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Ted Campbell

Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

Get Deported From Spain And Go To Mexico Instead

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday October 15, 2013 (17:47:54)   (7952 Reads)
Ted Campbell
After years of working at UPS and, more recently, studying evenings at the local community college, Sam finally took a vacation. He got two weeks off. He bought round-trip tickets to Spain, with an arrival in Madrid and departure in Barcelona. He planned to backpack around, maybe even visit Paris or Morocco.

He was detained at the Madrid airport, kept in a holding cell overnight and then shipped back to the U.S.

Now, four days later, he sat with me in the wide, airy second-floor hotel lobby in Tulum town, Mexico. Loud party music blasted from clubs and restaurants on the street below. We ate mangoes and shared caguamas of Victoria, big 40-ounce Mexican beers. It had been a long day in the hot sun of the Mayan Riviera, Mexico’s Caribbean coast.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

How To Cut A Mango Mexican Style

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday June 19, 2013 (20:17:21)   (8650 Reads)
Ted Campbell
I spent years cutting the mango in bizarre ways until I met Sam. We sat in plastic lawn chairs on the sunny balcony of a hotel in Tulum, Mexico, drinking coffee and eating mangoes.

I gave a clumsy yank on the peel and he burst out laughing.

“Man, what are you doing?”

“I don’t know, eating this mango.”

“Like that?”

I shrugged. At that time I was in a mango-peeling phase of making a few short slices at the tip and then peeling them down, as if for a stubborn banana.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

Lessons From The Road In Placencia, Belize

Posted by: Carole on Saturday March 02, 2013 (23:51:49)   (2447 Reads)
Ted Campbell
Adventure travel, backpacking – whatever you want to call it, it’s much more than a great time. It’s a great learning experience. When I took a year off university to travel in Europe one summer (I spent the rest of the year earning money for it), I learned more about the world than during my remaining years in university.

Europe was my first experience with long trips, and since then I’ve done a number of them in Asia and North and South America. I picked up a hitchhiker in Washington State who had just gotten let out of prison for murder, who told me he was searching for happiness in something other than drugs, alcohol and fighting. I shook hands with a Vietnamese veteran in a cave near Hanoi where the whole village used to hide from bombings. An old man on the black slopes of a volcano in Banos, Ecuador invited me into his cinderblock home, gave me a bowl of soup and told me about the last time the volcano erupted, spewing fire down the mountain.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

Leaving Mexico City On The Long Bus Ride South

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday January 22, 2013 (15:08:28)   (2302 Reads)
Ted Campbell
Why isn’t the bus moving? I strain to look out of the foggy window from my aisle seat. After two hours stuck in late afternoon Mexico City traffic, we finally start rolling, the bus grinding its gears up the mountain pass between the two big volcanoes on the way to Puebla: Popocatépetl, which recently re-activated, and Iztaccíhuatl, long dead, rocky and snow-capped at the peak. All I can see through the darkness are tall trees and mountain slopes in silhouette.

The right lane of the highway is choked with perigrinos, pilgrims marking the birthday of the Virgin of Guadalupe by taking long trips on foot or bicycle. December 9 isn’t really her birthday, but it was the day when Indian peasant Juan Diego saw her apparition on a hill in the outskirts of a much smaller Mexico City in 1531. But the smiling guy in the seat next to me calls it her birthday.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

Two Soccer Finals In Mexico

Posted by: Carole on Thursday December 13, 2012 (01:22:42)   (2512 Reads)
Ted Campbell
Silence swept through the anxious crowd. Sweaty fans stopped pushing for a moment and erupted in cheers. Toluca had scored in the final shot. Loud soccer chants began, along with hugging and jumping. Beer, red t-shirts and baseball hats flew through the air.

