doesn’t really speak English, and I don’t really speak Spanish. We have a few friends that can translate our superficial conversations, but it’s really hard to maintain. We spend the day yesterday on the beach. I’d point at stuff, and she’d tell me how to say it in Spanish. I got all the beach words figured out now.
Jessica with her niece, Carlita


You know, you have to meet Mexicans to fully appreciate the humor hidden in their mentality. Everything here is so different and odd. Its like, you buy a 600ml bottle of water for 10 pesos (1$). Since we are no sucker tourists, we were buying the 1.5L bottles for 10 pesos, also. Then I spot this 5 L bottle. I’m like he! maybe I’ll get a deal if I’m buying bulk (not working for 4 months really digs a hole in your budget). Well guess what, the big bottle is 10 pesos too. Since we’re living here for a while, we ask around to see how much those huge 18L blue bottles go fore. 10 pesos, you think? No. 11, but still, you get the idea.

And you can’t ask a Mexican for directions. They won’t tell you that they don’t have the slightest idea of what you’re looking for (And they don’t, trust me), but regardless, they’ll make up a story anyways and point you in some direction. Then when you get to 10 blocks away where you just got sent, and realize you’re not where you want to be so inquire for more directions, another Mexican gives you total opposite information. And it’s like that for everything: hours of operation (eventually found out that stores, banks and whatever are open from 10am to 3pm, then from 7pm to 11pm). You don’t know if a certain bank change travelers checks (then you go wait in line but Mexicans don’t really use ATMs, so you’re there for at least an hour), restaurant menus, why the base of palm trees are painted white (you wouldn’t believe the stories I heard about that). Mexicans just don’t know. They do their thing and that’s it.

Also, every Mexican is out to rip you off. It’s obvious you’re a tourist (wearing shorts in winter time, what are we thinking! Its only 20 degrees in the shade!). They figure you’re rich, and you kinda are if you can afford to leave your own country keeping in mind that people here earn around 100 pesos a day (10$US). They got those signs on the beach saying: “Por su salud, no dormir en la playa”, meaning: “For your health, don’t sleep on the beach”. I felt like it was just a rotten tactic to get people to pay for a room every night, instead of living on the beach. I had to prove them wrong. So I slept on the beach the other day. Nothing bad, no police kicked me out, nothing. The next day, though... Ayayay!! I looked like I had chicken pocks (and still do) Sososo many sand flee bites, its disgusting. And they are still itching. But how can you trust anything in this strange land?


Nways, ttl


Take care and enjoy a bit of winter freshness for me (I never think I’d say this, but I wish it would get just a little bit cooler at night or something. But no. Rarely any clouds, never rains, always that heavy humid heat)





“I refuse to prove that I exist, for proof denies faith, and without faith, I am nothing”



Thu, 29 Jan 2004 18:13:07 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Fiesta en la ciudad de Oaxaca

To:       Friends@canada.ca



A whole bunch of stuff happened all at once.

You would not believe it, but we finally got a little bored of sitting around in a hammock and beaching all day. Even though we made an effort to go visit different beaches everyday, our enthusiasm just wouldn’t spark up.
            We decided to take a vacation from our vacation and go visit the provincial capital, Oaxaca (pronounced wa-HA-ka). What an amazing culture shock. Beautiful town. The zocalo downtown reminds me of the plateau Mt Royal, in Montreal. Wonderful Spanish colonial architecture, with huge churches and colorful brick buildings, massive market, tones of little arts and craft boutiques. Musicians, children chasing after street dogs, business men getting their shoes shined, lovers on park benches, there is so much life all around, it’s almost hypnotizing.

We took the second class buss service (also known as the chicken buss –go find out why) to get there. We were gonna take the first class (only 2$ extra on a 6 hour ride), but the nice lady at the desk said that the 2nd class buss had a more direct route. To this moment, I still haven’t really gasped what she meant by "more direct route", mind you. It’s not like we didn’t stop at every single little village on the way (and these mexicanos sure know how to over pack a buss, trust me. Transportation ministry of Canada would have a heart attack on the spot), and its not like there is more than one roads that connect Potchutla (on the coast) to Oaxaca (The “highway” in question, even though it is drawn almost in a straight line on the map takes 6 hours to cross 300km), so I can’t see how the other 1st class buss can take much longer. I have learned the hard way, once again, that Mexican information unlike its Canadian counter part, is mostly designed to make conversation rather than to clarify facts (even if it is written down).

When we finally got to the city, we hopped on a city bus to get downtown. Why did we ask the driver to tell us when we’d get there is still beyond me. (Have I mentioned Mexicans are not to be trusted with directions? That includes bus drivers as well). Being bored and stuff, we located ourselves on the map. Realized that we were very close to the Zocalo (downtown park), and mentioned it to the driver. “Don’t worry, he replied, I’ll tell you when you’re there”. Kept getting further and further from downtown (according to our map. Maybe it’s because the map is 10 years outdated?), told him again, same answer. Finally 14 blocks north of downtown, he drops us off, with a big smile, happy to have helped us. We walked the rest of the way.
Zocalo of Oaxaca. Why are the trees painted white? I don’t know.

Later that night, trying to locate a movie theater, we ask 3 different people where it was, and got 3 different answers. And I’m talking about locations 12 blocks apart. We gave up the idea and went to bed early.

Next day, went for breakfast in a little restaurant besides the Market. Worst service ever. Very nice waiter though.

Later that day, we bumped into our waiter from breakfast, and found out he got fired a little after we left the restaurant. Good for him, he really needed a new job anyways. He was going to a friend’s friend’s 21st b-day and invited us. We didn’t really know the guy, but to be nice, we walked there with him, to se where it was, and maybe come back later that night. Begged us to get in, so we did, and immediately, the host mother sat us down around the family table, and fed us soup and beer within 1 minute. Too late to leave now. We were in for diner, no way around it, we thought. The soup was good at first, but got a really weird taste as it cooled down. After 5 minutes of half sign language mixed up with unknown Spanish words, we found out it was goat guts. We had to finish it to be polite.

The host mother kept feeding us food, and so much Cervesa. We felt kinda bad being acquaintances of a friend of a friend of the birthday girl, especially because there were only 20-25 people there, most of them family. But they treated us like good friends. When came the cake came, they shoved the b-day girl’s face in it (as we found out is the tradition here), then pictures. They insisted that I’d be in the center of their family picture with the b-day girl and the cake. Afterwards, every girl, aunt and grandma insisted on being in a picture hugging me in front of the cake. It was odd. Very odd. I don’t know these people, and I barley speak their language. And I was so very drunk.

After lots of boozing and dancing to loud Latin music, we finally got to leave at 1am (so much for the only going for 5 minutes plan). The host brother Alexandro gave Meredith a necklace, and gave me a silver zapotec pin (with the 925 state stamp proving that it is pure silver). Got a bunch of numbers, emails, hugs and invitations to uncles’ cottages. And still trying to figure out the evening. It was lots of fun though. We’re invited to a Salsa class tonight.

The next morning was brutal. We tried to go eat breakfast inside the market, forget it! All these women screaming in a still alien language their not too appetizing menu in your ear while shoving it in you’re face, loud noises, crowds of people… Let’s just say it’s not a proper atmosphere for the un-rested hung over mind. We left after 5 minutes with an empty stomach and a bigger headache. We voted for some sketchy 25 cent tacos in a little stand.

We later went to Monte Alban, visiting Zapotec ruins from 1500 years ago. They were at war with the Mayas. Very nice site, on top of a mountain surrounded be deserted plains. Beautiful sunny day too, since it never appears to rain here.
The field where the Zapotecs would play ball in Mente Alban: a religious mystical sport
            We also went and visit Tule, where a tree claiming to be the oldest in the world sits in front of a cathedral. It’s allegedly 2-3000 years old, 58m around. Oh, it was big. It’s only after I cut a leaf as a souvenir that I saw the sign explaining how badly you could go to jail for even touching the tree. No one saw me!


Feel lots better.

 Going to bed, now.

 Nos vemos










Wed, 4 Feb 2004 13:13:50 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  

Subject:            Home, Sweet, Home

To:       Friends@canada.ca


            How are you? We're finally back home, after all that partying in Oaxaca. We also had a chance to visit the provincial museum of history of Oaxaca. Very nice. Tones of artifacts since the Zapotecs times to the Spanish conquest. They also have a huge botanical garden full of funky cactuses. It’s attached to a giant cathedral. I’ve never seen that much gold at one place before. We had a little trouble finding the door to the museum. We inquired to a "policia touristica" agent (They have regional police, federal police, militaries and tourist police. If they weren’t all corrupt, this would be the safest country in the world!). Bad mistake. Mexican directions, once again. I know I know better. They directed us to the cathedral’s main doors, of course (Even police iz no good for directions).
            I had a chance to taste a local food called Chapolines. It mainly consists of chilly flavored deep fried grasshoppers. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? I managed to eat 3 of them. Aside from the salty taste and odd texture, (and the fact that you’re eating a bug) the grasshopper’s legs getting stuck between my teeth really made me gag. Disgusting! I brought them back to Mazunte, and our Mexican neighbors from Durango were very pleased of the present, since it’s not sold on the beach.
The ride back to the coast was awful. We spotted a "tourist shuttle". For only 3 dollars more than the bus, they express shuttle you to Pochutla. What a great deal, we thought! WRONG! Oh, we got there fast, ok, but Mexicans highways crossing mountains were NOT designed to go fast on. Left, right, slow down, up, down, faster, honk, break for a 120 degree turn, and so on and so fourth. For 5 hours! And I swear they rerouted the exhaust into to van (which’s windows you can’t open, of course, cuz there so luxurious with air conditioning). I felt like vomiting within 10 minutes of the trip. I spent the whole ride focusing on not throwing up, staring at the silver chain hanging from the mirror, going left, then right as the driver sped through the corners.
Then in Pochutla, this taxi driver spotted the Canadian flag on my bag. He just wouldn’t leave me alone, kept saying that the camionettas didn’t pass here, but he could take me home for very cheap. I told him off in French, with the most polite tone of voice ever. So polite that he thought I complimented his mustache, or something. Felt great.

