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3,236: Embedding the week

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Brand new notebooks (excellent Mexican notebook by @laikanotebooks ) are the best feeling. Free of the weight of the last one, full of the joy of this one hopefully being better.

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Brain vomit

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Paste

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The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Jenny Ondioline by Stereolab

On this day
Shakira, 19 February 2007

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Krautrock

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February 19th, 2017 at 3:37 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,235: Morning views

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Guten morgen

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Buenos días

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Previous morning views: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
French Disko by Stereolab (day nine)

On this day
The White Single Album, 18 February 2013. This was a good fun one to do: making an edited single album from the Beatles’ self-titled double album.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Electronic music

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February 18th, 2017 at 12:54 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,216: Embedding the week

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Sunshine, beard hair, and pencils

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lol

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At a time when the US president is planning on building a wall, a poster for a movie about a wall 250 metres away from where the Berlin Wall once stood

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The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Come Down to Us by Burial

On this day
From Mexico City to Punta Gorda, 29 January 2008.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
List of oldest continuously inhabited cities

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January 29th, 2017 at 3:16 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,215: Morning views

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Guten morgen

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Bom dia

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Hello sunshine

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Previous morning views: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld

On this day
Unfinished Sympathy, 28 January 2010. I remade the video for that song using screenshots from Google Street View. It’s a Flash thing, so I don’t think it’ll work on mobile devices. Soz.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Dominican Republic

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January 28th, 2017 at 2:55 am

Posted in Photos

3,209: Embedding the week

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You cute bastard

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The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Tribulations by LCD Soundsystem

On this day
Summer of ’69, 22 January 2013. It was a one sentence post, so to save you a click, it read “If Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69 were recorded today, the equivalent time period would make it Summer of ’98.” Which would mean that this year, it would be called Summer of ’02.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Aunt Sally

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January 22nd, 2017 at 1:53 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,208: Morning views

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Good morning from the wonderful European Union

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Buenos días

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Morning

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Guten morgen

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A wee bit of artwork

Other business

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Life’s What You Make It by Talk Talk

On this day
Ohne titel 22-31, 21 January 2008

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Straw man

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January 21st, 2017 at 1:08 am

3,203: Blurry photos

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Ordinarily, I’d just delete these photos. But the other day, I looked at the ones I’d taken in Berlin all together. These are the crappy photos that get taken accidentally. Pressing the button before I’m ready, or when I’m putting my phone back in my pocket but haven’t closed the camera down quick enough. There is a beauty in them, I think, when they are gathered together.

A wee bit of artwork

Jizz Plate. Acrylic on polymer clay. If anyone has any connections in the bone china fine ceramics world: I'm more than willing to work out some sort of licencing deal for my hot and steamy plate vibes.

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The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Upper East Siders by Actrese again. Fourth time this month.

On this day
Well well well, in all the years of doing this blog (since April 2005), I have never blogged on a 16th of Jan.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
L’Hôpital’s rule

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Written by Craig

January 16th, 2017 at 1:30 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,198: A nice walk

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For a few days, I’ve been feeling like I’ve not left Prenzlauer Berg much, especially in daylight. I’ve been to other parts of the city (mainly Kreuzberg, though) in the evenings, but I’ve not done anything that would amount to sightseeing. (I don’t need to do sightseeing in a city I lived in for eight years, but you know what I mean: it’s just nice to remind yourself of the details, innit?) After a walk around the park and a trip to the art store to buy a sketchbook, I kinda realised it would be a nice day for a longer walk. It was cold, yes, but it was also a clear blue sky. Get some daylight and sunshine in me. In the end, that longer walk was four hours and eleven kilometres long. Three stops along the way, which is why it took longer than it really should’ve: book shop, pub for a quick pint, and supermarket on the way home. Listened to David Bowie the whole time, which was nice.

One of the remaining guard towers from the Wall

Double fuckyousun

Stood here looking at the colours of this reflection for a couple of minutes. It was lovely

This part of the city between Hauptbahnhof and the Reichstag is one of my favourite bits of the city, especially when it’s snowy. It’s just blank and empty and I like that

A wee bit of artwork
I stood next to the window the other day and drew the view.

