A Travellerspoint blog

Persia (prelude)

A German in a new reality

sunny 28 °C

In 2016 I went to Iran. What a trip.

Though it was not my most challenging travel, it forced me to more adjustment than other places.

I will start detailing my trip further below, but first I will leave some general words.

Most notably, I was fully illiterate for the first time. I could not read letters nor numbers, including dates of course, because even when Arabic numerals ("our numbers") were used, it applied to a different calendar system. As I usually plan and travel on my own, that caused me some headaches.
Wearing a hijab, no quick access to money and societal/political regulations too, gave this trip its unique flavor. The most impressive thing in Iran were its people, especially the women - I am in awe of them. In no way do I mean to diminish women in other (Western) places, however, in this case I would say "diamonds are created under pressure."

Excursion into German ignorance
Growing up in Germany, i believe, everyone has a certain degree of ignorance/racism in them. Of course, for everyone, their world is what they know, this and TV and books and stories, and all that which is around us, is how we create a picture of the rest of the world. Though I would say I have liberal parents who did their best to teach us to be kind, they and my surroundings did not open my mind to the world - my understanding was basically "Germany is great". And I fell into the stereotypes of my own country; today after having travelled to China, Korea and Japan, I can not fathom that I once thought the Deutsche Bahn is the best and most punctual railroad system in the world.

These moments, in which my perception of the world shifted, happened all the time during my time abroad (and sometimes within Germany) - one constant "moment" was my time in Iran.
Which only happened because I spent a semester in Istanbul as my time over there opened my eyes to Eastern Europe/Balkan countries. I went to most of those countries on a whim during a round trip to get a feeling whether they are a cool location to go to for a bit longer. And again, people in Germany told me "why?? Everyone is poor, uneducated, it is full of crime, not worth it, etc.", you know the gist. Despite my love for discovery I never gave the Balkans even a thought as travel destination - and honestly I could not say why, as noone, until I spoke of my plans, told me not to go. And exactly this is what I mean with growing up ignorant because without even directly addressing it, I simply knew not give a thought about the "poor Europe."

Today I do feel ashamed of it, and so happy I went. And it was also during that time that my head started saying "perhaps Iran should be next." Because I knew my parents would freak, I told noone where I was going on vacation. One reason was the negativity talk and the other political discussions. "Do you want to support oppressive regimes???!" is a question I heard regarding my stay in China, Indonesia and Turkey, and while I was considering a trip to North Korea. That question personally only irked me when it came to North Korea - is that even fair? When I was truly considering human rights violations I surely should have regarded them also for those countries, and others including the US, Mexico, Brasil, Kosovo, Morocco, maybe even Spain? And what is up with Germany and its weapon sales and other issues.

When I was younger I deflected the question whether travel was political. Today I am split. Travel is an economic activity and therefore automatically political, simply by the fact that visa regulations are a political instrument, but does that mean I cast a vote with every step I take; can it really be that every travel weighs the burden of making a statement? I do not think so. So my personal opinion is: the act of travel is political, but it does not have to play in role in your plans. You do you, we also make our own decisions and as there is no universal truth, there is no clear cut good or bad. Would I consider a trip to North Korea today? No. I draw my own lines.

Have I ever written that much before the actual content of a trip - also no. Therefore, politics has definitely been a part of my trip to Iran.

Iran - how I started
I flew to Iran only with pictures of me in a Hijab because I read obtaining a visa on arrival were easier and quicker. So it all began with a layover flight in Ukraine. In Kiew started my learning - I learned that Teheran was a popular shopping destination for Ukranians that stuffed giant suitcases with things from Iran. Average Ukrainians, not a rich elite that only used taxis. This titbit elevated some the stress I had felt going into the unknown: if Ukrainians see it as a fun location, my trip will surely go smoothly as well.

I went to Iran without a plan, I had only booked 2 nights at a hostel after arrival. Travellers I had met have said: "Let Iran happen, you will have a blast. Do not make any plans as the people will show you your way." And so right they were!

But from the beginning. My first experience with was with the border guards and officials of course. Everything was very organized and clear what to do. I met dozens of others who also applied for the visa on arrival. It took quite a while of waiting. I had submitted my documents together with another male traveller and only after we received my visa it turned out that that was lucky. I received my visa quicker because they had thought I was travelling with him. The officials were more suspicious towards female solo travellers. So before I had even stepped onto Iranian soil, I was greeted by the patriarchy that night.

But to the reader's information: Iran was one of the most popular destinations for women travelling solo as the stricter separations made them feel safe. Today I do not know, but from how it was back then I can only say that Iran was far from the unsafest countries I have been to. Though I had unpleasant experiences, I did not have truely bad experiences and the country I have felt most unsafe was Morocco, by a long shot. After that Kosovo, which was a different world within my Balkans travel.

All that just to say, please keep an open mind. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Iran. That country was nothing like what it seemed.

See you in the next part
PS: I will not show any of my travel friends, nor locals on my posts
PSS: It has been a while and I barely made notes or pictures. Please excuse any inaccuracies regarding the places I went to

Posted by nerikimmera 22:25 Archived in Iran Tagged backpacking iran persia traveltoself Comments (0)

Studying in México

Vivir y estudiar en Pachuca de Soto en Mexico

I have spent 174 days in Mexico, most of them in Pachuca. Pachuca is appr. 90km from Mexico City and the capital of the state of Hidalgo, one of the poorest in the country. It's indigenous people are the Otomi who call the city Nju̱nthe.
174 is not such a long time but sufficient for gaining a thorough impression of the country, its people and culture, and academic environment.

People: In general Mexicans (and other Latinos) are incredibly nice and generous, though of course, there are exceptions. It seems fairly easy to make new friends, but most of them do not have an adequate level of English which for me made communication difficult as I was far from fluent. That is my problem and I was well aware of it beforehand, but I can say a very good knowledge of Spanish is a prerequisite for feeling comfortable.
The level of trust between people in Mexico and Latin countries in general is very low and mostly only family and few close friends are relied upon. Family and church are the two centers of life. More information on trust and society here.That has generally little impact on a foreigners stay but can cause funny situation at times.

BBQ time
Fuck you deep sausage
Cool new cafe where we spent a lot of time.

Administration/Planning: *WARNING* this section is nothing but a rant

I knew it was going to be chaotic but it exceeded my wildest dreams. Though there must be some kind of regulation about the administrative processes, the university paper work was out of this world messy. On arrival similar documents asking for the same information had to be filled in but then went into the same paper folder. It took forever to get a student ID (almost til the end of the semester) and it is a lengthy process which requires going to 4 offices across the whole city throughout several days. Though you have this official ID at some point, you also get a card that is something like a preID that is fully recognized. Therefore I didn't want to get the real ID but I was told I wouldn't get graded in the university system if part of the administrative process was not finished. Which turned out to be false.
As soon as I had to provide or receive any kind of document throughout the whole semester I was threatened with withholding my certificate which I needed to receive the scholarship money and gain the required amount of credits to keep my status as a full-time student. Appointments were also an issue as I had to go to the central office (far from my campus and place of living) 4 times to finally get the person I needed to actually physically be there when he promised, without postponing it after a 1 hour wait, for a surprise meeting or any other reason. Still, suddenly new requirements came to light in order to process my grades (which had all been previously discussed to death in the beginning of the semester - have they told us a fictional story?).
The courses started on a rolling basis throughout the semester and I was told that courses starting after the first month cannot be guaranteed until the day they are supposed to begin, so I should change my Learning Agreement from June again in November when I would know everything for sure. Apparently that is common practice but made my life an administrative nightmare cause not once did anything go smoothly and the various offices involved DO NOT communicate with each other. My supervisor was very nice and tried to be as helpful as possible but that was not much. He was new and maybe a bit clueless. And unorganized. He promised to give me my certificate beginning of December, then mid-December, then he changed to sending it to Estonia in January which later turned out to be April. After I had submitted all grades in person in his office before my departure, he again asked me for them 3 months later, even though they were inside the mentioned paper folder where he had put them in front of me!