Then the other day... –For some reason, very odd stuff keeps happening to me all the time-  
We took a colectivo to go to Pochutla to pick up some groceries in the market. Colectivos are a great concept (but they abuse it here). It’s like a cross-breathe between a bus and a cab. A collective cab. It runes a bus rout, but stops anywhere. So here we are, 4 British, Mer, myself and the driver, squished like sardines in a very small Nissan, listening to loud Latin music, on the highway, driver doing 95 over speed bumps (no more comments on the driving), then PLONK! We ran over a giant iguana.
Driver breaks. Looks back. One of the 4 British guys in the back seat reassures the driver. "Don’t feel bad. It’s still alive", he says. Driver backs up, spot the injured iguana in the bushes, stops the car and exits, holding a cloth. Picks up a stick and starts beating on the poor crippled lizard. Pikes it up with his cloth and opens the door. None of us were too excited at the idea of sharing this already full car with the 2 feet long half dead lizard. The idea of having it in the trunk with our bags didn’t delight us either. But no, the driver pops the hood and put the lizard on top of the burning engine! Comes back and explains to us with a triumphant smile that it is illegal to hunt them, but road kill are acceptable. Iguanas are a delicacy in tacos and they are worth 200 Pesos on the market (=20$US average 2 days salary here). Finally got there, he opened the hood and pick up his beaten, half cooked still twitching iguana. Charged us 5 pesos extra each cuz he didn’t have change. I suspect he was lying. Damn thieves!
Besides that, nothing much happens here in Mazunte. I just live the life of a beach bum. I shaved my head. The hair is still too long to put sun screen on my scalp, yet short enough to let the sun through. What do you think happened?
Amazing sunset yesterday, pink clouds, orange sky, the almost full moon reflecting in the waves on the way back home. Everything fine.
The beach in Mazunte, on a busy day!

Nos vemos

“The mind must be in a state of wisdom to understand wisdom”
- Vimalakirti


Mon, 9 Feb 2004 15:08:39 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  

Subject:            Had to happen one day...

To:       Friends@canada.ca



This is the scoop. Back in Mazunte, got right back in the life style quite easily. Of course I hadn’t shaved in a week, because really, why waste water? and I was wearing the last pair of clannish cloth I own cuz laundry is due. There is no doubt about it; I looked like a bum. I decided to go to Puerto Escondido for the day. What else was I gonna do? Took the bus. Then it happened. Five police car on a road block. One of the greasy officers gets in the bus.
Says hi to the driver and then comes straight to me. "Ven conmigo", he says, huge gun pointing in my face. He doesn’t even look at anyone else. I was the only white guy, he had to pick on me. Takes me outside and searches my bag and pockets, looking for cocaine, he said. Honestly, I think he was actually looking for an excuse to ask for a bribe. Then he wanted to see my passport. Why now! Why didn’t I bring it with me, I’m thinking!! I carry that stupid piece of paper with me every single day, except today, and he wants to see it. I gave him my driver’s license and tried to explain in very pore Spanish how my picture was on the card therefore I felt like it was an acceptable piece of ID. He disagreed and argued. After threatening to bring me into Migration office, or fining me, or god knows what else he was talking about, he peeped in my wallet while I was looking for more suitable ID and noticed that I was only carrying 12$. Finally lets me go, figuring even if he looked me up I couldn’t pay him off too much. Scary moment, great relief. I’m glad the bus waited for me.
Spent the entire day in Puerto. Waited till sunset before returning, hopping that the road block would be gone. Came back home, shaved and did my laundry. Then went for a swim.

Zicatela beach in Puerto Escondido. 12Km of sand and world class surf waves. Now it this worth getting arrested or what?

Went to an amazing party in Zipolite. These Mexicans seem to make up excuses to throw big parties every week. All these historic dates, catholic holidays, endless festivals, whatever. On that particular occasion, they were celebrating the new moon. Good times. There were candles in the sand, surrounding an imaginary dance floor. Art, paintings, colored lights, 200 people dancing bare feet, drawing moving shadows in the cool sand to the light of a huge palm tree fire. The sunrise on the ocean was fabulous.

            I didn’t have enough stamina to attend the second day of the fiesta.
Out here, everyday is Margarita Monday! Watching the sunset on the infinite Pacific ocean. Live is good.

I began to read in Spanish. It’s great for learning. I read the Little prince, and many Garfields. This gentlemen at the library asked me about my kids. He was quite shocked when I told him that all those children books were for my reading.

Planning to leave for San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas next Saturday.





“Dance like you’re not being watched, love like you’ve never been hurt and live like there is no tomorrow”





Sun, 15 Feb 2004 13:50:59 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher" <simon.foucher@traveling.mx>  

Subject:            Finally, a little sleep...

To:       Friends@canada.ca


Done with the beach! (for now, anyways) I began to notice that I was really tired most of the time in Mazunte. At first, I thought maybe it was the food, but I ate fresh fruits and fish every day. Then thought maybe it was the heat, or the drinking, or the absence of responsibilities. Then realize, no, its because you can’t ever sleep more than an hour or two in a row without being disturbed.

During day time, our neighbors constantly grace our ears with delightful (and excessively loud) Mexican fanfare music. Not to mention people coming and going from the posada where we live, talking, cooking, cleaning. The beach has loud waves and is filled with kids, dogs and drunks all day, so there is no sleep there either. The music finally stops at around 10pm. But not the heat. Its always so hot everywhere all the time. Then you can appreciate the sounds of crickets and of the 10 daily mosquitoes that somehow enter and get trapped into your bug net. By 3am, they all bit you and don’t fly around no more. Finally a little rest.
Then you have all these wild dogs, all over town. Every so often, a couple of them will start to fight, so all the other dogs in the area start barking. By that time, unless you got really drunk the night before, you’re awake. It doesn’t stop here. Stupid dogs wake up the stupid dinkies (which make an awful sound when they sing -kinda like someone trying to learn the trumpet). If you were still sleeping, now you’re up. And it doesn’t stop there either. The dinkies wake up at least one rooster. Most often the one living in our yard (He’s really dumb). Stupid rooster is probably thinking in his little brain: "oh no! I hear noise, so it has to be the morning already! I slept in" COCORICOOOO!!! Wakes up all the other roosters in town (and there are lots, trust me). Since they all think alike, they all start signing. They should get watches. Or the smartness to realize that at sunrise, the sun is actually rising. That it is not morning yet and that they should be sleeping, or at least not signing. You deeply wish they’d just shut up. And they eventually do.
Great. Fall asleep. Again. Then the babe next door, who also got waken up starts to cry. Lasts maybe 5-10 min. Then silence. Finally, fall asleep and rest for a brief moment. Until a few other dogs pick a fight, and it starts all over again.
The chickens are all over the streets. It’s the same with wild dogs and donkeys. What is the SPCA doing???

At around 5 or 6 am the birds start signing and you get to enjoy maybe 2 hours of mild freshness before the scorching sun gets up. Then the music, the cars, the gas trucks, water trucks, fruit trucks, the yelling, the drunks… its day time again. You can never rest.
 Jessica and Marciel made us sandwich before we left. Latina women are so god for men. Even Carla helped out a little
So we made it to San Cristobal de Las Casas, in Chiapas. Yet another lesson acquired: don’t trust public transportation. Especially Mexican public transportation. Especially Mexican public transportation in a small village. Mexicans are always late, which in some cases, can be helpful. Our bus tickets were for 7:45pm. Got to the station at 7:55pm, with a late colectivo. The bus had just gotten there (thank god, did I mention everything is late, here).

Really nice town in Chiapas. Very pore, lots of traditional Indian influence here. You can feel the tension between the traditional, usually poor, marchands in the market Indians, and the richer, American haters, yet admirers Mexicans (and us, white people, obviously tourists) Same kind of architecture as Oaxaca, bunch of churches, colorful brick houses. Little cold, up in a valley in the middle of the mountains. As we were contemplating the town in the park, we were greeted by a Zapatista fanatic (Zapatistas are a group of militia who live in the jungle and fight for the independence of Chiapas and aboriginal rights). He elaborated on how we were plastic people with a rotten materialistic culture, that we were ugly and stupid, then explained how the Mayas use to live in harmony with nature, and how the white man messed it up, then proceeded to explain to us how he could talk to birds and dogs. He got bitten by one during the demonstration, and warned us that this big breasted jaguar was coming in town to kill us. We hadn’t really slept over the 12 hour twisty road bus ride, and this was no good time for philosophy. He told us he lived in a possada and offered to guide us there. We thanked him, and made a mental note of never ever going there. 
Typical street in San Christobal. Colors everywhere, cathedral in the back ground and uncertain street signalization.

Next day, went to the market, got lost. Figured if I walked straight I’d eventually get out. Took 1/2 hour. The market is HUGE!!! Made it back home in 1 piece. Had the best sleep in 2 weeks.





“Only after the last tree has been cut down,
 Only after the last river has been poisoned,
 Only after the last fish has been caught,
 Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

-Cree Indian Prophecy



Sun, 22 Feb 2004 13:53:02 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            To the coast, and back again

To:       Friends@canada.ca


I was walking downtown San Cristobal, searching for a poncho, cuz its a little cooler here in the mountains (Just about 10 000feet elevation), when I saw 2 friends I met earlier in Pochutla in the back of a Pickup. They had been hitchhiking since the US boarder, and are on their way to Costa Rica. Hopped in and cruised around town for a while. Ends up they are living with Orlando, a very nice guy who runs 2 restaurants and sells sea food. Invited me over to his place, and I’ve been living with his family since.

We visited a huge cave in Rancho Nuevo. Bigger than any other caves I have ever seen in Canada.
Since our host family was kind enough to introduce us to Mexican cuisine, we tried to cook them poutine. Doesn’t sound like much of a challenge, but in Chiapas, its no easy task. Fries, no problem. Potatoes are always accessible. But try finding fresh “squeaky” cheese... We used Quesillo de Oaxaca, a local cheese that have the perfect texture, but doesn’t taste quite right. And the sauce... Try to find St-Hubert sauce, beef stock, gravy or something remotely similar here, or even explain to a Mexican what it is in my pore broken up Spanish! Harsh stuff. We ended up making a tomato spaghetti sauce, but what a sauce that was. Even though it wasn’t traditional stuffed with curds, it was a great poutine. The family complained that it wasn’t spicy enough (Oh but it was! It was full of jalapeños!!), nor nutritional, and couldn’t be eaten with tortillas, but I think they liked it. Regardless, us 3 Canadians eat like pigs. It was great.
They have been calling us poutine ever since.

