Voorbije zondag had de 5e Love Bugs Parade plaats in Brussel. Honderden broertjes en zusjes waren aanwezig. En de pers was ook nieuwsgierig naar de kever met een naam… Mijn liefde voor Pablo de Kever kun je hier nog eens bekijken:
De Love Bugs Parade stond dit jaar in het teken van de Mexicaanse kever, naar aanleiding van de “Vochol” die geëxposeerd wordt in Bozar. Deze vocho gemaakt in huichol kunst werd gemaakt door miljoenen parels en wordt binnenkort geveild.
Sommigen hebben mijn fotoreeks “Vocho Verde”, over de groene kevertaxi’s in Mexico Stad, al bewonderd in Autoworld in 2010.
Voor diegene die toen de kans niet kregen is er goed nieuws. De reeks kun je nu gratis bewonderen op de knalgroene muur van het koffiehuis De Dikke Kat, Kasteelpleinstraat 26 in Antwerpen. De foto’s hangen nog omhoog tem 26 januari. En voor wie ook verbonden is met een beetje nostalgie met deze groene kevers, de foto’s zijn ook te koop!
Als je meer wil weten over de fotoreeks, dan kun je een kijkje nemen op de website over de Vocho Verde. En voor diegenen die al een déjà-vu voeldenopkomen… Ja, natuurlijk lijkt Pablo de Kever op deze taxi’s! Ik heb hem speciaal in het leven geroepen om deze verdwenen iconische taxi in ere te houden!
2012 was een mooi jaar. Ik heb helemaal mijn draai gevonden in fotografieworkshops voor kinderen. Leerkrachten en leerlingen zijn laaiend enthousiast telkens Pablo de Kever en ik langskomen in de klas. Dus meer van dat in 2013!
De voorbije weken was het hier nogal stil op de blog. Maar mijn hoofd en leven waren overladen!
Achter de schermen werk ik hard aan de laatste voorbereidingen van de expo Vlaamse Interieurs in september. Maar met mijn gedachten zit ik al in een grotere expo. In het echte leven heb ik afspraken met partners, aanvragen voor subsidies, etc. Alles krijgt vorm, beetje bij beetje.
Ook Pablo de Kever domineert mijn leven. We zitten nog altijd in de homologatiefase. Misschien is er deze week een kans dat we verder geraken… Mijn handen heb ik vol met het voorbereiden van de workshops. En voorbije weekend stond er een lang artikel in De Morgen! Nu nog achter de schermen verder werken aan dat nieuwe project…
Pablo the Beetle has been in Belgium for only 3 months. Giving me a lot of joy when I see his smiling face. Or when I see kids turning their heads to follow this bright green car driving down the street!
But these Belgian rules have been keeping my head busy to get Pablo registered! Everyone wants some money, nobody knows what to do exactly. Sounds pretty Mexican to me! We should be on the right track now. I only need to save to get some modifications done and start the procedure of homoligation.
In the mean time, I’m allowed to drive around with his Mexican licence plate in Belgium. I love the Angel and 682-SEE!
As for the project, I’m preparing some workshops for summer. Pablo the Beetle will introduce children into the colourful Mexican world and photography! Next Friday I’ll hold a Mexican party for 44 kids, including enough homemade piñata’s, jamaica drinks and corncake. But the aspect that triggers me the most is the children’s questions. They’ll challenge me as a photographer to capture the answers. I do not need to finish up the workflow for that!
For sure I’ll keep you posted about Pablo and his adventures!
I dedicate the upcoming week totally to Pablo de Kever (Pablo the Beetle).
On Monday I’ll speak about the whole project on an ICT-Day for teachers in Belgium. On Tuesday I’ll pick Pablo up at the harbour in Zeebrugge. Giving an interview to the radio and spend the next days to get everything done with the customs and other administration. On Friday I will present him to the press and everybody who wants to meet him!
In between I’m getting ready to visit different places with Pablo. You can check out his planned visits on this map!
Very good news, Pablo de Kever is almost in Belgium!
