Go see the world as it is

I love traveling and I love getting to know places as they really are, try to look behind the curtain, the first impressions. People that visit other countries with organized tours often miss it all.

As some people prefer going with tours as its an easier choice for some, there is now good news for for those people. My good friends from AIESEC days just started an eco-tourism company and provide authentic experiences. Check them out: Reisid Vabadusse

Chitzen Itza and other updates

It's my 4th day in Mexico. Yesterday I went to see Chitzen Itza, once a powerful Mayan city of 50,000. It was impressive. I've put together a video of my experince there (its 18 min total, just to let you know):

While the glory of the Mayan civilization is in the past, its not like the Maya have disappeared. In fact, they are everywhere. A great deal of Mexicans are direct descentants of Mayas. Over 2 million people speak Mayan as their first language. In the Chitzen Itza site there were hundreds and hundreds of them selling handicraft - and I have to say their work is amazing, and extremely cheap. All the Mayas were giving me instantly better prices when I spoke Spanish. And they said if I would speak Mayan, they would give the stuff for free... Well, next time I'll go I'll pick up some Mayan and take them up on the offer.

Today is also my last day in Cancun, tomorrow I'm heading to Playa del Carmen. My time here has been enjoyable. My hostel in Cancun, Hostal Marpez, is a great place. I have a large room all by myself for a ridiculously low price. Lots of great and cheap restaurants nearby. Bus station 5 minutes walking.

I enjoy speaking Spanish, and all the bits that I lost in the last 9 months while being away from the Latin world, have come back. I feel comfortable here. I can't help but compare the life here to Panama, and there are so many similarities. Mexico does have a much better public transportation system though. And the customer service culture seems to be better on the average.

I also managed to get burned by the sun a bit, but thats okay. I am well equipped with all kinds of sunscreens and after-sun creams. Tomorrow I'll go to the beach again.

Cancun, Mexico

I started my month-long trip from Cancun, Mexico. Arrival went smoothly. The immigration lines were huge, the advertising on the airport walls had spelling errors. After I had bought my bus ticket to town, I noticed that it said "Niños" (children) and the ticket price mentioned was 2x less than what I paid. So that's how they're making some extra pocket money. The bus driver let me on board with it, so he was in on it too. I didn't mind. We're all in this together.

As I hardly have any agenda and deadlines, I am not in a hurry to do anything. So I decided to walk from the bus station to my hotel. Even though I had looked it up on the map before, I still managed to get lost and it took me 2 hours to get to the hotel. But again - as I am not in a hurry, it was a good way to get to know the city. I discovered that people are friendly and helpful, everyone I asked for the way responded kindly.

The city reminds me a lot of Panama City, the older parts (not historical, but older), so I felt right at home. I was anticipating to have at least some problems of integration, but none. Speaking Spanish sure helps.

Today I spent the day on the beach. The beach area, known as the hotel zone, is of a different league. It's kind of a mix between Dubai and LA - expensive, off-limits to poor people who actually live there, and very American (every American chain you can imagine is there). Of course, its full of Americans too. The two second largest groups that I noticed where Japanese (there was even a dedicated Japanse hotel with Japanse staff and all) and Russian.

While the law says the beaches are public and for everyone, the hotels don't think so. Every hotel on the beach has tried to make the access to the their beach impossible for non-guests. Since mine isn't on the beach (I wanted to stay near the bus station for easy travel), that was frustrating. The first one I tried to enter was all inclusive, so naturally they didn't want me on their beach (even though I tried to walk in like a guest).

Second hotel - no problemo. Being a blond white dude I just walked in and to the beach, picked my beach chair and enjoyed. Peace lasted until I ordered some drinks. They kept on insisting that I reveal my room number. While contemplating taking a shot, I chose a safer route and said I'm here with a friend, don't remember the room number, but the name is Cassidy Williams. That was sufficient. Got my drinks, paid in cash and all was good.

The weather is just perfect - not too hot, sunny. The Carribean is warm. I'll go again tomorrow.