Other business
Well worth a listen is Limmy’s techno remix of the Fry’s Turkish Delight advert that was on telly in the UK in the Eighties. I guess “well worth a listen” only really applies, though, if you were around in the UK in the 1980s and also like Limmy.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Station to Station by David Bowie.

On this day
An old thing, 11 January 2011. Simple thing, combining the idea of that phrase “there’s no I in team” and that thing I learned when I was a kid, how to spell Mississippi, like M-I-double S-I-double S-I-double P-I

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Street punk

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Written by Craig

January 11th, 2017 at 3:43 am

3,197: Snow

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There was the briefest of flurries of snow when I was in Berlin in November 2015. It didn’t stick around for more than a few hours. But there’s been snow on the ground for the last four days. And that has made me happy. I like Mexico City a lot, but the relatively narrow band of weather types does my head in a bit. It’s not too cold in the winter, it’s a bit warmer in the summer, it rains in the summer. That’s about it. For someone who grew up in those islands off the coast of Belgium, I’m used to a bit more variation. And for someone who spent eight years living in Berlin, I’m also used to a bit of snow. It was good to get reacquainted with it in Mauerpark.

The first signs. I stood out on the balcony in my underpants to take this photo. It was cold, unsurprisingly. But it was a nice cold, knowing I could get back into bed the moment I’d done the picture

The camera on my phone is terrible when it comes to dull light. Everything’s really blue-y

More on the way!

Melting a bit

But yay! it’s back!

Sunday, the park was full of kids sledging

My hand was very cold after doing this

Crows

And the lovely part of the park where the birches are was even lovelier

A wee bit of artwork

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That was yesterday. And they still haven’t picked it up. I had a bath around 9pm, listening to the new Brian Eno record, but every time I heard the big heavy door to the building close, I was ready for the doorbell to ring. Totally ruined my bath. And Syrians think they have problems…

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Upper East Siders by Actrese again. Third time this month already.

On this day
One last London-based blah blah, 10 January 2008. I don’t really remember much about this day. The photos create a false memory, like oh, I must’ve done that. Pretty sure I had lunch with an old friend from Lincoln, though. Sadly, I just don’t remember that feeling of being on the verge of a big trip. I guess I couldn’t’ve known at the time that, like the cliche goes, the next day was going to be the first day of the rest of my life. (Of course, it’s possible that there will be another of those at some point, but it was the first day of the rest of my life up until now and for the foreseeable future.)

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Stone washing

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Written by Craig

January 10th, 2017 at 3:17 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,186: Morning views

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Fröhliche Weihnachten!

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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The song in my head when I woke up this morning
I Can Change by LCD Soundsystem.

On this day
Blue bear, More, and More again, 31 December 2008. At this point, I’d just got the Brushes app for my iPod touch. I’d been messing around with a few free/cheap apps, but when I got Brushes, that was it. That really was the beginning of something challenging pixels as the main thing that I used. I can still feel that excitement when I see these first few drawings I did with Brushes.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Trebuchet

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Written by Craig

December 31st, 2016 at 1:29 am

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

3,175: The joy of normal

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I wrote this on Monday evening. I was resizing the photos when I heard about the Breitscheidplatz thing. This post felt inappropriate to put up the morning after that. It’s simply about normal life, and specifically about normal life in Berlin.

Weird thing about being here: it feels so normal, so wonderfully normal. Staying in on a Friday and Saturday, just dicking around (drawing, YouTube, cooking, blah) rather than having fun in nice bars with friends. I like that I feel able to have a relaxed weekend. Not to have to cram every moment with fun. And I got a little bit emotional on an S-Bahn train on my way to get a couple of things from Ikea. Just the absolute normality of it gave me a lump in the throat. Normal, like the joy of feeling neutral again after you’ve had flu.