All those things and more drove me crazy. You may say 'other culture', but partly it seemed like baby-behavior and nothing but carelessness. When it came to deadlines of students they suddenly became strict but when it was about their side of the work nothing mattered and the set deadlines requiring them to issue documents became the student's problem. A big administration has to be organized, especially when a student's future and finances depend on it. From my point of view culture cannot be used as an excuse when the chaos is so extensive. If my home university had not been extremely flexible and understanding of my problems with my host university I could have been expelled and would have been required to repay the scholarship. Not speaking of the regulations broken by the university itself, they also had agreed to deadlines and other procedures by signing the agreement contract with the European Commission. Though they obviously broke this contract as well, there were no consequences for them, partly because I think no one has any expectations towards them in this regard and quietly accept the situation. When it comes to the students writing their reports or communication between universities or the EC and the uni, suddenly they became loads more cooperative because they want the EU's money. Most exchange programs were already abolished by my uni, they mainly participated in EU programmes which are entirely paid for (admin, scholarship, flights, etc.) by the EU.

The horrid organization that greeted me upon first stepping into the central office in the university accompanied me throughout my stay.
Teachers suddenly remembering they had other plans after students had been sitting in class for 30 Minutes, not showing up at all without notice, etc. This on top of the fact that each class was arranged in the previous one, meaning that planning your week was impossible as class times within the same subject varied from 7am to 10pm. And I am not speaking about exceptions, almost no class began and ended when it was supposed to. Almost always it began up to 40 min late if it did happen on the same day.

I have to mention though that I attended doctoral degree classes for my master credits, and not many attended those, also it is unusual to take part in so many classes as I did, as a PhD takes several years and students tend to take only 1 or 2 at a time. This could have been a contributor to the carelessness of the professors and my blood pressure as the others weren't as affected by the constant changes. The English and Spanish classes I attended for extra credits were not as nerve wrecking.

Talking about the quality of the teaching itself for my doctoral classes, it was excellent. I had fantastic, interesting, enthusiastic and friendly professors who were a delight to be taught by. Something I rarely experienced in Germany.

Friends at the goodbye dinner

Public sport courses were almost impossible to attend as published schedules were never correct, even talking to an instructor by phone the very same day to confirm does not mean they remember that you booked a class! Within 4 months I only managed to get to a course at one of the various sport studios 3 times! I gave up.

Once I have asked somebody if there was a combi going to a certain place where I had to go the next day as there is no easily accessible public transport information available. When I returned the next day I had found out that there was a bus going to that place. When I told the person to inform her about it, she said "yes, I know"... but apparently telling me that was too much effort as I didnt specify I wanted to take a bus because they are less common?! Same thing with printing, scanning, copying at the university. I asked about a dozen people about the procedure and not one of them thought it necessary to tell the stupid foreigner that there is the old 'shortcut virus' still country-wide infested in the whole uni network as no one thinks doing something about it is there responsibility. So I did not back up and erase my USB completely before accessing a file, cuaing all files on my laptop to be change unnoticed by me. After I opened one of those files the virus crept into my software, causing me to contact an IT professional who I had to 50 Euros to kill and revive my entire laptop, losing all my files and data, and now I am forced to use Office in Spanish and my standard home country to Mexico meaning I always google in Spanish at first. An error unfixable as the standard language of my new system is actually English in the configuration. . . have you tried using excel formulas in a language you do not even speak fluently, let alone know the specific vocabulary in software? Thank you very much, Mexico.

This (being late, not-giving-a-shit-attitude, lying/forgetting, ever changing documentation requirements, losing documents) literally made me go insane. I was angry most of the time and frustrated, and by the end of my study time I had a minor burn out. I just couldn't go on like this and was so happy it was over. I might even have battled depression. Some days I didn't leave my room at all cause I couldn't face Mexico; the prospect of facing one more unnecessary bullshit was too much sometimes. I had turned down a cool internship at the European Commission to go to Mexico and had hoped it would make me "less German" but this is a way of life impossible for me. Without any kind of control over your life, everything being random, no possibility to plan anything, I cannot live. I know that now. And most of all, what I have also learned: that is okay. Before I thought that I could live anywhere because I had never encountered too many difficulties, and believed that that is how it should be; that a good person can adjust to everything with the right attitude, but the world is more divers than the small picture I had of it. And it's good that it is that way, there is a place for all of us, and I just don't fit into Mexico, or Latin America perhaps. Despite mental hardship, I am grateful for the opportunity and funding I have received and do not wish I had made a different decision. I am glad I know more about the world and myself. Furthermore, living in Mexico cannot at all be compared with travelling there which was one of the best experiences of my life.

Please remember that this is a highly individual experience, that I am used to an orderly fashion and that this text is subjective. Even for Mexican standards I have been extremely unlucky on the admin side, so chances are this won't happen to you. Or you are used to such things already and see no reason to vent, lucky you :D I m writing all this down so I can laugh at it and myself one day.

3) The Food
The cuisine seems to be a national treasure, their pride. Mexicans love their food and I was repeatedly told it was the best in the world. I have also met 2 Europeans and a couple of Latinos who worshiped Mexican food. 99% of people who claimed Mexican food was the best in the world though have never eaten other kinds of food, except for maybe some local Asian restaurants or American imports, like KFC. American food products, such as cake pops and "natural orange juice," are widely available, the cereal (cornflakes) aisles are massive like I have never seen before or since. Using this as comparison, no wonder Mexicans believe their food is the superlative of taste. You have probably guessed by now, that I am of different opinion. The first week I enjoyed Mexican food but it then quickly became boring. Everything was made of some version of tortilla. Most dishes differ in colour, size and cooking method but it essentially remains a tortilla with some sort of stuffing along the same lines, not even the endless amount of names given to the foods could deceive me into thinking it actually were different dishes. Sure, you may think knowing me, I did not eat spicy and therefore could not have enjoyed the variety of taste of chilli and the different moles. But a changing mole does not not create a different dish, neither does chilli.
I did like guacamole and I may have developed a minor addiction to avocados, now that they were actually affordable. Around 4,5 months I lived with a Mexican family who provided food for me 3 times a day. It was fine, but now and then I had to eat something else. And I was surprised by how little fruit was consumed in Mexico on average from what I have seen. But that was what I loved most over there: fresh, good, but cheap fruit and juice. Once I overdosed on orange juice because it was sold on the next street corner on weekends and my throat hurt for days.

What cannot be ignored when talking about food are frijoles (negros). Beans that are usually cooked and mashed into some kind of paste. It looks like dog food, but tastes fine, though I most of the time avoided it. It's eaten as stuffing or as side dish. And in all households there must always be a big pot of frijoles, at all times.
To close with something I did love: Pastes. I love those things. Especially the ones from Real del Monte. There are so good and available with various stuffings, I especially liked potato or apple, and I miss them.

Macromural “Pachuca se pinta” on 209 houses in la colonia Palmitas with the aim to create a sense of community and it seems that the crime rate did decrease (Wikipedia, Commons)

4) The Weather
Pachuca lies high up on a mountain, the weather during one day may range from icy cold to scolding hot. Almost always always it's very windy, so Pachuca is also called La Bella Airosa. Ear infections are eager to say hello. Mexico itself has of course a great variety of climate zones.

