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essays | places


tattooed heart


Tulum / Mexico · 2014   stone on stone



   ¿Mexico, que onda? I had to bleach everything before putting it into writing. It had poison stains all over it. Took me some years to wash them out as time took its time to nourish me back. Now I can write words about the life – the people even – but not about that rabid love that was more than everything at first and in the end less than nothing. There isn’t enough space here and there were times when I thought there wasn’t enough space for it in the universe.

Mexico was the first real country I ever lived in. The shimmering outside of that sterile bubble I grew up in. The very first time, crossing into it for just one little afternoon, wrote up enough infatuated narratives of an altogether different world to tattoo a long overdue novel onto my heart. There is no point in describing real countries; because whatever word you dedicate – friendly, exuberant, worry-free, hospitable, poor – you can’t feel these properties by reading them, and knowing them is worthless without feeling them. It’s almost like writing or saying them out loud robs them of their meaning until they are empty banalities you can easily move on from. You have to live them a little. The true, lasting meaning is in the details. Once you flag down that bus, which has no designated stop, you smile and you know; once you wait for something trivial for longer than can be expressed in numeric values, you ache and you know.

Everyone always laughing, everyone always pinche cursing, all and everything always in an uncompromising dance with no stopping any of it. Life first, love first, passion first, sunshine first, mañana first, then all else, if there’s time left. Work to live, don’t live to work. Downsides to all this? Plenty. But you can’t help overlooking them gladly. Orale güey no mames, qué vida.


a glimpse

passages   TULUM TOURIST | Colombia, 2012: it’s the beginning of my trip. I’m callow, hanging on the lips of an old foreigner in a hostel. He veils himself in suggestive mystery and the more I ask the less he tells. “My story has been told too many times,” he says rather smug than humble. His travel-vanity is glaring but I can’t see it just yet. “What a seasoned traveler” I think. A little later I step off the beaten trail for a long time. Mexico, 2014: 2.5 years into the journey. He doesn’t remember me, but I do. Same man, different hostel. This time he’s chattering away despite my growing disinterest. He goes on about how traveling is too easy now, too crowded, too touristy. That’s why he won’t visit the Mayan ruins at Tulum. I see through him now. “What a jaded, condescending travel-bully” I think. Then I’m off to Tulum, one of my favorite places on earth, and neither the flock of vacationers nor the fact that I’ve traveled beyond tourism can take away from my marvel.

Sunrise over Mexico City

Mexico City / Mexico · 2010   sheer size


Cosmovitral in Toluca, Mexico

Toluca / Mexico · 2010   crystal well


Seagulls and tourists at Playa del Carmen Beach in Yucatán, Mexico

Playa del Carmen / Mexico · 2009   hangry birds






places / stories

Mexico City / Electric Sprawl

Billboards in Mexico City

Mexico City / Mexico · 2009   billboard thunder


Ford Mustang at a showroom in Mexico City
Scultpure in Mexico City

Mexico City / Mexico · 2009   scrambled elements


Every time I flew into Mexico City during those days of going forth and back was like the first time. That electric sprawl was simply too big to fit into one mind all at once. Millions chipping in bulbs, little orange earth-stars from here to the horizon. One time I flew in for one night only thanks to some wonderful failure in production planning – VW’s factory in Puebla was facing a production stop and I played hand carrier to the rescue: taking a $500-4am-cab to one of their suppliers on my side of the pond, flying firstes of classes like a prince, dropping off the suitcase, spending the night, turning around. That was the last time I saw her the way I saw her then. One night. And then, six months later, at the far end of the world in Australia, the end of us as we knew us.

Mexico City / Mexico · 2010   mustang razor


I worked in the rusty heart of the city and my favorite part of that was the commute back to Toluca, 60 kilometers west – several hours, several neighborhoods, several modes of transport, several new revelations about life every time.

Sun rising over Mexico City

Mexico City / Mexico · 2010   morning supernova


Yucatán  / Paradise Parade


Tulum / Mexico · 2014   swimming ants


Tulum / Mexico · 2014   rock boxes


Say about Yucatán what you will, but it is the utmost symbiosis of beach and culture – a hyper-turquoise bubble gum sea washing up against crisp, whitened toothpaste shores and dense, fluorescent jungles where Maya ruins lie buried in green. If only less people knew about it. But when I was there, I didn’t see them. To be sure, I was swimming in those tourists as they surged onto the beaches of Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Tulum, but my eyes were fixed on a she-polestar that outshone all other angles with her bright tan.


Playa del Carmen Beach in Mexico

Playa del Carmen / Mexico · 2009   sugar sea


Chichen Itza Maya pyramid in Yucatán, Mexico

Chichen Itza / Mexico · 2009   geometric genius


Beach of Cancun in Mexico

Cancun / Mexico · 2009   water wonder


A lagoon in Yucatán, Mexico

Yucatán / Mexico · 2009   ebbing fire


Chichen Itza was of an architectural precision that spoke to my mind in a language it could not nearly fathom. And Tulum spoke to my heart by massaging it with some ancient, reincarnated feeling – as though I had lived there a Mayan life in another life. And those Cenotes with their glass water, those were one of nature’s finest ideas.


Jungle road in Yucatán, Mexico

Yucatán / Mexico · 2009   cutting into the jungle


Avenida Cinco in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Playa del Carmen / Mexico · 2009   Avenida Cinco


Here & There  / Those Days

Not a moment of boredom in those days. Trips to Michoacán, Hidalgo, Puebla, Guerrero – volcanoes, canyons, micheladas.


Aerial of volcanoes near Mexico City

Mexico · 2009   volcano venue


Church and Mountain in Mexico

Mexico · 2009   turquoise church


Canyon and Cacti at Tolantongo springs in Mexico

Tolantongo / Mexico · 2009   stubbled rockface


Roadside restaurant in Mexico

Mexico · 2009   roadside lunch


One time we went to Acapulco with a colleague of mine and his friends. Rich kids, but kind and smart. Someone’s parents had a timeshare down there, and a boat to boot. Long trip, a lot of stop-and-go along the highway exiting Mexico City. Soon enough we bumped that thick SUV into a car in front of us. Both parties got out, eyed the damage – more than some kitty scratches and cub dents – and then moved on with their lives, exchanging pleasantries instead of insurance details, insults or blames. Just a quick "your damage is as big as mine and we're both human and we both had our part in this, and these are just metal boxes on rubber rings and a good day to you too.” Says everything about Mexico.


Motorboat in Acapulco, Mexico

Acapulco / Mexico · 2009   boat days

Wakeboarding in Acapulco, Mexico

Acapulco / Mexico · 2009   bullet board







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