The classic and hellenistic turbomachine greek souvlaki

Well well well. First of all I want to express my gratitude to life and to the wise and vast universe for giving me the head, the will and the correct people around me to finally obtain a master degree in engineering and get one step closer of being an adult. #IhavenoideawhatImdoing. Secondly, how the fuck are you suppose to wrap up a 10 month adventure in one of the most exotic countries of the globe? May the turbomachinery and science help me then.

Between all this excitement you gotta ask yourself one question…-am I looking for a place to go and have crazy outdoors adventures? Amazing and magnificent archeological sites? Best food ever after the mexican? The beautiful agean blue sea color? Great spots for outdoors sex? Crazy people dancing and shouting opa? Do I feel lucky? Do you? Pppunk!?-. Greece ladies and gentlemen, is the answer to your problems.

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I spent the last 10 months in a country under “crisis”, studying under one of the highest levels of engineering of the world, eating delicious grilled octopus, souvlaki, pilafi, mussels and fried squids among others, drinking refreshing refreshments like ouzo, raki, tsipourou, rakomelo and mastixa, listening to emotional bouzouki, wandering around with the most beautiful women I’ve seen so far (cheers on Greece and your genes H!), travelling around places of the planet I never thought I would go to (cheers on #momondo), discovering ancient mythical greek temples, trying to pet every single street cat and dog I saw as I would scream “oh gatito!”, establishing friendships and bonds that I truly hope last long enough for me to have white hair and learning that life indeed is a journey where happiness and freedom exists. Oh yeah, a hell of a crisis as you can read.

What a ride. What a fucking awesome ride I must say, including the fact that today I know my DNA carries Greece too. #greekmexican #Manolios

Greece is world widely known because of the food like Tzatziki, the music with the Bouzouki, greeks shouting “Opa!” all the time, broken plates on the weddings, magical places/beaches/parties in Santorini or Mykonos and also for anal sex (#culturalknowledge). The truth is that Greece is absolutely way more than that so let me tell you my experience of this awesome country.

As I was on my way back to Azteca lands, Mexico, I was struggling quite a bit cuz I could not find a way to actually summarize an entire year of knowledge, adventures and emotions as the one just passed. But well, putting aside that time is a bitch and went by as fast as possible, I first want to explain something about the greeks; they are indeed probably the most similar culture to the latinoamericans, at least to mexicans as they love living life, eating well, easy money and power. Equally, very strong familiar/religious values, strong pride for their country and an amazing skill of finishing a freddo espresso in 5 hours as they complain about the new traffic lights, taxes and the government. Plus, they do walk veeery slow and are quite informal/relaxed with everything. Oh, and they don’t give an absolute fuck about parking. As said, very similar to mexicans.

 

It is true that greeks have a bit of a temper (it was funny because I didn’t understand shit and I would just smile whenever a greek was pissed at me, which made them more pissed) but to be fair, I have never been in a country with such high hospitality no matter if you were a foreigner, stranger or a drug lord faced mexican like me; they will offer you something to eat and a glass of Raki or Ouzo and ask you about your life and be genuinely interested in it. They will make you feel as if you were home and no less than that. Everything started with my former landlords, who kindly picked me up at the airport, invited me for dinner and would meet on a monthly basis just to chat up a bit and have some drinks, they are absolutely amazing people.

The magic in Greece is that no matter how hot or cold or difficult a situation is, you would listen to “halarĂĄ” which means something like “chill out bro” and you would enjoy whatever you’re doing/eating/drinking. I must say I was fairly surprised by the scenery of the country as I thought it would be only cool because of the beaches and the unbelievable attractive women, but they have mountains and snow too, very convenient for snow sports and for long cool hikes. The other magic in Greece is that every 5.4 seconds you hear “pu ise re malaka!?” which means “where are you moda fucka?” and “PAME GAMOTO PAMEEEE” which means “let’s go for fuck’s sake, let’s go”. As said, magical.

Thessaloniki is located at the northern part of Greece and is the host of one of the best universities of the country which means a city full of students, so the average age of the city should go around 27-30 years old, so a lot of activities and epic parties to do in the northern greek lands. Feeling too adventurous and fit? How about a hike to the top of Mount Olympus and greet Zeus? (highest peak in Greece) Feeling like a monk and searching peace? what about a visit to the mythical mountains of Meteora? feeling romantic? how about a taverna night with amazing food and wine at the beach somewhere Chalkidiki or Kavala? Feeling eager to learn history? Visit the museums on Thessaloniki or go around to Pella where Alexander the Great was supposed to be born. Feeling like the last man of the universe? A night out with the Erasmus exchange youngsters or to meet greeks on the Ladadika area will never disappoint.

At the same time, the peloponese area (This is Sparta) as well as the obvious places like Athens, Mykonos, Santorini (one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see in your life) and the other 3000 and something islands, offer a fantastic collection of relaxing/adventurous activities to do. That’s the beauty of the country, you have the possibility of doing a zillion things despite how high or low your budget is, and fun is absolutely guaranteed.

Then Crete ladies and gentlemen it’s another bloody galaxy. I had the amazing luck of spending days there during Easter celebrations with a very close cretan friend. Cheers on that Mflow & Co. The tradition as in most of catholic countries is to not eat meat for some weeks until Yisus ascends to the skies and then it is celebrated by eating a complete and delicious roasted goat. All of it. Literally. Plus the incredible beach sceneries, undisputed hospitality of the Cretans the absolutely gorgeous cretan females and the alcoholic spirit called Raki or Rakomelo (+honey +cinnammon +hot +love).

From walking around bizantine temples and otoman architecture buildings to going up to the Parthenon and feel like Saint Seiya speaking to Athena (#SaoriSaaan). I had the chance of visiting about 10 islands in total, about 4999 remaining or more and they all gave me something different, like the most delicious Pistaccio ice cream I’ve ever had in my life.

This year I also had the chance of settle what it appears to be a long and solid friendship with a New Zealander girl and an Indian lad. Don’t know when I’ll see the indian, but I will visit the magical lands of New Zealand for 11 days and I’m pretty sure it will be just amazing to run in the same lands as Gandalf. Anyway, I also made a bunch of greek friends which unfortunately differs with my year in Sweden. I thought I made a couple of swede friends, but it was just my imagination as friends I did that year were from everywhere but Sweden. Anyhow, Greece was not the case, as I met smart, crazy, cool and incredibly beautiful ladies. And nice greek lads too. Hehe. People that truly taught me something, that gave me their time, a piece of a heart and that made me taking the flight to Mexico entirely full. That is exactly the way one should leave a country after so long no?

The truth is that it is not possible to tie up all the emotions experienced, but they shall remain in my head and in my heart for many many many years to come I’m sure.

As if this was not enough, after many many many emotional bumps and upside downs, just when you feel like you can do/give/have no more? life said – ha! sucker! – and then love knocked on my door. Again. My best friend says that I fall in love every two seconds and he’s actually not so far away from the truth, the difference is that I do get authentically amazed every two seconds, but love? that shit is way up high on another level. Yet, it seems that I reached that level again after many many many obstacles on the way in the most unexpected and unwanted way possible. That was a good one life, cheers. (Smiling from side to side thinking about a german lady somewhere in the world called H.)

 

Anyways. Greece was a random and unsteady phenomena that stroke me on a daily basis from feet to head. It knocked me out, brought me back to life, knocked me out again and then thrusted me right off to the skies so I could just fly and rumble. From seeing cats resting inside a “closed” shoe store to jump from a 15 m cliff in Matala beach, Crete; from feeling like a total ignorant and stupid incompetent pseudo engineer, to have the best thesis supervisor ever and recover my engineering confidence, from having no clue of what to do with my life to achieve successfully my master in engineering. From thinking that I would never play music again, to buy an ukulele and also play drums and sing in a very talented international band in a bloody awesome gig. From arriving sane, to finish happily insane.

