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MEXICO  14/7-10/8 2003   DIARY  3


 Map + Plan 

 Diary 1 2 3


 From Diary 2
Like so many other places, it the hot water is lacking (at ours, not the brothers' hotel). All places have "F" and "C" on the taps. I initially thought it stood for Frio (cold) and Caliente (hot), but eventually learn that it stands for Freezing and Cold!

Up half past seven, and down to the harbour. It is a mirror sea, and the sun is coming. In addition to the local octopus fishermen, here are frigate birds, brown pelicans, herons and terns. Finally, the guide of the day shows up, gas and cleans the boat, and then we go out. Along the shore, only mangrove trees grow. There are various herons; gray, white, green-backed, cow, and blue. We sail under a bridge and are then inside the reserve. The water drops to 20 centimetres and we sail very slowly.

Then the day's goal pops up: Pink flamingos! They stand along the shore in small groups of 10-50 animals. Males are a half times taller than females, it is the length of the legs that is different. We see some hundreds, many pretty close, but the guide is very careful not to scare them. We turn around and stop on a sandpiper. Sand is perhaps so much said, it feels almost creamy and yet firm. Here is a pink lake, coloured by the crustaceans in it. Hammering salt, should be fun to swim in it. The mud is used for face masks, but we skip that. We will only get a real bath tonight (maybe?).

Here are the bodies of horseshoe crabs. It is nearby the death-defying - and in the millions, swim up on the beach to spawn their eggs. Could have been fun to watch. We stop on the way home to see a heron nest. I thought only pigeons cubs were ugly!

We get home after three hours - very ripe for breakfast! Sit and watch the fishing boats. They have a seven meter bamboo pole at the front and back, each with three ropes. At the end of each line is a piece of crab. The octopuses can't resist and refuse to let go, even from above water.

Today's next experience is the pyramids at Ek´Balam, built by the Mayans. Here is, as the only place in Mexico; double newly-restored walls around the city. Also special is the one pyramid is round! In the middle, a damn high staircase leads right up to the top, and you just have to climb it, right? It starts to drip, so we head down to Rikke, who has found the area's densest canopy.

It gain force, and ends up getting really violent. We flee under the otherwise closed roofs that protect some of the finer reliefs. Along with the usual herd of dogs, we consider the cascades that topple over the pyramid. Under another half-roof sits the Mexicans; we are the only whites.

It pauses, and we jump through the puddles, back to the car. Lunch in Valladorid, in a really nice yard. The house is hundreds of years old, and there are tables in the hallways around the beautiful garden. Coat of arms, paintings and other old things adorn the walls. It doesn't seem like a really nice decoration; it seems like the rich man who lived here a few hundred years ago just hasn't changed.

Out on the street, a bunch of old ladies are begging. Otherwise, I have only seen a few children who may have done it on their own initiative. There are huge puddles on the streets, up to 30 centimetres deep. We keep going, but in between it tumbles down. The plan was to actually see a cave where the amazing thing is the sun's rays down the hiding the two small holes in the ceiling. We drop it, the rain slightly destroys the desire.

The next to see is Chichen Itza, a huge Mayan pyramid area. The rain is pouring down, so we find a good hotel for 100 kroner for two double rooms, and keep siesta with live guitar entertainment. It's the first (and only) time the rain prevents us from doing anything. Didn't actually have the raincoats in the four weeks we're in Mexico, and it's in the middle of the rainy season!

The rain stops, and at eight o'clock we drive out to the pyramids. There is a Sound & Light Show. Saw one in Egypt, and was extremely impressed. Many people wait outside. Free to enter, but must give 60 kroner for four "radios" with headphones, so we get it in English.

Rikke is first in the queue, until there are a couple of guides, each with 65 sets. It takes an eternity and there will probably be no more seats. I ask the one where he is from. Mexico. Well (I say) You obviously have no queue culture like in civilized countries! If I understand him correctly, he will fuck me and my family. I give him a finger and he will call the police. I get to stop before I suggest him to call his mother!
The lady behind Rikke visits us later and asks for the guy. She is also a Mexican, and will report him. She search for a long time, but doesn't find him.