There were times in Berlin when I was dreadfully unhappy. Possibly even some sort of depression. (Depression is one of those words that I find difficult, cos I don’t want to be like those people who are a bit neat and tidy and describe themselves as OCD.) But I’ve been thinking a lot about Berlin and my feelings about this place since my visit last winter. It is home. Lincoln is where I grew up but from a fairly early age I knew I wanted to get out of there. London never felt like home. Mexico City doesn’t feel like home, it feels like the place I am currently living. And maybe the real joy of Berlin for me isn’t that it’s a wonderful arty fun place, maybe it’s that it is normal. Neutral. A white plate. How that white plate looks in the Instagram photo of one’s life is entirely down to what you have cooked. I find that London’s plate is already expensive and impacts what kind of meal you can eat off it. Mexico City’s plate is already somewhat oppressively busy-looking and you end up wanting some damn calmness.

Getting off the S-Bahn, I walked a route I’ve only done a couple of times (it’s a part of town I’ve only been to with the intention of going to Ikea. The route isn’t engrained enough to be familiar, but I recognised bits. Boring normalness. A billboard site that I remembered taking a photo of and blogging about in 2009. And when it came to crossing the road, a memory of being a pedestrian, annoyed by the roads. People walking back to the station with Ikea bags, blank faces. Me going there, mentally tensed ready for potential Ikea hell, chewing some chewing gum to the rhythm of the start of 24 Hour Party People by Happy Mondays.

(Another thing I did was kinda singing in my brain, Being Boiled by the Human League which morphed into Fade to Grey by Visage. I’ve recorded a bit of the former on my phone with me singing the latter at the appropriate place: mybrilliantsingingvoice.m4a My brain also does it with Getting Away with It by Electronic, and my head sings the words “all my life” in the chorus in the voice of Richard Butler, cos it sounds like a melody from a Psychedelic Furs song.)

The things you take photos of when you visit a city aren’t the normal things, they’re the things that seem special or different to the place where you live. So your New York, Barcelona, or São Paulo photo folder is full of the greatest hits, no album tracks or B-sides. In a way, it’s sad that we do this, but at the same time, really it’s just like enjoying the tea-ness of a cup of tea rather than focusing on the fact that it’s just water which has had some dried plant bits wafted around in it for a few minutes.

And it’s not about taking note of the beauty in normal life, it’s just acknowledging it. The photos on this blog post are not of under-appreciated Berlin things. They are just Berlin things.

Ikea was fine, I skipped straight to the section I needed, got my bits, paid and went to get my backpack from the locker I’d put it in when I arrived (not that I needed to, just habit from being in Mexico City where everyone treats you like a fucking thief if you’ve got a backpack). I’d decided not to buy an extra bag, but I’d woefully underestimated the size of my stuff, and soon realised only about half of my stuff would fit in there. Carried the rest. Four picture frames. Not too heavy, just a bit awkward, the way four things the same size do (books, etc.)

Back back back to the S-Bahn station, passing people doing the journey I had done. A day-long loop of people going to and leaving Ikea. Some guy on the platform shoo-ed away a pigeon in a violent penalty-kick-taking motion. I started at him, he stared back like what the fuck are you looking at? I was looking at yet another person in this world who doesn’t appreciate the beauty and magnificence of pigeons. On the escalator, my brain flashed to how I would combat homesickness when I first moved to Berlin, and again in Mexico City when I pined for my Berlin life: going to a big department store. They look the same everywhere. Ignore the signs that indicate which language local people speak, and you could be anywhere. It’s not about going somewhere British or Geman, it’s about that same thing again: being somewhere neutral. Neutral normality is where the heart is.

And as I typed the notes for this post on the S-Bahn train back up to my neighbourhood, the guy sat opposite me was having a phone conversation. Just a totally normal human. I can’t even picture his face now (tidying up the notes a few hours later). He ended his call with “I love you” and two kissy sounds.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Wasn’t My Fault by Christie and the Dream Beats. For me, this sounds like the sort of song that might’ve cruised to a Eurovision victory in the mid-90s. Popjustice, though, described it better in their Top 45 Singles of 2016 as “the greatest Kelly Clarkson song that never was.”