I went to Tonala, on the coast for a couple of days. Was lots of fun. Not touristy at all. The Lonely Planet guide advises not to go there, so backpackers, blindly following the guide like a herd of sheep just don’t go there. I was the only white person in the town. People’s heads were turning when I walked around downtown and I felt awkwardly out of place. A stranger in a strange world.
Orlando on the dirty beach of Tonala

Pitched my tent after dark the first night, after a long evening of cervesas with Orlando’s family. As I tried to lay down, I kept hearing these very annoying whispers coming from the ground. Tried to ignore them at first, thinking they were ants (cuz there are LOTS of ants here). Very irritating sounds. Just grinding through me like nails on a black board. Then I felt something poke my cheek from under the tarp. Jumped up and instinctively punched the ground. Then heard the most horrid screaming sounds ever. There was screeching, scratching and screaming. I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I knew it wasn’t normal, but with all that beer in my belly, my main focus was to sleep, not to illuminate all of Mexico’s mysteries. There is no way I was going to sleep like that, over whatever that scratching and whistling thing was, so moved my tent. Then passed out. The next day, spotted the hole that looked like a tarantula nest. I had a cold sweat. I kicked it, but nothing came out. Pore little thing must have freaked out and moved out of town. I was glad I moved the tent.

Sleeping here is a little quieter than Mazunte. No wild dogs (GREAT!). Still roasters, and a parrot, who of course repeats after the roasters. No wonder there is such a thing as the afternoon siesta: you can never sleep at night! I carried the parrot around on my shoulder, shouting ARGGGG and pretending I was a pirate on a deserted island.
 Pirate Simon walking around Tonala

Orlando’s is a little outside of town, in a 250 people colony which’s name I can’t remember (or even correctly pronounce as a matter of fact). It’s a very very pore place.  I guess a lot of people couldn’t afford the 3.50/month municipal water fees, so the town just decided to cut out the water. Great.
What a shock. You don’t really realize how lucky we are to be able to turn a tap and get water until you have to drain the damn thing bucket by bucket out of a well.  Every time you want to showers, brush your teeth, cook, clean, do laundry, wash your hands, do dishes, flush the toilet, and what not. Talk about  pain in the ass!!
In the end, we figured it would be easier to go bath in the river that passed by. I left with Arthuro, a 17 year old little brat who ran away from home 5 years ago and also lives with Orlando (thought me every swear word in the Spanish language). The walk there was great; warm afternoon running across farm land, hopping barb wire fences, dodging cows and crossing huge fields under the blazing sun. All you can hear is the sound of cracking dried branches under our feet and of course crickets. Got to the creek, beautiful little water fall, surrounded by jungle like trees. Looked like a little oasis in the middle of these dry lands that haven’t seen rain for 4 months. We went in for a swim.
The water is absolutely filthy! It’s not so much the fact that it’s not fully transparent. The biggest problem for me was our feet sunk heals deep under the black mushy bottom, poked and scratched by rocks and branches. Then there was a bunch of little fishes trying to take a bite out of your legs, just tickling, you know, but the combination of the obscure water, the muddy and poky bottom and moving things all over was unpleasant…  non comforting.
We had fun catching the little fish that swam around with a shirt. They were just hovering around, biting our legs and belly. Then we found a little cave, just big enough too peek your head through. Arthuro looked inside and started to laugh, telling me I had to shove my head in there. I was expecting to see something like a bra, or whatever can make a 17 year old laugh. What a punk! All I saw inside were 3 disgusting spiders with black hairy legs stretching out the size of the palm of a hand. They had captured a frog and were slowly feasting on it. I freaked out a little. Sinking in black mud, not being able to see my feet in the murky water and the constant fish bites didn’t help either. I got out of the water, I had enough. See, the lizards you cross running away every 3 steps, the once in a while sleeping snakes you encounter, the dead cows being eaten by crows and flies on the highway, the so many ants all over that you eat at least 10 a day, the cockroaches the size of your thumb, I can handle, but black muddy water filed with moving and pointy stuff and giant spiders is just about as far as it gets to my idea of a good time.

After 3 days passed in that strange place, I returned to Can Cristobal in the back of Orlando’s pickup truck, filled with fish and octopus he bought on the coast. We crossed 2 military road blocks. Had my passport and visa this time (sweet!)




Tue, 24 Feb 2004 19:13:36 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            First day in the jungle (ouuu.. spooky!!)

To:       Friends@canada.ca




Living with Orlando and his family, I’ve been assimilating a lot of the Mexican culture. Food wise, I’m developing an appreciation for jalapeños. I had plain eggs this morning, and found them greatly lacking spiciness. Thankfully, I’ve discovered Chile Habanera sauce, which is said to be Mexico’s spiciest sauce… I believe it. I’ll give 100$ to the first person I see taking a swig and keep a straight face.  I’ve had a chance to taste real chicharones, which consists of deep fried pig skin covered with mayo, chili powder and salt. Tastes a lot better than it sounds like, especially after many coronas. They also tried to make me eat slimy pig paws, but it looked like nothing more than little round bones and fat, so I politely refused. "Don’t be so opened minded that you’re brain falls off"; you have to set a limit somewhere.

Orlando, Fabiola, Serge Arthuro and Sebastien. Notice the friendly broken glass cemented on top of the wall.

I’ve traded my Reebok sandals for cow skin sandals, my Burton jacket for a hand sowed Guatemalan poncho. Cuz really, I realized that I didn’t need all that brand name junk. Especially not here. And to see these people so pore around me; some families washing their clothes in the river, barely eating, family of 6 living in little 1 room house, workers earning 10$ a day, rely made me feel awkward wearing 40$ shirts and fancy shoos. All my decked out shirts were swapped for 2nd hand dark button shirts. Optimal for traveling: you can adjust the temperature by adjusting the open buttons, and when they get dirty (and they will), it doesn’t show.

San Chris was getting a little too cold for my licking. After all, I left Canada to escape winter, so I decided to venture in the jungle, seeking warmer lands. My first stop was Ocosingo, 2 hours north. Elevation: 900m. Weather: great! I had a little walk around town, still dizzy from the crazy buss ride, flying down a narrow mountain road. Up, down, left, right, speed bumps, cracked pavement, not yet paved sections, military road blocks, cows crossing, and everything else that is wonderful about Mexican roads and I forget to mention. Ocosingo is a very quiet town. I guess this was the last town to fall back into Mexican control after the Zapatist uprising. The peasant rebels held the town hostage for a few weeks before getting butchered by the military. Only a few of them managed to flee back in the jungle. Either because the municipality didn’t cared or couldn’t afford to fix it, but you can still see some bullet holes in some of the walls downtown. It’s pretty freaky. At least the rain washed off the blood stains.
The market was a pretty sad sight. There sat, directly on the concrete ground, the poorest people of one of the poorest town in the poorest province of a pore country. All these indigenous people liven in the mountains of the jungle and came to town every once in a while. They still speak the native Maya and Zapotec languages, from back before the Spanish conquer and know just about as much Spanish as I do, which makes it fairly hard to communicate. They sold a bit of their harvests and crafts and bought the essentials of life. And by essentials, I don’t mean plasma TVs or camera cell phones. They just all sat there, wearing colorful yet old and dirty traditional clothing, and each of them had a little pile of dry corn they were trying to pawn. I just stood there and felt compassionate, sad and useless. Even though it didn’t justify it, it kind of underlines the motivations for the desperate Zapatists movement to take such drastic measures as starting a civil war to get their message across. This had nothing in common with the French Canadians who want to separate because they are tired of paying federal tax. These were sick, dirty and starving human beings who had been kicked out of their land and forces to escape in the jungle to preserve their culture and heritage, while the remaining men and children were killed and women raped. I felt ashamed of my European ancestors and all the grief they caused to enrich the kings of Europe during the colonization.
The people of the mountains in their traditional outfit. They are called Chamules, which is also used as an insult that means: stupid and useless. Sad world we live in…
The “rich” indigenous settlement on one of the mountains surrounding San Christobal. These cement houses don’t have power or water.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”
                                                                                                -George Orwell
I found my way to the colectivo terminal that gets you to the ruin site of Ocosingo. After spending some time with Orlando in San Cris, I found out that if you want to ask for direction, forget the polite Canadian way, it’ll get you nowhere but lost. You got to be blunt: "Collectivos por las ruinas, ¿a donde?" No excuse me, no politeness  no nothing. You ask a plain question and you get a plain answer. Got there in no time. It works.

So hoped on the old Volkswagen hippy van, paid the 10 pesos and was on my way, speeding down this dirt road in the middle of fields. The site is called Tonina. I guess its still being excavated and it’s a pretty low profile site. You have to buy your ticket at the museum then walk the rest of the dirt road (15 minutes) to get to the ruins, which led me to believe that there were not too many ‘all inclusive resort tourists” that ever came here. Great!

Early afternoon, warm blue skies with a fresh breeze. Maybe a few clouds in the sky, but far away, low on the horizon; it’s going to be a nice day. Everything is so quite here compared to the busy streets of San Cristobal. Nothing but the sound of cows eating grass in the endless fields, surrounded my jungle filled mountains, and grasshoppers signing far away, and my footstep on this dirt road filled with dry grass.