For me, Greece is more than taking a fancy boat in Santorini, more than partying like a maniac in Crete, more than dancing like a beast in Thessaloniki. It is even more than finding a bloody mantis dancing in your ukulele, more than the beautiful greek ladies walking around the streets, more than all the delicious food you can eat in a tavern and more than fantastic beaches, mountains and the color of the sea.

Greece is something outside of this world.

Greece is home malaka.

Yamas!

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The Royal and Brave Portuguese Rooster

Oh amiguitas y amiguitos, what a bizarre and intense 2017 has been. And it is only March LOL. But back to middle February since it is when I did this trip, this pre-info. gave me most of the meaning of everything I felt during my days in Portugal, so buckle up, let us go back for some weeks in time and put our caps of “Fuck you February” on ok? 🙂

What the bloody hell universe?

The last week of January and first two of February were all about school, final assignments and final projects. I usually don’t complain about school because it’s stuff that needs to be done and the only way to finish the pain is by actually getting the shit done, period. The problem started when I realized that I might have done a miss-calculation as my 1 week time frame was simply not going to be enough to complete all my assignments when I had it planned. I took deep breathes, drank industrial amounts of coffee and just kept going with a 1-2 daily basis sleep hours, 7 work hrs. per 1 break hr. shifts and it was actually working! but in the end, the stress levels combined with a deplorable emotional state made my mind and body collapse and my defenses were the same as an albino baby ready to conquer bloody hell’s gates with a baby pacifier; i.e. I fell into a terribly sick semi pneuomonia “my lungs were dying” state. Fever, shivers, only two powerful pills in my stack plus some paracetamol and the good old Vic Vaporub. Chugged all the pills, drank insane amounts of tea, ate oranges and grapefruits like never in my life and kept working. It was Thursday, 1 more day remaining and managed to have only 1 last assignment for delivery. Slept that night with my bloodstream transformed into a flux of camomille+ginger+honey and rubbed the Vics all over my nose, my chest, my feet, my bloody anus, basically everywhere. And shit it worked. I was making a good progress but then I noticed I required a more powerful operative system in my laptop to perform some simulations on time and it was simply impossible to finish it before the flight to Portugal on Saturday. PLUS that Friday was the last night I had to spend with my previous awesome international ex-roomies, two strangers that became like family and about whom I shall talk about in another occasion. You know I miss you both bromigos!

So having overcome the worse of the sickness, I managed to get an extension of the professor, had a lovely dinner that night with friends, greek tavern on point and then just when I thought my emotions were feeling at their peak, everything crumbled down. It was a situation that today I reckon is mostly my fault for not being able to foresee things properly, that today I feel calmed and working on my daily peace, but back then, my mind thinking I was an incompetent for not finishing work on time combined with a heart telling me:-you like her so fucking much that you’re gonna fuck everything up. Like always.- and a soul unable to really process all the information that was being recorded…it was a rough night to be honest. But as I was back in my bed, barely able to breathe with a cracked heart, all I knew was that I just needed to get out of there and hop in the plane, I just needed peace urgently.

After some ancient testament size emotional “Viber” messages were sent, fever again and saying good bye to the international shack members, I landed in Rome for a 12 hrs. lay over. -WHA YU DU DISSSS!!??- I asked to the universe. -AHH shut up and open your eyes you whiny bitch!- the universe responded, as suddenly I found myself drinking a “+7 Anti cold” healthy juice and sited in front of the “Fontana di Trevi”. Perfection goddammit. The Coliseum was next and people I still can feel the goose bumps when I write these words as strong as I saw and entered the Coliseum for the 2nd. time of my life and shit, I swear I could hear the people roaring again. Not a coincidence. I still can feel the energy, the glory, the adrenaline and the strength given by victory. Feelings that made me truly smile after a long time and I said to me: -VAMOS CABRÓN-. I had a delicious Italian lasagna for dinner and was ready to get my flight to Lisbon at 7 am the next day.

Lisbon, Portugal. What a bloody cool city. To be fair I had absolutely zero idea of how Portugal was going to be. I had of course my own knowledge of the country but I did not pre-research as I usually do before any trip, did not know where to go, basically was in fucking blank because I just had no time to do it! So I decided to embrace everything the city wanted to offer me. Bold as always and wise as…sometimes. Best call ever. I first through the city taking the musical magical bus tour, passed through cool sight seeings and spots of Lisbon, both in the modern and the ancient zones. Lisbon has like a zillion amount of museums; the museum of the tiles, the museum of oceans, the museum of cars, the museum of museums. The city is divided by the Tajo river crossed by the bridge “25 de Avril”. It is like the cool younger brother of the Golden Gate bridge in SF. The music, “Fado”, the folk and typical music of Portugal so filled with emotions that it makes you want to cry. Barrio Alto is the zone that hosts most of the night life and the start spot to go up hill and spend the afternoon with wine, some food and enjoy the view of the city.

Have you heard of the typical cliches of romantic places like Paris, Venice, Milan, Rome, a log cabin to make amazing hot nasty rough sex love aside the fire as the Aurora Borealis is in the sky? Well, despite the not yet accomplished sexual fantasy, I was lucky to be in all the aforementioned places, even some more and well fuck all that. Portugal my dear chiquitines is (for me) the most romantic country I’ve been so far. For real. One of the spots I wish you can visit one day to confirm my theory is called “Sintra”, a magical town 40 min. away from Lisbon in regional train, host of ancient castles, royal family palaces and houses related with witchcraft and secret sects. Everything is green, with stone paths, a smell like rain and point views that will take your breathe away. A spot of the planet that again, at least for me, made me think of one day taking that special lady whom I would love and would love me for the rest of my life and share all the feelings I’m describing. Or maybe just my cat. Probably will be just my cat.

I had the chance of visiting a very good friend of mine from Japan who was living in Lisbon due to master studies similar to mine. “T”-kun took me around many groovy spots of the city, had some Portuguese alcoholic beverages in a fancy market, had some wine in the top of one of the hills and had actually a great time talking about school, love, future, alcohol, life. I know I’ve said this a lot in the past but is always crazy how you can connect with people from literally the other side of the world, with spiky hair and slanted eyes. Great one “T”-kun!.

The next day I was ready to take the train to the northern side of the country and off I was to Porto. Did I say how cool was Lisbon? Never mind. Pack your things, stop whatever you’re doing and go to Porto. Seriously. Despite being a bit chilly and rainy, it just made it equally beautiful city. The “Manuelino” architecture, old castle walls, medieval churches, rivers, a bridge design by Mr. Eiffel himself and the absolute and magnificent Oporto wine.

But first things first. My mom’s surname is Pereira and there are records that this surname came from my great grandpa which was either Spaniard or Portuguese and to whom I actually owe my first name. The village is veeeery tiny and peaceful, stone streets with barely a central church, farms, vineyards, a graveyard and some sort of small mountains and green fields surrounding everything.

