Christmas and Salsa!

What does one do for Christmas when away from home?  You make a party!  And that’s exactly what we did.  The German girls at the hostel decided to cook Christmas dinner and invited us to join the party.  We contributed to the grocery budget and went and did some shopping for groceries, gifts, party favors and some wine and rum.

In true fashion, the girls pulled out all the stops and cooked a marvelous dinner.  Now, we didn’t have a turkey or a ham, but this is a holiday in Mexico, who needs all that?  The girls made some amazing pasta & garlic bread, we had glasses of red wine and an eclectic mix of people from Europe and North, Central and South America.

In no time at all we were eating and drinking and chatting of home and travels; each of us was learning something new about other people from the world.  Our hosts did not speak much English which turned out to be beneficial as it forced us to practice (and learn) our Spanish.

As always, Edwin, our friend from Holland, was the center of attention.  He is bright, funny and charismatic and the girls just cling to him like plastic shrink-wrap.  Whenever we met locals they would always ask him (in Spanish), how long he had been speaking the native tounge as he had mastered it so well.  When he replied, “six weeks,” no one believed him.  But that was all it took.  The question was always then, “Que pais?”  (What country), and when he replied Holland, they quickly (and excitedly) asked if he was a football fan.  Of course he was.  And Jeff and I would stand there as our charming European friend would talk and talk (all in Spanish mind you) about this football match and that.

Fluent (already) in English, French, Dutch and German, picking up Spanish in a 6 week immersion course at the start of his trip was no effort.  And, as we travelled further and further south into Mexico, he got better and better leaving Jeff and I scratching our heads in wonderment, a bit peeved at the American school system.

Shortly after I took this photo, Jeff leaned over and said, “We’ve got to get rid of this guy or else we’ll never meet any girls.”  We both had a good chuckle.  But sure enough, Edwin was a charmer and quite a personality to travel with.

As the food quickly disappeared, the rum replaced the wine and soon the blender was in full swing.  Christiane began mixing daqueris and margaritas and even made some pina coladas which she served in coconut half shells.  The young men from Equador told us of their travels around the western hemisphere following in the footsteps of Che Guevara.  They were all so good looking and their Spanish sounded so smooth, it was no wonder they were having such a good time.  Aside from Edwin, they were also getting a lot of attention from the ladies and I wondered about so many Americans who never leave their home town.  What fun it is to travel and to meet people from around the world!

As a “thank you” to the ladies for cooking such a wonderful Christmas meal, we picked up some presents and even found time to wrap them.  Elephante was all the rage and we were able to find enough copies of the CD so that we could give each of the girls their own copy.  In no time one of the CDs was in the player and some dancing began.  It was my first Christmas in Mexico but it was really a lot of fun; we were having the time of our lives.

Robi pulled out another surprise; he dug some fireworks out of his bag that he had purchased during our “scavenger hunt” shopping earlier in the day.  Everyone”oohed” and “aahed,” as he lit some sparklers and sparkler cones.  On a tight budget and in a foreign country, everyone came together to make it a really special Christmas day.

All of the girls were keen to learn how to Salsa dance and convinced David (our host) to give some lessons.  Out came the Elephante disk and in went some of David’s salsa tunes.  He and one of his friend showed the basic steps and in no time the whole party was salsa dancing.  I can’t remember smiling and laughing as much as on that night.  Everyone was happy and festive and we really had a wonderful time.

As the pina coladas and margaritas continued to flow the dancing migrated to the top of the table and we laughed and laughed and danced and danced and I remember thinking that this is why I like to travel…


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Luz de Luna

This post is as much as a plug for the Luz de Luna Hostel as it is a description of our experience there.  After consulting the Lonely Planet Guidebook we checked two or three budget hotels and hostels and found that many were booked out.  We came to the Luz de Luna and found that dormitory style rooms were available that slept 4 or 6 to a room.  The prices were quite reasonable, only about $8 per night per person.  Additionally, the owner was able to arrange secure car parking for the Blazer which made me feel a lot more secure about my truck.

The hotel had a warm and friendly staff of family members who made us feel right at home.  The guests were a nice mix of people from all over the world; a French family (mother, father and two young children), three girls from Germany, some young men from Ecuador and a few other travelers from all over the world.  In the common courtyard everyone chatted and shared Central American travel stories.  We lounged in the hammocks, absorbed some sun and Vitamin D, played chess (below) and enjoyed an occasional cocktail.

… Robi and Jeff enjoying a game of chess…

The hostel had full cooking facilities and was a short walk from the downtown Zocalo.  I watched the French family for a few days.  They were travelling for several months in North, Central and South America in a small Volkswagen Van.  The family made breakfast in the morning, packed a lunch, went sightseeing, then to the market and came back to the hostel to cook a family dinner.  The young children spoke 3 or 4 languages and were seeing and experiencing things that most children will never see.  This was the first time that I realized that it is possible to go backpacking on the road – for months at a time – with your family (small children included).  If families can homeschool their children at home, why not on the road where every day is an adventure, kids learn new languages and experience new cultures, and learn invaluable life lessons that cannot be taught in a classroom.

In the top photo, Jeff relaxes in the hammock, the German girls to the left and the French family is just coming through the front gate of the hostel (background).

The entire guest list and the hostel owners all agreed that we would collectively celebrate Christmas and the German girls all agreed to make the dinner.  The men thought of some creative ways to be of service for the party that was being planned.


Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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