A lawn is covered with green plastic chairs, we find a seat and then it starts. Really good sound system plays classical music and after a while the story begins. The large facility seems like sub-woof and the English voices are easy to understand. We get the stories from the world created, big time and to Spanials destroyed the entire culture. The pyramids are illuminated individual, sometimes with patterns. Not as nice as in Cairo, but still a great experience. It starts to drip as we leave the square. Find a restaurant on the way home.

 4. Up at seven, so we are the first in line for the parking lot at eight. The weather is wonderful, and now we must see the Mayans Chichen Itza in daylight. We are the first in line for ticket sales, and when the box is finally opens, Morten gets four tickets. Over to the entrance that cuts the tickets and then they reject us. Turns out, we need some green bracelets too. Morten looks a little red-hot, as he goes back to the now busy ticket hatch.

Provided with bracelets whose numbered slip is torn off and sorted by numbers, bundled in ten, and returned to the office, where they most likely are checked and double checked, we enter. It is a huge area, completely flat lawn covering the many 1000 square meters between the pyramids and the other ruins.

The Great Pyramid is actually a calendar, 25 metres high. Four stairs with each 91 steps plus the upper platform gives 365 (days). It consists of nine major steps, divided by the stairs giving it 18, corresponding to the 18 months with 20 days, giving a cycle of 260 years, and so on. The size also fits in, and that is how you can continue. Pretty neat!

Then there is the ball field with the vertical basketball targets on the vertical walls. An amazingly large building has 1040 columns (52 years (another cycle) times 20 months) that is the exhibition space for severed and piled heads, the Jaguar Temple, the Moon Temple and many other amazing buildings. The corners of several buildings are adorned with stone faces with large hook-shaped noses, and many reliefs all over. The area gradually fills with tourists and locals, so we head off. Most frightening is that they were actually conquered the year their calendar had predicted it, according to their 260 year periods.

Next stop is Uxmal, another pyramid area which was populated from 800 before to 1200 after year zero. The large pyramid is 38 meters high and has nice rounded corners. The entire bordered area is sometimes one and a half kilometres in size, and quite densely built. We must not go up on the big one, but another, the Macau Temple, can be ascended - at noon. The area is teaming with large black iguanas and swallows that live in the many well-preserved rooms. The ceiling is collapsed in individual, and ferns and epiphytes cover the walls. This is one of the most beautifully preserved Mayan sites, but we must return while we still have unexposed films left.

We drive among the enervating five to ten meter high hedges, stretching several hundred kilometres behind, towards Campeche. They are finally broken by corn, bean and citrus fields. The city is the World Heritage Site, why does only the gods know? I check e-mails, and have received a message from a Chinese company that will buy 2-300,000 dragon blood tree seeds, as well as many Australian bottled trees with stems over three meters. A quick review of my pockets does not reveal these volumes.

Great dinner on a balcony, overlooking the cathedral and a nice and not least lively thunderstorm. After dinner, we fall asleep to really good classical music. The room is incredibly high-ceilinged and, like so many other places, is the ceiling of heavy rafters that are unbelievably close. They are fifteen centimetre wide, but there are only five centimetre between them. Excellent foundation for the walled floor above. The bathroom door is half a meter wide and one and a half high, but it is top modern. Curiously. In this area, the temperature is as low as 28 degrees late at night, and rarely above 34 during the day. Humidity is between 80 and 100%, right now they are unbearably close to max.

 5. No water in the taps. Tries later, now there is water in the sink, but not the shower. Morten admits to meeting us with wet hair, still doesn't quite believe his explanation. Rikke needs stamps, the first 20 sets are long gone. Finds the post office, which will open at nine. Spends time finding the internet so Morten can scold his bank. They've have close his new card, not the one that expired. He exchanges a handful of US $ and we return to the post office.
They are open, but her who has the stamps, is not yet met. Time for coffee, and then back. It turns out that the ten pesetas Rikke has used so far are not enough. There must be twelve. She has a very hard time explaining to the lady that she has to have 20 cards, and not just ten of the four she has. Others mingle and she ends up buying 80 six peseta stamps. If anyone should be interested, we still have over 200 kroner left ...

We drive out through some huge swamps of a really good road without traffic. Stops in a small spot to get some refreshment. Suddenly a loudspeaker rings on the road: Phone to Maria in 30 minutes, and again when there are twenty. It can then be called a public telephone!