On this day
Notes from a train journey, 21 December 2011, after going from London up to Lincoln for Xmas.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Southern Cone.

I did a drawing of this for the Atlas, Schmatlas book. It’s got 2.5 stars on customer reviews on Amazon, which I guess means it’s average. There are really cheap copies there, though, so y’know…

Here’s one of the customer reviews that I’d not read before:

NOT A KIDS’ BOOK. I bought this for my 12 year old son who loves geography and loved Robinson’s baseball book. Very, very disappointed. It is full of obscene pictures and words. Luckily we scanned through it before we wrapped it. He is down one present under the tree this year.

Glad they liked the baseball book, sad they are very, very disappointed. This seems like it was a common assumption, that the cover indicated it was a kid’s book. I mean, I dunno about you, but I’d never buy a book for a child without have a look at it first, but there you go.

I had a look at the reviews on the .co.uk of Amazon, too, and found this:

This is a real wasted opportunity of a book. It’s a great, simple idea- a world atlas packed with comedy and lies- but ultimately it’s not as funny as it could or should have been.

There are some funny moments in here, but as the author takes on every country in the world, a lot of the writing feels like a first draft, the kind of thing many writers would go back to and re-write funnier later on. At times I felt like I could’ve written this book in a couple of days, given a normal atlas, Wikipedia, sufficient alcohol and a bucket of good old British prejudice. Large parts of it will date badly to 2007 too.

The illustrations are the strongest part of the book, but the text feels like it belongs more to a blog or a quirky website than justifying all the effort of a hardback book.

Missable.

That’s fair. I can understand why someone would think it belongs on a blog, cos that’s pretty much how it started. FYI: there were five drafts done. And it took about six months to do. And no, you couldn’t have written it in a couple of days. And this where I stop cos I’m tempted to go through every bad review now, and I’ll be here for ages. Sigh.

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December 21st, 2016 at 3:08 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music,Photos

Big cactus

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A drawing done with the Brushes app on top of a crappy resolution photo taken with an iPod touch somewhere over the state of Campeche in Mexico.

More finger painting here.

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January 25th, 2013 at 9:33 am

Photos of Belize

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I spent the last fortnight in Belize. It was my fourth trip to the country. Didn’t take so many photos this time, but I did a lot of drawings. I’ll do a couple more blog posts about my trip, including those drawings, but for now, here’s some photographs.

Crossing the border between Mexico (right) and Belize (left) on foot:

The jungle trail after a night of heavy-ish rain at the wonderful Hickatee Cottages in Punta Gorda:

A crocodile:

A downpour at Hickatee. It was wonderful:

Belize seems to be full of signs trying to get people not to litter. Most of the signs rhyme:

A chicken looking at mangrove:

Grackles:

Another grackle:

A kiskadee:

The road to Hopkins. There aren’t many buses from the main Southern Highway, so I’d been advised to hitch a ride down the four-mile road. Ten vehicles passed me by before, 45 minutes into my hot and very sweaty hike down the road, a very pleasant young man called Johnny gave me a ride:

The view from Tipple Tree Beya, the guest house where I stayed in Hopkins:

That’ll do:

A backpacker hostel in Hopkins. Only 50 cents a night:

Clouds being cloudy:

Rush hour, downtown Hopkins.

Virtually all of the buses that transport people around Belize are old Blue Bird school buses. This is the one I took from Belize City back over the border to Chetumal, Quintana Roo.

Written by Craig

July 15th, 2012 at 8:28 am

Posted in Photos,Travel

Oaxaca

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I’ve not travelled around the country as much as I’d hoped in the time that I’ve been in Mexico. Still not been to the coast, not been in up north at all, but I spent a few days this week visiting Oaxaca. It’s a pretty place. And hot. Kinda too hot to do much, frankly. I was there from Tuesday afternoon until Saturday lunchtime, and it was tough to have the energy in the baking-hot weather to do more than one thing a day. Normally when visiting places, I’m pretty get-up-and-go about stuff. Not in Oaxaca. It seemed to get hot around 10.30-11am, and it’d stay that way until sun down. Sight-seeing was exhausting and sweaty.

