A Travellerspoint blog


semi-overcast 25 °C

DSC01809.JPGDSC01753.JPGDSC01748.JPGDSC01793.JPGMy second time here in Oaxaca (waa-haa.caa), and it´s changed quite a bit. will upload some flix as soon as i can.

2 days ago, I went to a skateboard comp in DF (Mexico City-Distrito Federal). I intend to write a story about it as soon as my mind clears, but the buzzword is CHAOS.

I entered the "intermediate" section as you apparently had to be pro to enter the "expertos". After practice, they bloody moved me anyway. It means I was competing for the bigger prizes, with 30000 Mex pesos for 1st place (1,500 pounds). I won both my heats in my group, and was in the final 10. Then....whistles growing like an Italian football crowd to show displeasure. Police getting heavy handed with skaters. BOOM! riot. Smacked on the shoulders with baton.Twice. No air. Got out, got some oxygen in 1st aid van.

Went to chill at another skatepark (pics coming) and met some great guys, who cooled everything down for me with a nice beer.

Yesterday was all travelling, ending in a cheap, awful hotel called "galeana" in Oaxaca. Paper thin walls, gay porno vids played at full volume, only pausing for the viewer to take showers in the filthy bathroom, then back again. 3am....4am? Changed hostel 1st thing, place is well nice and a bit hippy. Plan on some surfing in 2 or 3 days for at least 10 days then back to DF to fly to Quito.

Will change this post into something more descriptive soon. Need a coffee first.


Ps...rovang! Need your email! Canny find it anywhere

Posted by mark92 15:23 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)


sunny 29 °C

This morning, with eyes fixed straight ahead, I made for my usual breakfast haunt. At a quid a pop, I´m unsure whether it´s the omlette or the novelty of the price that I truly enjoy.

Before I drift off on some meandering shaggy-dog story, let me just come to the point.

Just as I was entering the taceria, I was stopped dead; jolted out of trivial contemplation and faced with a hard, implacable reality.

An emaciated old man with naught but stumps below his waist was dragging himself through the gutter under the wrought-iron surveillance of a traffic policeman. "Any slower and I´ll give you a ticket", his gaze suggested.

This kind of thing eats me up. Not in the traditional puupy with three legs "awww" kind of way. Not in a haughty tourist shouldn´t-someone-help-him-he´s-someone-else´s-problem-this-wouldn´t-happen-in-palm-beach kind of way either.

No; it´s more in the sense that it questions my cynicism. Now isn´t that a conundrum.

Over years of travelling and life in general, my psyche has fortified itself against appeals to my emotional side. While I give conscientiously to organised charity, i continuously blank appeals for charity on the street.

Edinburgh did that to me. Like the time when my first year flatmates and I had saved up our spare cash all month to give to this "poor guy" at the end of our street, only to witness him buzzing lighter fluid and cracking a bottle over the head of a passer by a week or so later. Or the time when a girl I was seeing refused to understand my lateness in meeting her because i had stopped to help an old man with a hospital tag on his wrist, who had pissed himself in the middle of Lothian Road. She told me it wasn´t my problem.


The Big Issue is something I can buy without hesitation, as I am able to see the the channels clearly. Even if the vendor does piss the cash against the wall (unlikely given that he/she is motivated enough to get up and sell it in the first place), the rest still goes to keeping the magazine alive.

In Mexico, it´s not so clear. It is, instead, hard as hell to cower behind defensive walls when you see a man dragging his way through the gutter. No social net to catch him. Family, perhaps, but it is no easy life that etches those welts on his chopping-board face. sun newspaper (I refuse the right to capital letters, your honour) headlines such as "beggars rake in a grand a week" melt away like sugarcubes; yet the residue is bitter.

He once had hopes and dreams. Maybe, stifled away in some ethereal shade of Orcus, he still does. The look in his eyes is one, for which any actor would give Solomons Gold to posess for but one frame. This look, that communicates the trial and pathos of life in one quintessential molecule of time, and cuts straight to our common humanity.

My defenses quickly regroup. Shaken, and unable to watch, I enter the restaurant; reaching for my pen instead of my wallet. My story is unstructured and bleary-eyed, but isn´t that the true nature of free thought?

I didn´t stop, I didn´t help. What could I have done? A few meaningless pesos? A cliched sentiment in broken Spanish? Such words would drown in the torrents raging inside him; his eyes told me that much and more besides.

But something did happen here. My defenses weakened. All my innocent compassion, hemmed in by brick after brick of disappointment and negative conditioning, saw a glimpse of light.

I´ve delayed my intentions to become more involved for too long. In one flex of my jaw muscle, my resolve is strengthened, as I silently bid him thanks for the charity he gave me.

Posted by mark92 12:50 Archived in Mexico Comments (2)

onward forward

sunny 26 °C

plans afoot here in the city of eternal spring and perennial choking. a job has been secured in the small town on baños, ecuador. a highland area, surrounded by volcanoes and jungle. a flat is provided with a roof terrace overlooking the volcano, and a couple of hundred quid a month as well, which is more than enough to live on. average price for a meal is 60p to a pound, and a beer is 40p in a pub, so nae bother.
Mostly the job involves teaching english, but the guy wants help to structure, organise and promote the department there. free spanish lessons are another great bonus.
a pic of the skatpark in quito for those who want to check it>
quito_skatepark5.jpgquito park 3.jpg
this is in quito, which is a cheap 4 hr bus ride from baños, where i intend to go at weekends if at all possible. need to skate!!

before that, its some surfing in puerto escondido and puerto angel on the pacific coast. carribbean coast is still a write-off. there´s not much of a beach left from cancun to tulum after the hurricane.