This trip contained also like a business bonus feature. I had the amazing opportunity of first being contacted by the #momondo PR team in Portugal because there is a Portuguese cultural magazine called “Fugas” that heard first of the competition and second that the Mexican lad who won has Portuguese blood running through his veins. So basically they kidnapped me for one day, a fucking brilliant day where they made me an interview regarding the contest, how did I win (still no clue), what did I say, what did I thought when I knew the price and of course what was my opinion and knowledge about Portugal? what was my favorite spot so far? and the main reason that took me to Portugal, why did I want to go to a village in the middle of nowhere called “Pereira”? Despite being in Portuguese, you can check the interview here if you want:

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They also took me to eat typical Portuguese food in a town called “Barcelos” which was close to Pereira, ate duck rice, octopus, cod fish, delicious wine, among others. I also got a Portuguese rooster as a gift from the restaurant. Wanna know the story? Just google it, quite cool! Then the crew took me to the village of Pereira to actually see and explore the place. I mean how fucking cool is that? who does that!? And then back to Oporto. But the most amazing experience was when we were in a local cafe in Pereira, were talking to a kind old sir and we asked if there were any old reminiscences of what Pereira was and he mentioned a castle in ruins, the “Castelo de Faria”, that supposedly belonged to the royal family of Pereira in the very old times. Off we went to the castle on the top of one hill and man…everything was covered in green, all the stones, all the paths, all the trees. It was like taken out of a Narnia and a Game of Thrones and wild Harry Potter scene. My first feeling was:-I’m on a fucking fairy tale, everything’s so green, uhhh look at that big stone, LET’S JUMP ON IT-. I basically felt like a little kid, running and jumping around every tree and stone I saw. The people of Fugas and Momondo were just laughing and saying that I truly looked just happy, that it was incredibly contagious. Like, just imagine if you could talk to the trees or stones of such ancient place? what would they say? or what would they not say? better said. On this day, at that moment, everything I mentioned in the beginning of this post just went at warp speed through my mind, that and even more stuff. An internal emotional wave that made me cry as I was just listening to the wind just because I had to cry, a thing that I very rarely do. I felt as if the place was telling me -you’re gonna be alright, be brave, be bold, be yourself-. You see I’m a guy who in times of crisis believes on whatever signal life gives. I’m a true follower of the signals, every detail that the universe is telling us and there was an instant when I truly knew what I was doing right and wrong in my life and most important what I needed to do to work and overcome that which I thought was wrong. Too bad it was only an instant since I kinda fucked it up some weeks after that (LOL) or well…did I? It was just an absolutely brilliant experience. Thanks #Fugas and #Momondo !!! I will never forget it.

As a cultural data, Portugal was founded by many families with significant resources, among those, the Pereira family. The proof is in the castle of Sintra where on the ceiling you can observe all the royal families coat shields that founded the country. Wikipedia also cooperates with this. So know you know ladies: you looking for a man who is single, handsome and descendent of a royal wealthy family founder of a country? *winks with cool sound.

The last days I spent in Porto I basically explored and walked as much as I could. The Duoro river, divided by the bridge “Luis I” as said designed by Mr. Eiffel, the library which J.K. Rowling got inspiration from, the Majestic coffee, a 40 year old Oporto wine that was the closest thing of love I’ve ever felt, the “Riberinha” area, got lost in the magical and narrow streets, ate a magical thing called “Francesinha”, listened to more Fado music and saw some other good friends I made during my year in Sweden. I even saw a cat in a leash. It was an authentique jackpot if you ask me.

 

Portugal was special because of many things. It is directly related with my mom’s bloodline, it is a special place for “J”, it is the holder of probably the most delicious wine I’ve had so far, a country with great and friendly people, with delicious food, with music that touches your heart, and specially it is spot that literally took tears and fears out of my eyes; it created a tremendous emotional earthquake in my core that reminded me that to be in love is a game where we meet people who makes us evolve on specific times of our lives, in every sense and in every way. A place that reminded me that nothing is meant to last, NOTHING in this life, and that it is exactly that fact, which makes life beautiful and provides unforgettable memories, just like the Castelo de Faria did to a young and wild mexican lad. It is exactly that fact, the reason we should listen to our minds but obey our hearts and be bold, be free, be brave, be fearless, be fucking happy.

Obrigado querida Portugal!!!!!

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The Arabic Bedouin Ancient Caravan

Jordan. Middle East and Arabic territory. The ancient and mythical lost city of Petra awaits and I couldn’t keep it together, I just felt bloody thrilled about it. But of course no magic happens before going through an uncomfortable 24 hrs. experience that contained delayed flights, running and tackling people at Dubai’s airport, technical aircraft faults on the 2nd plane and my stupid face being enchanted by a beautiful blonde Russian Matryoshka. At 10:00 am I landed on the capital city of Jordan, Amman.

I had no sleep, was not able to shave the 31 hairs my face is capable to grow and I was starving. Arrived to the migration part of the airport, paid the 40 JOD entrance visa fee and my mind was just ready to go to the hostel, eat and sleep until the next morning…

W-R-O-N-G.

As I gave my passport to the officer, he started asking the typical questions but stared at me in a peculiar and odd way. -Sir, please go back there and sit down, we will keep your passport- he said as he would talk in Arabic on his radio. -Is there something wrong?- I asked. No response. I actually thought that maybe they have to check for criminal records on their system or something, but I was too tired to argue and ask so I obediently went to sit down and waited. A new officer and a translator arrived to the scene, called me and took me a bit apart from the entrance queue. He started basically to ask the same routine questions but now with a more intense look towards me. -Mexican? Why were you in Africa? then Dubai? and then here? And why are you alone? What is your business? Do you know someone here?- he asked, as I cheerfully responded: -Just holidays sir! I’m a student and just came to visit Petra- whereas his eyes would scan every single movement I was doing. He asked about my luggage which was on the delivery platform and he said the bag had to be scanned. But of course. We passed the official entrance to the country, picked up my bag and as the bag was going through the scanner he said -What’s all these?- pointing to all the flag patches I have in my bag. -Ahhh ye! I just like traveling very much sir (happy face)-. Nothing obvious revealed on the scanner, he asked me to open the bag and he found two plastic bags of a mysterious kind of powder. -AHAAA! IS THIS THE COCA?!, where’s the coca??- to what I immediately bursted in laughing and said: -no no sir, that’s sand of the Sahara and from Zanzibar, I have no drugs-. He saw the sand and then he said: -don’t lie to me, are you sure you have no drugs?? “Cero” drogas?? No coca!!!??-, -AHAHAHAHAHAHHA- I responded. He started to become really pissed as other officers were approaching the scene and talking in Arabic; Mexico was the only word I could catch. But despite all the intense efforts of the Jordanian airport security force and of course putting aside my obvious badass Mexican international drug lord face, the officers did not find any evidence of narcotics, gave me back my passport and let me go. It’s grand you know? He was doing his job and did it good; except maybe for the tiny fact that just for being Mexican he assumed I would be packed with drugs as the “Chapo” style. Classic pun. #mexicanproblemas

As soon as my stomach was full and my head touched the bed, at 15:45 I was already dead and slept for 17 hrs.

The next day, since the bus to Petra was totally full, I spent the day walking around downtown, exploring the ancient city spots like the citadelle, visited some temples, museums, mosques and of course tasted the local cuisine. I must reckon that hummus should be named as humanity patrimonial. Just saying. Just so fucking tasty. Amman is a complete and expanded 3 million people capital city. Modern/fancy and ancient areas, cars horning, black tea and mint tea, date fruits, shishas and Arabas selling everything at the market. Also quite a lot of security checkpoints with massive trucks and a heavy machine gun handled by an officer. It was a good day I must say.

