There is no other country like Mexico!

FB_IMG_1588435083148Como México no hay dos!

I grew up listening this, and Mexicans really buy it. However for me it was a different story as my father always said: and there is no other like France, Greece, Russia, etc.(with a sarcastic humor).

WHAT are you doing with Mexican toys displayed at your Japanese cultural station? I asked my Japanese coworkers. They looked at me and reply: What are you talking about, these toys are Japanese!! I googled Mexican toys and show them the pictures (spinning top, cup & ball, etc.), they were shocked. And we debated of who was the creator haha.

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Mexicans believe that many things exist only in Mexico like Flor de Xempazuchitl that is a “traditional” flower used for our DAY OF DEAD. And how amazed I was when I arrived in Bali, Indonesia and this flower was everywhere (literally since the toilet at the airport before crossing immigration LOL). In Bali it is called gumitir flower and it is use for the “offerings” to the spirits & gods , which is very interesting for the “similarity” of use we give to it.

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On my last dinner before leaving Bali, after spending 2 years there. My team took me to eat “tamales” but they call them “buras” (sort of salty or sweety cake)once again my jaw dropped. And yes if you look for it, it’s wrapped in banana leaf, it look exactly the same like in Mexico and it says it is originally from Indonesia if you google buras. By the way they also eat this in India and Philippines, etc.

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At this point my Mexican world was falling apart, it felts like someone was shaving my mustache and stealing my horse, just kidding. I was fascinated to find the “same flowers, food, toys” in other countries on the other side of the world, and not only that, but it was also considered part of their culture. WOW!

What about “aguas mexicanas” (Mexican flavored water) all my life I thought that to drink a delicious “Agua de Jamaica” (Rosella ice tea) was only possible in Mexico and probably USA because of the migration to that country. However,in 2016, after living 2 years in Thailand on my last day with my Thai team, we went to eat in a local restaurant some delicious Thai food and guess what…YES, Agua de Jamaica, with a name in Thai that I cannot remember. Now when  I actually google about it, the plant is natural from Africa, how AMAZING is that!

And vocabulary is another amazing thing, I just find so many similarities or even same words in languages as Japanese, Bahasa, Filipino, Sinhala, etc. and of course French, Italian, Portuguese as they have the same roots.

I love to teach people around the globe how similar we are and also how unique we are. My idea is to demonstrate how many things that we believe to be the owners of, or the “original” ones, in fact might exist somewhere else with slight variations or being exactly the same, and that my friends is WONDERFUL!

Knowing some History will of course help you to make the connection so when you discover that the word BREAD in Spanish it’s pronounced PAN and in Japanese as well, and in Portuguese, French, Sinhala and so on, and you do some research, you will find out that Portugal had their first affiliation with Japan in 1543 and Spain in 1549, for example and of course there will be words, traditions and food that are imposed or adapted.

Let’s get out of our shell thinking we have the best food, the most beautiful language or the original whatever. At the end “We are the world”, we are colors, food, languages,traditions that are linked to each other more than we realize.

What are your thoughts?

Japan: Snowflakes, nudity and red foxes

FB_IMG_1508813372484A red fox!!!! I couldn’t believe it. We were driving on the roads covered by snow on our way to an onsen that was in the middle of the forest and Lydia was yelling: red fox, where are you? Come red fox!. I was in the back, in the darkness and in silence appreciating the nature’s shapes and shadows, last time I saw snow, it was in Canada 9 years before and just in the city. Suddenly it happened, a red fox jump into the road and we all got excited like kids in our car, whoever was driving diminished the speed as it seems it wanted to cross the road, but in fact the red fox was playing with us…or at least that’s what we assumed as it was running on the side of the car and then kind of in front guiding us until it finally left.

The onsen was still closed as it was end of November, so we came back few days later and we succeed, I stick my nose to the glass on the window on our way to this place as it was snowing and I also enjoy to see the naked trees covered by this white powder.

20171024_110808We pay in the onsen by putting a coin inside a machine, got in, got naked and proceed to take a shower sitting in a little plastic chair in front of a long mirror, side by side with other ladies taking shower, fortunately or unfortunately it was separated for boys and girls, so while washing properly all your body with the soap and shampoo provided I was trying to don’t look in the mirror the other ladies around me and also avoid to see my fat reflecting all those hamburgers and beers that I should not eat and the lack of gym hours. We entered to the suuuper hot water where another 2 Japanese old ladies were already there, in other situation I would be making jokes and laughing loud but it was Japan. I need to admit that was little bit embarrassing to be naked with some coworkers but I was trying to focus in the cultural experience, that was very quiet by the way.

We went to the outside area for what you need to do few steps in the snow and jump in the hot water as the temperature was about 10 and my only cover was my own skin. It was not snowing anymore but if I stand I could see the forest and all the trees covered by the snow as long as the light allowed me to see, it was purely amazing. I felt so alive and grateful to be there, sharing it with a girl from France and a girl from Japan, across the bamboos that separate us from the male onsen we can hear the boys voices so 1 guy from Morocco and another from France where enjoying this as well.

Few days later I was taking pictures outside of the resort when I started to hear some bustle in the back and when I look there was a red fox standing very close to the entrance surrounded by some people taking pictures, suddenly the red fox started walking towards me and I got super excited ready with my smartphone to take some pictures, and then for a second I got little bit scared as it was a wild animal, What if it attacks me? Then this beautiful animal just accelerated the pace and got lost among the trees not before I took few pictures to remember this forever.

Japan was welcoming me with so many treasures to make me wanting to stay there between snowflakes, nudity and red foxes.