5) Going to Mexico yourself
First and foremost it is important to distinguish to where you are going. My Mexican university was located in a town where tourism is almost unknown, especially from outside Mexico and even more so from outside Latin America. The same goes for the university. Your experience in la Ciudad de Mexico, Puebla, Oaxaca or Cuernavaca would definitely be totally different, or in other words much easier. Spanish language skills and a flexible attitude are key, but also the university infrastructure and level of teaching would be much higher in Puebla or Mexico City where studying would be more fun and easier arranged. Going to Pachuca I cannot really recommend, but it would definitely give you the deeper Mexican experience - we are talking about one of the poorest states. However it is also a relatively stable one. Security-wise I cannot say I felt unsafe, but when I saw the police with their guns and that was a lot. However, it is by far not as bad a situation as in many other parts from where students told me they saw drug trade with their own eyes etc. It is a troubled country but the farther you are from the US border the more you are "tourist-safe", e.g in Cancun. Overall Mexico was my favorite country to travel in, it is easy, friendly and cheap. As a foreigner i was frequently told I was blind towards the dangers around me as I don't expect them or know about them and therefore cannot recognize them, which I believe is absolutely true, but still I can wholeheartedly recommend visiting Mexico. Living there is harder for people from Europe talking about comfort I would assume, and harder culture-wise for those from Asia. Of course, all this is a generalization. But what I would not recommend is going to Pachuca to study as a young, inexperienced, maybe carefree-chaotic person with no experience abroad. Chances are you will quit and fly home if you do not find strong local friemily support.

6) The language
At first I really didn't enjoy Mexican Spanish as I was used to Spanish from Spain, and specifically the s-sound from Ce Ci z words I didn't want to accept because it seemed so improper. However, I quickly noticed that Mexicans (generally) spoke a bit slower than Spaniards and that words were much easier to understand. The Mexican pronunciation appears clearer because the s sh sch ch th z sounds do not distort the words. Spanish from Colombia and Argentina where they change words completely, do not pronounce word endings or more frequently use sh-sounds is also hard to understand. Til the end I could not make out Colombian Spanish, it is the worst Spanish I have ever heard, and at second place now there is Spanish Spanish for me. Therefore I believe Mexico is the perfect country for anyone to learn Spanish. Later when you have a grasp you can continue to other variations of Spanish. Mexican Spanish is by far my favorite version, beginner friendly and grammatically the easiest. I am also a big fan of ignoring the vosotros words which were usually the most difficult form for me to remember.

El Instituto de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades "Alfonso Vélez Pliego" (ICSyH) donde estudié la mayoría de mis clases en la UAEH

To conclude living in Mexico was a challenge for me, a challenge I am happy and grateful I had. I was already in love with East Asia, wanted to see more of the world, and discovered that I do not fit into this part. If you surrounded yourself with some influences from Latin American culture, e.g. learn the language, cook the food, watch TV, chances are that you will feel more comfortable.
Despite this text being quite negative, I do have plans for going back. I wanna visit some of the most wonderful friends I have met, especially my Mexican sister Luceritititito, and I hope to travel from South to North America, through all or most countries within one or two years, some time in the following years. In this context I am a fan of Mexico and culturally related countries ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Posted by nerikimmera 03:39 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico abroad study_abroad erasmus student_exchange Comments (0)

From Valley to Mountain to Jungle

My final Mexican experiences

After a round of exams I travelled this route, very typical for Mexico-travellers:
(Pachuca de Soto) - Mexico City - Oaxaca - San Cristóbal de las Casas - Palenque - Tuxtla Gutiérrez - Mexico City
From Mexico City I had planed to go to Teotihuacán as my last, and surely impressive, site to visit, but unfortunately ran out of money and energy on my last 3 days.

I had planned to travel 4 weeks throughout the country with more stops, mainly along the Western, Southwestern and Eastern regions, with Tulum being the furthest point, and perhaps with a stopover in Guatemala. However, I got a mysterious and severe infection of some sort no one could figure out, so I spent about half that time in bed, trying to resist taking antibiotics my German doctor had previously prescribed in case of emergency.

1) The City
Despite still being ill, I decided to start my trip to the famous capital of Mexico, with 9 Million city dwellers and 21 Million people within the metropolitan area. Originally called Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs who had built it on an island it is the oldest capital city on the American continent and one of only 2 founded by its native people (besides the Ecuadorian Quito). It was called Ciudad de México during Spanish invasion and occupation, and after gaining independence D.F. for Distrito Federal (head of the federation of the Mexican states). This name is used still today, though it is not called D.F. anymore as of February 2016 due to restructuring of the political landscape of the country.
Due to its many citizens ignoring the traffic lights during the night, police men handle the traffic at strategic points in the city when it gets dark.
Impressions of Mexico City. Not how I expected it to be. So bright and friendly :D

My friend Alinne's lovely cousin Shantal (ENT specialist - huge plus for me!) took me in for a few days during my first visit with Alinne, before I wanted to start my adventure, and then again shortly before my departure to Europe. She gave me shelter, food, medication, company and friendliness, and didn't ask for anything in return. I couldn't have been luckier than to meet these two fabulous women. Mexico City seemed very chaotic and didn't have this pleasant atmosphere I know from big cities in Asia, mainly China (yes, it is subjective. Very). Feeling safe and unsafe while exploring the city, paying tons and paying very little for food and drinks alternated every few minutes. I discovered Gorditas de Nata, lightly sweet English-muffin type bread; I tried to eat as many as possible, and also bought many other goodies before going home. Studying in Mexico City may have been more fun, but I don't particularly like this city or at least during those 7 days in sickness and poverty I didn't enjoy my time that much. However, I can say its worth a visit and the fresh, cheap juices you can mix to your gusto are to die for. . .

Famous Palacio de Bellas Artes

Ayozinapa was present in almost all places I went to. The outrage became a beacon of hope people tried to hold on to. For a little while the believe was kept that finally real change was about to come and perhaps Nieto would leave (or would be killed by the cartels if he could not calm his citizens down). But months later oppositional leaders all over the country keep being assassinated.
Some protesters remained day and night.

2) The Valley
I took a night bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca de Juarez or Cuidad de Oaxaca, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, and stayed in a nice little hostel somewhere close to the center, in walking distance from the bus station. In the hostel I experienced for the first time how severe the water shortage in Mexico actually is as it was rationed for bathroom and kitchen use. That day it was el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe and I could experience the procession and the accompanying fair. Also there were numerous (night) markets I enjoyed. What disappointed me was the lack of fresh fruit offered on the streets and in the supermarkets. Overall Oaxaca was a beautiful, comfortable place worth staying several days to discover the surroundings, while the city itself needs only a day or two. I participated in a day trip which was a wonderful experience and I recommend to do at least one of such trips into the nature outside the city! The prices are cheap and you get very good cultural value! I went to Hierve el Agua, Mitla, Tule, Teotilán y una Fábrica de Mezcal. A little overview about the places you can get here. Although this was my tour operator I do not recommend a specific one; so far I only heard good things from travellers about all of their operators.



3) The Mountain
I took a ADO Platino to San Cristóbal de las Casas during the night which was the wrong choice. I was not given a snack like in the cheap busses before, the nice comfortable armchair of the first two hours became a nightmare longterm, and the monitors in front of each passenger could not be entirely turned of, so that light became very bothering during my failed attempts to sleep. I remember there were more uncomfortable or negative events but my mind seems to have suppressed this information. Definitely money badly spent. However, San Cristóbal became my favorite Mexican city. I love that place. It is full of lovely little streets, friendly people, cheap and fresh fruit, is relaxing and beautiful with impressive nature. As time was a pressing issue I could only stay 2 whole days and 1 night but I remember the feeling of comfort over there. The hostel was very pretty and flowery, but hard to find and for the first and only time the company of the other travellers not enjoyable (Everyone experienced knows the different kinds of hostels according to their suitability for solo travellers). One moment has stayed very vividly in my mind: putting my backpack into the luggage storage (some sort of wooden living room). Two rows of other backpacks were stored along the wall, so I put down mine in a third one and turned around to look at all of them again. My backpack seemed tiny in comparison to all others. I had chosen a smaller backpack made for women on purpose and knew I was travelling lighter than most others no matter the travel period, but for the first time that was so strongly visualized in front of me that I did ask myself for a minute if I was travelling the wrong way and what I could have possibly forgotten to take with me.
As I have been a bit sick and just enjoyed simply being, I did not take many pictures.