So there was I, waking up at 4:57 am, courtesy of “D”, an individual responsible of the latter and last emotional tsunami that went through my core (story for another time), and was up and ready at 5:30 am so I could take the bus at 6:30 am to Petra. Takes around 4 hrs. to get there from Amman and it’s the only available schedule, which is actually quite good if you want to visit the place for a day and come back to the capital. I was not n a rush so I decided to spend the night there. The city is small and it is composed by an area of hotels, food locals and a modern bedouin village where the locals live and work.

Ladies and gentlemen, Petra, one of the seven wanders of the world. One of the “most see” places of this planet. Holder of secrets founded by the Nabateans. After I set everything up in the hotel, I was just ready to walk all day and discover all this magical land could provide me. As a cultural data, tourism is the main income of the country with Petra of course being the main attraction above anything. It is indeed not cheap to go in, it costs 50 JOD to go for a day, 55 JOD to pay for a two day visit and then up for different situations. Also, Petra used to be in the old days (around 100-500 D.C.) one of the main cities for commerce, so everybody passed through this place. As said, the site is filled with bedouins who sell souvenirs, tea, food, shishas, camel, horse and donkey rides, scarfs and turbans among others. Some of them are actually quite “annoying” as they follow you for like 80 m. trying to convince you to buy a bracelet or something; in the end, it’s the job and they gotta sell to eat, I do get that. Anyway, as I went into the site, I felt I was entering Mars. I thought the Sahara was actually red-ish but hell, this area was just sooo Martian! For a moment I felt I was in a chapter of the book of John Carter. The first part you can appreciate some monuments done by the Nabateans, which are kind of tombs in form of squared monolites (is that actually how you spell that?) called “Jinns”. It’s quite impressive. It is possible to start seeing a kind of water channels used to distribute water (dah) in the old days, until you get to the Siq canyon. The almost 80 m stone walls above the head combined with the sun beams created a smile cheek to cheek in my face. Everything was getting more red and the stones and walls had this peculiar mineral line colors.

Bedouins, Asians, Russians, Americans, some latins too. People from all over the world including their selfie sticks and big ass Canons walking through these ancient magnificence. The canyon takes about 2km or around that, until at some point, the pass becomes a bit narrow, barely sun goes in, but far away at the end of the path, it is possible to appreciate some huge red-ish carved pillars and some camels walking around. “The treasury” amiguitas y amiguitos. Shit. Fucking staggering. I had no words, just wide opened eyes and an impressed face by the almost 40 m carved  monument. As many cultures passed in more than 1000 years throughout this place, the site has arabic, persic, greek, roman influences. It’s unbelievable how such radical mixture just works. Hundreds of people taking pictures and riding camels, so I just took maybe 10 min. to appreciate the place and kept walking, I wanted to go to the furthest point of the site which is called “The Monastery”, it is also the highest point where Israel can be appreciated while having a delicious cup of bedouin tea, and it is also like a 3.5 km walk with a quarter of it going just up.

I felt like a huge ignorant as I thought that Petra was going to be only the Treasury and the Monastery but hell, the city is huge! and it is claimed that is not yet fully discovered. If today it looks magnificent, I cannot imagine how it was in the glory days. Royal tombs, a roman theatre, carved houses within the mountains, a royal palace, an orthodox church, more tombs, more sacred temples, a straight path with columns on the sides, ancient entrance doors. I also felt as I was just bloody part of an “Assassin’s Creed” game or something. I felt proud to actually wear the turban I got in Morocco. It was hot but quite windy, so it actually helped to protect the face and all the locals were wearing theirs. Some even talked to me in Arabic and said -you look like a modern bedouin!. -Yala yala!- I responded laughing.

After climbing up the path, sweating like crazy and regret smoking for the last couple of months, I reached the monastery, which to be fair might not be as pretty as the Treasury in terms of architecture, but it is in fact more impressive since it is bigger and it is older and with a lot more of historical background. I sat down, had a nice glass of juice and smoked a shisha. You might think I am crazy but as I was walking across the city, I could actually imagined the old caravans going and carrying exotic spices, fabriques, stones, weapons, animals; the locals buying the merchandise, the royal guards protecting the city. For a moment I felt I was crazy, so I decided to keep walking and go to the highest point and enjoy my tea as I could observe the amazing view. I even found a cute cat that was playing with a butterfly, played with me and then back to the butterfly. I cannot explain it, despite being in such an old piece of the world, I felt just great, I felt welcomed, I felt as if the land was saying “just enjoy mate!”

I spent the 2nd day basically walking through the further temples, churches and tombs of the site. Of course spent like 30 min. just watching “The Treasury”. Something I really liked is that there is some sort of “freedom” to walk almost wherever you want. So as I was climbing one of the mountains, I first found this amazing spot on the top where there is a bedouin tent and you can see “The Treasury” right from the top, in piece, having tea. Absolutely wobbling. I kept walking, kept climbing and then found two bedouins that were smoking shisha and drinking tea as their goats were having lunch. -Hey tourist! come! drink tea!- they said to me. I was quite thirsty and thought ye well! one cup would not hurt, so I went and asked how much was for a cup as one of them said: -No, no, no. We don’t want your money. Money don’t make friends. Please join us and enjoy if you want- to what I was just shocked, it was a totally unexpected answer. So I smiled, sat down and talked with these guys for like an hour. Solomen and Ibrahim were their names. They shared some of their seeds and taught me how to opened them with the teeth and eat them. -You have a sincere smile my friend- said Ibrahim, -there aren’t many people like you these days, you are a good man-. This is a moment where I was more than convinced that it doesn’t matter what religion you believe in, what skin color you have, what clothes you wear, how much money you have; it doesn’t matter if you’ve been to jail, if you’ve been to church every sunday, if you’ve had a shot once with David Bowie or if you’re a pal of the pope. It was not that what Ibrahim said fed my ego and made me think “ah ye, I’m great I know”, hell no. It was the fact that he opened himself to a 27 year old lad he barely knew and shared his beliefs, his food, his beverages and his thoughts. He taught me a lesson that I will never forget in my life. No matter who you are, we all have the same blood color and we ALL are capable of uniting and of sharing what we have, even if it is a total stranger.

During the next day I came back to Amman, had for the last time an original, delicious and industrial size plate of hummus, had a good amount of sleep, met an interesting person who drove me to the airport and shared some of his crazy young sailor stories, Greece included in the visited spots and took the flight back home. I’m pretty sure you know that feeling where you actually feel more tired after holidays than before? This time I felt recharged, fully fucking motivated and recharged. I couldn’t believe how in 3 weeks my mind was able to see so much, to feel so much, to give and to share.

As I saw from the plane the famous dead sea, I couldn’t stop thinking how bloody lucky and grateful I am for being able of living this type of journey. Call me a cheesy, romantic, annoying and naive bastard, I don’t care, but every place I go I find something different that connects me in such a way…I can’t explain it. I’m not bragging about it, I’m not showing off how many cities, places, countries I’ve been to and I will go to; as said, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, where you’ve been, I am just trying to unite and to share who I am with you.

Thank you so much Jordan. I am more than certain that 4 days were just not enough, I do hope one day in my life I can go back to explore and discover more of your magical corners. I promise I’ll shave and dress nice clothes next time so you don’t think I’m trying to be a Mexican contraband drug lord. Thank you for showing me one of the brightest sides of life, I promise too I’ll do my best to share that side wherever I go.

Next stop, home…for a little while.

VĂĄmonos!

 

 

 

The Tanzanian Zanzibarian sensational spice

I firstly want to apologize for not posting this before, as I have been dealing with a traumatic amount of work, finals and equations flying all over the place. The perks of being an engineer.

But there I was and my cute butt in South eastern Africa. Tanzania. The paradise island of Zanzibar. What a place!. I honestly was not expecting that such a far away piece of land would create such a magical feeling in my guts and heart.

