Gisteren fotograferen. Morgen exposeren. Hoe oud nieuw kan worden.

roadtrip

Boekje nr2

Kijk! Spelen met fotografie

Wie mij op twitter volgt heeft af en toe iets zien verschijnen over “boekje nr2″. De meeste mensen hebben hun handen vol met één boek en een bijhorende expo. Voor mij is dat niet genoeg. Dus was ik tussendoor ook nog een ander boek aan het schrijven. Eentje dat véél meer tijd opslorpte dan een doorsnee fotoboek!

Kijk! Spelen met fotografie

De kennis en ervaring met kinderen en fotografie van de voorbije 3 jaar zitten gebundeld in mijn boekje nr 2 “Kijk! Spelen met fotografie”. Op dit moment zijn er 2 boeken rond fotografie voor kinderen op de wereldmarkt. Oersaai en vol ‘regeltjes’. Verwacht dat dus niet van dit boekje! Mijn uitgangspunt is om kinderen een hoop kapstokken te bieden om anders te leren kijken én op een speelse manier fotografie te ontdekken.

De voorbije maanden werd hard gezwoegd op het fotograferen, herschrijven, testen op kinderen, zoeken naar de juiste woorden,… Het resultaat is een boekje vol illustraties en foto’s waar kinderen uren zoet mee zijn!

En natuurlijk speelt Pablo de Kever in dit boekje een belangrijke rol! Hier en daar duikt hij op. In een fotopuzzel, in een opdracht waarin kinderen hem laten krimpen en hij zit ook verstopt in Mexico Stad! Je kan de Mexicaanse sfeer voelen, zonder de clichés. En de controlefreak in mij zorgde ervoor dat de route door Mexico, in de inhoudstafel, ook klopt met de verschillende foto’s genomen in Mexico.

Ik tel hier alvast de dagen af om het boekje in levende lijven uit te proberen. Geniet eerst nog van de zonnige zomer, en dan zorgt Pablo de Kever voor een leuke afsluiter!


Update

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 de Kever to Belgium!

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!

Boat that will take Pablo to Belgium!

Last image of Pablo de Kever in Mexico

 


Happy New Ears!

I just got back in Mexico City. To be honest, getting back save with all my photo equipment and an (almost) unharmed Pablo de Kever is a big achievement! All the adventures and images are like the cherry on top of a cake.

For sure, I got some more stories and tips to share with you (later) about Mexico. But first I need to spend time to find out how I can transport Pablo to Belgium. Doesn’t he look cute with his moose-ears? I just can’t leave him behind! Any tips about export Mexico-Belgium are welcome. Happy holidays to everybody!


Mosquitos

As a well-prepared European travel, I also brought mosquito repellent from my pharmacy at home. To have some extra protection, I already bought one of these spirals that keep away mosquitos for about 8 hours. (You can buy them in any big supermarket in Mexico.) These do a pretty fine job, especially inside a closed place.

Since yesterday I am enjoying the beach and open cabaña in San Agustillino (nearby Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca). In the other village they sell natural products ‘Cosmeticos Naturales – Mazunte’ (a reference of Lonely Planet, including mosquito repellent). I love natural products. In Europe I rely on Lush. So I was open to give these Mexican natural cosmetics a try, especially with their repellent to keep the Mexican mosquitos away!

But it’s a big failure… I am covered by around 100 mosquito bites… I can tell you, it’s itchy! The Mexican product will go straight to the trash. Well, at least I made a Mexican family eat for a few days!

Now I am covered with (European) cream to heal mosquito bites. Yes, I am happy I bought that at home!

So take your own mosquito repellent and all other kind of medecines! Don’t trust on the local stuff! I have a big bag stuffed with medicines and bandages. I’ll share the list of content later on this blog!


Dia de Muertos in Oaxaca

One of the reasons I have the childrens’ blog of Pablo the Beetle, is to digg deeper into the Mexican culture. I am happy I succeeded to find a child and her family to follow them during several days at the important event Day of the Dead.

Following people so close is such a different experience. It includes a lot of waiting and let go of control. OMG, the last thing wasn’t easy for me! But I enjoyed the warmth and kindness of the Mexicans, which attracted me so many years ago. Especially after so many Mexicans taking advantages of this ‘Gringa’! Calling me this does make me angry. They consider me an American just of my white skin. I’m always fast in shouting ‘Soy Europeana’!

