Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Messages of celebration

27th April

A little boy was born and with a birth of that baby a brand new happy excited family was created. My one and only brother became a father yesterday. And so with one moment he and Merli became parents and i gained a nephew. You can call me Aunt Ragne now :).

I am truly happy for you, Rainer & Merli, i wish you all the strength and patience of wonderful parents! The little one will already be a bit bigger by the time i will meet him, but with three months of life experience to share and a fancy new given name, i think we will have plenty of things to talk about with him.

28th April

My sunshine, my beloved, my dearest, my love, my husband, my confidant and my best friend has a birthday today. Will you all join me in wishing him all the best things in life on this beautiful sunny day!

Happy birthday, Sweetie!

Friday, April 24, 2009

The beginning of chilly Ireland

My backbag at the Heathrow arrived with bunch of green stickers taped on it, informing me that the Heathrow security had taken a closer look in it. The poor thing was also awfully dirty as if it had been dragged behind the luggage-truck rather than in it. Back in Mexico City i almost forgot to tell at the check-in that i want to receive my luggage already in London and not in Finland, which was actually the final destination marked on my ticket. Would've been somewhat funny if my luggage arrived in Vantaa airport while i was in London, though i'm quite sure i wouldn't have laughed at that moment.
And Heathrow is still by far the most comfortable, cleanest, and best-organized airport i have ever been to. And also the most expensive :).

When the flight from Mexico to UK was the smoothest ever, including rather disappointingly unnoticeable soft take-off and landing, then my following RyanAir flight to Ireland was quite the opposite: we literally plunged into the landing strip. I was surprised the plane still had it's wheels after that.

The flight was only about 50 minutes, but Slovenian football support-team still somehow managed to get totally drunk during that time and Irish skank-youth was making farting noises all through the flight. First time in my life i saw a flight attendant who during the safety demonstration utterly failed to open the seat-belt buckle. Luckily for her nobody besides me seemed to be paying attention, even i noticed her only because she had a Latvian name on her nametag.

Upon entering the Europe, the era of living in over-crowded youth hostel dormitories began. Many weeks of drunk people stumbling from bed to bed until they find an empty one, dirtiest and hairiest showers one will ever see or ever again want to see, barely clean linens and maybe even witnessing couple of backpacker nightly make-out sessions, if i'm unlucky enough. My first stop was a 6-bed dorm in Belfast. Amazingly enough i was the only person in the room. Four more people were supposed to come, but i guess they cancelled in the last minute. During the night i didn't know that so in every couple of hours i woke up, opened one eye and screened the room to see if i have any new neighbours.

That was the saddest night i had since i left Estonia. I was terribly jet-lagged, it was very cold and in an empty 6-metal-bed-dormitory you kind of feel clearer how alone and far away you really are and miss all those left behind. I think even i'm allowed a moment or two of melancholy :).

It's funny actually - during this time "on the road", i haven't felt alone or anyhow off-mood, quite the opposite actually. I like being on my own and me & myself & i are getting along much better than i expected :). But my choice of music of lately betrays some of my inner feelings. Everybody who knows me might remember that about 15 years ago i was a dire "Backstreet Boys" fan. At that time i was a bit lonely teenager and the music of BSB kept me company. It also helped that i had a mad crush in Nick, one of the blond-haired members of the band. I was a proper fan for about 7 years, with super-size posters on the walls and stuff. Until one day just like that i felt that i've had enough, i took down all the posters and converted to Wu Tang Clan, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill pretty much overnight. It was a bit of a sudden change but i guess my loneliness had been eased. But now i find myself every once in a while listening to BSB again, just like the old times. Except for the crush in Nick, i have Vallo to thank for that: i will never look at any blond-haired (and rather short) man with any other involuntary feeling than disgust and contempt.