We were watching the soccer match in the alameda – the shady central park here in downtown Toluca. Hundreds of rabid/drunk fans strained to see the screen up on stage, the far side of a sprawling white tent set up behind the fierce statue of Cuahutemoc, one of Mexico’s favorite Aztec warriors. He stands tall in the middle of the park, scowling and brandishing a mean-looking club. 500 years ago Cuahutemoc battled the Spanish and finally endured torture ordered by Cortez.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

Pure Evil Is A Potato Thief

Posted by: Carole on Tuesday November 13, 2012 (21:30:18)   (6933 Reads)
Ted Campbell
It could have been anywhere – it just happened to be in Mexico. Despite loads of bad press, the vast majority of people here are good, hardworking, decent folks. But the exceptions can be exceptionally bad.

The Hidalgo market is a crumbling structure about twice the size of a high school gymnasium. It sits on the slopes below the Terresona, Toluca’s mountain backdrop. My friend and I flew down one of its steep streets after a morning of rugged mountain biking deeper in the mountains. I realized we were going to pass the market, so I hollered at Marco to stop. I needed some new headphones.

Hidalgo isn’t just a market, but a fayuca, a place for stolen or knock-off goods. But down the corridor from all the bootleg DVDs is a regular market, full of food, especially fruits and vegetables.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

My Mexican Father-In-Law

Posted by: Carole on Friday October 05, 2012 (03:19:40)   (3224 Reads)
Ted Campbell
Machismo manifests in different ways. Sometimes it’s outright sexism – not letting your wife work, loudly demanding your breakfast, cheating on her with prostitutes. Sometimes it’s a societal problem, like lower salaries and poorer job prospects for women. Sometimes it’s far worse, abuse. Or sometimes it means that a 28-year-old daughter still lives with her parents and isn’t allowed to spend the night with her boyfriend.

Despite the title of this story, I’m not married. In Mexico you use the Spanish equivalent of “-in law” for people in your girlfriend or boyfriend’s family. Your girlfriend’s father is your “suegro,” the same word you use when you’re married. Your mother-in-law is your “suegra,” your sister-in-law your “cuñada,” etc.

My girlfriend rarely sleeps at my apartment. It can be hard for us to take weekend trips. But we do, and if she wanted, she could anytime – it hasn’t been forbidden to her – but she doesn’t, knowing that it would bring judgment and awkwardness. We have machismo to thank for this.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

Country Line Dancing In Mexico

Posted by: Carole on Thursday September 13, 2012 (13:02:13)   (2971 Reads)
Ted Campbell
Club music pumped and bodies bumped on the top floor of the packed cantina. Girls wore miniskirts, tight tank tops, and lots of hairspray. Colored lights spun and lasers twirled. But suddenly the music stopped. The house lights came on, and a slow, twangy beat started up. The dance floor parted like the Red Sea. Everyone got in line, hands on hips. The music picked up. Country! And line dancing! We could be in Texas, or Kentucky. But we were in the heart of Mexico City.

Finally I recognized the song, a Spanish language version of Achy Breaky Heart. I stood back from the dance floor and spotted my Mexican friends right in line, following the steps perfectly. I almost spilled my cuba libre.

By some measures the largest city in the world, Mexico City (called D.F. in Spanish, for Distrito Federal) doesn’t lack nightlife. Booty clubs are abundant, along with all kinds of bars, from greasy dives to sports bars with pool tables and flat screen TVs. But for a real mind blowing experience, head for a big cantina.    more ...


Columnists > Ted Campbell

Ted Campbell

A Dry Weekend In Mérida

Posted by: Carole on Wednesday August 01, 2012 (21:07:19)   (2925 Reads)
Ted Campbell
A dry weekend in Mexico – yes, hell had frozen over. In a country of all night cantinas, beer for breakfast and tequila all day, the government decreed that no alcohol would be sold from Friday at midnight to Monday morning the weekend of July 1st, the day of the presidential election. They come every 6 years and there are no second terms.

What were they thinking? That everyone would sober up, really put some thought into the candidates, maybe read up a little on them, and then make an informed decision, all in one weekend? Or was it just to prevent problems on Election Day – arguments between drunks in the voting lines?

On Sunday, election night, it was time to make some friends. Hostal Zócalo, a historic building with high ceilings, an airy common area, open courtyard, and an excellent breakfast, is located right on the center square of Mérida.    more ...