Sahoro; snow trekking, snowflake & happy ending

Another day, another adventure! We took the gondola and went all the way up to the mountain to go down by doing snow trekking. It was quite confusing for the security guys at the entrance as normally people will do either ski or snowboard but they let us go.. the problem was when we keep going up and up and I started to feel vertigo and once we came out of the gondola and I look down to the mountain I was full of fear.

Here I am, a Mexican girl without experience in snow trekking, on the top of the mountain and with vertigo what a great combination!…suddenly a snowflake settled on my arm, I was absolutely astonished as it looked exactly like in cartoons and I took a picture of it to never ever forget how perfect it was and that it might be a sign of nature saying that everything will be fine so I made my mind and started to walk all the way down from the mountain feeling its ethereal consistency and capturing the beauty of the snow with my poor 5mp smartphone.

I do need to say that I had a short rehearsal for my snow trekking experience couple of weeks before with a funny ending.

Let’s go out to walk on the snow and verify the area as we will open the resort soon! I was not exactly fit so she was in the front opening up the path for the virgin snow. Me, well…trying to manage to get her same pace, don’t fall down and take pictures at the same time. Believe it or not I perfectly managed all of this and before getting back to the hotel as it was lunch time I wanted to take the last picture because the wind was making the powder snow fly and with the sunlight was just magical, but right after I took the picture and try to walk the last steps down leading to the entrance next to the restaurant, my snowshoes got stocked one into another and like in a slow-motion shoot I was going down, first on my knees and then for a fraction of second standing like a crucified person as my hands were into the poles straps and …puff in a blink of an eye my face was in the snow!! Then with some help to remove my equipment I managed to get up and realize the full restaurant with the entire ski and snowboard instructors were stuck to the big glass wall looking at me, laughing hysterically and taking pictures. That night was the first training I need to deliver for all of them at the packed conference room… well, at least all of them know me by now, I said to myself.

That night my introduction for the training was: Good evening everyone, my name is Abi, I am from Mexico and YES it was me today the one that fell down in front of the restaurant, the whole room exploded into laughter including myself. We need to laugh about ourselves sometimes, it’s healthy.

I can say that this day I came face to face with the snow haha and I like it.

Snowtrekking- There is always a first time

Coming down from the mountain

Need a break

Bloody scary

Vertigo time

The picture I took before falling down

Landscapes with my guide

In love with the shadows

Japan; a dangerous Mexican landed!

12313970_10153324932600888_3130647259952545521_nI was stopped by customs at the airport! Of course I was the quota of the day; a Mexican girl (dangerous) living in Thailand (double dangerous) and coming for the 1st time to Japan, it must be something suspicious! Even if my passport was full of stamps from all over the world.

In fact I was going there to train the staff of one of the resorts from the company I work with, but well, there is always a 1st time to be stopped and I found it quite funny, one more story to keep. NO marihuana, NO tacos, NO… porn (well… not sure about my phone). Officers were super nice but with their poor English they didn’t arrive to understand everything that easily, anyway I didn’t stay there more than 10 or 15 minutes. An apology from the officers and then I came out to meet my Japanese friend that was waiting for me with an ironic smile knowing something went wrong.

Walking through the colorful ails full of what looked like hieroglyphics (Japanese Kanjis) I was feeling like a little girl in a candyland; food, drinks, bread, candies, basically the airport in Hokkaido Island was looking more like a supermarket for me. We stop to buy a “food box”, such a cute and smart way to bring some food into the train that we need to take to our destination. My friend put her phone (old one) in a little machine and in a blink of an eye she paid electronically…such a normal thing for her and super cool for me, especially as her phone was not a smart phone, but still smart LOL.

I was carrying quite a big luggage as temperatures were expected to be below 0°C and that would be a huge change for my body as I was living in Phuket, Thailand (around 30°C). The train was very proper and of course I was the only foreigner at that moment taking the train in Hokkaido Island and going to the ski resorts that were still closed, such an adventure for me. My eyes were trying to record everything as well as my ears, I was super excited… such a lucky girl…and I didn’t need to pay anything!!Well… I did with all my extra hours and no days off later on but that was nothing compare to what is one of these experiences in your life.

A lady with a little food cart was walking along the train selling food and beer, and of course as a Mexican girl who loves beer and knowing my Japanese friend also does, we bought our can to enjoy our 2 hours trip. When finally arrived to Shintoku station another 2 girls were waiting for us, we pass to the mini supermarket to get…of course, more beer! And snacks, OMG I was absolutely happy – a Japanese supermarket, and it’s me, I am here!! Hey parents look at this – I wished they were with me but they were at 10,616 km in Mexico.

It was getting dark when we arrive to our location in the mountains and the General Manager came out to welcome me together with the few staff working at the resort before the reopening that would be couple of weeks later, it was fantastic to see and feel a resort that is closed, no heating, just basic lights, reception and bar cover in blankets, empty vitrines at the boutique…WOW a perfect scene for a horror movie!

They took me to my room and OMG it was a traditional style one with a TATAMI! This particular smell was floating in my room, it was the tatami material, I wanted to lied down and roll over like a panda, and it has this small table with chairs that had no legs and slide doors covered by white kind of paper…of course I am giving you my description as a western that didn’t know anything about it…if some of you are reading this thinking how ignorant I am giving the descriptions, please forgive me.

I came down and walk to the small restaurant where we were meeting, walking through the dark and cold corridors with no more sound that my own steps and breathing was interesting still not scary. I was privileged to have the opportunity to see how does it looks a well-known resort when it is still closed and I was ready to rock my time in there. Be careful everyone, a dangerous Mexican is in Japan!