At the queue for a toll road, the one behind us overtakes. Finding out, that there is only one queue, and will mash his brand new, large black 4WDs in front of me. Immediately naive, and he is repeatedly knocking up the truck in front. Eventually, he is so close, that I tell Jesper he will be allowed. While I stay completely still, he drives our outside mirror off, but enters. I stroll over and tear off his door. I don't really think he and his partner directly understood what I was saying in English, but they couldn't possibly be in doubt. He suggests we meet on the other side of the payment booths. Not surprisingly, his newly car gets the foot down, as he is let through. On the other hand, I stop, remove all the black paint, and click the mirror in place. Nothing, other than a strikingly glossy area on the mirror holder, reveals our little tete a tete - on our car (giggle).

At this end of the coiuntry, there are a lot of military controls. They are smiling and polite. Some are disarmed by the fact that we do not speak and understand Spanish, others go through our bags in the trunk. We cross the border to Tabasco, and at dusk, we start a hotel hunt. Not easy: Not busy, there are just no hotels. There are no whites, either.

Passing by a VW dealer who brought home the 2004 model of the Bubble. We can now reveal; It comes in pastel colours with white-wall tires, and is very retro. Unfortunately, not can't figure out the price.

Ended up with a pretty expensive hotel, but also really delicious. Here is a free mini bar with chips, chocolate, soft and alcoholic beverages, disposable bathing cap, brush, toothbrush, sealed toilet seat, shaving foam and shaker and much more, that not even Diana Crappy Cabanas had.

 6. We start the day with a trip to La Vente (why wait?). Unfortunately, the ZOO does not open until ten o'clock, so while we wait, there is time for breakfast. We sit in the town's square, which it is teeming with bicycle taxis. It is mainly mountain bikes with two-wheeled trailers. Everything from four people to long posts. Stroll down the main street. The butcher has the dead carcasses hanging over the counter out to the street, but the temperature is also not much above 30 degrees Celsius.

Most of the cars we see, are special vehicles from Pemex, the country's only petrol and oil company. They have a huge refinery just outside the city. As I said, there are only Pemex tanks in Mexico. Other companies may want to make some, but after the state expropriated them in 1938, the desire to invest again is somewhat restrained.

We get out to the Zoo, which also has a museum with the huge Olmec stone heads, for which the area is known. The largest are close to three meters in diameter. There are also some large graves made of basalt columns. Natural created: 30 by 30 centimetres, hexagonal and three to four meters long. In fact, it's the only thing they have.

There is not a ZOO at all, but a large park where various replicas of large stone objects from the area are scattered. We follow the trail, and see some wild members of the cucumber family, a nice green adder  / snake and a big black squirrel. The heat is depressing, and Jesper mutters something; his salt / lime allergy is bad. It results in headaches several mornings. (Can't be the tequila, right?)

We drive through areas of red sandy soil and rainforest. Coming to Laguna Catemaco, which lies on the shore of a 16-kilometer-long lake, nestled among volcanic lush gravel piles. Again a typical tourist trap with lots of stalls and restaurants but without whites. The place is known for its wild monkeys. The boys at the dock will sell bananas and peanuts to feed the monkeys. You rent a boat with driver, and sail out through an absolutely beautiful landscape. It is amazingly reminiscent of the idyllic Danish Golden Age paintings, with mixed grass and small forests on lush hills with grazing variegated cows. Some of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

We get to some very small islands, far out in the lake. Some old rusty cages indicate that's probably where the monkeys are. Quite right, slush fat of peanuts, they sit on the branches out over the water begging. Well, the islands are nicely overgrown, so they are doing really well on their Alcatraz. Another island is occupied by a heron / cormorant colony. All around are small islands of flowering water hyacinths. In some there is a heron, sitting fishing. We also spot  a single crocodile.