You can meet him for the first time in Belgium on Friday the 11th of February at 11am at ‘t Steen in Antwerp. Afterwards I’ll be using him as my personal transportation. So you can bump into him while driving on the Belgian roads!
The childrens’ blog will continue. Kids can ask questions about any subject. They will challenge me to answer with images! It gives them the opportunity to discover the interaction of blogs (social media) and educate them with visual inputs.
The last two weeks have been busy and stressfull! I felt a bit sad of the unfortunate news that none of the companies I contacted want to sponsor in getting Pablo to Belgium. Without knowing anything about international transportation, I asked friends, Facebook and Twitter for companies.
Only 3 of the 10 companies I found answered my requests, most with pretty high costs for such a small car! By Wednesday little time was left… So I headed to the office of Wallenius Wilhelmsen here in Mexico City. In 90 minutes Pablo’s ticket was fixed! For a darn cheap price! The good news was that the boat leaves already on Monday (10th of January). Which meant that he had to be in Veracruz fast to get Pablo registered on time!
So Thursday I woke up before sunset and headed for Veracruz, 409 km. The customs agent was really nice. I paid all the costs for him and the port. He would take care of putting him on the boat. So I had to leave Pablo behind, feeling sad and happy at the same time. The only thing I can do now is wait…
I have one week left in Mexico City to take my flight. Yes, after months of trying, calling and e-mail I fixed the flight with KLM (for the ones who didn’t know it yet!). And yes, I fly in Business Class because they had no other space left, bummer for them!
I still got loads of adventures and pictures left to share. Which I will do in the next weeks. Once Pablo gets in Belgium, a new adventure starts. To begin with getting him registered to drive on the smooth Belgian roads!
I was very eager to get to Chiapas. In my 10 previous visits to Mexico, I never made it up to there. After hearing so many good stories, I had high expections!
My first stop was Tuxtla. The main city of the state. Feels like Mexico City on a smaller scale. So I headed soon to San Cristobal de las Casas. There I got totally shooked up…
During my 3,5 months I was free to take pictures. Suddenly the people started to ask money to shoot their bananas on the market?! I got stunned by the high amount of tourists. I saw about 50 Flemish people in 2 days! Which I normally never meet on my trips to Mexico. Having all their camera’s pointed to the Indigenas, I felt embarrased to use my camera.
Everyting made me wonder… The bunch of tourists, plenty of Indigenas in traditional clothes, busses of tourists overwhelming nearby villages, paying to visit a church, not being allowed to take pictures of their traditions,… For me, it’s the perfect example of how tourism has a (negative) impact on a society. It’s a good thing that the Indigenas keep their knowledge of making craft. But if they start inventing objects, it’s too weird. Like a cover to keep your tortilla’s warm, or a traditional cuddle in the shape of a giraffe or lion – which can’t be found in Mexico!
At the end I felt very sad for the Indigenas. I’m sure there’s a more constructive way for them to keep their traditions and make a living. This kind of tourism is exhibiting them. San Cristobal feels like a zoo where tourists gaze to the locals and fling by very quickly.
Of course, San Cristobal de las Casas has some nice things to offer. Loads of places offering good coffee, freshly roasted and grown somewhere nearby in Chiapas. And for me thé place to spot VW Beetles! I will miss these colourfull cars and their smiling face a lot! And if you love nice shops and coloured houses, it’s definitely worth a visit.
There are a lot of rules in Mexico, most of the people don’t apply them. But because I am a foreigner here, I can’t take any risks. So we have to get back to DF to get the verification of Pablo. Otherwhise we’ll get a big fine.
A bit improvised, we decided to spend more time to discover the area between Acapulco and Mexico City. Our first stop in Chilpancingo was fast. Too big city, too hot, too crowded and little to see. We drove some more kilometers to get to Iguala. Just a quick stop to move on again the next day.
In Iguala we hoped to see something interesting. It’s the birtplace of the flag. We saw a few statues in the city centre. But no tourists at all. Well, that’s because there’s nothing much too see!