I was walking down this quiet dirt road, all alone with my thoughts, and all my life belongings in my backpack. I felt so much freedom from the idea that if I really liked this area of the world, no one or nothing could stop me from settling down here and living.
I got blown away by the ruin sight. It’s built on a mountain face and rises to the sky. It looks like a giant fortress form a movie. And the whole area is deserted. I encountered 7 people in the 3 hours I spent there. 5


My first encounter was with the security valiantly guarding the entrance to the archeological site. He was lying on his back, under a big tree in the middle of the field that formed the first plateau of the fortress. His AK-47 machine gun was gently getting rocked on his round belly every time he took a breath. I think I woke him up. When he heard me, he removed his hat covering his face, made a significant effort to look up and said "Hola" with a big smile. He strategically replaced his gun to be ready to use it at anytime in case of some emergency since it had shifted during his sleep, and hat on his face, went right back to his obviously captivating work.
A view of the plains of Ocosingo from half way up the Tonina fortress.

After a long and heat exhausting day, I got a little lost in Ocosingo, but found my way back to the buss station. I was maybe 15 minutes late for the buss, but I’ve learned not to worry about those minor and superficial details such as time. Relax and quit living in the future, I told myself. If I miss this one, I’ll catch the next one. The bus is always late anyways. Bottom line, if you’re on time, you’re actually early. I didn’t miss my buss.

I got in Palenque at around 8:30pm. Hoped in a cab and asked to be dropped off at a camp site on the road to the runes, but when I got there, everything was closed. So I walked around, and walked, exhausted after a long day in the sun, 70pds backpack on my back, realizing that the insane heat of the day made me forget to eat lunch and dinner. Then I heard a few wild dogs barking, like usual in Mexico, but these dogs seemed a little more agitated than normal. All of a sudden, my right leg would not go forward anymore and I felt 2 warm humid darts, stabbing me in the calves. Surprised, I quickly looked behind and saw this huge, ugly and sick looking pit bull chewing on my leg. Even though it wasn’t the most pleasant sensation in the world, it was not as merely painful as it looked like, with this mad dog rattling my calf like an old doll and blood spewing all over and all. And I was pretty spaced out. It took me a while to register.
With all the strength left in me, I instinctively swung my hand bag and smacked the bastard in the face, not thinking for one second about the eggs I had earlier bought for breakfast, and freed my leg. Then picked up a rock and threw it at him. He paused. I ran away limping to a near cluster of hammock, leaving behind a trail of warm blood. Sat down, shaking, really pumped on adrenaline and just realizing at that precise moment what had just happen to me. My leg was a bloody mess. Someone assured me that these dogs were "domesticated" and didn’t have rabies. Sure… I chose to believe that for the moment being, to calm me down and give me mental wellness to patch up my leg. Cleaned the wounds with peroxide and threw out the bloody sock away. I must have gone through every swear words I know in French, English and Spanish at least twice in the process. I was tired.

I finally found the women that ran one of the camp grounds and got a home for the next little while. Pitched my tent, and had a troubled sleep, filled with cold sweats and nightmares. I thought I heard dogs growling all night, but it just might have been my neighbor’s snoring. Regardless, I woke up many times, with my hunting knife in my hand, and have been carrying it at all times ever since.

Since I try my best to be a good person, I tried to let go of the strong vengeful impulse I had of going back to that stupid dog with a machete and getting even. And it’s not like a can sue the idiotic which owner of that bastard dog, cuz Mexican courts are just for show.

The river separating our camp site from the restaurant at the Nano Blanco.

I woke up this morning to find out that I am now in a thick jungle. There is vegetation rising so high you can barely see the sky, warm humidity, weird green giant bugs shaped like leaves. I headed out to the Palenque runes. Found a little path to the right of the Temple of Inscriptions and followed it for a while.
Temple of the inscription, Palenque


At the entrance, there was a plant with leaves the size of a person – and a big one too! The jungle is all over… thick vegetation, tall trees covered by green plants, Tarzan ropes… Seems like all these plants are fighting for the bit of sunlight they can get their leaves on. Millions of clear water creeks, sound of the busses in the parking lot, but only for the first 15min of walking. I kept repeating to myself: "Simon, do NOT get yourself lost in the Jungle!"


Amazing untouched Maya constructions everywhere, still 3/4 covered by dirt and vegetation. Old walls, crumbled buildings. This site is believed to be 15 square kilometers, and only 10% excavated. The thought of seeing all these buried wonders overcame me. My curiosity was too strong. Screw the beaten path! I went from stairs, to building, to wall, to pyramid, and so on and so forth.
Is this not worth getting lost for?

So I got lost. Not fully lost, because I made sure to stay on a path, but after passing like 10 intersection, I lost track and had no idea of how to get back. Stopped for a minute and sat un the vegetation covered entrance of a temple. I tried my best to enjoy the moment. Lost in the jungle of Chiapas, alone with my backpack, still slightly limping from my injured leg, way to go Simon, you’ve done it again. I took a few deep breath of humid warm air, and felt the life all around me. This was the farthest feeling form doing the same thing downtown Montreal. Everything felt so real, so beautifully organized and at its place. Knowing that this use to be the capital of the Maya empire made it seem better. I mean, people survived here for thousands of years, and here I was freaking out because it might take a few days before I found my way out. I told myself at this point, there was not much more to be done than to try and enjoy the present moment. I have to admit I got a little spooked by the lizards that sprint in front of me all the time, and all the creepy sounds you hear coming form all around, accompanied by crawling in the trees, followed by falling branches. I felt like there were eyes all around me.

All these jungle creatures staring me down. Maybe they were scared, intrigued to see a human alone, or maybe they were predators, hunting, studying my every reactions and waiting for the perfect moment to strike and have me for dinner. Knife in my hand, 1L of water and 10tortillas in my bag, I regained confidence. The fact that the site is 15 square kilometers didn’t delight me too much, but on the good side, it meant that the longest I had to walk in 1 direction to find my way out was 4 hours, and I had enough logistic support to do so. In wasn’t at all looking forward to spend a night there, so I picked up the paste and got going. It took me around 2-3 hours (I think) to get back, and was I ever glad to hear those busses.
Common! Can’t you see the trail?


Back in town.


Love it here.







“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
                                                                                                            -Helen Keller

Sun, 29 Feb 2004 14:17:25 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            ¡¡¡Puta madre de perros!!!

To:       Friends@canada.ca


            Its official, I hate dogs. Never really liked them in the first place, but still fed them whenever I was eating crackers in a park and stuff. But not no more.

            Five shots I have to get over a month period for rabies prevention, and that’s not counting the deep and now infected holes the damn animal left in my leg! And I’m not talking about those quick 2 second tetanus shots; there is a lot of juice in these bad boys. And it takes like 15 seconds to slowly enter your body, during which you feel this cool tingling (and fairly unpleasant) sensation, spreading from the needle to the rest of your arm. On top of that, they don’t have the same rabies vaccination in Guatemala, so I’m stuck in Mexico for the next month.

            I guess I could have it worst. I mean, next, I’ll be hitting the Yucatan beaches instead of the Guatemala rain forest, and spending an extra month living on a hammock hung between palm trees on a white sanded beach doesn’t sound all that bad now that I think of it. Eating fresh tropical fruits and snorkeling over funky florescent fishes in bath warm turquoise water, I’m sure that somehow I’ll manage to survive...

            But for now I’m back in San Christobal de Las Casas, Chiapas. Went walking downtown yesterday evening with Arthuro. Very pleasant atmosphere. Musicians playing guitar and pan flute, jugglers, fire dancers, jembay jamming all over the main Zocalo. Every 2 minutes, you see a pick up truck with 4 police officers riding the back (I got fined for doing that once in Canada…), armed with AK-47 drive by. Honking, traffic, lights, noise, tones of people walking by, life all around. Passed by the market, now almost deserted. Located in front of a gigantic cathedral, there were only a few booths remaining, half packed and almost ready to return home. Little kids were running around, playing with wooden twigs and street dogs. The women, "indigenas" from the mountains who come to town to sell their crafts, are all wearing colorful shirts, carry long braided black hair and deep brown eyes, briefly looking at you before going back to their business. They are all wearing hand braided sheets for heat, and most of them are carrying a baby on their back, attached by a sarong. They speak as much Spanish as I do, and hearing their alien Maya dialect made me feel even more like a stranger.

            We had breakfast in the market today. Had some chicken broth. The food here comes in a whole, less prepared as Canadian food. My chicken was still carrying what I think I recognized (from my dissection bio lab) as a kidney. Or was it a lung? Regardless, I left it for the rats. The other day, Fabi cooked for us and gave me a fish in a plate. A whole fish, with the eyes, brains, tail, intestines and everything. I kinda stared at it for a while, noticing how there was no forks or knives on the table. They laughed at my ignorance on the matter of how to eat it properly.

            Back to the market, Orlando gave me a piece of Habanero pepper. It looked like a shredded carrot. They claim these are the spiciest peppers to grow on North American soils. Feeling tough, and considering the presence of females around, I didn’t have much of a choice than to eat it. I took it and placed it in my tortilla, with a piece of chicken and some unknown green veggies. They are all looking at me, with a big smile. Took a bite, just a midge of spiciness. Figured, he, not that bad! Then I spotted the damn pepper on the other piece of taco. Damn it, I thought, I had only licked it a little and my mouth was on fire. Ate the other bite of taco. Nothing. Felt the pepper pass on my thong, but surprisingly mild spiciness. Then, a minute after, it hit me.

            Felt like someone turned up the temperature 50 degrees, started to sweat, tears in my eyes, I’m sure there must have been smoke coming out of my ears at that point. Felt the burning sensation, spread from my mouth to my stomach. Started drinking water and eating tortillas like a mad man. I couldn’t think straight. Felt a little drunk, in an unpleasant way. After 5 minutes of spitting fire, I regained normalness, noticing Orlando and Fabia both laughing and saying "Saveroso, ¿no?"
Well, now I had a better idea of how that guy in that “Fear Factor” show must have felt like after grubbing 2 of these bad boys. Pore him. I have to admit, they are fairly tasteful. And they say it cleans the system. I believe it. No bacteria can eat that ant not die instantly of 3rd degree burns.


Going back to Palenque on Tuesday, on my way to the beach.

Hasta pronto






“When we long for life without difficulty, Remind us that oaks grow resilient in string winds and diamonds are made under pressure”
                                                                                                -Dalai Lama


Thu, 4 Mar 2004 14:17:48 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"
Subject:            Already March!?!?