Back in town, we find a vacant table in a restaurant, and spend the afternoon with fresh avocados and cold beers. Not really hard; in three restaurants next to each other, right next to the water, there are 500 seats and we are the only customers tonight. The others get whole grilled fish, I prefer pork, despite not getting a whole. By the time we have finished eating, all the chairs have been set up and most of the staff have gone home, but the clock has also turned eight. Usually for this city, even when there are tourists

 7. We need to find the place where the Sean Connery movie "Medicine Man" was filmed. Runs 20 kilometres through the world's northernmost tropical rainforest by a lousy road. Nature is wonderfully beautiful, we cross creeks, drive on small hillsides, see a lot of beautiful flowers. I photograph some really nice epiphytic cacti and other epiphytes, but we can't find Reserva Ecologica de Nanciyaga. Asking for directions, and being sent back. How long we do not know, but jokes by ten kilometres. When we have driven them, we ask again. Another ten kilometres left, and then we are back on the tarmac.
Finding the place, their nice sign was just with handwriting that looked like El Sasciya. Close to .... Being guided all the way down to the camp of the girl in the entrances. Exotic place. Pretty big, but with a lot of small buildings made of the surrounding nature.

We have breakfast, and then start a tour with "English-speaking" guide. Here are replicas of Mexican stone figures all around. All are copies, the originals are scattered around the world. There is a sauna-like hut (smoke?), mud baths, spring where linked leaves are used as disposable mugs and an artificial tree from the film. Everywhere we walk on paved paths with a half-meter wall on the sides. See a few wild animal; a great pair of large lizards, butterflies, centipedes, giant spiders, turtles and their fenced crocodiles. It turns out that most guests come by boat from the big lake. In fact, we saw the camp yesterday.

We drive through pastures the 200 kilometres to Vera Cruz, where we are thrown out of the car at the big bus terminal. The brothers need to stay a few days longer and, unlike them, we should have just seen Mexico City. We say goodbye at a bite of food, and then run back to the bus. Vera Cruz is the only modern city we have seen. Here everything seems very western, with high-rise buildings and other things known. It takes five hours to reach City, so we just have to find a hotel. Will be taking a bus from the same central tomorrow morning, so we try the nearest hotels, each with 200 rooms. They are just busy. Find one in a side street which is reasonable.

 8. Get up early, and with the bus for an hour, to get to the Teotihuacan pyramid complex. We deposit our backpacks at the bus station, they charge 20 kroner a day, for both. The large solar pyramid dates from 150 AD and is the world's third largest, with its 70 meters. It is huge! We are in the highlands (2300 meters), the temperature this morning is down to 20 degrees, comfortable for a walk up top. Throughout the area, the street of the dead runs about three kilometres. Street is so much said, it is rather a collection of deep courtyards, surrounded by temples and the like. Most are well restored, but excavations are still underway. The Moon Temple is closed at the top, where they have just found something exciting.

Behind the temples there are many other buildings, but also some really beautiful scenery. A sea of ​​flowering plants and cacti. There is a museum, with some amazing finds. 20 cm long volcanic-glass knives, amazing stones and clay works and graves with extra jaws. Bizarre decoration, but at least they were artificial. You can even buy water and ice in the square. We walk around for a long time, see the amazing stone-work, and end in their great restaurant.

Rikke has drawn my attention to a cactus garden a little outside the square. I do not set high expectations, the other "cactus gardens" and "botanical gardens" in mind. Not only does it prove to be large (in fact huge), it is also very bulky. The entire park is divided into areas, with cacti, agaves, caudiciforms and succulents from the individual states. It might have sounded better, but the whole thing is fantastic. We only leave, as I have no more films ...

We take the bus back at four o'clock, pick up the bags, and take the subway to the centre. Hard to find hotel but number fourth has room. In the hunt for a new film for the last day, we get through the expensive neighbourhood. Here are two smiling but heavily armed policemen at each junction. As the rush hour comes, up to five other officers stand at each intersection, ignoring the light baskets. Actually works fine, traffic runs relatively smoothly, the amount taken into account.

I've become long-haired, and not least-bearded, so we're chasing a hairdresser. A lot of times, I see the smart in, alike shops are gathered in the same street. It's just annoying, when you don't know where the street is! Asking countless times - in Danish and sign language - and finally we find one, in one of the more humble neighbourhoods. I get cut for 20 kroner and Rikke gets a manicure for 60. Unfortunately, the "paint" is a long time to dry, so it get some damage.

It gets cool and we find an Italian restaurant right next to the hotel. Pizza Hut, then, is Italian, right? Then straight back to the hotel, and on the way up the stairs, the sky opens. Our legs are otherwise sore, really sore. The pyramids and cacti garden have been tough on them.