Trip I could not do

3) The Jungle
Though the Mayan city of Palenque was astonishing, the biggest impression on me was left by the bus ride. I bought another (normal) ADO ticket for a ride that was supposed to take 5 hours. After about 7 hours we finally stopped and I got off the bus, went out of the station and searched for the respective street along the bus station that would lead me to my hostel. I could not find it, so I asked a group of men who tried to figure out where this street was as they only knew a park by that name, Juarez. As this place looked nothing like I had imagined, with growing suspicion I, embarrassed, ask for the name of the city I was in. I was in Villahermosa! I ran back passed security and got on the same bus, ask the driver if this bus was going to Palenque after all and after he had finished laughing he told me yes, but it would take a while. I was just on time, 1 minute later the bus left and looking at the pathetic, crouched person I was, they decided to ignore the fact that I could not find my ticket to prove my identity during the second ticket check. Instead the driver and the other passengers had a good laugh again when he told the inspector. After a total transportation time of 11 hours the driver turned to me and very slowly and articulated said: Pa-len-que. I got off the bus and considered a taxi to the hostel as I felt completely destroyed and ready to pass out. I had started my bus ride at 5pm after a long and busy day San Cristóbal and had no food or drink on me as I had planed on having dinner on arrival as 5 hours didn't seem that long considering the distances I was already used to travel. On arrival I was hungry but had lost my appetite. I decided to save the money and walk to the hostel which turned out to be very close, closer than it had seemed on the map. All I could do was to reserve a place on the archaeological site Palenque for the next day and fall into bed in the worst hostel I have been to outside of China. It had no furniture, no shower, no walls, no windows, no security, no kitchen, no nothing. It was sleeping on a mattress in a construction side.

Serene nature

To my surprise the booked trip was more than the archaeological site. The Palenque ruins are wonderful to see and the guide an endless source of information. It is incredible to imagine how life must have been there, how colorful the buildings, and the rituals, how different the view of the world, and that 95% is still uncovered. When you see T-shaped holes, windows, statues or signs that place stands for the living, a T on its head refers to places of the dead with whom communication was possible.
We walked through the site feeling so good among the old ruins and the lush green semi-jungle. Splashes of their original colors could be discovered among the ruins, mostly blue and red, the plants sported thousand shades of green as flowers rarely grow in that area. It was serene. I walked out of the archaeological area with an elderly couple among my tour group, who incidentally came from Pachuca. The archeological site of Palenque is by far not the biggest one in Mexico (not in terms of what is excavated, but it shows some of the finest art or works of the Mayans still visible today.
From the side
From below
From above
toilet hut
That is what I look like trying to jump
Painting of the carvings on the lid of the tomb of K'inich Janaab Pakal I in the Temple of the Inscriptions which was build as his last resting place. For a long time his tomb couldn't be opened because no one could figure out how, after it had already taken years to even discover it inside the temple. His pose on the carving was compared to that of an astronaut, leading some to believe that the Mayans were in contact or influenced by extraterrestrial beings. Others interpreted him as being reborn and/or in contact with celestial beings or items. What many found surprising and interesting is that the middle is widely interpreted as being a World Tree, a symbol found in many believe systems and mythologies around the world, most notably in North and Turkic Asia, Northern Europe and ancient peoples in the Americas. Therefore some scientists and scholars believe the concept of an underworld-earth-heaven connecting tree is in our subconscious collective human memory due to human evolution having started in nature/in trees. Pakal was said to have become a god after is death. He was born in March 603, during a very violent period, and is called Pacal the great or "Sun shield" from the Mayan work Pacal for shield. He reigned 68 years, the longest reign in the Western hemisphere. His features and depictions of his life are all over the Palenque ruins (of what little we can see today) because he constructed and extended inscriptions and buildings, and some of the finest Mayan art has been created under him, including his unique stone sarcophagus.
Interesting history about that which I have forgotten
Decoration showing Pacal
More and more parts cant be visited due to destruction by tourists. 95% of the site is estimated to is still be buried underneath
You can see some hints of the ancient colors
Museum about the Mayans. Much about Pacal
Cactus and tree symbiosis
Bʼolon Yej Teʼ Naah (House of the Nine Sharpened Spears) or Templo de las Inscripciones. It is not allowed to be climbed anymore.

Later on we visited the corresponding museum close to the exit. After that we continued to the Cascadas de Agua Azul and the Cascadas de Misol-Ha where we went swimming, had a late lunch and bought some souvenirs. By the end of the trip I made friends with two Mexican sisters and decided to switch to their hostel as mine was so bad. These two lovely ladies let me stay with them for free for two nights and celebrated my birthday with me. Together we discovered the city of Palenque and Mexican lemon tart. We also had a bad experience at a restaurant that brought us closer together. They were happy to spend time with me because in my company all but my poor self were safe from mosquitoes.

Nature = love

From behind (cascadas, not on the archeological side)
Birthday cake

I really wanted to visit Guatemale, I even had arranged accommodation with a friend's friend en la Cuidad Guatemala but I did not have any money left to spend in Mexico, so I planned on taking a chicken bus. Crossing the border is nothing like crossing within Europe; it is wild, dangerous, adventurous, needs several modes of transportation, and long story short, I became the chicken and then bussed my ass back to the capital.

4) Last days

The bus ride of almost 1000km was horrid! I wanted to stay in Tuxtla Gutiérrez for a day but when I arrived due to financial and organizational issues could not stay there for long. So I stayed for 5 hours and went on to Mexico City. I assumed to be able to go around town, but the bus station is surrounded by nothing but giant streets and few, tiny food shops. I would have had to walk too far and without a map to reach a residential or otherwise interesting area. With my (for me) heavy backpack. Also the big shopping center beside the bus station was closed as it was too early in the morning. Therefore these 5 hours passed slowly and agonisingly without a comfortable place to rest after the previous bus ride. Until I reached Shantal's place again, who I woke up in the middle of the night, I had been travelling all in all from Palenque for about 50 hours due to various challenges and unforeseen events. Once I arrived in Mexico City taxi drivers refused to take me home as the distance was too short, despite it feeling like a mountain climb to me. I started to feel sick again which continued into the first 2 weeks into Germany. In Mexico City I spent some nice hours with Shantal and her friends but I mostly slept. I was dead tired. I barely made it out of bed for my host. I have been regretting not going to Teotihuacan ever since.
On my departure day Alinne and her friend, who carried my luggage through several vehicles to the airport as I didn't want to pay for a taxi, came from Pachuca to support me and say goodbye which I was so happy about. They waited with me to check-in at the long queue and made these last hours a bliss despite me still feeling a bit nauseous.