After a harrowing Senegalese visa denial and a trip re-arrangement that included 50 hrs. of flying and “sleeping” through Madrid (cheers Emilio, I owe you this one bro!), Brussels (cheers Belgian beer, I love you!) and somewhere over Egypt and the UAE, at 20:00 hrs. I was landing on the african island of Zanzibar. Sleepless, clumsy and stupid was my head and body when I didn’t pick up my travel journal and left it in the carry-on luggage compartment. Still awaiting a response from the airline saying -Dear Mr. Maqueo, we have you journal. PS: You’re stupid- Sounds quite unlikely after 3 weeks but hey, optimism dies the last. Aaanyhow, I had several mixed emotions when I landed there; part of it was because it’s one of those places that make you say stuff like:-I don’t know why but I need to go there…I NEED IT- so as the song “Africa” by TOTO was at max. volume on my iPod, the drums within all its glory and then KA-BOOM the 33ÂșC heat wave and 98% humidity crashed against my skin, bones and triple layer shoes. -WHOOOA IT’S HOT!- I said, as I immediately started sweating as if I was in a sauna. I know I know, it’s not thaaat hot, but please understand that I’ve been living in cold places for the last couple of years and I’m also a living boiler, i.e. I get overheated when walking at 8ÂșC (Yes, I’m the one to hug during cold times). The smell of the rain, of the soil, of the tropical state I was falling in, everything immediately kicked in and provoked a big smile from cheek to cheek.

After a successful visa and passport control, the warm welcoming message of the police and exchanged some thousands of tanzanian chellins in my wallet, I quickly found myself in a cab on the way to the most populated area of the island where I spent one night: Stone Town. The driver called “Musa” said in swahili: -Jambo! Hakuna matata!-, which is hello, no problem! in english. A revelation occurred when I realised that “The Lion King” was based in Tanzania and hence the hakuna matata. That night I had a delicious and original chicken curry, spicy beans and rice and felt like I was ready to sleep for 18 hrs straight. Wrong. The place I stayed in, as clean and presentable it was, it had only a fan on the ceiling. -Ah should be grand!-I said. The fan at maximum warp speed, all windows open, 31ÂșC, I was basically naked and I felt as if the mattress was on fire. It reminded me of the hot “southern winds” that strike Catemaco, my home town back in Mexico and also reminded me of the a bit orthodox words my first boss said to me in a metallurgical facility at 47ÂșC:-you fuck with the heat? It will fuck you. You d0n’t? It will fuck you anyway.- To what I basically stopped whining, just focused on my breathing and managed to get some decent hours of sleep.

The next day I ate for breakfast one of the tastiest mangos I’ve had in the last couple of years. All the available fruits were actually fresh and delicious. Finished and had the chance of making a tour called “The spice tour”, where basically you walk into and through the harvesting farms of most of the spices and fruits of the planet, as one or several workers of the farm explain you the harvesting and further processes. As a cultural data, Zanzibar is known as the spice island, since spices like pepper, curry, tamaroc, ginger, cinnamon, old spice, flowers like vanilla or the one out of which Chanel No.5 is taken from and tropical fruits like mangos, lemons, limes, oranges, bananas, pine apples, lichies, among others, are either originally from here or were imported during the old colonization days from several and diverse regions of the world. The good weather, the rain and the soil did the magic and voilĂ , spices and trees everywhere. I was having a lot of fun! tasting fresh fruits and seeds, incredible variety of smells all around me and suddenly a lad that is popularly known as “Mr. Butterfly” said:-you want a coco cola?- to what I said -ahhh whatever that is, ye sure!- and he started climbing up a 10 something meter palm tree with just hands and feet, cut a HUGE coconut with a machete and opened it for me to drink. It was bloody impressive.

Afterwards, I had lunch with some locals of the tour; rice with cinnamon and pepper, some type of bread and vegetables in coconut sauce, a sauce that tasted fabulous. Then met other tourists part of the same tour and went all together to a beach in the area of “Bumbwini”. In this area there is a place called “The cave of Slaves”. You guessed right, it’s a big and quite dark cave that during the 16th and 17th centuries was used to keep slaves that were traded across different parts of the world. A dark past that today only hides in the further corners of the cave. Huge is the contrast when just a couple of km away, there is a magical beach where I was able to get refreshed by the sea and by the local beverages. “Kilimanjaro” and “Safari” are the names of the beers, and “Konyagi”…a liquor quite strong (but tasty) that made me basically cough and suffocate as I drank it. A local started bursting in laugh when he saw me basically choking.

Back to Stone Town I wandered around the town a little bit. I must say that despite having a map, the structure of the town is not the most organized, which is fine but it was very easy to get lost. I must also say, that the public transport becomes a bit tricky for tourists, because unfortunately they do not go through the “touristy” spots, and if they do, I just couldn’t figure out which “Dala dala” to take without getting lost and freak out after half a km. This means, single way taxi fares that go from 10 USD to Stone Town, and 40 USD to the cool beaches of the island. It becomes very pricey if you ask me, but definitely worth it. Anyhow, I had to check-in in the villa I would spend the rest of my days in Zanzibar, in the area of “Bububu”, so took a cab and became friends with the driver, today a friend, called Yussuf. A very nice lad just my age that would drive me around both to my hotel and to the new year’s eve party about 70km to the north. I actually had way more fun in the ride than in the party but we’ll come to that later. “Imani beach villa” is the magical spot I stayed in. You feel stressed, tired, sad and want to experience beautiful sunsets? Just go there. The staff was absolutely kind and generous, all time. The owner, South African, welcomed me, offered me a fresh mango juice and said that there would be a dinner at 19:00 to say good bye to the year.

A delicious last day of the year meal that would include sea food and some South African dish called “Bunny Chow”, wine, beers and more wine and more beers. I met interesting people, mostly couples like in their middle 40’s and 50’s. All foreigners. Including a lady that just some couple of days before had a really close death encounter as she and her husband tried to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as their first climbing experience. -Not recommended for amateurs, neither for a quick trip- she said a bit sad and disappointed. But there she was, at least celebrating life. Alive. But despite the emotional moment I felt like dancing! it was 31st of december after all and heard about this “crazy” party that “everybody” was attending to. As previously said, a 80 USD ride + drinks + surprises expense record had to be cashed out if I wanted to proceed, but I mean, last day of the year? In Zanzibar? Let’s fucking go. Aaand it was…complex lol. Picture a massive amount of americans/russian/scandinavian tourists in a beach with many opened bars and dance floors. Now picture huge handsome african muscled guys trying to get game with the previous nationalities AND beautiful african women hunting the old but not the poor. And myself dancing with my beer. ALL the africans can dance like incredible. It was so crowded that it was basically impossible to get any drink at any of the bars, meaning that I had only one bloody beer in all night thanks to Yussuf’s skills. At the end I was actually able to talk a lot with him, he told me a bit about his life, his dreams, his ideals. The music was nice, people was alright, I did have fun and learned quite awesome african dancing moves courtesy of Yussuf’s lads, but at the end, I was back in the bed of my hotel at 3:00 am, exhausted, alone and fucking sober. -Well, bring it 2017- I said and went to sleep.