The next stop was exhausting to find our way in the city, Taxco. With steep hills and curved streets, it’s hard to figure out where the centre is. The loads of beetles and nice atmposhere around the main square during the night, make this city worth to see!
Nearby, there’s a town Ixcateopan where you can see the dead body of Cuathemoc. It’s a though and dangerous trip, luckely I didn’t used Pablo the Beetle to get there. If you’re curious to see how an important Mexican (the last Aztec emperor) is honoured in a disabandoned, humid improvised museum. It’s a must see. But probably you don’t have the time so you can better leave behind this dissapointed attraction!
I heard that Cuautla is the place to find out about Zapata. Because there are several questions about sombreros, I hoped to find some information and some hats to take to Belgium. It was another big dissapointement. OK, there is a museum with the steam train that Zapata used. The lady of the tourist information looked suprised when I told her the city is the place of Zapata. She told me his house stands in a little village about 10 km away, in Anenecuilco. But the museum there was closed! It does has a nice big rural painting about the live of Zapata.
Next day we left to Tepoztlan, the place where Cuetzalcoatl (the feathered snake) was born. There are a lot of ‘spiritual’ people stranded in this place, believing that there is a special energy coming from the earth… But it’s NOT the birthplace. It’s another town Amatlan 6 km away. I was curious to check out this ‘energetic’ place. But there’s only a statue, hidden under a tree, refers to this other special item of the Mexican history…
I also stopped in Cuernavaca. Yes, another big city with little sightseeing. There’s no shopping centre, the nice stores are spread all over the city. The only reason to go there is the good weather, if you can afford a hotel with pool or has Mexican friends with their own!
I am looking forward to visit the South of Mexico. Let’s hope the colours, food, traditions and people can charm me more…
Oh, tourists in Belgium shouldn’t be dissapointed anymore when they see Manneken Pis. Believe me, it’s more worth a visit than the things I saw the last week! #Zapata #Cuathemoc #Cuetzalcoatl
The last days have been extremely busy:
- fixing newly discovered failures (catalysator, steering box,…)
- find a painter to put the name “Pablo” on the beetle (I felt soooo excited, like he finally got real!)
- obtaining a declaration at the police station of my boyfriends robbed wallet (after visiting 5-6 different stations, only a bribe worked 35 EUR is expensive!)
- photographing the 200 years of Independance (at a school to show later on Pablo’s blog!)
After some adventures (see below) we managed to get Pablo the Beetle ready for the roadtrip tomorrow! I am so excited and nervous! But I love the way he looks! I hope to post a small video of his whole transformation soon. I need to go and pack first for the trip!
The stereotypes of Mexican did kill our schedule last week… A friend of a friend didn’t show up after being late for 4 hours. So I wanted to check Lucha Libre for kids and we took the metro with too many documents (which I normally never do). Due to that we lost a lot of time. Not only trying to find another person to take Pablo into the crazy centre of Mexico City to replace the tires. But also to find a decent police officer to make a declaration of the robbery.
Until now I never got in touch with the Mexican police. Yes, I am very proud I never had problems in visiting Mexico for 10 times! But this trip is different… The moment of the robbery, the police didn’t do anything (only complaining we were too loud!). We asked several police officers and police stations to make a declaration. They always invented a new excuse to put us through: it happened in another district, the other side of the street is not our responsibility, your boyfriend needs a translator,… I exploded after 4 days trying to just make a simple declaration! The emergency number of the Belgian Embassy didn’t work, so we felt very alone facing the police officers trying to get rid of us.
A Mexican lawyer, who was helping a friend, approached me and told me the Belgian Embassy should join us and force the police to make the statement. If not it would take us a long time, being transfered to other places. And it would cost us money.
An officer, a friend of him, showed up and said he would call to his boss to see if they could help. And than you know… only a mordida (bribe) can make things work. He fixed the papers, we payed him all the money I had left in my wallet (600 pesos =35 EUR) and that was it! That’s how things still go in Mexico (City), even after 200 year of Independance! #sad
But I don’t feel bad about the bad “service” in Mexico. Corruption and bad workers are all over the world… Also KLM still didn’t fix my problem of my return flight (still 5 weeks to wait for a standard answer! #fail #customerservice).