5) The Aviation Adventure A Alemania
Due to European Union regulations I had to start and finish my Erasmus Mundus Exchange at my home and host universities' countries - a rule I find to be completely outdated in today's world. Therefore my itinerary looked as follows:
D.F. Mexico - Amsterdam - Tallinn - Amsterdam - Frankfurt
I am too thrifty to buy food at airport, I rather starve, which is exactly what I did. Flying Air France was bad as always and since I had already been awake 24 hours after my first flight I wanted to rest at my next departure gate. Lest I forgot that I transferred from an international to an inner EU flight, meaning I had to go through security again. Knowing my lack of adequate nutrition was coming up in the Netherlands I had packed a big amount of food and different drinks to gain some energy for the next 3 flights. Of course, these couldn't go through security. After passport control the security guy asked me about liquids and suddenly I remembered my stock. I almost started crying and begged the guy to let me return through passport control, so that I could eat and drink something to avoid death. Looking at the mirror later I know I looked like a battered ghost. The police guy told me to think first the next time as security protocol forbids such action but they let me through and I could eat and drink and rest at the nice Schiphol airport. When it was time to go through again I was afraid to meet the same police man again but a new shift had started. Contrary to that I was hoping to meet the nice security guy to thank him for saving my existence as I had just left like in trance last time without a thank you; unfortunately he was gone as well. But wonderful, nice, Dutch security man please know I remember your kindness, you showed compassion where there was only supposed to be regulation. Thank you.
Overall, going home took about 2 days and when I arrived on 24th December around 5pm at home I had 2 hours to shower and rest before the start of Christmas dinner. Thankfully my family let me sleep until the last second to help me recover as much as possible. Still, I wonder how I managed to keep my head out of my plate. Well, barely.

Posted by nerikimmera 11:46 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico backpacking san_cristobal_de_las_casas mexico_city palenque oaxaca study_abroad Comments (0)

Yet another time jump - Indonesia! Driving around Bali

Beach to Beach

30 °C

Music: MKJ X Alora & Senii - Travel (ft. Jimmy Hennessy) &
Just SZA — 04 Time Travel Undone (Prod. Top Notch)

Visiting Bali was my last travel before my "vagabond-life" will come to an end (graduation).
Since having seen the island on TV for the first time many years ago I have been dreaming about visiting Bali; being in Indonesia was also my first time in the Southern hemisphere.

From end of November til mid-December I traveled around Bali. With a left food mysteriously sprained and/or broken it would have been difficult to get around without a driver's license and just generally being a "traffic chicken."

Luckily I had a delicate flower by my side who had the honor of enjoying my splendid company. I met Gary Taylor from Ipthwith, Mediocre Britain, in Bucharest when we stayed in the same hostel and I needed some pepper. For my food. He had some. So he gave me some. I was happy for the taste. He was happy to shed some load. We later met at two other occasions in Turkey and then six months later in Indonesia, first in Jakarta, then in Bali. He is cycling around the world through Eurasia, Australia, New Zealand, and the US to create awareness of and collect money for the charity recycle based in the UK. They recycle old or used bicycles and ship them to a number of African countries to provide cheap mobility and thus improvement of life while also creating local, sustainable employment. If you wanna check out his travel you can go to his blog Gears we never use where you can also get a link to his various social media and the donation page.

Gary's face

One Saturday afternoon I went to the airport to catch my flight from Jakarta to Bali after a quite wonderful goodbye from my awesome landlord. My flight was delayed and the ground crew kept insisting departure will be on time despite the planed departure time having passed already. This gave me the opportunity to meet the two other foreigners on board confused about what was going on. Luckily for me, one of them, Haitam from Egypt, became a big help. He took pity on me and my broken foot, and carried my luggage, helped me find my way to the hostel and paid the bigger portion of the taxi fee. A good start.



Bali Aiport Domestic Arrival Area

Gary arrived late at night, he went by bicycle from Jakarta, after breaking is record for distance cycled in one day. He arrived tired and stinky and hungry and with huge respect from me. Our first day in Kuta, Bali (a place smaller than Aberystwyth) was spent with eating, preparing his bike for the upcoming flight to Australia and being on the computer. My computer became a decisive factor for our travel. First we stayed in Kuta for more days than originally planned because I had a Skype interview with my professor for my thesis, the last before the deadline, and later I depended on it to conduct an online assessment as part of a job application and thus on staying in a hotel with decent internet. Job hunting sucks.

Kuta had the nicest beach among all the places we went to. It was clean, had good sand and wasn't crowded. Though I had heard many complaints about it being super touristy and congested and expensive, I liked the city. I love the small alleyways, the small shops and the many eateries. And if
you are willing to eat at Indonesian places and/or other ones further away from the beach, eating out can be cheap. As can accommodation. It is all your wallet's or priorities' choice. Traffic is terrible for sure, especially when you are inside a car. And the way streets are organised doesn't make it easier. Overall Kuta did have that nice holiday flair I enjoy, but it was during November-December, so not high season. During that time you may wanna avoid Bali's South.
Who let the chickens out? Can somebody tell him?

FOOOD ................................................................................somebody secretly showing affection to the best pets in the world

We rented a motorbike to see the island. To my surprise it was not that difficult to carry a bag with both our items for several days on my back (the heaviest items where inside the trunk) but sitting on a bike hurts the butt! Quickly I began complaining and wiggling my ass around constantly which is a bad idea with a heavy bag on a bike. Later I found out that sitting more towards the back was way more comfortable, but that also required Gary's help who was already taking care of me by being the sole driver. But with that technique and the body's wondrous power to get used to a routine, I made it through our travel without too much pain or my bum becoming flat. Er. But not on the first day. We didn't make it that far and had an early break for my butt and our breakfast.

We keep rolling, rolling, rolling yeah

The first night we stayed somewhere around Soka beach I believe. The waves where too high and strong for my liking, especially without glasses.

We didn't swim in the South except for Kuta. But also in the North it seems Bali is foremost an island for surfing. Out hostel was very nice and cheap, and the way to the beach was full of beautiful plants left and right. Before we left to our next destination we had to take care of an issue: no ATMs for visa cards in and around our place and on the mountains of Bali. Supposedly. We rode a bit back along the way we had taken the previous day to withdraw money and then left for the three lakes (Danaus) on the volcanoes.

Happy about most amazing Frühstück in the world

Ein schräger Typ :D

Hotel garden in front of beach

We stayed in a hostel around Danau Tamblingan which advertised with things it didn't actually offer: hot water, wifi and breakfast. I liked the city itself, but at 1,200m it was a bit colder and generally moist which is a climate I like as much as the bathroom at that place. The lake view turned out to be a disappointment, especially for Gary, though the scenery did seem a bit mysterious. The next day we went by Danau Buyan on our way to the North coast. The lake view was as non-incredibly impressive as before. Being on our downwards path it started raining. Smart, experienced travellers that we were, we decided against taking rain coats for a travel onto mountains during rain season. Half way we stopped at a tiny mountain road restaurant and had delicious lunch. And waited for the rain to stop. I don't know how long or short a time we waited but I enjoyed that stop up high on the road within a forest and underneath a small rooftop with hot, fresh food and good company. When it paused we went back on the road but it soon started raining again. Gary felt safe enough on the bike to drive under these conditions (typical steep mountain roads with crazy Indonesian drivers around us and rain coming at him while not wearing a helmet with a ventail or a coat). I was shacking in my (flip-flops/Flipflops/thongs/tiny, toes-showing) boots a few times. Traffic-trust is nothing I gift easily but he absolutely did earn it. In retrospect.

All around the volcano strawberry field were plenty and we did not eat a single one throughout the trip. Still crying a bit over this sad little fact.

We arrived in a sunny area after a while where it was hot enough to forget about the cold, windy rain that had just surrounded us. We bought more cookies, Gary looked for fried birdies he couldn't find and I stripped between the cookie shelves to change into dry clothes. We then went on to choose hotels for our stay. By choosing I mean driving passed and choosing the first one that looked good while also sporting a good price.

Rice terraces

Gary loving the surroundings of the lake

Enjoying a different kind of beach

On the volcano

In Lovina the luxurious part of our holiday began. The beach was pebbly but ok, nice small restaurants where plenty and the weather was lovely. We stayed in two very nice hotels with pools and we remained there for more days than originally planed. I got massages til I stopped enjoying them and Gary did his nomorepeddalinghalfwayupdate.

Lovina is known for dolphin watching. Unfortunately I tend to be unable to open my eyes during sunshine, but my mind remains open even when my eyes are closed.