The next day, totally fresh and without a hung over, I was ready to explore other exotic spots of the island and with Anuar at the wheels, (the driver of the hotel that also became a good friend) I went off to the national forest park of “Kichwele”; a 50 km squared area that is home of fauna and flora specimens like the unique Colobus red monkey, the only monkey that has 4 fingers and no thumb. Also, host of unique type of plants and mangle trees that would divide the salty and sweet water parts as well as protect the island from natural disasters. Clever nature as always. A magnificent show only possible to appreciate if you truly open your eyes and not mess with the badass crabs that hide on the trees. We proceeded to go to a spot called “The Rock” on the south eastern part of the island; specifically speaking, a boutique hotel called “Upendo” where I had probably the most delicious and juicy octopus of my life, including a bloody awesome beach that was host of coral reefs, cute star fish and a zillion deadly sea urchins.

As I arrived and as you will appreciate in the pictures, the water level was quite low at the shore, like at the ankles, so it was like if the sea had some kind of “pools” and the water actual level increased at like 60-70 m away from the shore, it looked amazing! and my oh poor naive and stupid head did not understand why. But did later. I started walking to the sea, saw many cool sea species, was careful to not step in any of them and when I arrived to the “dry” area, I noticed that the sand was very muddy and sticky, it felt like Play-Doh, but couldn’t care less, swam a little bit, took cool pictures and then I realised that the “dry” area was slowly decreasing, i.e. water override, double i.e. the tide was increasing, maximum i.e. fucking sea urchins ready to attack on the way back. So as the reliable and effective problem solver engineer I am, I freaked out, ran for my bag, kept the phone on the hand and tried to get to the shore as quick as I could. Water level was above my belly button, it was not possible to walk, neither to swim without screwing the recently obtained 800€ phone. Legs shaking, evaluating all options, and the only one was to die with honor. -This is it, this how I go, this is the end, POSEIDON HELP MEEE!- I said to the Indic Ocean, as the urchins were prepared to fire at will with the minimum friction. It initially took me 8 minutes to get from the shore to the sea. 55 min for the way back. There is a restaurant at the top of the rock where you can appreciate the view, including the disgrace of a stupid tourist like me about to be drown in poisonous darts. But life was amused and gave me the skill to get to the shore, safe, sound, with no harmed sea species or coral reef and with a dry phone. Nothing like high adrenaline to feel alive uh? It was actually fucking exciting and fun.

The thing impressed me the most of this place was again the people. Everybody seemed to be happy, wether working had at the docks, or the farms or playing football at the sea. Or taking a bull into the sea just because it was hot and wanted to give cool him off. Every single time a local would look at me, they would notice I was not from around but would say hello. ALL of them. -Jambo!- to what I said -Poa!- which is “all cool” and they smiled back.

I also noticed that everybody would share what they could share, no matter who or what it was. Sharing indeed was the key part of this place. A gentleman in particular in charge of the bar of the villa; his name is Daoudi, originary from “Mbea” on the land side of Tanzania. Fervent fan of Manchester United like me. We talked everyday prior breakfast and on the afternoons for some minutes about hobbies, family, football, some dreams, some jokes. He expressed he always wanted to learn new languages including spanisg and asked if he could read some lines of the book I had with me, just to know what spanish looked like. He finished the introduction and incredibly managed to understand the general idea of it, for which he was very excited about and couldn’t stop smiling. Ladies and gentlemen this was a moment in my life where I was able to presence a person developing new dreams and will, I could tell just by looking at his eyes. -How do you pronounce that? What is this letter? It’s like italian mixed with some english and french isn’t it? Teach me!- he said, and at the same time he would teach me more swahili sentences. Just bloody brilliant. I forced myself to finish the remaining 135 pages of the book and decided to give it to him, and not because of pity or tenderness or shit like that, it was because I had a brilliant lad in from of me willing to learn and gain knowledge, to expand his mind and was knocking on the doors. Why would I stop him? Why would I actually not help and do what I can to push him forward? He smiled and hugged me twice when I gave him the book just before I left to the airport. -Until the next time, I will not forget you my friend, thank you- he said. Shit, I cannot remember the last time someone looked at my ugly face in such a happy way. Until the next time indeed bro.

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Mr. Daoudi

The mythical door of Zanzibar, the house of Freddie Mercury, the hungry mosquitos and the amazing and crazy tropical weather. The Zanzibar Juice, the king fish with coconut sauce and green banana, exotic precious blue stones and the happy african music on the streets. The mango trees, the beautiful moon, the staggering sunsets and the smell of the rain. The smiles of the people despite any condition. The new friends. I honestly felt I was leaving my home and one or two emotional tears were shed as the plane was taking off to Jordan. I will come back, I have to. All these emotions that were flowing just reminded me that life could be very VERY rough but it’s ALWAYS worth to try being kind everyday, to share what one has, to truly listen and to be grateful of the life we live in. Emotions that reminded me that my blood is african.

Hakuna matata!

The word birthday is spelled with “J”

Aaaaaah birthdays. The perfect excuse to be obnoxious, arrogant, needy and bitch about everything while pre-drinking JĂ€germeister and post drinking Glenmorangie, while your close ones have to stand you and smile back. Plus the industrial amount of food taken to your mouth. As said, the perfect excuse only, unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that most of the times. However this time is about sharing with you, my dear lectores, the birthday celebration of a very special person. She is “J”.

Across my life I’ve met plenty of people who say they don’t like to celebrate their birthdays, that it is just like any other common day, that it is a waste of money or time or that during all their birthdays, the conditions were such that bring bad memories. As a matter of fact, also I used to think like any of those ways. I didn’t find much sense to the fact of being brought to planet earth and start the journey of life. Today is totally the opposite side, at least for me. Life is precious, and as such, once a year we have the chance to evaluate everything we’ve done, everything we didn’t, to judge us, to assess us, to celebrate us and grow up, set new goals, new dreams and even to try again, to not let those dreams go away. 

Anyways. Who’s  “J”? Why? She is my ex-significant other, a beautiful northern Mexican girl that despite being in a relationship with me for only 5 months, for some strange, inexplicable and good reason, today, she is one of the very few and unfortunate, able to understand quite a big percentage of my head and my heart. Who the fuck becomes a best friend after breaking up with a person that leaves you thousands of km to pursue his dreams? Who the fuck turns his head and reckons that leaving behind that essence feels like a mistake and also pushes forward to the best friendship path? You could call it a platonic and authentic friendship. Or just pure stupidity; but it’s real, it’s here and I’m glad I have that in my life. 

And today is about letting her know that. As those who know me will understand and for those who don’t know me, will, I’m a guy who finds love emotions quite…overwhelming. My head kind of collapses and reboots trying to understand emotional affection and despite being easy for me to speak my feelings out loud and honest, due to past traumatic experiences, love crashes against a solid wall of fear and I became someone for whom letting people in, is not easy at all. (Working on it I swear)

But back to the emotional story, “J” and I officially met at the window of the apartment I lived in, a couple of years ago. She was the new neighbour, the pretty girl of the the floor upstairs that out of the blue said -hi neighbor!- with a smile, and asked for the phone number of the building janitor. We had a small but efficient talk that resulted into the exchange of phone numbers and days after, a reunion with some friends, good music, solid laughing and smooth dancing moves that would create consequent magical and orgasmical moments of recreation. 

After a couple of months and hanging out basically everyday, my birthday comes to the play and as “Fire” of Jimmy Hendrix was on the speakers and beer was flowing like a sacred stream, she comes to me, with flowers and ask me if I would be her bf. -You are insane, why do you want to do that?- I said. (Not common at all to receive flowers, less common from from a beautiful girl, I was confused as fuck).