The morning was again bright and sunny and BSB was happily replaced with "Gnawa Diffusion" :).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The end of sunny Mexico

Late again. This time by all expectations i should have definitely missed my flight but i got terribly lucky and when i arrived to the airport i had the pleasure of hearing that my flight had been delayed. That was pure luck if there ever was one. But one of these days my luck is going to run out and i'm going to be stuck somewhere.

I have never been the last person in the check-in line, it's quite a new experience for me. As you can guess, i'm usually one of the first ones :). In my head i saw a horror-movie of me spending next 12+ hours stuck in some crappy seat next to the toilet, far away from any windows and wallowing in self-induced claustrophobia. In reality the economy-class was overbooked so they upgraded me to some super-duper fancy class where the cabin crew addressed me by my name, the wine was served from the real glasses, TV screens were excellent and seats came fully equipped with your very own satellite phones. The complimentary travel-kit was complete with toothbrush, toothpaste, ear-plugs, eye cover and many more useful goodies. I even got my own personal pair of socks :). The people sitting next to me seemed nicer and nearby babies cried softer. My class had only about 25 seats in it and the whopping two bathroom to go around. Yeah, that was a specially nice way to travel. Never had an easier flight in my life.


"Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
"I think so, Brain, but if they called them "Sad Meals", kids wouldn't buy them!"
"No, Pinky! But i do think Mexico haven't seen the last of me yet!"

hehe, a little geek-humour here; but only for the animation-enlightened ones though :)

- - -

My expenses in Mexico, 2nd-30th March 2009 (minus the period i was in Cuba):

transport - 2802 pesos
food - 2776 pesos
drink - 379 pesos
hostels - 650 pesos + lot's of couchsurfing
sightseeing - 172 pesos
souvenirs - 1124 pesos
internet + phone cards - 649 pesos
airport tax - 260 pesos (when exiting the country to fly to Cuba)
other - 1547 pesos ( "other" meaning all those personal purchases that weren't really anyhow necessary :) )

plane tickets, Helsinki-Mexico City-Helsinki - 7300 EEK (about 8176 pesos)
10359 pesos (9116 EEK) & 7300 EEK = all together about 16416 EEK

(assuming the rate of ~ 1 Mexican peso = 0,88 EEK)

During those 5 days Dasha and i were traveling in Mexico together, my expenses doubled. So for conclusion, as fun and enjoyable as it was, my budget can't really take traveling with a friend :(

Mexico + Dasha + Taxco, photos

TAXCO photos

The race between Dasha and her Gorilla-pod.
Ready, steady? GO!

Mango on a stick

Little inside joke only for Estonians

Such was the local public transport. The bus's route was written on it's front window. 3-4 pesos per trip.

Volkswagen Beetle re-mastered

Dasha was convinced until the very end that this animal is not live or alive. And then the poor presumed dead or otherwise inanimated animal moved and Dasha squeaked.

Sweet tooth, anybody?

It goes like this: he dips whatever you give him into one of those poisonous-looking chocolate fondues and voila! there's your (un)tasty snack!

Couldn't find Stewie, though

Dasha is photographying the hell out of my pancake

Celebrating our last night in Taxco

Our fancy "last night in Taxco" - dinner

View from our hotel's terrace


When we got back to Mexico City there was some active religious celebration going on, people were going crazy and buying beads by bulk ..

.. and statues of Christ. The size of the statue depended on the amount of your recent sins, maybe ..

.. so the virtuous people could settle only with the pocket-size figurine of the Lord.

Jolly officers guarding the passionate Christ-buyers

The best generic place in Mexico - fresh juice & smoothie bar. 15 EEK for a huge cup of freshly squeezed juice of your choice; yes, these were the good days.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mexico + Dasha + Taxco, story 2

The beautiful town of TAXCO

Taxco is a small town nestled in the mountains of Southern part of Mexico, about 3 hour bus-ride away from Mexico City. We had no accommodation pre-booked, but we quickly found ourselves a lovely place which i eagerly recommend to anyone visiting Taxco. I managed to bargain 150 pesos off the daily rack rate and we got ourselves a nice twin room with an en-suite bathroom and huuuuge suberb rooftop terrace + accompanying view to die for. The second floor only had two rooms, so the terrace was very uncrowded and cozy. First night we were completely alone, two following nights we had neighbours, who kept mostly indoors though. Every night we rudely high-jacked the only two chairs on the terrace, sat in sleeping bags drinking beers and nibbling on fresh fruit we bought from the local market. Life could just not have been any lovelier, i tell you!