It’s hard to share these 4 days briefly. Loads of impressions and feelings stroke me. One of the things that hit me the most was their real believe of the death family members visiting them.

Every 1st of November there’s a strong wind around 3pm. Their sign of the souls moving back to their houses. I was inside so I didn’t notice the wind. But all the family members were excited that they felt the wind and their loved-ones where back with them. I sat their next to them and the impressive altar. Watching them drinking tequila and beers, cheering on the death family. They never considered me as a foreigner. And they had no idea how honoured I felt being able to share this moment. My camera was quiet for a while, out of respect.


Mexican roads

After driving Pablo the Beetle 4400 km on the Mexican roads, it’s time to share some tips!

- People warned me never to drive at night. They are so right! Roads have to many wholes, roadworks without announcing trucks or people cross the road without watching, etc.

- I advice to drive with 2 persons. 4 eyes see so more than 2! And you need these extra eyes to detect the holes. It’s especially tiring when the sun sets hards and blinds the details in the shadow!

- Be aware to have ‘topes’ everywhere! These bumps never come alone. When you seen one, be sure you have another one right behind it. If you see the sign of a small town, for sure you can expect some. If you see a (small) street on the left or right, it’s another warning to get one! The same counts for areas marked as 30 or 40 km/h. Little of them are painted bright yellow, most of them are hidden well. And loads of them just stand there, without any reason. So keep your eyes open to track them on time!

- Drive behind a Mexican car. They know the road. If they suddenly drive at the left side, this means there’s a big hole at the right! Or check their stop lights to detect one of these crazy ‘topes’!

- Always expect upcoming traffic in (narrow) curves up the mountains. Mexicans don’t respect the road signs and overtake whenever they feel like it. Yes, even in dangerous curves!

- Be prepared to kill loads of bugs, some lizards and even iguanas. They love to bath in the sun on the road. And most of them are too slow to get away on time! Just be happy if you don’t hit a dog! Most dogs love to come up, bark and follow your car!

- Stay calm when a police officer makes you stop. (I am not so good at that, but it’s the best thing to do.) Most of them want a mordida (bribe) for an invented delict. When you have to show your documents, hold them and don’t give them away. Although some insist of letting your papers go… Than you just do that, especially when they carry an automatic shotgun. Two tips. 1. Say your Embassey knows you’re travelling and you will give them a call. Most of the time, that scares them. Do make sure you have the emergency number of your embassy, just in case you need it! 2. Keep a ‘fake’ wallet where you have about 100 pesos to bribe them (if they don’t care about you mentioning ‘embassey’). If they see more money, they will take it.

As for now, the free roads (libre) in the North are in a better condition than the South. I don’t take the highways (coata) because I want to see smaller places and the Beetle goes slow anyway. But the coata is a good option to drive safe and fast!

In general, the Mexican government is doing a lot of effort to improve the roads. They have loads of work left to get everything safe. And they could use some advice in road signs and safety clothes to make the works more visible. But yeah, it’s Mexico. Don’t expect things are than in an efficient or decent way!


Mexican hotels

After sleeping almost 2 months in hotels, I start to grave to have my own room again. Luckely you can find cheap hotels almost everywhere, starting from 180 pesos (10 EUR) up to 350 pesos (20 EUR). Prices are always higher in touristical cities.

The best thing is to go and have lunch or dinner in the city/village you will stay. Get some energy before you start your search! ‘Cause it really helps to check 4-5 hotels to get a better price. Some Mexicans dare to ask too much money for a crappy room! And if you want to be sure, ask to see the room. It’s the same as asking the menu before you enter a restaurant. It’s pretty common here!

If you the hotel has stars, please keep in mind that stars are given easily. As for my experience, one star stands for:

- a curtain in the shower (yes, loads of rooms have the water spread all over your toilet and basin!)

- an elevator (didn’t got any hotel with an elevator up to now!)

- two towels if you ask a room for two people (and if you’re lucky, two of these “rosa” soaps!)

- and half a star for a small pool

- and half a star for a restaurant that closes at 6pm! (made us drive up to the next town for a decent meal!)

A (safe) parking space is really important for me too. I don’t want Pabo the Beetle standing outside on the street, and wake up the next morning without mirrors or wheels! It’s very common that Mexicans steel parts from your car. So if you travel with a car, make sure you get free parking space in the hotel. Otherwhise you can pay 100 pesos (6 EUR) or more for a pension at an ‘estacionamiento’.


