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

travel

Das Auto. Magazine

Ik had al eerder aangekondigd dat er veel beweegt achter de schermen… En eindelijk kan ik al ietsje tonen! Namelijk een wereldwijde publicatie van de iconische groene kevertaxi’s door Volkswagen “Das Auto. Magazine”.

Je kan het artikel en de foto’s hier bekijken. Maar als je nu toevallig in Mexico bent, of Zwitserland spring dan eens binnen bij een VW dealer. Daar liggen de gedrukte versies!

Schermafbeelding 2013-02-25 om 14.26.05

En nee, zo’n dingen komen niet vanzelf en zeker niet snel. Aan de reeks Vocho Verde begon ik in 2008. Tijdens een taxirit van 2 uur door Mexico Stad genoot ik van het panoramisch uitzicht. De volgende dag hoorde ik van vrienden dat de kevertaxi’s snel uit het straatbeeld moesten verdwijnen van de Mexicaanse overheid.

In 2009 vertrok ik gepakt en gezakt met mijn Pentax67 en een hoop rolletjes Fuji Pro160S 120mm. Ik schuimde de straten af, sprong in tientallen taxi’s, ging tussen de straatverkopers staan aan het rode licht in gure buurten,… Met een warm hart keerde ik na dit avontuur met al mijn materiaal, zonder schrammetje, terug naar België.

Uitgeput en opgelucht stapte ik van de Thalys in Antwerp-Centraal, de laatste halte van mijn reis. Het spannendste moment maakte ik mee op dat moment. Mijn valies met mijn fototoestellen en al mijn filmrolletjes viel tussen de trein en het perron… In mijn hoofd zag ik alle filmrolletjes al rondslingeren, metershoog boven de sporen terwijl de trein in volle snelheid wegrijdt. Toen is een jongen razendsnel op zijn buik gaan liggen en heeft snel mijn valies gered. Hij was verdwenen vooraleer ik bedankt kon zeggen. Ik stond daar maar een beetje te schuifelen, vol ontlading en jetlag in mijn hoofd…

Mexicanen zouden direct een kruisje slaan en hun patroonheilige Guadalupe eeuwig dankbaar zijn. Na mijn 11 bezoeken aan Mexico ben ik wel warmbloedig geworden, maar nog niet zo heftig. Na het voorval in Antwerpen-Centraal heb ik me voorgenomen om de fotoreeks en de VW kevers te koesteren. En om door te zetten om het verhaal van de Vocho Verde wereldwijd te delen.  Misschien is het daarom dat Pablo de Kever vandaag zo’n belangrijkere rol speelt in mijn leven…


Pablo de Kever in Belgium

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.


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

 


Mexico City

The roadtrip is finished. I am back in Mexico City to finish up the project “Pablo de Kever”. And Mexican friends ask me which place I like the most… Well, for me it’s Mexico City!

There’s just no other place like this city. You can find anything here: food an every corner, all kinds of typical dishes, cheap labour, fancy bars, big markets,… Once you step out DF, you leave a magic place behind. Of course, there are many problems this city faces, from heavy smog to extreme poverty. But the mixture of having everything together makes you fall in love with this place for the rest of your life…

During the trip I missed to cups of cheap fresh fruit you can buy all day long. The music that fills up the streets early in the morning. Or the street scenery that changes 3 times a day. In the morning you find street venders selling “tamales” under their bright coloured umbrella. In the afternoon a lady sells fresh quesadilla’s using white or bleu tortilla’s. And in the evening a guy sells pirata CD’s on the exact same spot.

After visiting Mexico City 11 times, I got so used to the overload of colours and food. It was a disappointment to discover that many places have much less to offer. If you spend time to get to know this city, you can bump on anything else you can find across the country! And it makes sense. Mexico City hosts everybody and everything this country has, and even more.

One of the things I adore the most is the kindness of people! It’s common strangers say “Buen provecho” when you’re having lunch at a restaurant. Can you imagine that in the biggest city of the world that hosts more than 20 million people kept that country-stile mentality? Forget about finding that in touristical places such as San Cristobal or Cancun!

It would have been easier to find loads of answers for the project “Pablo de Kever” in this buzzy capital. I often had to wait days or weeks to bump into something usefull for the childrens’ blog on the road. Of course I don’t regret the trip I made. ‘Cause I did see amazing nature and beautiful traditions. But the next two weeks I’ll enjoy absorbing the hundreds of impressions you get when wandering around in Mexico City!


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!


Posada

I love today! A great season started in Mexico: los posadas! This means every night children dressed up as Maria and Jozef go on the streets. One of the houses provides a party, including drinks, food and piñata’s! The church was providing bags full of candy in this one!