Hotel is now known by us for having a very nice pool. Eyes OPEN. And mouth?!


Our waiters in a restaurant by Lovina

English beach boy mesmerizing the viewer with his eyes

Within one day this time, we went all the way from Lovina to the South, spending two more nights outside Kuta before returning to our first hotel. We spent one night in Tabanan where our unsuccessful quest for food eventually ended in 5 portions Nasi Goreng, three portions chicken and rice, one omelette, one portion additional beef, four Saitan cubes and four super yummy cookies. The following night we wanted to go back to the nice hostel on the beginning of our trip but I wanted to see one more new place, so after realizing Tanah Lot was a temple, not a beach area, and way too expensive for our taste, we ended up in a place not as nice. It was fine for one night though. I had English breakfast and tried a new desert. I think it was called Swaffle, but do not look that up on Urban dictionary. It turned out to not be very original or suitably sized. But I did see a squirrel.

Rougarou and his contemporary Kathryn 2.0

More mesmerizing looks........................................................... Who can resist those kitten eyes?

Another hostel

Food that made me gain weight

We arrived early back to Bali and checked back into POP! Hotel Kuta Beach. We wasted some time trying to find a bike shop to buy a bicycle helmet and then went to the beach with quite some complaining from my side due to so much walking despite everything else already having been catered to me. Our last night ended with swimming, me meeting up again with Uci, a girl I had met at the airport upon arrival, and learning about a Chinese cell phone with two batteries during a dinner with locals and fellow travelers. There was also some fried ice cream involved.
POP! Hotel Kuta Beach..........................................Organising like a busy bee cause Mr. native speaker thought continuously making fun of my English skills ...............................................................................and refusing to take over communication himself was not contradictory
I am mesmerizing too!

Nope, can't beat that

At the end of our trip we went to the airport together but only upon ordering the taxi did we realize that we can't spend the last hours together as we went to different terminals with a distance one of us couldn't walk and one of us couldn't carry a boxed bike for. I left the taxi first, paid Gary for his services and after a quick goodbye suddenly felt weird being all alone again.

I arrived in Jakarta at midnight and slept one more time in my old room which my landlord had already prepared. I spent the next day searching for a post box for hours and had lunner with my wonderful French friend Danielle which had taken care of me during the first weeks of my injury. Due to the rain which makes the traffic even more unbearable I was very wary, left my home early and had a few hours to spare at the airport.

I was glad to leave Jakarta, but I definitely wanna go back to Indonesia. This vast country requires more time, and healthy feet, to be explored, as does Southeast Asia. I can't wait to come back again to the region.

Posted by nerikimmera 07:13 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali beach indonesia bike cycling motorcycle kuta southeast_asia recycle lovina butthurts pop! gearsweneveruse Comments (0)

Erasmus photo project

Photography & Expression: fail

During my many times studying abroad I had the chance to participate in lectures within various academic disciplines. But often I also didn't have the chance to take the courses I wanted. In Turkey I finally had the opportunity to take on an arts class. I was excited to learn about photography, cameras, how to see and evaluate an object or scene, how to play with color and light, and much more. Turns out the lecture was shit, the teacher in love with himself but deadly critical of others, attendance was a pain in the ass and I have learned precisely nothing. Like some others I quit the course after a few weeks and went traveling instead of taking my mid-term which automatically kicked me out of the course.

Still, I liked my idea and even though I had to leave Turkey a bit early and couldn't finish the project in time for myself (it should have turned into a real photo book with roughly 15 pages), I wanted to share the project with you. The photos have not been retouched as it was not about creating a book anymore but simply sharing the idea.

In Istanbul I lived in the district Kadıköy (which means Village of the Judge. It was located outside Constantinople, but was put under jurisdiction of its courts), in Duatepe Sokak which crosses with Karakolhane Caddesi. This previously problematic street has turned into a new, young and stylish one with traditional shops and wonderful new eateries. I went out on Karakolhane to interview owners of those old and new little shops and take pictures of their faces surrounded by their passion or source of income.
As I couldn't finish the project I will also show practice shots from other sources afterwards. Since my travel has ended and I have to be a productive, capitalistic member of society for a little while, extending the project throughout the other countries didn't work out. I hope you enjoy those pictures.
Please, keep in mind that I am not a professional photographer, nor am I super into it, nor have I used a very good camera. This is supposed to be a fun project - Erasmus style :)

Unfortunately, I seem to have lost all my notes about the interviews as I have changed countries 5 times in the meantime, so I will try to reconstruct the main points from memory.

Lots of love,

The faces of Karakolhane

The tailor is a lot older than what he looks like. His story was incredible and full of twists. To avoid misrepresenting his life I will only summarize it roughly. He grew up in the Northeast of Turkey as the son of poor farmers. One day he saw a movie about the glamorous, buzzing city of Istanbul. The next day he rode to Istanbul by hiding on train, at approx. 13 years of age. He lived on the streets as a beggar until he could find a job as a helper with a tailor. Since he had seen some in the movie, the man was intrigued by the elegant Western-style suits and colorful, pompous cloths from the Ottoman times wealthy men were wearing in the beginning of the 20th century. Soon the old tailor who had hired the young boy and specialized in male clothing, discovered the talent of his helper who became an apprentice and soon was a successful tailor himself who took over the shop from his old master. The shop and its name has remained the same over the past decades. Once he travelled back to his hometown to meet the family he out of the blue left and tell them about his new successful life, only to find that his parents had died. Nowadays his profession in its traditional form is dying out, but luckily he still has enough work because his name remains known throughout the city and among business men who appreciate his craft and passion. Since starting on this path not one day has passed on which he didn't sew. He told me that he plans on dying with a needle in his hand, the love of his life and the only thing he ever knew how to do.

The hair dresser has hands which have known hard work. He as well is from the Northeast and has come to Istanbul with his family to find work. There, as a little boy, he began working in a blacksmith. In those times protective gear was not common, so his hands, arms and partly his face has seen pain, scars and burns. At some point he couldn’t go on anymore and found a place as apprentice with a hair dresser. Today he has many customers, (almost) exclusively male, and refused to stop working even for 5 minutes for the interview. He loves his profession.

This woman is several years younger than me and has opened her own pharmacy only months ago, right out of university. She has been working diligently, and with support of her family she acquired this place to make her dream come true: be self-employed in her academic field. She has chosen to open her pharmacy in Kadıköy because she saw great potential in the growth of this area and loves the feeling to be on Karakolhane.

This woman is full of joy. She had taken over this little café/bakery and kept the name unchanged due to its popularity, it was the name of the previous owner. She is doing all work herself, but her husband, who is working a full-time day job, helps out in the evenings and weekends. It is a lovely little place with delicious baked goods, most of which are cookies. Her dream came true with this shop and still things are going well, but she is afraid she cannot stay solvent as the café is not hip and young, the direction Kadıköyis changing in.

The café man has always dreamed of owning a place like this, completely modeled to his vision, and had recently opened this modern café which has a name that expresses his deep feelings for his partner. He feels at home in Kadıköy and foresees a great future in the development of the area, the young people coming in and the international crowd that for the most part does not consist of short-term tourists.

The Pide man was the one I was frequenting the most. He was the shiest and most quiet interviewee. And the only one who was unhappy with his choice of work. He never wanted to work there but has taken over this shop from his father. Sales are not going as well anymore though his goods are cheap, delicious and of good quality. He didn't know what else to do with his life, what his passions were. He simply followed what life had thrown at him or what was expected of him.

The baker likes his job but has seen a huge drop in sales with the growth of supermarkets and is thus extremely worried about the future. He built up his shop, experienced the golden age of fresh bread and the problematic years of social unrest. Now the gentrification threatens his business.