Dead people in Oaxaca!

Two days ago I arrived in Oaxaca. For me it’s the place of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead). It’s a big thing all over the country, but mostly only the 2nd of November. In Oaxaca it’s party-time a few days in advance!

Today they started with the sand-tapestry. And I already saw parades of dressed-up kids at the zocalo. There are altars and skeletons in every shop. And exhibitions of skulls and skeletons in different places. Casa de las Artesanias organises several things (2 blocks from the zocalo). But just walk around, and you see colours everywhere! And this year, it’s even better than last year!

Stay tuned for more pictures and updates later this week!


Puebla

After the verification was fixed, it was time to head to the South. First stop: Puebla.

I left very early in Mexico City to be on time for the meeting with Volkswagen de México. A trip of 2 hours took me 3,5 hours, without too much traffic! So I was too late for the meeting. Luckely I could postpone this important meeting to Tuesday.

With the weekend ahead, there was loads of time to discover Puebla. Cholula is an amazing town nearby, with loads of churches. The most important one stands on top of a pyramid. The Spanish conquistador Cortès covered the pyramid to show the native Mexicans that the Catholic relegion is the only true one. Besides this church, you can find more than 270 other ones!

Another interesting attraction is the Africam Safari. Of course it mainly has African animals, like the name suggests. I just spotted a few ones to answer a question “Are there wild animals in Mexico?”. A pitty I couldn’t get a good shot of the crocodiles! It’s a great place where you can drive with your own car through the zoo and see the animals in wide spaces. It’s a must see for (foreign) travellers with kids! For the adults, some signs are hilarious. In Belgium they would make a big fuzz to have signs like these!

Puebla itself is a nice city with a nice zocalo and colourfull tiles. A mixture of the tiles in Portugal. The cty is too big to meet children in a relaxed way or to find answers on the questions. So we left asap more to the South.

 


Quick stop in Mexico City

I had to go back to Mexico City last week to get the car verified. I wasn’t expecting anyp problems because almost everthing was replaced just one month ago. Including the catalysator.

Having a Mexican friend joining us, we head downtown. Pablo did it well, the first step. When they handed over a paper, they gave us back some money. Pablo didn’t pass because the catalysator wasn’t new?! We should fix it with a recognized dealer nearby.

After waiting for hours and paying 2300 pesos (135 EUR), I picked up the car. And saw the other catalysator. The previous mechanic replaced just a part and not the catalysator itself! Full of confidence, I headed back without the friend. After 30 min they gave back another paper. He still didn’t pass?! “The gasoline and CO is too high, because it’s new.” For me, this was a sign to bribe. But it didn’t work. They send me back to the mechanic to finalize the engine.

Totally desperate due to a lack of time, I went back home. The mother of my friends new some other friends that could help me out. Next day, a Mexican took him alone to another verification centre. Pablo passed without a problem!!! TIP: pay a Mexican mechanic to get this job done!

In the mean time there was another problem. I checked before our trip with the insurance GNP if everything was active. They assured me there wasn’t a problem, the police was temporary but I would receive another one soon in my mailbox.

I never received this. The mother proposed to check with another friend the status of the polis. Result: we travelled one month withouth insurance! I couldn’t believe it. Why can’t they just give you the right information?! Luckely they could fix the issue. I am safe with the good papers on my hand!

I had loads of things to do in Mexico City, but again I waisted the time in waiting and fixing things that should have been ok. I hope later to find an opportunity to shoot kids at Lucha Libre!


Acapulco – Mexico City

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


Ajijic, Jalisco

The last week was full of waiting, making back ups, discovering Guadalajara and getting ready to get enough camping stuff to camp on the way!

Tequila was great to make latest movie, as answer on a kids question. I shot at Jose Cuervo, one of the worlds’ most famous brands. They were really nice, giving us free access and arranged to have an El Jimador giving us the last missing shots of harvasting the agave plant!

Guadalajara is a nice city, but too big to find enough stuff for the project of Pablo the Beetle. I like the most Tlaquepaque, a suburb right outside Guadalajara. They have loads of beautiful streets with shops where they sell art, crafts, tequila. Of course they are plenty of nice restaurants, although a bit more expensive. I did enjoy the lunch/dinner (the time I get to eat is something in the middle!) at the restaurant Casa Fuerte!