I am curious to see the big party that Christmas will bring!

 


Havana, a city of contrasts

The moment I noticed how close Cancun is from Cuba, I wanted to make a citytrip to La Habana. Do forget to find a boat bringing you to the other site. At night, I went down the airport to check the possibilities. The only option is the airline Cubana, which is fully booked most of the time… Luckely one of the guards new someone of Cubana who arranged some tickets for the next day! While dropping off Pablo the Beetle for some repair at the VW agency, she came down to hand over the tickets and get the payment (310 US dollar, damn monopoly!) Waiting for an houre at the check-in together with dozens of luggage of the ‘mulas’. Passengers taking goods to import: flatscreens, clothes, toilet paper, antennes,… A trip to Cuba seemed already a bigger adventure than Mexico!
I booked online 2 hotels to gain more experience in these 4 days. This tip I can advise everybody! The Kohly hotel is clean and includes a decent breakfast, only the restaurant and little shop are expensive. I liked the most that it’s far from the city centre. Well you end up paying too much money for a cab to the hotel (7 CUC – 6 EUR). But you see a totally different part of the city! It’s great to get overwhelmed by the dozens of old cars being used as taxi. Or see the local stores, hardly offering a few packages of sugar… The other hotel, Saint Johns, is a big dissapointment. It’s a bit closer to the centre, so I could get there by walking 1 hour and enjoying more parts of the city. But I can’t bear the crappy eggs, poor bread and lack of other food for breakfast! The room is too crappy to mention!
I got the advice to just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. Being with a lack of money, I grabbed the idea. And after 3 days walking I keep on stonned by the contrast… One building is turned into a fancy restaurant, and right next to it other building is about to collapse. But still there live people, having their laundry drying in the window. Locals queue in the big line to get a slimy pizza as snack, while tourists pay one street further 8 CUC (7 EUR) for a fancy dish. These great old cars, that makes the city so famous, are cramped with passengers that share the cost. And next to it a brand new Mercedes stops at the traffic light. You can see these old fashioned clothes in the shops. And you do start to wonder where people bought these sexy dresses!!! I expected the old cars and buildings. But I never imagened they do have expensive hotels, art galleries, cars, Nestle icecream, Heineken and even the real (imported) Coca-Cola!
As a tourist you can get anything! If you pay enough… They do charge up to 2,5 CUC (1,75 EUR) for 25cl Coca-Cola, 5 times more than the national ‘TuKola’. And you can take a tour to experience the Cuban Cigars, if you hand over 41 CUC (36 EUR)! And be ready to pay about 10 CUC (8 EUR) to take a Cuban cigar as souvenir! Or get poor by paying 50 CUC per person to watch a concert in the style of Buena Vista Social Club! You can save a lot of money if you leave these touristic side behind. Here are some do’s and dont’s:
Do’s
- Walk around in the centre. Walk slowly and open your ears when you see a live group playing at a bar!
- Put away your expensive belongings and head in the small streets behind.
- Take a quick look at the shops of the musea (Cigar factory nearby Palacio Nacional – Club Havana in the Old Havana)
- Buy a fancy Cuban cocktail at the bar of Hotel Nacional (4 CUC – 23-La Rampa, neighbourhood Vedado)
- Take a swim at Hotel Nacional and order the best hamburger in town (15 CUC entrance)
- Watch a movie at a local cinema and have some ‘rositas’, a funny name for popcorn! (2 CUC – I had bad luck of having all the cinema’s closed at Street 23)
- Exchange your money in the airport or one of the expensive hotels (you don’t want to be queueing at the local banks!)
- Enjoy a refined meal for a good deal at restaurant Europa (5 CUC main dish – Street)
- Take a look at local art at Taller Experimental D Grafica and see their view on the city and Cuba (free entrance – in the corner of the square Plaza de la Catedral)

Don’ts
- Eat at the restaurant A Prado y Neptuno, on the corner one block North of Palacio Nacional. They charge twice the money for an imported Coca-Cola, while they didn’t ask you if you wanted to local version. They let you pay for unwanted bread and their bathroom is not free and unclean! At the end your bill doubles. There are better places downtown to enjoy La Habana!
- Pay for a taxi at the airport to get to the centre (25 CUC – 22 EUR). But well, you have to because there is no other way to get away!
To finalize the trip, they make you pay 25 CUC (22 EUR) airport tax on top of the regular taxes you already paid. For some countries it’s common. But being from Europe, it just seems like another attempt to rip of the tourists and make some Cubans rich… The infrastructure and life of the Cubans would look much better if they used these tax for the community!

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