Posted by mark92 00:00 Comments (0)

silence: story 2

sunny 28 °C

"Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together." Thomas Hardy

Cuernavaca is full of noises. Every shop is fronted by a p.a. system playing cheesy music for mexican lovers., which blend into a melee of heartfelt sentiments competing for your attention.

A twitch of the ear and a girl is bellowing a sales pitch for underwear, framed by a piece of plywood with weather yellowed Y-fronts nailed up in faded glory.

Distracted once more by a lad with a plastic pumpkin head to celebrate the halloween-corrupted "dia des muertos" (day of the dead). "un peso signor....ooon Pay-soh"

Gently rebuffed, his pleas are replaced by vexed car horns signalling their displeasure. A trolley load of childrens dolls, with distressing and garish faces,has spilled into the crossroads. The traffic policeman mouths something, but is masked by the belly-thud from a souped-up rustbucket with go-faster stripes. The backseat is burdened by a speaker with a bass cone the size of a the livi bowl and an empty bottle of corona where the tweeter once called home.

Searching for a higher octave to balance the growl, i am assailed by the tandy mixer FX from an autobus de morelos , who´s blurb claims it is "driving towards a better Cuernavaca".

No time is afforded to mull over such patent irony, as I am stepping trhough the door of my hotel. A shrill electronic beep denotes my arrival to the ever-giggling sisters at the reception desk, who smile while quizzing me about an unpaid soda. All this to the tune of a screaming child with a snotty nose, who poked me in the leg on the way out.

I fall asleep for what seems like minutes, yet the darkness leaking in the window proves me false. There´s a sound, which i just can´t seem to place.

I grab my board and tiptoe out, heading for the biggest hill in town. The place is dead.

That sound confessed to me upon waking, that embrace of absence and peace, was silence. The canvas is unspoiled, and i fill it with colours of my own; tracing and sketching down the long smooth road.

The noises are all mine, until tomorrow.

Posted by mark92 23:00 Comments (0)

the grass is greener : story 1

sunny 28 °C

DSC01744.JPGI did my best to stock up. In my last few weeks in sweden and scotland, i exploited every conceivable opportunity to skate; knowing from experience that serviceable spots on this side of the tortilla are rare quarry indeed.

Cuernavaca, Mexico, distinguishes itself in the fields of pollution and street hawking puppy vendors, but little else. Undeterred, i packed my board with an air of optimism.

You´d think with a population of just over a million that there would be a block or two to grind, but bloody hell!

I used to torture myself by reading these bleating letters to UK skate mags, which commenced with "Ur magazine is thu best", stuffed with "there´s nothing to skate in our town" and capped with "any chance of a sticker?"

If said magazine truly was "thu best", these ignoble runts would indeed receive their sticker in the form of a 2nd class stamp on the forehead as they were unceremoniously crammed into a DHL luggae hold and shipped to Cuernavaca. A sense of perspecive would quicken them before the jetlag even gained a toehold, and I swear they´d learn to appreciate their ASDA carpark in a twinkling.

I walked many kilometeres over 3 days in a search for skatespots. The streets are packed with people and traffic, the ground is rough, but a challenge is a challenge after all. On day 3 I bumped into three 14 year old chicos with boards, which looked like straw reed brushes at either end, and were little improved in the middle.

We sesioned a drop of 1.5 metres into a busy road, guided by the whistles of our lookout on the edge of the sliproad. I was nearly killed several times, but what a rush!

We soon tired of our lives flashing before us, and hopped on a bus to the Uni. Buses here are a great laugh. When we DJ reggae music, we use sound effects like sirens and lasers. The buses use the same FX panel to communicate with each other and the pedestrians, making the streets sound akin to an R2D2 invasion.

30 minutes of exhaust fumes leaking through the floor later, and we staggerd off. The uni was a surreal place; decadent fluted columns flanked by monoblock haunches gave way to taco vendors, sunbathing students and....

A 30 stair drop with an unwaxed concrete ledge down either side. It took 2 full candles to satisfy its greedy maw, and the kids porferred sideways glances at me while helping, as if I was digging my own grave.

The security guard looked far too wasted to object and, to tell the truth, it wasn´t too steep. A tailslide was had, and these kids have followed me everywhere since. their big bro is driving us up to Mexico City tomorrow to check out a nice concrete park.

The funny thing is, that these kids did seem to have some kind of raw natural ability. Their pop was admirable considering the dimensions of their tails, and they had a nice relaxed style. It made me think on how a goldfish will only grow as large as its bowl will allow, or some such platitude.

These guys were quite poor, no doubt at all, but happier with their lot than many of the salmon-faced trend kids at Bristo Square in Edinburgh. They face adversity in every aspect of their skating, yet still manage to come out on top. I took an instant liking to them and their ready smiles, and was glad of yet another lesson in humility.

"To be satisfied with a little, is the greatest wisdom"

Posted by mark92 23:00 Comments (0)

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