To:       Friends@canada.ca


Bouenos tardes'

            Because I have to regularly visit the Centro de Salud for my rabies shot (thanks again, stupid dog!), I have to keep track of the dates now. And holy s**t! I have just realized today that we are already in March. Time flies when you’re having fun, and other than for my vaccination (and the dog bite, and the sea urchins), I’m having a blast! Even though it still feels like I just got here, the memory of snow, shoveling, cold winter has hidden far, far away in my head. Good. It can stay there… Haven’t seen winter in almost 12 months now. Even my eyebrows are starting to turn blond from over exposure to the sun, I think. Looks like a cheap “do it yourself at home” partial bleach job. I only look at myself in the mirror for my weekly shave, so it hasn’t fully reached my inner image yet.

            The hospitals here are not what you would expect. I mean you can’t compare them to our sterile and clean Canadian antibacterial fortresses, but are definitely cleaner that you average Mexican taco stand in the market. And the departmental organization is still to be figured out by my Canadian, yet not square mind frame. One thing for sure, DO NOT wait in line! Primarily because every new person walking in the building in WILL pass you, but also because chances are (by that I mean that certainly), you are addressing the wrong person anyways. I found that asking a passing nurse, impolitely (like the Mexicans do it, to make her believe that even though I’m white, I’m part of her clan), leads to be seated immediately in the doctor’s office and receiving proper care (rabies injections, for my part).

            Back in Palenque. The atmosphere here kinda reminds me of jasper, for even though it is quite different, the wilderness is still omnipresent, and there are no fixed boundaries between man and jungle. In jasper, you leave your food outside your tent, for bear prevention, here, you leave it sealed into your tent, or it will get stolen, if not by screaming monkeys, certainly by on of the so many ants colonies. Walking in the woods, have no fear of grizzlies, but keep an eye out for jaguars, snakes and giant spiders. And the lizards, all over the place, kinda like the elks in the Rockies, and just as stupid, they just run away when you approach. Saw a glowing bug flying around last night. It was pretty funky. Looked like a miniature green strobe light. Mind you I was a little boozy, but other people saw it too so I know I didn’t just imagine it.

They even have these funky thin leg lizards that run across water.

            The water got cut out yesterday. This seems to be a common practice in this country, because I’ve only been here 2…3 months (¡¿Already!?), and it’s the 3rd time it happens. I got attacked by those little biting red ants last night, trying to reach the little clear water creek at the entrance of the camp ground. At first, felt kinda like a weird burning rash, growing from my feet to my legs. Figured it must have been the humidity, or something. Then I remembered the giant ant colonies I had previously spotted there earlier. Their bites didn’t leave any scars, and some people say they act as an antibiotic; great! -Bonus! (people here say many many things...).

            I really enjoy life here. It’s peaceful and in harmony with the omnipresent nature. There is beautiful vegetation, everything green and growing. I think I will spend the next week or so here, before heading to the Yucatan beaches.






“If you rush through life, you’ll finish early”
-Shon Karle
Tue, 9 Mar 2004 17:48:23 -0500 (EST)

From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Still in Palenque until…?

To:       Friends@canada.ca

Bouenos tardes!

            Still in Palenque! This place has such a good vibration, I just can’t leave. Most people I’ve met here all came for a night or two and have been here for weeks. We don’t really do anything more than live, talk and lounge in hammocks, yet no one is ever bored.

            Every night in Don Mucho (the main restaurant of the camp ground), there is live jembay jams and fire dancing. They also have the best pizza I ever tasted! I met this girl named Lalo. She has a show with Ku who breakdances. It’s a quite impressive. Mystical. Just about 3 hours after sunset, once the moon is high and the stars are shinning, everyone gathers around candle lights in that corner of the jungle to witness live percussions with Ku spinning on the ground and flames twirling to the music. They don’t get paid, but they can stay and eat for free in exchange for their entertainment.
            I tried spinning fire with Lalo a few days ago. It didn’t last all that long. After waking the side of my face like 200 times, I called it a day! Needless to say Lalo had a good laugh. So did I, mind you. We had a good time. I now practice breakdancing and handstands with Ku. He’s also showing me a few kung-fu moves, but he’s a much better fighter than I, so we don’t really spar because he can kick my ass in seconds.
Lalo and Ku, enjoying life as they usually do.
            When I first met Lalo, I found her a little strange, in a very natural way. After having a few conversations with her, I learned that she spent most of her life living in the Jungle. I read and heard about a lot of rebel colonies hidden in the jungle between here and Guatemala and beyond, living off the land with very little contact with the outside world. Its just one of those things that you hear about, that everyone knows someone who knows someone who…, but never believe them to be true. Lalo had been through lots in life. She’s a strong girl. She never specifically mentioned it, but from the way she spoke, and the hints that would slip every once in a while, I assumed that she was raised in a Zapatist colony, and if she hadn’t been to war, she at least believed in the cause of indigenous rights and was closely affiliated with its militia.

            I gave up on showering in our camp ground showers. Not because they are dirty; they get washed every morning, nor because of the thousands of bugs haunting them; they are all over anyways and I don’t really notice them anymore, nor because there is merely no pressure in the shower, but because I found better. About a 10 minute walk from here, there is a little trail that get to a small hidden waterfall, under which there is a nice pool of fresh clear water, blocked by a little rock and branched dam. It’s quiet and hidden. Feels so great in the morning, just bathing in fresh water. I feel like Tarzan!
My private bath in Palenque.

            I’ve been seeing lots of water falls lately. By farm the most breath taking one I saw is accessible by a little hidden path that starts on the last sharp left turn on the road before you get to the ruin site (If you’re ever in the area, give it a visit, its not advertised so not full of tourists). It consist of a beautiful chain of waterfalls, one above the other, built over 2000 years ago by the ancient Aztec. I like to go spend time over there, sit on a rock under the water falling and glair at the giant trees surrounding. It’s very refreshing and “bonding” with nature. The aura of this place is beyond words to describe. It’s like a surrounding healing peace, life, eternal beauty.
They call it the Queen’s Bath. People use to come here to shower and wash their clothes. It is still buried in the jungle and only accessible by a little unadvertised path on the side of the road.

            I also did the usual to visit the hot spots of Misso-Ha, and Agua Azul. Misso-Ha is a 60 meter straight fall that dumps its water in a green pond. There is a stairway and a path carved in the rocks under the falls that lead to a little cave.

Swimming in the falls of Misso-Ha.

            The falls at Agua Azul (meaning Blue Water) are quite different. Its like 6 water falls spread out that meet in a giant blue water filled basin, at the edge of witch there is a long wall of more water falls. And the water there is so blue. We went for a little dip. It was refreshing, but the strong current makes it hard to walk and impossible to swim.


            Same routine is falling in every day. I make sure I get lots of time spent in my hammock, reading the incredible adventures of Don Quixote de la Mancha -really good book. It’s a little long, but I have all kinds of time. Love it. Only thing missing here is a beach.

            Had a little too much to drink last night. It’s been a painful day do far. Witnessed my second rainfall since I got in Mexico... BoohYah! Weather has been lovely. I hope the mosquitoes don’t spread out too much because of the rain.





Fri, 12 Mar 2004 16:21:59 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            The beach is that way!

To:       Friends@canada.ca


            Well, I just found, here in the middle of the rain forest, the most primitive computers in North America, and my patience (after 30 min of trying to make this piece of junk understand windows) is running at an all time low with the 5 minutes waits every time I press a button.

            The fact is that I am leaving this place, for now. I can finally dry my clothes!  They have been hanging for maybe 5 days now, and they are still damp. The sun factor here doesn’t really help the situation; the trees are so high that the light gets through maybe 3 hours a day, and the surrounding vegetation is so thick that it seems to trap humidity at ground level. On top of that, we just went through a couple of days of rain, and the rain started each day at 7 am, and at that time, I am usually still drunken sleeping, comfortable in my gently rocking hammock and the last thing on my mind is getting up to take care of that matter.

            I just upgraded my hammock from double to family size. Silly of me you say, because I don’t have kids? No way! It’s like a truck: bigger IS better! It is so big that I bet you could get lost in it and not find your way out for a good half hour. We fit 4 of us in it earlier, and there was still a bit of room left. And so comfortable; when I lay in it, I just wish I’d never have to get up again, but I still need to eat and stuff to stay alive.

            Met a really nice girl from Hamburg, Germany, named Sandy, and she is heading to the Yucatan as well. Now these kinds of traveling buddies are a hard bread to find around here, because for some reason, it seems like every single person you meet in Palenque is coming from the Yucatan, and on their way to San Christobal. Then, the other way around, everyone in Mazunte is also going to San Christobal. From there, I really don’t know where people go.

            So we are leaving for the white sanded beaches of Tulum at 8:15 tonight, and I should be swimming in the turquoise Caribbean ocean at about 9:00 am tomorrow. Can’t wait.




Mon, 15 Mar 2004 14:45:23 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Where's the beach? The beach is that way!


To:       Friends@canada.ca




            The Caribbean sea is more than I ever imagined it to be! It’s so great, so big, so beautiful, I still can’t get over it. We got in at 8:30 in the morning, and watched a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic, orange and pink skies, white sand, palm trees and fresh coconuts.

            After finding our "hotel", we went for a swim. Turquoise warm water, clear, white sand, then it happened. I was so exhausted after a 12 hours night buss ride with plenty of rum, that I passed out on the beach. It must have been 11am, and woke up from my skin burning at around 2pm. I feel like a piece of steak cooked medium well. OUCH!!! To make the matter worst, my armed were crossed on my belly, so I’m red and white, now. I guess it’s a good thing in a way because my belly isn’t burning like the rest of my body.

            We are living in a place called Santa Fe, in a collective cabaña. There is now 6 of us there. The walls are made of uneven wooden logs, attached by a few rusty nails and twigs, leaving a bunch of cracks. At certain points, a tarp has been added to “reinforce” the walls and make them slightly waterproof. I guess you can’t really complain for 2.50$ a night. Front view: ocean and palm trees. We’ve been "borrowing" coconuts from them every morning for breakfast. We just chop them up with the machete I bought to get my revenge on that stupid dog that bit me in Palenque and fill the coconut milk with granola. We eat it straight out of the coconut, and scrape the inside for desert when we are done.