Conclusion. If you bump into the Mexican police, try first to avoid them! If you need to, pay them a mordida so you fix your problem fast. So you might better have the help of a Mexican. Call your Embassy for help (I dunno how much they want/can help). Or you can also try one of the Police Stations for Tourists. (I couldn’t try them myself because we live 1,5 hour away from them.)
Calle Victoria, 76 Colonia Centro, Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Phone: 53 46 87 20 Ext 20 (24/24)
Calle Amberes, 54 Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Phone: 53 45 53 82 (9am-5pm)
Paseo de la Reforma, 42 Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Phone: 53 46 87 40 (9am-5pm)
“Waiting” is a keyword in Mexico. It takes a while to get to another place in Mexico City due to a lot of traffic. People are late so you wait for them and loose half of your day. And it takes some time to get Pablo ready for the trip!
People who know me can confirm that waiting isn’t my strongest point… But I have to be strong right now and try to be good at it, in waiting!
Only 10 days left to start the roadtrip. Mentally, I am totally ready to kick off. The last days I will use to show some parts of Mexico City to my boyfriend: Casa Azul of Frida Kahlo, Xochimilco, Lucha Libre…
We are also finishing Pabo itself. And he needs more attention than expected: 2 new front freigns (18 EUR/each), one rear freign (25 EUR), bougies (12 EUR for 4),… Luckely all his parts are cheap! But all these little bits are killing my budget.
So I was very happy to eat Comida Corida for 40 pesos (2,5 EUR) at the market. It’s a “homemade” meal including soup, maindish, drinks and sometimes desert. My daily budget is set on 15 EUR per day, which is possible. But at the moment I spend much more. Thousands of pesos dissapear every day… I’ll be happy to have this expensive part behind me and enjoy cheap food on the markets!
Today I visited Pablo again. The top completely wrapped in plastic, covering the nice light gray colour. He was ready for the next step, turning grass-in-spring green on the lower part!
(Click on the picture for a serie on flickr)
I felt really excited to see him becoming real, until now he was just a drawing on the blog.
He needs a few more days to dry and polish. On Saturday I should have him on my side. He will only need some small replacements to get totally ready for the trip. For sure I’ll post some more pictures soon!
But excuse me, I have to pick up my boyfriend at the airport and get some quality time I want him to show the Angel de la Independencia by night on Reforma, the Zocalo, Templo Mayor and Museum of Antropology. Busy schedule for 1 day!
Today I went to visit Pablo de Kever to check out his paint job. He’s totally disarmed: no lights, no mirrors,… Scrubbed to get ready for his new colours light gray and ecological green!
I did some inspection and they do a good job. They will cover all the details and remove paint from the previous owner sticked on the windows!
It takes over 5 days to paint the outside of the car and it takes 5 500 pesos (350 EUR) of my budget. I will keep his original colour inside, just for the memory. And because I don’t have the time or money to paint the inside. At least another week and 10 000 pesos (600 EUR), I have neither of them! If this seems a lot of money… In Belgium you pay 4 000 EUR to get a vocho painted on the inside and outside!
Tomorrow they paint the light gray on the top, on Wednesday they will finish the green. I’ll have a peek again on this stage to take some pictures of Pablo being surrounded by green clouds!
Oh, for the VW freaks. Here a view of the engine! I also bought some original pieces to remplace: bougies, cables,…
Very good news! After seeing many horrible VW Beetles, we managed to find Pablo! Look! Mira!
He’s in good condition: engine, exterior and interior. He needs to be fixed just a little bit. Replacements of bougies, tires, franes,… thanks to the sponsoring of orginal VW parts by Antonio Trejo (firstname.lastname@example.org – contact him if you need any VW Beetle parts anywhere in the world)!
And of course, Pablo needs to get his right colours! That will happen this weekend. Of course I will follow this process with my camera and will share his transformation on the blog!
