When We Met: March 2014
Where We Met: San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico
Occupation: I work for a small fair trade label and I’m a musician as well.
What I like about meeting people when traveling is you don’t know anything about the other person so you explore, you exchange, it’s like people are not the same as they are in their daily routine, daily job.
Can you tell us a little about the fair trade label? Yes, we work with people in Guatemala and Mexico basically. What we do is produce textiles, cotton, and hammocks and clothes and also bed sheets as well as, in small quantities, musical instruments.
What is the name of the label? El Tucan
Do you have a website? Yes, www.eltucan.ch, but it is all in German.
What are your destinations on this journey? I started in Mexico City, then I went to San Miguel de Allende then headed down to Oaxaca, stayed there for a few days and visited some small villages like San Bartolo and I don’t remember all the names but have great pictures. Basically the first part of my trip I was volunteering because I had this project with the fair trade label, it was called Do the Fair Trade in which I did music and a video to document the story of a fair trade product by visiting the producers which are families in the highlands of mostly Guatemala and this will be released on May 10th on the World Fair Trade Day.
Released on your website? Everywhere, we have a lot of support from World Fair Trade Organization. So what I did basically is visited many artisans, artists and got into their culture. Then from Oaxaca we went to Guatemala and there I stayed near Panajachel for about one month and visited several small villages to visit also the producers which are indigenous people which was very interesting because even if I didn’t, or still don’t, speak a lot of Spanish I easily had conversations and got to know each other and recognize cultures. Through music and also through art. Like they are an artist and I am an artist. They’re artisan in the way they weave the clothes. One of my main goals was also to document with the music video that with the fair trade label we are working together. So it will also contain some rap elements in K’ieche Which is the first one in history, the first time, which is also very nice because this shows how music can combine different cultures, I mean very different cultures.
So it is going to be the first hip hop compilation in K’ieche? That’s the naive langue of the indigenous people? Yes, in the highlands of Guatemala.
How long are you traveling for? In total two months which is not much actually but I will make the best out of it.
Do you have anything that has stood out as being an exceptional experience? An exceptional experience…It’s very hard to tell because there are a lot, very different things. What was really really special for me was this place Semuc Champey in Guatemala where I spent a few days in the middle of the jungle. I could easily jump in the river. Actually this was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life.
What are your impressions of San Cristobal de las Casas? I like it very much. My plan was to come here and get inspired by the way of life, by the stream and how it is flowing for my musical projects and to have a bit of rest and have a good time. I landed here in this wonderful Ganesha Posada hostel and bumped into great people, as always, this is the funny thing about traveling but we will come to this later I guess. I like Cristobal, the local market, it is really, really great. I like also the way people are smiling on the streets because it is something very special, it makes me happy. If I see people in the streets smiling all the time it makes me really happy. And also creative, so I like San Cristobal, I can recommmend it. I like also the effect it has on my mind in the morning, (laughing) maybe not yesterday because we had a bit of a good night. I like to just take a walk around the city and get impressions from it.
Has anything happened on this trip that has been negative? There are always postivie and negative things but based on traveling I didn’t have really negative experiences. Sometimes, as usual, some guys try to squeeze you, get as much as they can out of you, but you have to be smart. So maybe, when we did the shooting, filming of our project this was really hard work. We had a lot of tension because many things came together. But negative, no.
Do you keep a daily budget? Mas o menos. It really depends because this time I’m on a short trip and I have a small budget.
How much? About $35 a day.
What is your favorite place you’ve been in your life? This is a very good question. There are too many to mention. Like I can not pick one. But this Semuc Champey was great, and I had great places in Nepal, India and Asia.
How long were you traveling through Asia for? Several times, around three or four months each.
Did you have a budget then? Yes, but don’t ask me (laughs). I reckon it was a lot cheaper than here.
What is your next travel destination? Humh, I don’t know. I guess I want to go back to India because once you go there….(laughs) well maybe not you [see Michael’s blog regarding India], but once you go there you are addicted and I also love to travel to places like California and Hawaii and the Caribbean, Africa. I want to explore Europe a bit more and even in my own country there are a lot of great places.
What is your next destination in Mexico? I will go to Zipolite, which is a very nice beach.
How many pairs of socks did you bring with you? Five
Shoes? Two, but I just use one.
Do you use any social media in your travels? Yes, I use Instagram but I stay off Facebook and I also check my emails just once in a while, which is unusual, which is good for me.
When you travel do you stay mostly in hostels? This is a good question. Mostly in hostels. Sometimes I get private accommodations. Just ask people, they are really open. Maybe once in a while I stay in a hotel. I try to avoid dorms but I did it here and it wasn’t bad.
Why not dorms? For hygienic reasons, you get fleas (laughs). If I don’t feel secure in a place I don’t stay there.
We were talking about meeting people while traveling, can you talk about that? This is one of the greatest things about traveling because you will meet a lot of people from different ways of life, from different cultures, from different continents even, like the two of us. You can learn and exchange a lot which is always great because you strengthen your mind, it opens your mind. Which is good because you can bring it back home and get a bit of that in your country too. What I like about meeting people when traveling is you don’t know anything about the other person so you explore, you exchange, it’s like people are not the same as they are in their daily routine, daily job. So it gives you the opportunity to express yourself in the way you want most of the time. This is what I really really like because there is no work, no pressure, whatever. The funny thing is you bump into the right people, you talk with everybody because automatically you are very open in a foreign country so basically you will also talk to people you won’t chat with back home. This is great.
Do you have any advice for people who want to travel but for some reason have not done so? Just do it because once, after a few days, you get into a traveling mode, you will really like it. It doesn’t matter where you stand in life or where you are from, your occupation because while traveling you can develop yourself a lot, really a lot. Depends also on how you are traveling. There are different ways to [do so]. But what I can say is do it and you won’t regret it. It will be the best thing you’ve done in life.
If you want to know more about Patrick, check out his website here: www.collieherb.ch