Taxco is a sweet place, it's built largely on the mountain-side, sometimes in the style of one house's roof is another house's balcony. Walks around town can occasionally turn into sport exercise because the town is all about ups and down and stairs. Nonetheless, the place is lovely - small winding streets, cute houses, beautiful traditional Mexican architecture etc. The zocalo (main town square) is lively, people gather there at nights, sitting on small benches and feasting on snack sold by streetfood vendors. The traffic seemed to be mostly one-way, i guess due to all those narrow streets. The whole town was full of small white Volkswagen Beetle taxis, just like the green "vochos" in Mexico City, except the ones in Taxco were all brand new with stamps "Hecho in Mexico" (Made in Mexico) on them. Very interesting indeed.

One evening we were aimlessly walking in the tiny back-streets of Taxco, we turn around one corner and just like that - there's a big inner-city amusement park laid out in front of us. Squeezed between already tightly packed houses but still offering 6-7 different attractions to choose from, it seemed so helplessly out of place as if the amusement park had been there forever and the houses were built all around it. Bright lights flashing, loud pop music pumping through crackling speakers rivaling with the eerie metallic noises of the constructions, children running around and screaming with high pitched voices and some guy with a t-shirt saying "Talk to Jesus" managing the whole crazy affair; it was almost like a scene from a horror movie, everything was just so freakishly strange. But it was very crowded and people were enjoying themselves, specially the kids of course. Considering the time of night, i did not envy the people living in the houses surrounding the attractions.

Taxco is an old silver-mining town and though today active mining has ceased already, it's still known for it's huge choice of silver jewellery shops, both for retail and wholesale buyers. Since i absolutely adore silver jewellery, i was delighted to see the local choice. It turned out to be not quite my style, with few very lovely exceptions, which are now sitting happily in my trinket-bag. Somehow, me and Dasha found that our tastes in Mexican clothing and jewellery were alarmingly similar and we now own quite a few identical items. We argumented to ourselves that Dasha is living next 3 years in the States and i will return to Estonia, so we should be able to pull off not showing up in the same party wearing the same stuff.

And i found caramel! Or at least something very close to it. Mexico & Cuba, like every other southern country i've been to are quite the same - absolutely no local caramel (except maybe some feeble imported products). So finding caramel-flavoured coffee drink in Taxco made this already charming town even more charming for me.

High up on the top of the mountain, towering over the town with it's hands spread wide, is a statue of the Christ. Dasha was itching to get up there from the first hour we arrived in Taxco, so on the last day we took up a long hike to get on the top of the mountain. The road was infinitely winding on the hillside, so it took us 3 sun-blasted and thirsty hours to get up there. By the time we reached to the top, we were so tired from all that climbing that the Christ's Mirador wasn't that impressive at all. **

** Actually we took a minibus to the Christ's Mirador. The driver was strongly suicidal and by the time we got back down, both of our knees were somewhat wobbly. Mirador itself was ok. Bus ticket 4 pesos / one way.


Hotel Posada Santa Anita
Address Av de los Plateros 320, Taxco
Phone (762) 622 07 52

Just a few taco-stands over from Futura bus-station. Very comfortable location when you have heavy backbags and early morning bus back to Mexico City :). Opt for the roof-terrace rooms, the ones on the ground floor were supposed to be clean and quiet, but also quite darkly.
We paid 300 pesos/night for twin room with a terrace, ensuite.

High on the mountain-side you can see the Mirador of the Christ

Before / after sunset view from our terrace

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