 9. We get up early, find some delicious breakfast, and then take the subway to Frida Kahlo's House. She was a very well-known Mexican artist, who was born, lived and died in this house. Her ashes are still found here. She has made quite a few self-protractions, her favourite motif, and consistently was her eyebrows and moustache are intertwined.

She had polio as a small child and was involved in a violent bus accident. That must be the explanation for the many nails, screws and knives her body has penetrated in many paintings.
She was, along with her husband communists. When Tolstoy fled from Stalin, he and his wife lived in the house. Tolstoy and Frida had an affair, and then the Tolstoys moved out. The house is full of works of art, many by other artists. There is also a very large collection of clay figures from Mayans, Toltecs and other former Mexican folk, totalling about 20,000 pieces of archaeological art.

The garden, located in an enclosed yard, is special. Loads of art, among other things on a large staircase pyramid. Beautiful plants and hallways lead around to seating.
Tolstoy actually just moved around the corner, and now that we are here, we see his house as well. It's as if he has just left. The most special, besides his book collection, is the bedroom. Stalin had put a price on his head, and there was one that shot through he bedroom window. The bedroom was converted into a vault. Tiny little doors openings with thick iron / concrete doors and some proper locks. A watchtower still stands in the garden. His finally became the secretary's new girlfriend, who carved an ice axe in his head.

Our legs are sore, very sore. We take the subway back to the centre and get some food. Trying to come up with the tourist-convertible double-decker buses, but the queue is huge. Suddenly sees a lady with a tray in front of her: Mexican Jumping Beans. Buy a bunch, and put us in a delicious pastry shop to try some of the local Austrian delights.

Return to the square and the bus. People have shaped the queue in the wrong place, and must stand behind us, their bad. We get a set of headphones, and get most (but not all) explanations in English. It turns out to be a long walk, and after a bit of asking around, it turns out that we may only be back in the square, as we have to be at the airport.

It draws up to rain, and we settle down on one of the few vacancies on the lower floor. As it begins to rain immediately afterwards, there is congestion in the aisle. We j umpoff at a subway station and head back to the centre, where we will pick up our bags. This is the second time we have left them, something I usually newer do, but Rikke's has gradually become a bit heavy with souvenirs.

We take the subway to the airport. On one station, a mixed group gets aboard. One is standing in the way of the door, so it is difficult to enter. Some of the others seem strange, but not something I can quite put my finger on. Rikke asks me to keep an eye on her backpack, and I stand with my back in a corner to protect mine and have a view.

As we stop at a station, they rush out. Rikke says, her purse is gone and I grab one. The train only stops for 20 seconds, and does he still have the purse? Rikke has lost her purse with half our Mexican money, but nothing else. It doesn't stop us from being pretty negative. The guy who had his hand in Rikke's pocket will not use that hand for quite some time. In the same pocket, she had her passport and ticket!

We are just in time at the airport, find the desk, and the lady enters our ticket. Looking confused, asking in Spanish / English: Have you changed your flight? Keys a little more, disappears in a neighbourhood, returns and tells: We can come by another plane. They probably find another connection in Frankfurt ... Rikke has her first day on a 14-day intensive course in business administration, she has to pass to be admitted to her new education in 14 days, the next morning. I have a 13.5 hour workday.
We have succeeded, after many parliaments back and forth, in getting the plane going an hour earlier. In this way we are secured the departure from Frankfurt (in theory, it is Lufthansa after all). It just so happens, that we do not get the robbery reported, changed back (can only be done outside Mexico), sold the 250 kroner stamps, bought the planned souvenirs, got nothing to eat or use the toilet.

The rest of the trip went reasonably well, except that the plane was not (properly) cleaned in Mexico. We leave 24 degrees, stopover in Frankfurt to 33 and end in comfortable 28 degrees in Copenhagen.
We land on Sunday night, stock up at the DSB kiosk, and head home to our damp jungle. Well over 100 plants, which the mother-in-law has laboriously watered, high summer for one month and closed windows for the same month give beautiful plants.

We are home from a great adventure. It was a little expensive (about 52,500 kroner with everything), but it was really an experience worth it.
Aircraft: 15,000 + 3400 + 1000. Insurances: 1,500. Photo 4,000. Car 2750. Food, hallway, hotel, gasoline etc: 25,000.
What we got out of the complains over Lufthansa og Nyhavn Rejser. It is in Danish, and in short: NOTHING AT ALL!

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