This is the view out of our front door.  Every so often, we just sleep outside so we don’t have to move the hammocks in the morning.
            It is so windy all the time here that most of the cabañas on the beach are half buried in the sand. I spend an afternoon shoveling the sand from our entrance, building a set of stairs to climb the sand bench surrounding the cabaña, and a wall to block the wind, because the inside gets full of sand. The sand is so white, it reminded me of snow back home.
Here you can admire the craftsmanship and engineering that took place in the construction of these cabangos, as well as the sand walls from the wind.

            We also had a quite the rain storm. The darkest clouds were far east, over the ocean. Rain in a place like this kinda sucks, because there is very little to do, and even less to do inside without electricity. We just sit around candle light, drink rum and learn about other places in the world. There are people here from all over, speaking all kinds of unknown languages, and somehow in between broken up English, Spanish and sign language, we all get along and have great laughs. The one thing that cheers me up about these big storms is thinking about the fact that those big evil grey clouds are most probably heading straight to eastern Canada, and that when they hit the clod Canadian winter, it will snow. Suckers…
            The bathrooms here are absolutely disgusting. There are two functional toilets for maybe 100 people. And I don’t think they get washed every day. It sucks. The showers are concrete stalls with a curtain door. You can look at people as you shower, and they can see your feet. The cold water comes out of a hose in the ceiling. On the good side, it only costs 2.50$ a night, and that includes a roll of toilet paper AND 2 candles (did I mention we don’t wave electricity?). The view on the beach and the comfort of the hammock makes it all worth it.
Mmmmmhhh… How badly do you need to go to the bathroom?

            There are a few too many tourists here for my licking. The Mexican culture is tarnished. Most people speak English, you can pay with US dollar everywhere, Supermarket, air conditioned Subway downtown Tulum. I try to stay on the beach. We met this guy in the supermarket, complaining about the fact that he couldn’t find concentrated lime juice mix for margaritas. I was like: “Dude! We’re in Mexico! You can buy like 40 fresh limes for 2 dollars!” “Back to prehistoric methods”, he said. We walked away. He sucked. I try to stick to the local market. It’s a little far uptown, but seems more natural. 

            You can spot a typical “all inclusive” American tourist from a mile away.

1- Always speaks English, don’t bother to learn Spanish and usually complaining about not being served in English and not finding US products everywhere.

2- Wears a stupid "I love Can Cune" T-shirt, bright white running shoes, sunglasses, women-white visor with a Maya pyramid on it, men-baseball cap from the team back home.

3- Big belly, white as a sock with the odd sunburn, forehead drenched in sweat and sun lotion, possibly still visible white streaks on the nose.

4- Digital camera taking pictures of the dumbest things in one hand and water bottle in the other.


            It irritates me. The narrow-mindedness and shallow existence of most tourists here makes me feel like never coming back to the so called civilized world. I try to avoid the ruins and urban center. To think that Tulum is 1/10th of Playa del Carmen, which is 1/10th of Can Cune. I think I’ll skip the visit to that area.

            I have to admit, though, that every single American backpacker I’ve meet were AMAZING people, and glad to see that most of the traveling youth hasn’t been corrupted so badly by corporate capitalism.

I Love Mexico.






“You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope one day you will join us, and the world will live as one”
                                                                                                - John Lennon





Sat, 20 Mar 2004 14:18:46 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            La vita e bella

To:       Friends@canada.ca


            This place is just too perfect. Besides all the tourists (and it can’t be as merely as bad as Can Cune, which I’ve made up my mind to never visit, if I can avoid it), the beach is wonderful.

Our favorite bar for afternoon refreshing beers. Since the chairs would ding in the sand, they have swings.

            So guess who got a job? That’s right. This guy, as I’m pointing my thumbs at myself. Yes, me! Working for a dive shop, I love it. I was asking how much they would charge for me to get my open water done (I did all the theory and pool training last year) and they quoted me 200$. I offered to work for them and they said yes. Doesn’t pay lots… As a mater of fact, it doesn’t pay at all! But I get to go diving and snorkeling on the second largest coral reef in the world (Stretches from Can Cune to Honduras!). This means I have to be lots responsible... Actually, not really. As responsible as a want-to-be Mexican living on the beach can get. It’s work "a la Mexicana", meaning that I show up at coffee o’clock at some point in the morning, leave whenever it looks like no one else is going to show up, and sit around in the meanwhile, until people come in. I have 3 main responsibilities: stand at the dive shop at Diamante K and sell dives and snorkeling tours, assist the captain with the boat, and refill the scuba tanks at night.
 El Diamante K: where I have to “work” every morning.

            Unfortunately, I had (voluntarily) forgotten my watch in Mazunte, partially because I figured it was useless on vacation, but mostly because it was beeping everyday at 4:00 am, which came to be really annoying after a while. I figured I’d rather invest my rare brain using moments in more important matters (like hooking up hammocks and remembering to eat), and preferred to ditch the damn thing instead of figuring out how to shut it up.  Do I ever regret it, now that I have work, and schedule and all... –lol. NOT!
            So we drew a solar clock in the sand, putting a stick up and measuring its shadow as the sun moved with laid down palm leaves. We put a bunch of half coconuts shells around it, for esthetics, and to stop inattentive pedestrians to walk on the precious time telling machine. It worked perfect, at first, and most important of all, it was solar powered, which is great, when electricity is not an available resource, as it is the case in our not so luxurious cabañas. Eventually came the problem of cloudy days. It’s not like we could use a candle to read the time. Also, it had to be readjusted every second day, which required a watch in the first place. I gave up the idea and got myself a wrist watch, just to make sure I’m never late for work (is there such a thing here as being "late"???)
            One of the dive master at the shop informed me that he’s only seen 2 sharks in 9 month of diving, and that sharks do not eat people. They merely chew on them a bit, then spit them out when they realize it isn’t raw fish. I like those odds! So I’ve adventured myself snorkeling a little further off the shore, still a little over-careful after that sea urchin getting sucked in a cave incident in Mazunte, that made my so precious hands dysfunctional for a week.  What a scenery out there!!! Tones of funky florescent colored fishes, coral, sea sponges. It looks like those tropical aquariums you find in a pet store, but with 360 degrees of turquoise water surrounding you and a warming sun.

            Mi uncle Mickey and his girlfriend came for a visit. Since I don’t have a cell phone, or a land line, or an address as a matter of fact, we made plans to meet at “Terminal 1” in Cancun International airport. Now how were we suppose to know there was 3 “Terminal 1”, kilometers apart at the airport. After an hour and a half of waiting, I gave up and made my way to the bus terminal, where I had the warm surprise to run into familiar faces for the first time in months. It was great.
            They were so stressed out. Fresh out of Montreal. Talking fast, moving fast, thinking fast, trying to plan everything. It was stressful just to look at them.
I took tem to the camp. Hung them up a hammock and had them lay down, hoping the sun would slow down their hyper active city mind. I mean, common, you’re on vacation and it’s Mexico. I went and fetched coconuts, chopped them open, mixed some rum in the milk, found some straws and finally they relaxed a bit.

            I think they like it here so far.
Uncle Mickey and myself, chillin’ in his cabango



Entonses me voy a quedar aqui. Until the 15th of April, at least.

Take care







Wed, 24 Mar 2004 20:28:55 -0500 (EST)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            How can I possibly leave this paradise??

To:       Friends@canada.ca



This place is just too perfect. I know it won’t last all my life, but I have absolutely no motivation to depart any time soon.

            I get up in the morning, hung over (a little more often than a doctor would recommend it, but hey! You only get to live one life!), usually around 7:30 am. The noise of others sharing the nest (hammock dorms, all the hammocks are hung from a central post to the walls of the circular cabana. It looks like a bunch of cocoons when everyone is sleeping all bundled up in blankets), combined with the unavoidable need to make the arrangements for a trip to the bathroom that I’ve been procrastinating for half the night. One of the main problem I’ve found in this country is the illegal side of peeing in public, and with 2 toilets available here, you’re sure to wait in line for a good 10 min of agonizing pain.
            That matter taken care of, I start to boil water for much needed coffee. I discovered solid alcohol, sold in a thin for 2 dollars, burns for 5 hours. I ran into some difficulties with the mini butane stove I’ve packed. You see, they sell butane in Mexico. It’s useless for my stove. The not so reliable not so "universal refill tip" of my stove fails in its universality here, and I ran out of gas 2-3 weeks ago.

            Then I go for a swim and start to focus on breakfast. I slash a coconut open and fill it with granola. Eat cereal and drink the by now ready coffee, then leave for work which I start at 9am Mexico time. The beauty of Mexico time resides in its relativity. Sometimes, when I’m early, I start at 9:15, other days, it’s 10. The focus is to be there for 1$ staff breakfast, served at 10:15am. I wake up the boss and the dive instructor on my way out.
            The walk from Santa Fe (where I live) to Diamante K (a few Kms further down the beach) is beautiful. White sand, bright (and really blinding to the hung over eyes) morning sun reflecting over the turquoise ocean, there is a half sunken boat on the way there.
This idiot gave 200meters of anchoring rope in a 10M depth, 20 meters from shore. Don’t bother doing the math –and he obviously didn’t either- because he woke up feeling like he peed in his pants, boat half sunken.
            Work is great. None of that 3 pages long "conservative Fairmont grooming policy" here. My work uniform: a bathing suit and a T-shirt. The atmosphere has a laid back "on vacation" focus. No one is fresh shave, servers sit on the bar and play cards when it’s not busy. Surprisingly, the place is quite fancy. It seems to be catching the younger upper middle class, rather than the older, grumpier, stupider, annoying upper middle class which I had the pleasure to serve breakfast for at Fairmont prior to getting fed up and leaving for Mexico.
            They will be filming the 4th survivor here, on the 15th of next month, and I guess (this comes from a Mexican source of information, so who knows if it’s true…) they filmed the 3rd edition here in November, so if you saw it, that’s where I am. I was thinking of maybe participating in the upcoming filming, you know, add a little twist. I can be the normal guy, who doesn’t workout, isn’t rich and lives in a hammock, competing against all these Hollywood supermodels... nah...  I’ll stay on the beach. Hollywood fame isn’t my thing. I’d much rather sit around, joke with staff and answer questions guests have about diving. Sell dives. Read. Relax.
            At noon (Mexico time), I walk back to the main dive shop with people who are coming snorkeling. Now one might think that the walk back might not be as enjoyable as the walk there, since there is no more sunrise. But the facts is that noon is prime tanning time, and even though this is not labeled a nudist beach, most of the young fit women prefer tanning topless. Need I say more? Here again, I’d much rather walk than drive. Besides, I can use the exercise.
            I help push the boat out to see and we leave for snorkeling. Drive the boat to 3 spots. When we get there, I throw the anchor in the sand, let the people out and lay down on of the benches. Life jacket as a pillow, warm sun as a blanket, gently rocked to the sound of waves rocking the boat. We usually get back to shore around 2:45.
Our captain, Fernandito, being silly as usual.