Of the Simit man I took a picture by myself but unfortunately could not talk to him.

My classmate who is the head of a number of clubs and in the forefront of many events in the university.

My first Turkish tandem partner who works tirelessly to learn German for his exam so he qualifies for a scholarship. He dreams of starting a new, better life in Germany, starting with a cultural visa and scholarship as a Karate coach, even though he has never been outside Turkey his entire life.

This was a guy living in the flat beneath mine who has kept his dog sometimes on our big balcony. He is a surfing instructor waiting to start working around the world again while taking English classes in his home country.

The guy who I met in the hostel after my arrival in Istanbul. He has arranged a flat for me and my friends and became my translator for these interviews. He has become self-employed with a couple of friends who now help others to realize their projects in the fields of social and environmental work through networking, gathering funds and organizational support.

Waitress in Pärnu. I chose her because she has the most Estonian face ever.

My Kazakh-Estonian friend. Student. Beautiful on outside and inside.

Posted by nerikimmera 23:44 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey photography faces erasmus kadikoy student_exchange photo_project get_to_know_the_people Comments (0)

"Snowball death" in Turkey

Harmless fun turned into a politicized loss

Hey :)

So, I am a little behind with my blog entries. This one is out of order because I found it to be important to upload it timely. I am now in Istanbul, Turkey and current issues popped up in front of my house. I will upload the rest of my videos about my time in Mexico soon.

Some Comments

A few links where you can read up on this and other incidents in Turkey:

The song sang at the protest

New York Times article

Aslans murder

Aslan and violence against women

Politicizing violence?

Tweet and personal stories about #sendeanlat (#youspeakout)

Men wearing skirts for the (victimized) women of Turkey

Erasmus student imprisoned - German language

Erasmus students arrested

Turkish madia

The Bull is a famous statue in Kadikoy center. Posters from protesters are laid down because many will see it there. It is a popular meeting point.

This is the shop after the first demonstration.

... and a little bit later.

Notice about the event and the protest

These notices are hung up on the windows of some shops. It says: you are allowed to throw a snowball at this window.

As of today there have been at least 3 demonstration for this topic that i witnessed

Posted by nerikimmera 14:30 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey death protest demonstration fight snowball erdogan Comments (0)


Problems^2 in Mexico

SO, I havent posted something in a long long while!

First reason: Due to horrible organizations skills in all offices across the university all my exams happened around the same time. Which had not been the plan at all.

Second reason: When that was done I wanted to upload videos I had already recorded but I needed to get my papers for my next semester ready; I needed to print, sign and scan different documents. Not knowing that the whole university, the city and most likely the whole country was infected with a very old virus "the shortcut virus" because, as so often, nobody cared enough to really do something about it. Only AFTER I asked Mexicans about the virus I have and if it was actually possible to have gotten it from the university (incomprehensible for me at that time), they told me how normal this virus has become and how they deal with it by having a "virus USB" they completely erase after each use and they never let scanned documents be put on their USB, rather have them send by mail. And this all never came up when they talked to me about where and how to scan, copy, etc. One thing I really dont enjoy about Mexicans is that they never tell you anything you dont specifically ask for. Once I asked if there was a Combi (a bigger car mostly used for travel within a city) going to the shopping mall. No, there was none. But there was a BUS going which I had found out later, as well as that this was not news for that person, but I didnt specifically ask for a BUS... . Things like this happened on several occasions and as much as I hate that, it is actually harmless. The virus though did some damage. I was confused about all my files appearing as shortcuts and stupidly clicked on some. The virus spread to my laptop and I could not use any flash drives anymore, hence not access my files from my camera.

Third reason: Waiting for repair. Permanently damaged USB.

Fourth reason: Internet blackout for several days. The internet has been deteriorating for the last 2 months. My theory is the state ordered it due to the rising protests, but of course I dont really know. This would be easy to do as there is a quasi-monopoly in telecommunications of one man with strong ties to the government. A change was ordered, but it there has not been any noticable change so far. report by the Economist

Fiith reason: the connection has been so bad that it could not handle uploading a video, photos, or downloading 2 pages as pdf. or sometimes even opening my mails. As it works better in the morning I am trying again and only use photos. This I will probably have to continue until I am back to Europe.


A few days back was the Kosmo-Con in Pachuca to which a friend invited me. It was all about Asian Anime Culture.
My friend's K-Pop dance group was entertaining the crowd, which I cannot show unfortunately.
Typical Asian pic :D
The university made a big deal out of an international dinner with the director and then he didnt even show up.
Then I went to Veracruz to a governmental event with a friend who studies with me. The event happened on the ground of the Navel base and school. Veracruz was an important place in the earlier days with wars at sea and fleets from Spain and the USA.
The navel golf court to train concentration
The navel library
Veracruz is known for fresh sea food. As it was really cheap I kinda overdid it and suffered a bit afterwards

A lot of fresh fruit and drinks were available as well

Veracruz is not know for smart architecture

If you have wondered how the tense situation in Mexico manifests itself in Pachuca here is one picture. On universities and high schools there are banners like these, always stating solidarity as usually there is one saying: we all are Ayotzinapa. Protests happen now and then, once mildly violent as some students destroyed private property when marching along the streets. The university campus for the arts located in Real del Monte did a very artsy and informative protest day with many workshops which was awesome and peaceful but far from being widely noticed. I went to the cinema on thursday and students blocked a big, important road for about 5 minutes, so we had to get out of the taxi (didnt want to be late for the movie) and cross the road while the cars didnt move.


Posted by nerikimmera 09:01 Archived in Mexico Tagged university la el director was cena been veracruz con virus happening Comments (0)

HUHuuuu Happy birthday, Oma

und noch ein Jahr drauf

As I cannot be there for my grandmother's birthday, here is a little message for her.

Posted by nerikimmera 18:47 Comments (0)

Las Grutas de Tolantongo

A new weekend adventure

So here is a summary of what has happened during the last three days.

The Grutas were actually a bit dangerous. I was wearing flipflops but due to the strong under current I lost them in a super dark grotto. This has also led to some cuts on my feet, as well as an awefully big and black-purple-red and stripped bruise on my thigh and mildly infected cuts on my knees as I have lost balance a couple of times due to the pain in my feet and fell on sharp edges of stones. Aimé from Argentina also lost one shoe. She and a few others discovered one of mine later. Unfortunately we both were left with a right-foot shoe, so none of us could walk comfortably anymore. That's only fair, huh?! :D haha Other people were wearing normal shoes, but the pair I had with me in Mexico was unsuitable for that purpose (yes, i travel light). The scenery though was beautiful! Swimming in beautiful stone tubs on mountains so high up and overlooking the surrounding nature was an incredible experience! And I looooved the strong massage by the waterfalls!

Here are some impressions.


As always - I can't keep my eyes open :D

This is from the picture time! Our tutor Adrian was not included as part of our group by the university administration, so we did it ourselves instead!!large_DSCF0564.jpglarge_DSCF0560.jpg

Posted by nerikimmera 19:12 Archived in Mexico Tagged grutas tolantongo Comments (1)

Real Del Monte

The small silver mining town


So I have done a little day trip to one of the more famos places around here in Pachuca: the little silver mining town of Mineral del Monte. The video contains information about the town, but if you are interested in more, check out its website here.

The mining museum. The guide was one of the old miners who has worked there his whole life until closing. There the very first strike in the history of North America happened in 1766 against the inhumane working conditions. Later the strike turned violent. The guide also experienced one strike, for which the leader of the union demanded money for representation, even when they had already stopped working. When he had enough money, the labour union guy fled the country and is now searched for by interpol. I was told.




Hanging around in Real del Monte


Selthree :D


In the mine, protecting my backpack. You never know...