In this place we managed to have mariachi’s singing for Pablo de Kever. I couldn’t believe we didn’t had to bribe the police to park Pablo in the middle of the pedestrian area! The mariachi’s were not that nice. They would support the project to play 2 songs for the price of one… 130 pesos (9 EUR) for one song isn’t that cheap!

On Sunday we headed to Chapala. A city next to a big lake which should be a great place to have breakfast with a view over lake. Unfortunalety, that doesn’t exist. They serve only fish and strong meals overthere! We did find Plaza de Torres nearby. And spend 5 hours in the burning sun to make a video about the charros (rodeos) catching the bulls. The children who ask me these questions have no idea how much effort I do to give them a response ;)

For the rest, there is not much to see in Chapala. Only expensive hotels… So we headed to Ajijic. And I just love the place! Ok, you need to deal with the elderly American community (compare it to Benidorm in Spain!). But the streets are so full of atmosphere, with lovely painted houses! When we had amazing pizza in our Hotel (Hotel Atilo, with an Italian owner), and afterwards we found a nice European coffee place (La Prensa Francesa). We decided to look for schools here to work on the project, which welcomed us with open arms! Great, this allows us to stay a bit longer!

Oh, also the view on the lake Lago Chapala is amazing. It feels a bit like the seaside, but the mountains surrounding the water give a surrealistic feeling! Which gets reinforced by the fact we stay in an Italian hotel in a American community inside Mexico!


On the road: Mexico City – Guadalajara

The last two days we spend on travelling to Guadalajara, the first important stop to find answers on some questions! There should be toreadores and it’s close the national drink: Tequila!

Pablo drives smooth, even in the mountains. So I am very happy I spend money and time on replacing the tires, steering box, clutch, etc The whole trip is about 500-600km, which is too much to drive in one time. Especially when you avoid the highways!

We made a first stop in Ciudad Hidalgo, but left soon to Morelia. Nice historical city centre, but not so much what I am looking for. We decided to take a break in a hotel, Portico. But the room, service and breakfast was not that satisfying. You expect a bit more when you pay 775 pesos – 50 EUR. And I took the room for internet, which wasn’t working… I took of pretty pissed…

The next stop was nearby, Patzcuaro. I spend a few days overthere 2 years ago for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Death, november) in a nice hotel: Best Western – Posada de Don Vasco. Kilometers before we so announcments on the road. So it was easy to find the way. It’s an old Hacienda they turned into a nice peaceful place, inclusive swimming pool. The weather was too bad, loads of rain. Yes, it’s still rain season here! People first seemed to be nice, and they have wireless internet. But it stops there.

We had lunch, dinner and breakfast and I can’t recommand them. I dunno what’s going wrong with restaurants here in Mexico, but they can’t please meandupset my stomach! Yesterday’s dinner I took spaghetti to have a light meal. But the spaghetti was hard. For the first time in my life I send my plate back to the kitchen. After a few minutes I got it back, after they put it in the steamer. I can’t believe such an exclusive hotel has such little standards…

We also just figured out that the breakfast wasn’t included in the room, what should be for 4 stars. They charged us 155 pesos (9 EUR) per person. I don’t like to bargain, but before checking out, I will! Mexican service is pissing me off that it makes it easier to negotiate!

It’s weekend, so I won’t find easily kids to make drawings or interview. I really look forward to kick of more shooting in Guadalajara! And I look forward to stay at a friends place. ‘Cause for the moment I had enough of Mexican bad service!


Pablo, almost ready to hit the road!

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.)

Historical Centre
Calle Victoria, 76 Colonia Centro, Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Phone: 53 46 87 20 Ext 20 (24/24)

Zona Rosa
Calle Amberes, 54 Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Phone: 53 45 53 82 (9am-5pm)

Reforma
Paseo de la Reforma, 42 Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Phone: 53 46 87 40 (9am-5pm)


Waiting

“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!


Green!

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!


Pablo getting ready for the paint job

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,…


Pablo!

Very good news! After seeing many horrible VW Beetles, we managed to find Pablo! Look! Mira!

Model – 2003 – Classic
Weight – 820 kilos
Kms – 87 000
Color  – Green Jade Perla

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 (partsvw@hotmail.com – 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!


The mystery of VW Beetles vanishing in Mexico City

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!


Where is Pablo?

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!


How to buy a beetle in Mexico City? Part IV

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!


Puebla

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.


VW México

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!


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