            Our next trip is diving. Sometimes we go back to the coral reef, other times we go to cenotes. These are river tunnels that cover the whore Riviera-Maya region. The visibility is unlimited, and the geological formations are phenomenal.
            After diving, we chill for a bit, then go to town to refill the tanks and clean the gear. We also take time to grab some food and a bottle of rum for later. Usually, we end up drinking fairly strong drinks, because the rum costs 5$ a liter, and the coke 3$ the 2 liter bottle. Since it would bee just too awkward to pay more for mix than for booze, we mix on a 2 for 1 ratio.
            At night, we go hang out in a cabana, sometimes sitting in our hammock, sometimes on the sand, and peacefully chat under candle light (since we got no electricity).

            Then bed (and by bed I mean hammock), then morning, and that’s been my everyday life for a while. I don’t ever want to leave. I wish this peacefulness to everyone.


“If I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day”
                                                                                                -Alex Noble

Fri, 2 Apr 2004 17:19:45 -0500 (EST)

From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Still on the beach

To:       Friends@canada.ca

            Life here is just great. The only problem with a life that can’t possibly get any better, is that it can certainly get worst. I’m not implying that I got myself involved with some major problems, but "itchy" incidents.

            For example, after tones of great weather, we finally got a little rain. Nothing against that, good for the palm trees, and palm trees feed me coconuts and provide hooks for my hammock; nature’s ways, it’s all good. But the cabaña we happen to live in... Its great, great view, great location, but it leaks wind through the walls. On top of that, our great gecko infested palm tree leaves ceiling lacks one of the only quality every great ceiling should have: waterproofness. So all my stuff is soaked and wet, now. And that also includes me and all the clothes I own.

            Furthermore, my passport... since any hooligan  can break in very easily through the 30 years old branch walls, not to mention that the door doesn’t lock (actually, it doesn’t even close properly to begin with), I had, at some point, the great idea of burying my passport in the sand. The door being open all the time, facing the ocean (and the wind), we receive maybe 3 kilos of fresh sand every day, which built a sand carpet that covers the cement floor, which provides a great hideout. Went to cash travelers checks today, dug up my passport (after maybe a week in the sand, not in a baggie of course), and found it wet, weak and half deteriorated. They wouldn’t accept it at the casa de cambio, so I had to go to the bank. Good thing its Friday and it was open. After waiting, arguing and showing my driver’s license, they finally accepted it. Hope they let me in the US with it.

            On a better note, I love my life. I’ve begun helping the captain of the Corto Maltes (our ship... or boat, whatever you want to call it) with water stuff and navigation. It’s great. I learn so much.  When we take people on snorkeling trip, we take a nap on the deck, life jacket as a pillow, on foot dipping in the sea, gently rocked by the waves and refreshed from the warm afternoon sun by the wind. There is only one passage from the shore side and the ocean side of the reef that is deep enough to let a boat through, and to find it, you have to align the windows of the main temple of the ruin site. Those Mayas were smart.
See the small window on the pyramid? There is another one on the land side. When they are aligned and you can see through, you are clear to cross the reef.


            Then the diving!!! Incredible. The coral reef looks better than pictures. Red, blue, yellow, zebra, all colors and sizes of fishes, coral, purple and red algae rocking with the current, caves full of life, warm water.


I love my job.








Thu, 8 Apr 2004 17:12:41 -0400 (EDT)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Saw my 1st scorpion.

To:       Friends@canada.ca



            Yet again a beautiful day at the beach, and I got the afternoon off! Yey! See, in Mexico, you don’t work very hard, but you work lots. And now that I’ve gotten myself involved in boating business (I can drive a boat now, and spot diving sites on the coral reef), and helping with gear maintenance and refilling tanks, I end up working everyday until 6-7pm. It’s all good fun, though.

            I’ve located a gym in town, and am gonna start getting myself back in shape. Four months of excessive drinking without exercise has made me a little weaker that I would have it. My six pack has long been replaced by a keg…

            I also decided to improve my personal hygiene from none to a minimum. This one morning, I woke up hung over, but inspired. I shaved my beard, and took an actual shower. It felt great. Only at that point did I realize how dirty I actually was. I guess salt just doesn’t cut through dirt as efficiently as soap. While I was cleaning myself, I had the chance to witness a quite unfair fight between a poor fly and a spider. Not a giant one, but big enough that I had no intention of getting involved to protect the weak and innocent (have been reading too much adventures of Don Quixote de La Mancha). Besides, I don’t really like bugs to begin with, so I let nature follow its course and witnessed Darwin’s harsh theory of survival of the fittest. It was pretty amazing. The spider was spinning the pore dying fly into web, really fast, biting it every once in a while. Then I saw my very first scorpion, not too far away in the same shower stall. It didn’t do much, and had no rational reason to be afraid; I had the upper hand. The spider already had its dinner, and scorpions hate water and don’t eat people.
Anyone feels like taking a cold shower?

            Also saw my first tarantula. Since it is illegal to pee in public in Mexico, and I really, but really had to go, I ventured myself into the ditch, trying to hide from cars, and tripped on a rock. The same rock rolled down, and hit this huge brown hairy spider, who immediately ran to hide in a whole on the ground. I got up and ended up peeing on the side of the street after all, still shocked from the fall and the close encounter. I’d rather deal with bribing police than a spider bite. Also saw a sting ray diving, a turtle and a baby shark.

            But enough with the encounters. Wishing everyone a great day, and getting ready for the arrival of summer in Canada.








Thu, 15 Apr 2004 18:00:52 -0400 (EDT)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            The perfect storm

To:       Friends@canada.ca

            Termino el trabajo; ahorita, estoy de vacationes, y me gusta mucho. Even though I don’t work anymore, I seem to keep my days quite busy.

            I had a chance to witness the ever incredible power of nature a few days ago when we got the visit of a huge storm. It also gave me the occasion to realize to what extent our cabaña is not as waterproof as the designers would have intended it to be. As a matter of fact, the water goes through the ceiling as easily as the Mexican migration lets people into the country. I knew there was something wrong in the air as soon as the wind died down. Here, either it’s windy, or it rains. And we passed an entire day without wind. Then, all of a sudden, the sky got black and gray, and lightning begun to struck. It was as amusing as terrifying, because it was hitting near enough to blind if you looked at it directly. You could see long white strings of light, stretching from the ground to a cloud, to another cloud, to the sea, followed 1/2 second after (meaning they were passing less than 350m from our observation point) by a tremendous endless roar. And so many, the sky hadn’t even enough time to fall back into darkness, and the air to regain its peaceful silence, that Zus would sent us yet another lightening bolt.

            Then the rain!!! Fell like someone had dropped a big bag of nails over my head. It took I would estimate a good 9 seconds between the first drop I felt on my arm and the time I was as wet as if I was returning from a swim. There was definitely a weird vibe in the air, and people were behaving strangely (well… stranger than usual, anyways).

            When the rain finally ended, we went out on the beach to see what was on TV (We like to call our front yard the TV, because we stair at it most of the day; sometimes looking at the sunrise, sometimes at boat passing, or people kite-boarding, but most often admiring the magnificent turquoise sea framed by coconut filed palm trees, and discussing the cold weather of our respective countries of origin, and how we all planned to leave tomorrow, but there is no way it was going happen because of so and so, and we figure we might stay another day), and the TV show that night was great. Even though it was not raining anymore, there were still much lightening. So much that it felt like a strobe light, brightening the beach and giving back the ocean its Caribbean color for nothing more than a brief second, everything as clear as day time before falling back into pure darkness the next moment.

            And you know how people talk about the calm before the storm? well we are now experiencing the calm afterwards, for we just had the 2 most amazing days I've yet witnessed. Not a single cloud in sight in the sky, yet a fresh wind coming from the north (I reckon it’s all the cold escaping eastern Canada to leave space for summer over there) relieving the skin from the constant cooking of the sun. On top of that, semana santa is now over, and we regained control of our beach, after a weekly occupation by Mexicans.
My not-so-waterproof house.


            And people come and people go. It’s hard to make solid friendships in such a frail and rapidly changing environment. I had a chance to meat whom I believe to be the craziest person who isn’t yet locked up in a mental asylum. For one thing, I have never seen him sober. His name, as written on his passport is Crazy-Horse Invincible. He came here with a friend, named Space-Monkey Africa, to a new year party, but managed to miss his flight back home, and ended up staying until now before figuring out how to get back to the UK. They introduced me to agua de cagna. That’s all they drink. 55% alcohol, 3 dollars a gallon. That stuff is nasty!

            I should go back to the beach, and see what’s on TV tonight. I hate to miss it because we unfortunately don’t have the technological hardware to record anything.





“Compare doing nothing to a pause in music. A pause is not a lack of music. It is an integral part of the composition”
- Bruce Lee
Wed, 21 Apr 2004 19:52:11 -0400 (EDT)
From:   "Simon Foucher"

Subject:            Y la vida se continua

To:       Friends@canada.ca

            Here, everything is quieter than ever. The beach is almost empty, no more line up at the bank, fast service at restaurant (fast for Mexico, but you still can’t be in too much of a hurry… and who is anyways?).