Real del Monte from above


The arts campus of my university is situated in Real del Monte and so much prettier than mine. But that seems to be a global phenomenon ... that (economic and) art faculties are always the prettiest.


A mystical or a cursed city? (Just like Pachuca; filled with the tortured souls??) Probably just the rain-season-weather.


Una fiesta de quinceañera/quince años we witnessed (the girl is called quinceañera. Boys do not celebrate this birthday that pompous way)


These fruits are from tuna/Feigenkaktus/prickly pear. I (right) eat 2 different sorts of tuna with pomegranate, Lucero with tons of Salsa and Chilli.


Posted by nerikimmera 12:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico semester_abroad real_del_monte Comments (0)

The Caribbean!!

Cancun y Playa del Carmen

:) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Hello, lovely people

before uni started I have spent a couple of days in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. A few impressions can be seen in the video and others are on the pictures below. The one thing I can say for certain is that this (THIS CLIMAT) is not a place for me. Complaining about being in the Caribbean is like the biggest non-problem ever but I definitely prefer icy dark Estonian winters to that humid hellhole. I am going to follow the advice of Tabea and a few others and gonna look towards the south of America. But of course I super enjoyed lying in the hammock between palm trees.

I have had few advantures again due to a lack of signes and wrong bus schedules. For example I took a bus at 5am to get to the airport in Cancun from Playa del Carmen and it was supposed to take 2 hours. But it was around 50 minutes and I was way too early for my flight. But I wanted to take the early bus because there wasnt another one for the next two hours and I wanted to be safe. At Cancun airport there are no places to sit at the Terminal 1 except for one cafe for which I was too thrifty of course. So I was sitting in the dirty airport floor for hours reading the book Kai gave me and being starred at by hundreds of people, probbaly wondering how disturbed I seem to be wearing my dark hoody over my head.

(To pretend to be more professional I tried to put in an introduction for a few seconds :D )

Thats how I watched the finale of the world cup in Puebla (was kinda obligated to haha)
me_n_eduardo.jpg DSCF0192.jpgDSCF0185.jpg

The beautiful under water world at Isla Mujeres

Joy, joy

Kinetics, aweful and awesome

My hostel in Cancun; living the life :D :D

One of the beautiful naked goddesses

Yeah, babe, looking super professional, no?
My two companeros

Dancing Salsa at the beach at night. Or trying to... The beach is on the right side of the pictures
IMG-20140725-WA0008.jpg IMG-20140725-WA0004.jpg

My beautiful gigantic Mosquito bites, so you all can be disturbed with me, yeayy!!





My plane ticket was just a tiny piece of paper

Posted by nerikimmera 19:21 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico caribbean cancun playa_del_carmen exchange pachuca Comments (1)

Bienvenido a México

First days en los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

Though it took a while before I figured out how to get to my gate in Paris, it was nothing compared to the time I spent at the Mexican airport. I arrived a bit late in Mexico City as my plane had to circle above the airport for 30 minutes due to an air traffic jam. Going through immigration was not difficult, they barely looked at my papers but the whole thing is super unorganized and has taken more time than was necessary; f.e. the person organizing the lanes is more than useless. After that my luggage was checked very thoroughly, each bag, and they asked me questions about it! My luggage was checked 5 times during my first 3 days, at the airport a couple of times, at the bus station and on the road from the trunk of a car when we were stopped on the way to Pachuca. The Mexican airport is also not the most well- structured one and I have never experienced such a slowliness in selling tickets! I was repeatedly told that I cannot buy sim cards anywhere and the wifi is even worse than in Paris, something I could not believe when I was in France. But then again, I am spoiled from Estonia, even Germany is far behind in this regard. So I had some trouble telling my friend when I will be arriving as there were also no public coin-phones, only payable with visa card, and of course mine was not accepted. Just as with almost all ATMs which forced me to open a Mexican bank account, which is a foreigner-unfriendly process due to its (new) requirements.

With Eduardo, who I had met just like 2 months before in Riga when my friend Jasmin came to visit me in the Baltics, I went around Puebla. Puebla is one of 31 Mexican states and also the name of its capital. Its origin in today's form is from the Spaniards who founded this place 1531 in order to secure a trade route from Mexico City to the port of Veracruz. But settlement dates back thousands of years, the youngest ones known by the general population are the Aztecz. Those before include tribes and cultures with funny names such as Mixtecs, Olmec-Xicalancas and Nahuas. Earlier findings cannot be connected to names.

At a certain point in time the Spanish people came and the great pacifist Hernán Cortés called for peace talks, f.e. in 1519 with the Massacre of Cholula (an old city, now part of Puebla). It was peaceful after that. As can be seen in the video, the Spaniards also tried to take over land spiritually and built their own Christian buildings. Today many Aztecs pyramid are covered by plants, some can be entered for a small fee.

Pachuca seems like a cursed place...

This has been the most "typical Mexican" photo I have taken so far

A club/bar in Puebla (Cholula). I like that things are so colorful here

Posted by nerikimmera 07:12 Archived in Mexico Tagged paris mexico puebla semester_abroad pachuca Comments (1)

Frankfurt - Estonia

Hot chocolate and Song Festival Parade

The EURICA programme is open to students at certain universities in Europe and Latin America (mostly South America). As Germany is excluded from this programme I was not allowed to fly from there but had to follow proper procedure: flying to Estonia where I study and then getting a paid flight from Tallinn to Mexico. As no direct flights can be expected for this route I had to transfer in Paris. Considering how close Mannheim and Paris are, I do feel bad for the unnecessary CO2 emission but otherwise they wouldn't pay it. My return flight is even crazier. I forgot about the time difference and instead of 23rd I will arrive 24th December in Europe.From Mexico city I am flying to Amsterdam and from there I go on to Tallinn. Then I have to pay for my flight back to Germany for which I could only find one affordable flight: from Tallinn to Amsterdam and onwars to Frankfurt ... a shame considering time, my wellbeing and the environment. But I had to follow procedure, so I could't get off in Amsterdam and take a bus or train home. So I experience the EU bureaucracy in its pure form broken down to the individual and how it can be damaging, as well as not cost efficient.

In Tallinn I stayed with my Taiwanese friend and former tutand Wayne.

The Song Festival is at TALLINNA LAULUVÄLJAK (Song Festival in Estonian: Laulupidu) and is held every 5 years in July. It is also organized in Latvia and Lithuania, celebrating the national awakening and peaceful fight against Soviel occupation. Usually around 18.000 singers perform at once on stage, in front of 100.000 people. 2009 at the 140th anniversary of the Song Festival about 34.000 singers performed for more than 200.000 people from all over Estonia and a rising number of international visitors of which some learn Estonian songs and are allowed to perform as well.
For more information check this website

credits: Rainar Kurbel ja Endel Grensmann at laulupidu.ee


Lili, Wayne and Max



credits: Estonia.eu

Posted by nerikimmera 09:57 Archived in Estonia Tagged travel festival frankfurt estonia abroad song semester Comments (0)

It's about to start

preparations and intro


I am about to start my next travel chapter: MEXICO. I will be spending 170 days in Pachuca as an exchange student with the EU program EURICA. This may well be the most challenging time abroad yet as I do not speak Spanish but have to attend and PASS these classes in order to keep the scholarship (and I am not talking about Spanish-language classes). Also I am a lot less prepared for this part of the world than I was for Asia. Hopefully I will be able to go on vacations during this semester as I will have to leave on the 170th day and fly back to Tallinn. My main goal is to do a Carribean Island trip (on budget of course).

Here you can see the path up to the Flaggenturm. There are small, steep parts, difficult ones with tiny stones and easy parts. For people who actually do a few minutes of sport a week, there are probably no difficult parts climbing up.


Posted by nerikimmera 23:38 Archived in Germany Tagged hill turm intro duerkheim bad_exchange Comments (0)

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