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Travelling Mexico

Following the week of Debconf6, I was one of eight leaving Oaxtepec for Mexico City, looking at several days to spend at will in the country. Some of us went by bus, others with a van to the airport to help one of our colleagues, but despite the two different routes, we arrived at the [Hostel Moneda](.. _lost mine in Thailand:) almost at the same time, checked in, had dinner, then ventured to the big square close to our hostel for an open-air concert by `Tijuana Nortec Collective`_, probably organised as part of one of the many protests going on in the city. As we could not find any drinks at the venue, we eventually wandered off to end the night over a last beer on the beautiful roof-top terrace of our hostel.

With big plans involving a rental car and driving it to Oaxaca on Monday, our group of four rose (almost) early, found and said goodbye to Michael Banck, who had come to the city with us the night before (he continued to refuse to join us, muttering something about having to catch a flight or a similar petty concern) and were about to head out the door if it hadn't been for Micah Anderson trying to catch our attention by whispering three times in short succession that "Jeroen is still asleep". This registered as "we have to go to his room to say goodbye" with Biella, Vagrant, and myself, so it came rather unexpected to hear Michael claim that Jeroen had in fact planned to come with us (and told Micah but none other in the group). Flexible as we are (and quick as he is), this didn't pose much of a problem, and before too long, five geeks left the hostel with backpacks for the metro for the car rental company at the airport. Next time, though, Jeroen... do tell a little in advance, and maybe to someone else but Micah. :)

When we were finally quenched in the car -- I still didn't get a new driver's licence after having `lost mine in Thailand`_, so I had to submit myself to the driving custody of Biella and Micah -- we [brushed by the local authorities](.. _our hostel:) and reached Oaxaca, a "romantic town" about 500km south of Mexico City, long after dark. With some difficulties, mainly due to the yearly teachers' protest for higher salaries, who were all camping out in the streets, we found `our hostel`_ and ended up in bed soon thereafter.

When on Tuesday the five geeks that we were finally managed to commence roaming the city, we had "fixed" the hostel's computer by popping in an Ubuntu Live CD, thus made friends with the other guests, eaten breakfast, written plenty of blog entries, and waited for the hotter hours to pass. The afternoon was thus spent ticking off the main tourist sites (such as Santo Domingo) and browsing around the old market. I am not that much of a market lover, but this Mexican market, although similar in spirit to the various Asian ones I'd seen in the last few years, was refreshingly different, mainly in stock and ambience.

Wednesday brought the first complications within our group, but in retrospect it's difficult to say what exactly went on. The plan was to touch down at a large, traditional market that kept switching locations with days of the week, but due to some moodswings I ended up being the only one listening to the directions (in Spanish) and directing our crowd to the north of the city, where noone knew of a market on Wednesdays, only other days of the week. While I was still trying to cut the losses and find an alternative, my group had decided to return to the hostel, which, given my mood at the time, seemed like a welcome way to get away for a couple of hours to sort out my thoughts.

Even though the five of us got along pretty well, I just do not like travelling in groups. On the one hand, everything just takes way longer, thus leaving less time in the day to do stuff. On the other hand, the dynamics are fragile, especially if the members do not really know each other, which was our case. We had too much fun to warrant bad feelings along the lines of "I wish I had gone alone", but I feel yet again reassured that I am made for travels in groups of two, at most.

In any case, Biella, Micah, and I later XXX Most of the afternoon I spent doing what I always do in foreign cities if I can: trying to get myself lost, which is near impossible in Oaxaca. Accepting the grid structure of the roads, I found a cute café and enjoyed a cappuccino, then headed for the hill in the northwest of the city, where I strolled between the observatory, planetarium, and amphitheathre (all of which were closed), finally ended under a tree to read Haruki Murakami's "Norwegian Wood" a second time around, and eventually linked up again with the rest at the hostel towards the evening.

I did not like "Norwegian Wood" the first time around, but in Myanmar, talking to the Portuguese traveller I met there, I could not explain what it was that I disliked. Thus, I promised to reread it and to try again to describe my problems with the text. Great reason to read a book, eh? Let's see how long I last (in the mean time I have finished and `reviewed it`_).