As quick background, for good or worse, I’ve experienced long type ocean distance relationships, more than twice. I know the drill; and back then I had in my mind my desires of applying to the program I am now, to go abroad, to explore the world, conquer it and to not let any kind of bound stop me to accomplish that. I know, a selfish and unstoppable prick. Additionally, by then, and before I met her, I had also everything booked and planned to go to the 1st tomorrowland in magical Brazil and let the carioca love embed me. She knew all that. The fuck mate!? And she still dared, -either madly in love or madly stupid, but very dangerous indeed.- I thought. -“J” what will happen when I go, and we start talking in Skype and we’ll miss each other and we’ll realise there’s no way we can meet unless I come or you go across the Atlantic? Why do you want to suffer?- I said. To what she basically said -well why not? I like you, you like me and that is that. If you go and it’s over, it’s over.- I would like to express that I was 100000% sure she had no fucking idea what she was putting herself into. But despite that, I was also sure that she was actually willing to go for it, she’s as straight forward as I am, plus her eyes and ridiculously amazing hair (and boobs) just made me fall for her that night. 

Months passed. Laughs, hugs, orgasms, movies, video games, food, more orgasms, whisky, love. We’ve never fought about anything. Discussions and debates yes, plenty, but no matter how harsh the subject was, always through effective and honest communication. One mistake. Conjured by both of us separately while I was in Brazil. Not as dramatic and painful as hooking up with another person, but close enough to almost throw everything to the void and keep walking with no turning back. And surprisingly it did not happen. Again, call it stupidity, pointlessness and nonsense bullshit. Maybe the fact that we both did it for the “similar” and pendejas reasons, made us realise our love. Maybe the fact that I was under massive pressure and that she stayed there no matter what, granted me another perspective of love. Maybe we wanted to be madly together and realise that in matter of weeks everything would be over and unconsciously seek the easiest exit. Maybe it was indeed love. But we managed to keep going. 

A genius and smart designer, sharp to evaluate life scenarios but not so much for food taste; rebel, crazy, noble, honest and with cool music taste. A crafty artist in charge of designing my next tattoo.  With OCD, willing to talk at 4 am about random shit and animal lover. A very good listener and not scared of speaking her mind out. Witty. Objectively attractive even while using ridiculous shoes and getting distracted every 17 seconds. My partner in crime, my best friend and one of the pillars of my life. 

I honestly never thought this sort of affection existed. Even less that I would have it. But as said, I’m more than grateful with life for having this clumsy and annoying Mexican in my heart. 

The last time we saw each other was at the wedding of my brother, for 3 days, after 8 months of absence. Special, emotional, cool and fun. I have almost no clue when or if we’ll meet again. Not soon for sure. Happiness, love and more happiness is everything I wish to her, in her birthday and everyday. Afraid should be the lad who could hurt her, and not of me, she has a tremendous right jab. I miss her very much and despite we have our differences in life perspectives, I respect and love her for who she is and for what she does. 

Entiendo bien lo complejo que es estar en tus zapatos, sĂ© que sabes lo fĂĄcil que es tirar la toalla y sentirse agobiado por todo. Pero eres imparable. Lazy y torpe, pero imparable. QuĂ© tan lejos estĂĄs dispuesta a llegar? Que nada te detenga. No tengas miedo. No hay excusas. Pero sin decir “chilo” por fa. 

Thanks for always being there “J”, for taking care of me, for loving me and for always being authentically you. Happy birthday. 

Love ya torps.

The italo-messicano bergamasca bloodline

Do you remember what it felt like when being a kid and entered to your favorite toy store? or a candy/ice cream/video games store? or going to the concert of your favorite band? or entering a selected whisky or wine store as the alcoholic I am? Most of the times, it becomes an unexpected and amazing surprise in those cases, and such feeling is what I got as soon as I landed in Bergamo.

Bergamo is a medieval city located at the northern part of Italy, 52.2 km from Milan, right in the middle of the mountains, and distributed with an old town at the upper part of a mountain, and the downtown all around the mountain. As any medieval place, there are huge fortress walls that used to protect the city from thieves and war. Specifically, from the Venetian army and the Cyprus war. A lot of gardens, vineyards, and mountains surround the city. The chilly fall mornings and afternoons, plus the red leafs, the stone roads, the huge stone arcs and the red roofs, make my arrival to the city, a magical and astonishing one.

“Oh mio dio!” said the taxi driver as he found out why I came to Bergamo in the first place. A fat, big, with a lot a beard and a fantastic laugh italian sir, that immediately started to ask me what I knew and gave me advices of where can I search/ask/go. “Ciao italo-messicano, benvenuto a Bergamo!” he says as he lefts me in the door of the hostel.

The next day, a chilly and cloudy, yet fresh and nice morning wakes me up, and I found myself walking to the “Archivio di Stato di Bergamo” to ask the whereabouts of my bergamasca ancestors.

A lovely ma’m is at the reception lobby and welcomes me with a cute smile and blushed make-up cheeks. Her name is “Maria Gracia” and as I remembered all my italian, courtesy of “L” and of “Enzo Gorlomi” I explained my story and she becomes very curious and interested in what I’m looking for. I ask her: what is your favorite thing of Bergamo? and she responds: “Everything!” She tells that she travelled a lot when she was young and wild, that she was very curious about traveling around the world, about meeting new people, but specially to have memories to share some day. I do ask her: “do you think if we all were optimistic, the world could be a better place?” to what she responds: “are you a Jehova witness or something? you’re just too optimistic to be normal, and they asked me the same question you just did. You won’t convince me to join you!” while laughing, to what I laughed very loud too, I said that “holy water” makes my skin burn instantaneously, more laughs, and in the end, she just stated that traveling indeed makes people better human beings, and that going back home in peace is the most important thing in this life.

It surprises me very much, that one of the managers explains that someone, at some point in the past, went already there to search the origin of “Maqueo”. The research is however unsuccessful and they actually said that “Maccheo” does NOT exist. (Imagine a scene of me screaming in my knees NOOO! dramatically). They explain that they have records only after 1822 and that anything before that is extremely difficult to find, or at least I would require way more info than what I had, which was not much. They also confirm that surnames like “Maceo”, “Macchio” and “Machio” might exist but are definitely NOT from Bergamo; however “Macchi” and “Maccali” pop up and gave me some hope. They advise me to go to the cathedral and ask for the “Archivio Diocesano” and search for these names. If they were born and baptized in Bergamo, they would have it there, so off I went to the “Citta’ Alta” or upper town, right in the heart of Bergamo, as I ate an insanely orgasmic tasty ice cream of strawberry and figues and something else.

After walking for about 30 min, taking the “funiculare” and being totally speechless by how beautiful this place is, I arrived to the clerical archives and ask the lady in charge. They make the search and find that indeed, they were not registered there, they say that there are “Maccali” records in Milano, but “Macchi” might be in any neighbor villages of Bergamo. Basically, impossible to know, at least just in a couple of days. So I feel dissapointed but somewhat excited, and decide to make another research on my own in the internet and also to ask my family. I needed more.

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Il duomo di Bergamo

Then, I found a mexican book that clearly says that two brothers called JuliĂĄn and Esteban Maqueo, originally Giuliani and Stefano, from Italy, arrived to Mexico in 1830 to Oaxaca, both from the Garibaldi army, still wearing the uniform and the belt with the golden spread wings eagle and stay there to work as merchants. It also says that Stefano was known as “the traveler”. It was still before 3:00 pm, which is when the state archive office closed and off I went there, to ask for any military records of that time. As I arrived, the reception lady and the managers smile and say “how did it go??”. I explain everything, and they sadly state that they only have military records after 1870. However, they tell that the “Museo Storico di Bergamo” has a lot of information regarding participants, people, places, maps, of the garibaldini army and movement, so they might be able to help. A tiny beam of light is in my head again, to what I decide I’ll give it a shot saturday morning.