I’ve been having itchy feet recently, and when I was at the big bus station here in D.F. a few weeks ago, I really got the urge to go on a long bus journey. When I was doing my travelling around in 2008, bus journeys were something I really enjoyed. I love the feeling of having a less-abstract concept of the distance you have travelled. I could’ve paid a little bit extra and taken a one-hour flight, but that’s no fun. Six hours of Mexican landscape was what I wanted. Sadly, though, the window seat I booked was covered with a patterned part of the bus company logo.

Right, seriously, bus companies: listen up! Nobody gives a shit about your logo if it’s covering the window. The word window pretty much means something that you can look out of. If you cover that up, you are completely and utterly disrespecting your customers. So for six hours, I had to look out of a thin sliver at the front of my seat area which wasn’t covered in a dotted red pattern. For about an hour of the journey, the bus winds through some mountains. I’m not overly good with heights, and seeing just a thin sliver of very-low metal barrier in front of a huge drop did nothing for my enjoyment of the journey. I put my head down and watched an episode of Game of Thrones on my iPad and waited for flat land to re-appear.

I was visiting my friend Sam. He lives in the north of the city, up a hill with small houses painted in bleached bright colours, and narrow cobbled streets. Getting to and from the downtown area involved waiting on a corner, any corner, and hopping on a bus. As in Mexico City, the buses in Oaxaca would likely fail most road-worthiness tests in other countries. They are loud, too. Not just the vehicles, that on the cobbled uphill streets occasionally sounded like parts would fall off; but the music, too. The buses seemed to be privately owned, not part of a company that runs things. So each bus driver does what the heck he wants when following his chosen routes. That often means playing music or having loud conversations over the radio. And one time, I saw a driver using his cell phone. Nice. Plus the buses often have a salesman. Some guy who’ll sit in the front passenger side seat and shout the destination of the bus to people on the street, drumming up trade. And because these are private buses, they want as many passengers as possible. This is often frustrating if you are already on the bus. In busier parts of the city, the bus will kerb-crawl while the guy shouts out of the window, hoping for one more passenger.

What I saw of the downtown area is fairly compact. It’s pretty, too. Sam recommended a coffee shop, Café Brujula, and I began every day there. Delicious organic cappuccino, which I took to go, and would sit in the shadow of a big church, back and arse against the nice cool stone, hiding from the sun. Sight-seeing was slightly retarded by the presence of a big protest by teachers in the city centre. The whole of the Zócalo and its surrounding streets were full of people, tents, signs, and tarps strung over the roads to shade the protesters. They wanted stuff. Not sure what. They’ve been there for a week or so already, apparently. It all seemed quite sedate there, just people sat around not doing much. Mostly not teaching children. It did make it very tough, though to see what one would normally see as a visitor. It was slightly frustrating, but, y’know, the teachers and their students’ educations are more important than me missing out on seeing a nice store or museum or something.

The timing of my visit was to coincide with the Diablos Rojos, my local (and favoured) baseball team, playing a series of three games down there. I won’t go into detail, just that you can see some photos of the lovely ballpark over at Flip Flop Fly Ball.

Anyway, onto the important stuff: the stuff that went into my mouth. Food and mezcal. Oaxaca’s food was delicious. It didn’t really help the lethargy I was experiencing because of the heat, either. Big lunches every day. Mole amarillo, mole negro, mole colorado. All fantastic. calendas (spinach-y leaves stuffed with queso Oaxaca), swordfish sopes, and tacos de chapulines. That’s grasshoppers. A small plate of hundreds and hundreds of fried grasshoppers. Grab a tortilla, and a couple of spoons-worth of grasshoppers, some guacamole, some salsa. Roll that shit up and mmmm, mmmm, mmmm! Delicious.

