Mexico: Gifts and Risks of Hitchhiking

Travel isn’t just about where you go, it’s about how you get there.

Travel involves many types of movement and the movement-choices we make determine, in large part, how moving our travels become.

Hitch-hiking, according to hitchwiki.org, is “a form of transport, in which the traveller tries to get a lift (a ride) from another traveller, usually a car or truck driver, for free.”

On the side of the road with a backpack strapped on, thumbs up and a smile is a thrilling way to move about the world. Continue reading

A Ride To Matehuala

*This is part 9 of a 13-part series. Read part 8 here.*

“So two of our guys broke down right in Gypsy territory. They got a bad reputation for stealin’ things, so our guys are like pressed against their bikes, waiting for us to come bail them out. But this crowd starts moving towards them, real slowly. They have no idea what’s goin’ on. Suddenly though, it breaks in two and this tiny old woman walks down the center. Everyone is silent…” Continue reading

Guanajuato Mummies

*This is part 8 of a 13-part series. Read part 7 here.*

Some of the best pictures are never taken.

An elderly woman in a blue nightgown hobbles onto a antique balcony that crumbles with age. From her hands pours forth bread crumbs that fall off the ledge like an arced waterfall as fifty pigeons, their white wings fusing with the ochre background, dive to the cobblestone floor to feast. She watches contently, turns around, and heads back inside.

Not too far away, I am sitting on a small stool sipping rooibos tea. It’s 9 in the morning and I’ve fallen in love with Guanajuato. Continue reading

Into San Miguel de Allende

*This is part 7 of a 13-part series. Read part 6 here. *

Clutched between the corner and back hatch of the crammed pickup, he clasps his knees, sinks his head low, and sings. At first a faint sound but ever-so-quickly it grows; so the smile across his brothers face.

It’s the Imperial March from Star Wars.

“Well, pop culture travels far” I think to myself before steadying my posture as the car curves around the mountainous road that leads through the Sierra Gordas outside Jalpan de Serra. The soundtrack continues as we dash through Pinol de Amoles, a small mountain village in Queretaro state. Continue reading

Las Pozas, Surreal Mexico

*This is part 6 of a 13-part series. Read part 5 here.*

Scent is one of the most underrated sense impressions; it is also one of the most important for memory.

I can still recall that immense chasm of smell that existed between my dusty travel partner and I, on the one hand, and the recently showered and perfumed family on the other. They were kind enough to pick us up — after seeing us drenched in sweat on the side of the road — and I am grateful for that, but great-googly-moogly we smelled a hell of a lot oo-glier. Continue reading

Into Veracruz

*This is part 5 of a 13-part series. Read part 4 here.*

For some unknown reason – which tend to be the most annoying of reasons — we’re barely cruising through Veracruz. The days are full of waits and empty of rides. Beneath a rare patch of shade, we shed our backpacks and guzzle down some water.

It seems our luck is about to change.

A gray SUV pulls over a few hundred meters down the hot tar of Highway 140 and I quickly race towards it…until my sandal rips. Now with a heavy backpack and a broken sandal, I hurriedly hobble down the scorched pavement until reaching the passenger-side window. Continue reading

Into Oaxaca

*This is part 3 of a 13-part series. Read part 2 here.*

The wind curls its invisible fingers through our unkempt hair as the vanishing horizon with its giant hand pulls away all those dead yesterdays. We are sitting in the empty bed of a black Ford barreling down highway 190 toward Oaxaca.

The Estado Libre y Soberano de Oaxaca (Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca) is an ecological and ethnological puzzle: a 300-mile long coastline stretches down the Pacific, three mountain ranges converge at the Complejo Oaxaqueno, and of its 3.5 million people over 1 million speak an indigenous tongue. Continue reading