            Found an amazing restaurant called "El pollo bronco". Typically Mexican, I love it. For one thing its sight repulses most tourists. Blue and white cracked cement walls, on which the unextensive menu is painted as the only decoration -prices scratched off with marker and corrected- , light bulb hanging from duck taped wires sticking off the ceiling, Coca Cola red and white non matching plastic chairs and tables - all dirty; they clean them when you sit down, not when people leave. And most important part, a small fuzzy TV playing cheesy Mexican soap opera (I thought American ones were bad until I saw those ones). The service is as far away from fine dinning as it can get, which I really enjoy having worked in that field for too long. No smile, no politeness, no stress. The only reason they bring your food so fast is that they want to get back to watching TV ASAP. When I passed by earlier for my daily 3$ 1/2 chicken and tortillas, they were closed and there was a big sign from el "Departamento de protection civil". I don’t exactly know what that means, or refer too, but I’m hopping that it is a stolen sign they use, and not some food inspector that visited the place and closed it. Regardless, haven’t gotten sick from it... yet. And I’ll go back as soon as they re-open, if it ever happens.

            Mexican merchants (outside the market) have a very explicit way of labeling their stores. That restaurant, for example, is a polleria,  where they sell pollo (chicken). A ferreteria sells everything made of steel (ferro), from machete to sinks, joyeria sells jewelry, peleteria -now that is a great place- will make you anything you want from skin; shoos, belts, hats… I brought my machete there, and for 7.50$, I had a custom made carrying case with a shoulder strap the next day. Once you get to understand the general functioning of the local commerce, then you stop lacking material resources accessibility.

            I had a chance to go visit he runes at Coba. Very disappointing. I guess the best thing to do is to not expect anything. Mind you the vegetation was intriguing. And there was a sign on a tree that read: “prohibido golpear arboles”, which means: “it is prohibited to punch the trees”. Don’t ask me… I scratched my head a little too. That visit made me give up on the idea of visiting the ruins here in Tulum. I’ve seen them tones from the sea, and pictures, and after all, it’s not much more than a pile of old rocks, infested by all inclusive tourists. We also went to a monkey reserve, saw 2 monkeys. It was quite the tourist trap. Even more so when we met Mexicans inside and found out that they only paid 10$each, when we were charged 40$ each. Damn crooks, speaking Maya to each other in our face so we don’t understand. Bah, You got to let things pass sometimes.
A girl names Simone I met in Tulum, on out visit to Coba. Those threes were funky.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
                                                                                                -Usrula K. Leguin


Sat, 24 Apr 2004 15:06:36 -0400 (EDT)
From:   "Simon Foucher" 

Subject:            Every good thing has an end...


To: Friends@canada.ca


            Much had changed since Thursday... I woke up early, watched the sun rise over the Caribbean and had what alcoholics refer too as a moment of clarity, drinking my Turkish coffee on the beach. I decided it was time for something else. I felt ready to re enter society. Pondered it for a while, and everything seemed to make sense in my mind. From the feed back I’ve been having from my long lost friends in Canada, summer was now well established in my frozen country. Packed my stuff, said good by to all the friends I made in Tulum and slowly made my way to Can Cune international airport.

            I arrived there not really knowing where I was going, looked around the flights and found a great deal on a flight to Seattle (There were no direct flights to Vancouver - maybe that explains why I haven’t met any Canadians in the past few days... or does it?). I had a choice between a round trip or a first class ticket for 500$. Guess what I picked. First class, baby! And what a couple of great flights those were (we had a connection in Dallas)!!! I figured being in business class and all, I’d rather dress up a little, so I put on some shoos and a shirt, to try to fit in a little better. I still somewhat differed from all those business people with their fancy suites and laptops. After all, a winter on the road far from anything even remotely close to civilization with the lowest living standards ever definitely changed me a little. Here I am, finishing my trip on a huge comfortable leather seat, leg room, all you can drink, pillow & blanket, appetizer, full delicate meal with red wine, it was quite the clash.

            I crossed US customs in Dallas. The very grumpy agent greeted me without a smile. I think he might have been a robot, I don’t know. I didn’t bother asking him. Maybe he was disturbed by my appearance, and the fact that I said “Buenas tardes” when I saw him. He replied (with a thick Texan accent) "Where do you think you’re going, sunny?". Oh… he was mad. I tried to answer as professionally as possible, but the passed 3 hours of wine drinking in altitude had altered my capacities of properly reasoning. My rotten passport, combined I think with my shaved head and 4 days old beard didn’t help either. He asked me if I was carrying any agricultural products. I couldn’t help it, he looked so depressed… I told him with a big smile that I had a bag of peanuts, but didn’t know if it counted as “agricultural product” . That just about did it for him. (But seriously, who knows? Peanuts DO come from the ground, don’t they?) I was escorted to this little prison room, heavily guarded by 3 armed military officers. The reflex I now have of greeting every one in Spanish and answering by "si, si" and "mas o menos", and "no te preocupes", combined with the flagrant and obvious love Americans so openly express for their southern neighbors, I reckon didn’t improve my chances of crossing without troubles either. What ever! I had time to waist anyways between my flights.

            The guard pointed at an open chair and left. I was the only Canadian there, surrounded by Mexicans, Africans, Arabs, pretty much anyone that wasn’t American or white. Felt like the "Uncle Sam doesn’t want you here" room. After maybe half an hour, the lady called my name, and looking perplexed at her computer screen, asked me if I had ever been fingerprinted. Said no, then she asked me 3 times if I was sure, still looking at her screen. I then admitted that I think that they finger printed me when I was born, but I didn’t specifically remembered the incident. The hidden partial smile on her face disappeared. She obviously didn’t have too much of a sense of humor, or wasn’t capable of laughing. Maybe she was a robot too I mentally asked myself. Then... a big juicy "Approved" stamp on the passport! She was probably sick of seeing me and, besides having tones of work left before coffee break, couldn’t find anything wrong with my documents. I got in! I finally got to go sit in the “real” people waiting room.

            Went through security again, and off I was, first class for another 3 hours.

            I got to Seattle at around 8:30pm. "And now what?", I asked myself. Same feeling I had 4 years ago when I hitched hiked "out west", and finally got to the rocky mountains after 2 weeks of travels. When you have only one goal in mind, one destination, one intense focus to fight any obstacles that life might throw at you to get there for an extended period of time. But when actually do get there… now what??? I had $12 US dollars 470 pesos 20 Bolivares a friend gave me (Venezuela $, = 10 cents), a Canadian quarter in my pocket and my half rotten passport. Never been to Seattle before, no map, no friends, no place to stay, no one even knew where I was except US customs, night was falling and the airport seemed very far from downtown. Somehow this part of the trip had failed to be processed by my analytic planning.

            Figured I’d better try and get to my home land ASAP, so whipped out the good old credit card and found a flight to Vancouver leaving at 10:15pm. Little expensive, but what can you do? After 29 more minutes in the air, I was home… Well… in my country anyways… I felt so far away from the home Mexico engraved in my heart.

            Vancouver International airport is the most beautiful airport I’ve ever seen. When you get off the plane, there is a long corridor decorated with water falls, rivers, native art and fake bird sounds. Good old Canadian cheesiness, how could I not miss you when I was away? I thought. And still sucking up to the natives, or at the least, exploiting their culture. Canadian customs was a joke. The only thing we have more than the Mexican customs we crossed at Ciudad Juarez is a bunch of warnings about fraud, carrying guns, and all that prohibited fun stuff. The 6 female officers guarding the entrance to our country were too involved in what seemed like gossip about some good looking new pilot on the Air Canada fleet to search bags, or even to acknowledge people passage by. All they did was collecting immigration forms, and didn’t even look at them.
            I stepped outsides, sighted and hoped in a cab. 18$ to get to friend’s house! That’s like 150 pesos!!! That’s what I’ve been living off of in a week!!! Harsh…
And here I am.

            We went to English bay beach this morning. Summer my ass! I was fu@#ing freezing! While everyone was parading in shorts and tang tops, I was shivering in a woolen jacket with a toque on! Crazy Canuks, as one of my American friend would often comment… This isn’t summer. It’s the coolest day I’ve seen since… last winter.

            I’m still stuck in a culture shock. Everything here seems so organized, complex, neat, new, and supped up; credit card to pay for a taxi? In Mexico, taxis don’t even have meters. No chicken busses, garbage schedule (In Tonala, you leave you’re garbage in the middle of intersection, and the truck might pass on schedule day, sometimes the day after, and sometimes the day before… sometimes it just doesn’t show up for 2 weeks!). Huge 6 lane express highways, overpasses, jets flying by every 10minuts, lights, neon publicity, new cars, traffic, shiny glass corporate sky scrapers, 1 hour photo finishing, fast food every corner, people with fancy designer clothes, cell phones, air pollution, well maintained fancy front yards, 15$ a day parking, electric busses, houses not made of concrete, sky train, English speaking all over, everyone is so white here, they look dead, confused, stressed, angry, I have to wear shoos and shirt, trimmed beards, well paved road, cold weather, and so on and so forth.

            I am nostalgic. I already miss my little corner of paradise… Mexico...

            But every good thing has an end, and the old must die in order for the new to be born. And my passport, even though in a pretty bad shape, is valid for another 5 years, and I will go back, and finished what I started on this trip: "Pura vida" as the Costa Ricans call it, or "Just livin', man" as they say in Jamaica. Life is too short to be stressed and obsessed with materialism all the time. We are so overwhelmed by it in Canada that it’s really hard to fully realize its extent. Publicity is starting to warp itself around my brain, and after only a day, I already want to buy a bunch of expensive and useless junk.
            But whatever part remains in me of the mystical jungle, the freedom of not having a home nor owning anything, and the redundant sound of waves, graved in my memory with the sight of endless white beaches, ocean aroma and fresh tropical fruits, will, at the minimum, leave me with a little glimpse of what heaven might taste like, or at least a taste of what living, life and being a human being is all about...

For now until next time…

“Look at all these zombies out there, working jobs they hate to buy junk they don’t even need”                                                                                                   -Fight Club