Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
|Catedral de Morelía|
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Each volunteer will spend the first week of the workcamp experience by a local indigeneous family in order to get closer to the culture and slowly adapt to the new life-style as well as be part of the daily activities of each family member. My host family lives about 15 mins by foot from the centre of the village which is the "cooperativa" of Pilateno where the only mini shop and the meeting point of the community are situated. The area next to the mini shop (which is formed of 3 walls and a roof all made by hands by the locals) will become our dormitory or house for our 2nd and 3rd week.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Since I didn´t have any cash left I had to find a bank to be able to change my Traveller Checks and had to go all the way to Ciudad Valles, the closest big city about 2h away from Xilitla. After queueing up for about 20 mins and waiting for the long process (from Traveler Checks into cash) to get going, I finally have been told that in my case wasn´t possible because the signature on my Cheques didn´t exactly look the same as the one on my passport... ?!? Gulp! Great, so I went all the way there for nothing!
Once I was back in Xilitla, we moved our staff into the dormitory... and what a freaken dormitory! It was a 10 square metres room with beach mats placed all over the floor tile on which 7 people had to sleep for that night... I couldn´t believe it! This dormitory called the "Cooperativa" of Xilitla has to be shared between our project group of 5 people and the other one of about 5 people as well plus the coordinator for the next 2 week-ends. Also the only toilet in the cooperativa doesn´t flush properly which meant that if I need to have a number 2 (the solid version) I have to run out on the street to look for a toilet in a restaurant or an internet point!
My first night on the floor (see picture), after a night sleeping on the bus-seat, was absolutely AWFUL! I kept turning around trying to find a comfortable position that wouldn´t completely distroy my bones. I was extremely exhausted that I fall asleep anyway but woke up thousand times and got up at 8am with broken neck and back, puffed eyes and scared of thinking to sleep for the rest of my 3 weeks in similar conditions! NO WAY! The only moment of relief was a bowl of fresh tropical fruits (mango, papaya, pineapple and melon) with natural yoghurt and the so called granola (cereals) for breakfast... yumme!
By 12.30am the camioneta was waiting for us. Shortly a camioneta is one of the few private pick-up vans of the indigeneous of Pilateno that runs about 2/3 times a day and leaves whenever is full with people or with material. So there isn´t any fixed timetable... it leaves when it leaves. The camioneta doesnt have any seats for the passengers so we had to stay stand up holding eachother to the sides (see picture).
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
First of all I would like to talk about the “Queen of the Hebrides”: the ISLE OF ISLAY. It is the most southern island of the Inner Southern Hebrides and it is famous for its rich smoky-peaty Malt Whiskies worldwide. It is said that the production of Whisky in Scotland started on this island in the 14th century by some Irish monks. Although it is a small island of about 600 m², it has 8 distilleries which some of them are very well-known. The reason why the Whisky on Islay possesses a smoky flavour is because peat is used to dry the germinated malt. Peat is a local natural resource and it is a mixture of decomposed plant material that has accumulated in a wetland. Most part of the Highlands is covered with peat which is commonly used for combustion like firewood (in fact peat is the earliest stage in the formation of coal). So by drying and roasting the malt in the fumes of the burning peat for days, the Whisky will develop a smoky-peaty character. The smokiest single malt Whisky are Ardbeg (50 ppm), Laphroaig (30-40 ppm) and then Lagavulin (25-30 ppm) ppm = Part Per Million of Peat. The other 5 less peaty Single Malt Whiskies of Islay are: Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila and Kilchoman. My favourite Whisky is definitely Laphroaig. I have visited the distillery and the very friendly local staff gave a true experience through the world of Whisky production... brilliant and very interesting!
The inhabitants on the island are approximately by 3400 where 50% still speak Gaelic. Besides Whisky the Islay isle offers birdwatching, fishing and romantic natural scenery: low smooth hills, few trees, isolated villages and a varied fauna and flora. A cultural attraction is the Kildalton Cross which is the ringed Celtic cross dating back to 800 AD. The natives are absolutely easy-going and warm-welcoming as in the whole of the Highlands and islands. Absolutely you can’t miss out of a delicious home-cooked fresh roasted venison or roasted lamb with a creamy mint sauce. Recommended restaurant is at the Bowmore Hotel; a kind of old ugly looking house but offers a relaxed, family atmosphere with friendly staff and outstanding food for a good quality-price relationship.
After describing a bit about one of the Inner Hebrides Island I will give you a few information about another amazing place: the OUTER HEBRIDES ARCHIPELAGO. The largest island is composed of Lewis, the Northern part, and Harris, the Southern one. The other major islands are North Uist, South Uist and Barra.
Lewis is a flat treeless desolated area mainly covered with peat but it offers outstanding cultural attractions, all located on the West coast, encompassing the museum and a real reconstruction of the Black House in Arnol (typical thatched-roof stone house used by the locals until 1930), the impressive Carloway Broch (a 4-story drystone fort built in the 1st Century BC), the mysterious arrangement of the 50 Callanish Standing Stones dating back 5000 years and the Iron Age house next to the gorgeous Bostadh beach in Great Bernera. In terms of landscape the Southern part of Lewis is definitely worth it with endless small nooky places hiding stunning corners at the edge of this world!! The most amazing paradisiacal bay is Uig (see pic) where the famous 78 ivory-carved Lewis Chessmen were discovered in 1831 (in exposition at the British Museum).
Harris, in comparison to Lewis, is very rocky and mountainous and the beaches are wide and open with white sand and turquoise water. Luskentyre beach (see below pic) is one of the most famous white-sand beach in the world on which is nice to go for a walk (don’t forget to wear gloves, a scarf and a heavy jacket... it can be very windy and cold!). Harris also offers challenging mountain-bike tracks like the 20km-Reinigeadal tour. A highly recommended restaurant is at the Hotel Hebrides in Tarbert where you can enjoy a tasty local beef burger and lamb shank (and so cheap as well!!).
In general all the islands of Scotland have something unique to offer that you will hardly find anywhere in the world. If you have time I would highly recommend visiting the remotest British island of St. Kilda. It lies 66 Km west of the Outer Hebrides and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I did not have the time to visit it but I would have loved to. The history about the natives who were evacuated in 1930 and the seebird breeding is incredibly fascinating! Before visiting the islands, especially during the low season, have a look at when organized tours take place. I am sure you will love it!