Fork in the Road
Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
217Trip End Ongoing
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So we decided to conduct an experiment. A few days apart. Travelling separately in Mexico...
Mario headed to Guadalajara with Adrian (Swiss) and Carolin (German) who were going in a similar direction. Meanwhile Dee stayed an extra night in Zacatecas before continuing to Leon for a couple of days, then onto Guanajuato where Mario rejoined her at the end of the week.
How was it? A healthy break. Alone time with our thoughts. Reconnecting with ourselves. Independent decision-making. Practising Spanish. Even greater appreciation of each other.
Travelling alone was kinda weird and exciting at the same time. Needing to stay on full alert. More people just randomly talked to me, teaching me Spanish words and asking if I really am from South Africa (as per the flag on my backpack). I guess a couple is less approachable than a female on her own. Families, couples, everyone wanted to chat or help me. I met a family travelling with the dad for work and a little holiday. The dad is criminal lawyer (an "abogado", not adobado like the dish!), a lucrative business, he tells me. He urged his 13 year old daughter to practice her English with me. Coincidentally she ended up sat next to me on the coach and now we're Facebook friends. Of course, a couple of leery guys made their advances too, one even showed me his wad of money, as if that's supposed to make me crumble! Er.. I gotta go now!
Arriving in the city of Leon solo was nerve-wracking at first, plus getting orientated without a guidebook. But like most big cities it has a well-functioning bus system and with a couple of "Donde esta's" I found the right bus stop without any hassle. Getting onto the station platform was a challenge though! Their stops are in the middle of the road and elevated onto a platform, kinda like the high speed buses set up in Cape Town before the World Cup. Except this one was closed at one end so I ended up walking in the street against oncoming traffic, looking up at the people on the platform, asking them to pull me up, backpack and all! They wouldn't but helped by pointing me to the right spot to enter. That was the scariest moment but luckily I could squeeze through!
Leon has more to offer than just being the self-proclaimed "shoe capital of the world". In fact, just about anything you're looking to buy there seems to be loads of shops selling it. Leather shops and wedding dress, or rather novia (15 year old) dress shops are particularly plentiful. Theatres, plazas, churches, food vendors, you name it. But of them all the night market was my favourite spot! After all, that's where I first tried the Mexican version of prawn cocktail - tomato puree with chopped onion and cilantro filled to the brim with oversized prawns and topped with fresh avocado. It's served with crackers, hot sauce (of course!) and more of the ingredients so you can tailor it to your taste. Yum!!
I felt totally comfortable walking around on my own around town, even at night. Besides, everyone else was, especially families. They were building up to the Dia del Reyes (Day of the Kings) so many sets of 3 kings, each set with one king painted pitch black. Some kings were wandering around selling Rosca de Reyes (a special cake shaped like a ring covered icing sugar and fruits. A Jesus figurine is hidden in the cake, representing when baby Jesus was hiding from King Herod. Whoever gets it in their slice is blessed. The other kings were posed in front of a nativity scene and for about $30 pesos you could have an instant photo taken with them.
Mario had the camera, so no pics of Leon unfortunately. Worth a visit though, despite being overshadowed by it's heavily marketed neighbour, Guanajuato, my next stop...