Travel Stories – The Pune Connection

A few years ago we met three couples at a small hotel in Playa del Carmen Mexico. They had come from Brussels, via Paris and would be traveling for three weeks and attending a wedding somewhere in Mexico. There was a snowstorm in Paris that winter and their Air France plane took off without any of their luggage. We commiserated over their loses and reaffirmed our personal pledge to never carry so much that we need to check luggage. We  had a wonderful time on the patio of our small hotel. We shared stories, sang songs and witnessed the fashion show of clothes they purchased from a cheap chain store down the street. Their luggage arrived eventually somewhere along the way and about two weeks into their journey.

The following summer we were traveling in Europe and we made a quick stop in Brussels. We visited Rahul and his lovely wife Severine.  On short notice we were also able to see one of the other couples we had met in Mexico. Our travels in Europe this trip had too many destinations and it seemed like other than the time we were in Paris we were rushing to fit everything in. It was a whirlwind evening in Brussels and we really should have spent a few more days. We had the most incredible Belgium dinner which I hope not to ever forget. Rahul was/is an excellent host and we literally ran through the streets with the last light of the day.

This was the year I left my job (2013) and I hadn’t quite realized that travels can be longer and less rushed. We can take things a bit slower, we have the time. I know this now. We visited Amsterdam for a few days, spent a few days in magical Bruge, joined friends in Paris for 10 days, blew through Brussels on our way to a week in London and ended up at the Hyde Park Rolling Stones Concert. I wouldn’t trade it for anything but next time, stay twice as long everywhere and anywhere.

Marika joined us the following January. Introduced to us by a friend of a friend. I picked her up at the bus station with her two bags She went on to house sit for us on and off for the next two years. She saved so much money by being smart, practical and house sitting that she is currently on a return trip to India for 6 months. When she was getting ready to go I reached out to Rahul (who is originally from Pune) because I knew his brother Varun lived there and was doing great work with Taal. Taal is an organization that brings people together in rhythm and positively influences the areas of health and well-being through music and arts. It seemed like a great connection for Marika.

This morning I woke up to this wonderful photograph. Friends meeting friends all because I love to travel. I had no idea Marika would be in Pune at the same time as Rahul. It’s magic. My heart smiles today.

I love the synchronicity of chance encounters, connections made and how that changes the journey. This is why I travel.  

Missing Mexico

I can’t always be traveling. I’m missing Mexico today. That happens a lot. I’m thinking about all the sights, sounds and people that make me happy in what feels like my second home. The place that feeds my dreams and makes me smile. The place that recharges me and inspires me. 
Here are some new small works Inspired by my travels last winter. I’m ready to get inspired some more. 

Un Buen Dia, Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

 

Mujer con Chal, San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico


What people or places inspire you?

San Cristóbal de las Casas Chiapas Mexico

The city has become a renowned tourist location for its preserved colonial architecture, red clay tiled roofs, and retention of indigenous culture and traditions. Many residents of the city wear indigenous clothing and walk the streets selling woven shawls and hand stitched shirts.   

 

The city sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. It is really lovely and we walk around and try to get out of the tourists streets. Buildings are painted all kinds of colors. From the we can not see the devastation of the surrounding land from jade and amber strip mining, deforestation and poor resource management.  

 

The hills are full of history. On the day NAFTA was signed back in 1994, the famous Zapatista occupation of San Critobal de las Casas and other Chiapas communities took place. This has spurred some cult tourism, attracting people with leftist political leanings and those interested in supporting indigenous cultures and social justice.  

 

We visit Casa Na-Bolom the former home of archeologist Frans Blom and Gertrude Duby, a documentary photographer, journalist, environmental pioneer, and jungle adventurer. It is in a museum and research center dedicated to the protection of the Lacandon Maya and the preservation of the Chiapas rain forest.

  
We visit the the indigenous market that is absolutely packed with color. I fall in love all over again with all the colorful woven and hand stitched crafts and the small Zapatista dolls. I purchase a beautiful hand stitched hanging from two lovely women that press a pretty hard deal. 
  

We visit the local food market. I love taking pictures of the market stalls but when I took this one, I got yelled at by an old women. I have no idea what these dried plants are. I found them beautiful and meant no disrespect.  It’s possible they are medicinal plants.  

 

Time to move on.  Next Stop: Vamos a la playa, 82 degrees and sunny.

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