Likewise, the Mezcal. I’m a fan anyway, but on Friday night, we went to a wonderful place called Mezcaloteca. An appointment was necessary, and duly made. When we arrived we had to ring the doorbell to be let in. Inside it was beautiful. A dark wood L-shaped counter with green bankers lights dotted along the bar, and old drug store-style shelving filled with bottles of clear or brown liquid with white labels. We were there for a mezcal tasting. For 100 pesos (£4.54/€5.62/US$6.98) we each got three shots of different mezcales. The guy stood with us the whole time, explaining which variation of the maguey plant were used for which mezcales. Our first two shots, we both had one a piece, but for our third shot, he poured two different mezcales out that we were both to try. One of them was 20 years old. The other was, I think, 15 years old. One of them, there were only 75 litres produced, the other, only 50 litres. They were both amazing. And there’s a moment when you are taking a sip of something that there is so little of in the world, a moment when I felt very honoured to be drinking it. After our three shot tasting, we wanted another drink, so he allowed us to split another three shots for extra tasting. Should you ever be in Oaxaca, I thoroughly recommend going there. It was the best thing I did while I was there.

For the homeward journey, I had a better view. I sat on the other side of the bus so I could see the mountains that I missed on the outward journey. And, it didn’t look that scary once I could see it all. It’s a beautiful place, Mexico.

(Some of the photos used above were taken with the iPod. The iPod camera is kinda shitty, thus the ropey quality. Annoyingly, though, I’m often too lazy to get my camera out of my bag when my iPod is right there in my trouser pocket.)

Written by Craig

June 3rd, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Photos,Travel

The view

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I moved into a new flat at the weekend. I’m loving the view from the balcony. I can see the mountains on the edge of the city; and every night, there’s a sunset behind the World Trade Center.

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April 4th, 2012 at 9:10 am

Posted in Photos

Lovering, Santiago, Deal, and Francis

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February 19th, 2012 at 8:28 am

Posted in Music,Photos

Red Lion

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My grandfather, looking sharp.

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January 17th, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Photos

A cat watching the Manchester derby

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Over the weekend, my flatmate’s cat has been interested in the sports I’ve been watching on the telly. (I use the word “cat” instead of a name, cos I don’t remember the names of either of her cats. In my head I call them Althea and Donna.) Here’s some photos of Donna watching the Manchester derby.

The referee is under her paw in this photo:

She’s a good cat, she’s helping out the City defence.

She’s confused here, because the ball had gone off the edge of the screen, so she went ’round the back of the telly to try and find it.

No-one wants to be that close to Alex Ferguson’s blotchy face. Poor kitty…

Bigger versions of the photos on my Flickr page.

Written by Craig

October 23rd, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos

And Nik and Reebo

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Written by Craig

October 13th, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Photos

Champions

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After the awesome Under-17s World Cup semi final between Mexico and Germany, in which Julio Gomez became something of a national hero, when he scored the first goal, suffered a head injury after clashing heads with a defender trying to head in the second goal (it went past both players and into the net anyway), being stretchered-off, to be bandaged up, covered in blood, and with the game at 2-2, scored a spectacular winning goal to give Mexico a much deserved place in the final; after that, whatever followed could never be as exciting. And the final against Uruguay wasn’t as good, but it was still a very enjoyable game to watch. Mexico won 2-0. As soon as the game was over, my friends Sam, Lina and I went to the Ángel de la Independencia in the centre of the city to join the celebrations. It was spitting with rain when we left the flat, and the sky turned dark, thunder, lightning, and it pissed it down. But that wasn’t stopping anyone from celebrating. We live quite close, so we got there quicker than most, and there were already a couple of thousand people there. It was fantastic fun. Once all of our clothing was wet, there was little to worry about. It was quite the fun experience. I wonder if English people would’ve rushed to Trafalgar Square in the pouring rain if we’d’ve won the Under 17s World Cup..? Sadly, I doubt it. More photos on Flickr.

Written by Craig

July 10th, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Photos,Sports