I am starving and aim for a local cuisine place, to what I ate the famous “Polenta” which is a typical bread of this area and “Casoncelli” which are similar to the ravioli but these are filled with chopped bacon and have butter. A lot of butter. Plus wine of the house and another delicious gelato. I keep walking and falling in love with the city, until I find a local bar at the eastern part of the town, in which I decide to sit down, drink a beer, and start writing in my journal. After an hour, the place becomes packed and I start wondering what is this place. And then, surrounded entirely by italians, I find myself talking with the guys beside me, absolutely nice and cool, they get surprised that I only came to Bergamo to discover my roots, they get happy by the fact that I’m a Bergamasco, they say that I speak very good italian and invite me a beer. Two beers. Three beers. Wine. More wine. Pizza. A lot of pizza. I met A BUNCH of people. All of them welcoming me as if I was another italian of the group.

One of them, called Edoardo Bovati, the typical handsome italian guy you would see in a magazine, both by looks and by personality. An absolutely nice and funny mate that speaks spanish too and I decide to ask him about his life, his experiences, his dreams, his expectations. Born in Milan but grew up in Bergamo, he says that he started traveling when he was 3 years old to the caribbean islands and he remembers so vague details. His first plane he took alone was by the age of 10, to visit relatives in England, and he stated that when being an adult, he first traveled because he felt just bored. Today he assures that he travels because you can learn something new every single day. After wandering around Asia and South America and North America, he says that xmas means Paris, New York or Bergamo, but no favorite city arises. Making the world a better place, means to make environmental consciousness and educate the people better in that way.

As the wine and beer ran off and the weather went down, I walked back to the hostel and pray that the hang over at the next day would allow me to wake up early-ish and to have a bearable headache.

And of course, the prays were useless, and I was struggling my way up by one of the stone stairs at the eastern side of the city and went directly to the Museo Storico. Sad was my reaction to know that indeed the museum was open, but the offices were closed (that’s why they gave me an appointment for monday) but the guy in charge said the Dr. was aware of my case. Again with my best “Antonio Margareteee” version I explained my story and the guy got quite excited and curious about it. It was very interesting to know that there was a group of the Garibaldi army that was sent to Mexico back to 1829-1830, to deal with some loose issues of the mexican independence, the exact date my ancestors claimed to arrive to aztec lands. My eyes got wide open, the headache disappeared and my heart started beating faster. He says that the research needs indeed to be done, and gives me the e-mail address of the doctor in charge and the website. E-mail that I will send tonight. “In bocca al lupo!” he says. “Crepi il lupo!” I respond (thanks again “L”) and he assents and smiles back.

And I spent the rest of the day wandering around the walls, the streets, the secret passages, the gardens, the stone roads. To be quite sincere with you, I have always had a difficult time to define a place as “home”. For me, home is where my parents and my memories are, it is where I have my family, as I would assume most of us do. But it is also a place where I can be totally in peace, and that is the difficult part to achieve, at least in a constant way. These almost 3 days, I honestly experienced quite a lot of deep emotions in this place. Happiness, excitement, anxiousness, frustration, re-happiness, the fact of being totally stunned by the culture, the people, the lovely italian ragazzi, the strawberry and ricotta gelato, the music, the language, even an unusual yet awesome instant crush/love moment that I will write in another time. As “Maria Gracia” said: Everything!.

So right now, being at the “Piazza Vecchia” or old square, right in the heart of Bergamo, I listen to the bells ringing and also to classical music played with loud speakers all over the place. I do dream and think if both my great great great great grandfather walked and wandered around these walls and I just smile. Despite being by myself, I am embedded by a magical italian atmosphere. I do not feel like a stranger. After a long long long time, I feel peace inside me. I feel very happy.

I feel in home.

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The DNA Journey: Day Zero

So it happened. It bloody happened my dear lectores. The majority of people of this planet spend their entire lives either waiting or trying to achieve their biggest dream (or dreams), struggling and fighting through life until at some point, life itself somehow responds and allows us human beings to final say “I did it”. I certainly did not have any words to express all the mixed emotions that hit my head as soon as I knew that the biggest dream of my life came true, the manual does not says anything of how to react nor what to do, so I did what I thought was the smartest and wisest idea: dance around and shout “A HUEVOOO” (fuck yeah!).

There are of course not enough words nor ways to thank life for granting me this unique and incredible experience. But let’s start from the beginning. So my ex-significant other “J” (which today is one of my very best friends) happened to know about a contest sponsored by the travel website “Momondo” in which you had the chance of first knowing where does your DNA comes from with a history of 2000 years back, which to be honest I found bloody amazing. So you had to write in 200 characters what is traveling for you and how do you think it can connect people around the world through traveling; so I remember typing stuff like, for me traveling is like eating tacos (yummy), it is spicy, it is exotic, it is just perfect, but there is nothing compared to share it with someone else, then it’s magical.

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Somehow, I managed to go through to the 2nd round with my taco analogy and win a DNA test to actually know where does my crazy mexican hot sangre comes from and this part of the contest consisted on making a video that included the reaction of the DNA results. To be fair, I honestly thought  that my 18 min. video was a normal and honest video, which was made by a no beard “baby face” mexican as a complete average video, but I thought I certainly had nothing to lose and I really had a good time while doing it, but anyway, these were my DNA results:

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I might have expressed this before but I am really a travel addict. I remember listening to my parents stories that when they were young they would just say something like: “Should we go? well fuck it, let’s just go!” at 11:30 pm and arrive like at 5:00 am just to go to the beach. I also remember being taken to exotic places all around the southern part of Mexico for family holidays, walk under waterfalls, in caves, rivers, exotic beaches, delicious seafood and fantastic landscapes. It just stayed coated all over my soul and for me, every single time I had to travel, it meant literally, adventure time.

So yes, I did my emotional and full of mexican love video, expressing some family background and the results of the test. I must confess that when I did this I was in the middle of fucking crazy studying for some annoying final exams and also dealing with non-sense results while doing some simulations in my summer internship, so having a previous beer and the excitement of knowing where the fuck do I came from, was actually the most exciting part of my summer. But anyway, I honestly did it for the sake of fun and of course because I have always been absolutely curious about my family origins. I swear I was authentically surprised by the amazing world soup that I am.

And thus, there was I in my room, with a totally numb face and fingers, dancing around and being recorded while the Momondo staff was telling me that my biggest dream just became real, that I was going to be able to literally travel around the world, to go to those far far faaar away and exotic places I never dreamed of going to, and not only to really find out and be able to check civil registers and search for old surnames, but also to discover how people live in those places today, to taste the food, to listen to the music there, to dance around the world.

But really, how the fuck do you actually react to that?

It did take more than a couple of days to process all the information in my head and realize that everything IS true.

So I shall immerse myself into this incredible endeavor of basically 21 new countries and cities around the globe. I actually thought I might would like to share this experience with someone else, but after some dramatically emotional declarations, life gave me a signal and I decided to follow it without hesitating, and to be fair, traveling by yourself means you really force yourself to go OUT and meet the world, the people of the world.

And to be honest with all of you, I am very VEEERY thrilled and excited to start and also to share this DNA global journey with you!!. My first destination is a northern italian town called “Bergamo”, supposedly to be the cradle (or at least the last known) of my father’s side surname. Let’s find out what the old “Maccheos” (or Macchio? or Macchia??!!) have to say about it.

Andiammo!!!

#LetsOpenOurWorld, #DNAJourney