At this moment I have only 5 pesos left, well Antonio lent me some. Although I had loads of money in my MasterCard, the daily withdrawal was cut. It was a challenge to get the last bit of the money this morning. He’s twice the budget I had in mind 34 500 pesos (2 100 EUR), but he’s worth every peso!
It’s the first car I ever bought in my life… A black VW Beetle was the first car I drove. And I used the Vocho Verde (taxi) every day to get to my internship in Mexico City 6 years ago. I never imagined at that time to have my own, but today I have! Where’s the champaign?! Oh, right Mexico. I’ll get some the tequila this weekend
Hasta luego, with new adventures!
Another day went by… It seems like each day there are less VW Beetles for sale in Mexico City. I did discovered why…
The search is difficult and little time is left. So I got some extra help, thanks to an e-mail from Belgium! And I am verry happy to have Antonio Trejo on my side!
After checking the internet, we saw two vochos. Both in a very sad condition, although the adds mentioned “muy bueno condiciones”. For them this includes holes in the ceiling, missing bits in the door, broken windscreen, missing parts in the engine…
So we went back to search on the internet and newspapers. But they have just 1 or 2 new adds with vochos each day. And the famous second-hand newspaper Segunda Mano is not released on paper anymore, only on the internet since 2010. There is another newspaper left, Segunda Trato, release on Thursdays. So lets hope a lot of people who don’t use internet put their vocho for sale in Segunda Trato!
And really sad news, the Beetles in Mexico City dissapear fast! The government of Mexico City wants to get rid of them, but there is still a high demand in other cities. For example Acapulco, where they still have loads of white Beetles as taxi’s – I will check this myself in a few weeks. I did see the first piece of evident today! I saw in a garage plenty of green taxi’s and white Beetles. They were fixing only green taxi’s to sell them outside Distrito Federal.
Let’s hope we find Pablo soon, and keep him safe from unrespectfull drivers or wholesalers!
Yesterday I spend the whole afternoon with the mechanic. I got to practise my Spanish again. He explained me the new colours of the taxi’s, but still no vocho!
After 1,5 hour of delay, the guy arrived with his beetle of ’94. It got a decent investigation of the mechanice and it failed… The engine was too old, not working smooth. It should cost about 25 000 pesos (1 500 EUR) to fix everything! On top of the purchase of the car 20 000 pesos (1 000 EUR). My budget can’t handle that.
Any old vocho would face this problem. So we focus on finding a model of 2000 or more recent. People didn’t answer their mobile phone of the adds. We checked one, but it has been a taxi. Although he claimed it never was.
So back to zero. The mechanic and I will spend the whole day together on Tuesday to call and check beetles. He’s confident we will find a good one that day! He claims he has loads of time to fix and paint to car. So that job should be done fast.
While waiting, he told me that the new colours refer to Bicentenario. I heard that before, but never received a detailed explanation. Now I did. The golden colour refers to the 200 years of Independance of Mexico. The red/magenta colour is to remember the Mexican revolution in 1910. I assume they refer to the blood that got spilled, like the Mexican flag. Red for the people who died, white for hope and green for the nature.
Conclusion of this weekend. It’s easy to find and buy a vocho, but it’s hard to find one that could take us 7 000 km or more!
It’s not that easy to find a good one. Mexicans love their bochito! So they are not eager to sell them. Or it sells really fast!
I keep on repeating Step 6 (Tell everybody you are looking for a vocho + handout your phone number) in combination with Step 5 (waiting!). I am not that kind of person to sit and wait… So I got the next step.
7. Check out the internet (Be Aware! You get dizzy by the numbers and all the windows popping up!)
There are Models 2003 – the ultimate ones! – in offer, but 7 500 EUR is out of my budget. I found today about 15 vochos who seem to be in a good condition (models ’90 -’00) and fit more or less in my budget (1 000 – 1 500 EUR). The next thing I can’t do myself…
8. Ask your friend to call all these people (Most of them are already sold, but you might be lucky!)
During my search on the net, I bumped into some funny vochos! No Photoshop!