I feel really happy in the tropics. The energy in the wind has something in it that makes you feel easy and happy. Add a 3-course dinner for 60 pesos (~$4 dollars) and its as good as it gets.

Viva La Revolucion

I watched the new movies about Che Guevara (both part 1 and 2). What a great story, what a great movie. I must say Benicio del Toro does an amazing job.

Movies have power. Some make you want to drink wine (Sideways), some white russian (Big Lebowski) - so this movie makes you want to smoke cigars. And to join a revolution.

Anyways, I recommend you see this movie.

Vatican agrees evolution is real

Vatican has recently announced that they agree Darwin was right and that the threory of evolution is a story of what actually happened, man did evolve from ape.

The Vatican also dealt the final blow to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might be prepared to endorse the theory of Intelligent Design, whose advocates credit a “higher power” for the complexities of life (naturally they still say god created the evolution, they did not render themselves obsolete, yet).

This leads me to some questions.

- Will some Christian schools continue to teach "intelligent design" even though Vatican itself said Adam and Eve is a fairytale?
- Will the Republican Party in the US ackowlegde this and change their position? (During the last elections when the Republicans were still choosing their candidate, a question was asked from the candidates whether they believe every word that Bible says, and most said "yes")
- If Adam and Eve were not created by god, then doesn't that mean a whole bunch of stories in the bible (Cain, Abel etc) were now officially declared... well, just stories - no more real than Red Ridinghood?

On a side note - Estonia was just declared the least religious country in the world, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Norway. Finland is also among the top. These Nordic countries care and provide the most for their citizens. Nowhere else in the world the social system is so good. Nowhere else the living standard is so good. Education is free (including higher education). Healthcare is free. People of Denmark are also the happiest in the world. Yet what is missing is religion. The values of helping each other out, caring for the poor and the sick and the less fortunate is the centerpiece of these societies. Yet religion is not on the picture. On the other hand, the most religious countries in the world are also among the poorest. Or care the least about their citizens (each man for himself).

Could it be that when you rely on god to take care of things, nothing much happens... but when you start relying on yourself to get things done, all good things come to be?

Got my one-way ticket

I'm now finally going on the trip I've been thinking about in the past couple of months. The theme of my trip is "In the search of the Mayas". I have my one-way ticket to Cancun, Mexico, hang out there for a few days and then continue my trip south.

I plan to visit the main Mayan sites in the area, see the local life and culture as much as you can in such a short period of time. After seeing the Yucatan part of Mexico, I'll head to Belize and then Guatemala. Depending on how fast I travel, I might also go to El Salvador and Honduras.

All in all I plan to be in that region for a month.

Now the important question: does anyone have good contacts in that part of the world? Send me an email if you do. Cheers.


So I was here (in the US) for the Superbowl. Not too much is known about it outside the US, but here its BIG. "People go crazy!", I was told. But as with everything in life, not everybody cares that much about the same things.

The event I attended had a decent amount of people, but only like 2 people in the crowd knew American football well, but even they didn't care that much. Of course the Texan team (Dallas Cowboys) was not playing, so that contributed to the people not caring that much. It was mostly about food, beer and being together.

(Isn't that like always the case with any event? Christmas? Eid? Jaanipäev? Birthdays? There is something magical about food, drink and being together).

One of the best things about the Superbowl is supposedly the commercials they play during the breaks. Companies pay millions for them. And often they create special commercials just for the Superbowl. This year - I wasn't impressed. Some were funny, a lot were confusing, but all in all I think that was a huge waste of money. People watch the commercials for entertainment and hardly pay any attention to the brands. The one I liked the best was only 1 second long for a beer called High Life. In the commercial a guy shouted "High Life!".

The funny thing for me was that they called the winning team the champion of the world. I can invent a sport, play it in my kitchen and be the champion of the world too! I understand that the US is the only country playing it, but still. If you're using the fact that nobody else plays, why stop with the world? Be intergalactical champion! Champion of the universe!

Maybe next time I'll try to go with a diehard group, just to see if its any different from lets say (real) football final, (the real) World Cup. Yes, I'm biased.