My schedule of the last days was soooo busy…
I visited some AIESEC friends I hadn’t see in for 5-6 years. It was great to catch up again, after I survived the heavy rain with all my luggage!
The meeting with Volkswagen México was fine, but it didn’t help me a lot in my search for a vocho. The one that an employee sold was in a bad condition. His “new” motor was a homemade modified fuel injection motor – which could explode any minute. And the “oil” of his engine was grease, in stead of motor oil. We wouldn’t survive 6 000 km with that one! No Pablo yet! But I have now some friends looking in Puebla to for vocho’s. We’ll find Pablo soon!
The rest of the weekend I have been shooting a reportage for the Belgian childrens’ news Karrewiet. It was a lot of fun and very interesting to see how a Belgian family lives in Mexico – with the necessary amount of Belgian chocolate! It will take a long while to show the result ’cause I’ll edit the video when I get back in Belgium, January 2011.
And of course, heading back to Mexico City is always an adventure! You plan your return on Sunday evening, but you end up leaving the next morning. I got stucked in an enormous traffic jam with the bus. So there was only one (Mexican) solution. Ask the busdriver to let me out and open the trunk in the middle of the road to get out my luggage. Than cross asap to avoid the fast cars on the other lane. And jump in a vocho taxi to get home, finally! Sorry, no pictures of that because I avoid to take out my iPhone or camera in these crowds when I am alone.
Today I met Volkswagen México to see if they could help me with finding a vocho… Bad news, all the vocho’s they had are sold! They only have very important models left
But they were very kind to help me and look for a solution. Tomorrow I’ll check one of the employers who sells his car. *fingers crossed* Maybe I can hug “Pablo” tomorrow!
Oh, social media is not in their vocabulary… Too bad. Pablo de Kever is a good opportunity to communicate about their brand. Let’s hope they grab the chance before the project is finished!
Last night I spend hours on making prints of Pablo the Beetle. My sister was so nice to make me a stamp. And now I use it to make small gifts to hand out to the Mexican children who helped me with the video. I have about 100 now, but I don’t think it will be enough for the whole trip…
I spend my day shooting piñata’s in all kind of shapes and colours! A video for the children will follow later. It takes me sometimes several days to collect all the necessary footage (videos).
Today I found out that the singer Ricardo Arjona dedicated a song to the Volkswagen Beetle as a taxi! It’s about a taxista falling in love with a passenger…
This weekend I got into Step 6 of buying a beetle.
6. Tell everybody you meet that you’re looking for a vocho.
They come up with other ideas! One of the guys gave me his newspaper. The descriptions in the second hand section sounds good: not too many kilometers and they fit in my budget! One of the taxi-drivers – I take a lot, on average 4 taxi’s a day! – advised me to get in touch with local Volkswagen dealers. Yeah, so simple! But first I had to avoid all his questions about liberty of sex in Belgium and other countries… So I got the advise that if you want to find guys with a big sizes and girls with good experience, you should go to:
2. Yucatan in Mexico
3. South Africa
Well, I am nothing with this advise. I am perfectly happy with my boyfriend. Maybe you can do something with this information
As I mentioned in the previous post, I was waiting and keeping my eyes open for VW Beetles for sale.
Today I spotted one, while holding myself and all my stuff in the shaking bus. I jumped off and asked in my best Spanish the year of construction, and how much the car costs: 9 000 pesos. Fits into my budget, I aim for 16 000 pesos (1 000 EUR). But made in 1976… That’s too old, way too risky it would break down on the road… He has my number. He will call me when he gets a good one for sale. I got extra eyes spotting for Pablo!
He did give some other advice too. Every Saturday and Sunday there is a free market with thousands of cars, nearby Peri Sur (in the South of the City). For 200 pesos (14 EUR) you can get a check-up by a policeman to check if the car is legal. My friends doubt about this way to get a car… So I’ll search the internet, which will be my job for the weekend. I hope to receive a call from the mechanice with the news he found a terrific “vocho”! He’s better in judging a car than me.