The moving mass of humanity was funneled by a massive police presence into a central walkway down a major street, which was closed. Tributary avenues added to the crowd. In the last mile or so, we numbered tens of thousands of people per block.
After arriving in Mexico City, Amira and I noticed from the cab great herds of people all walking in the same direction. Turns out that we arrived on the peak day of Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe!
On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego said he saw the Virgin Mary appear on Tepaeyac Hill in the city. Yada yada yada, now 9 million Mexicans walk, sometimes great distances, sometimes crawling or on their knees, to said hill to pay respects to the Virgen de Guadalupe.
So naturally we joined the throngs. (We were literally the only Americans we saw, other than a group of what I assume were Hawaiians.)
I took a photo of these cute Mayan kids while traveling through a jungle river in Guatemala.
In 2006, my wife, Amira, and my sons, Kevin and Kenny, and I spend 6 amazing weeks exploring Mayan ruins in Central America and Southern Mexico.
What made it a Digital Nomad event for me was that I worked the entire time. Even then and even there I was able to find WiFi.
Remember that scene from the movie "Out of Africa" where Denys takes Karen on an amazing flight over Kenya? They fly along the rim of a crater, which is call Mount Longonot. Here's the scene.
Here I am standing on the rim of Longonot posing for a picture with some local kids, who were on a field trip to the crater.
This part of Kenya is already high altitude, and Longonot peaks at over 9,000 feet. I got altitude sickness on the hike (in part because I was carrying a backpack full of water bottles).
It was an experience of a lifetime, a magical day (despite the nausea and barfing).
This is the very top of a long slog up the stairs. After entering the tiny door, the stairs continued and came up into the living from the floor. (I took this picture in March, 2015.)
One of the great things about living nomadically and internationally is that you get to see amazing things. One example is that we witnessed the 2012 Spartathlon, which is a 153 mile running race between Athens and Sparta.
Amira took this picture of me four years ago while we were living in Sparta, Greece.
Just another quiet street on the Greek Island of Samos on an October morning in 2012. [image: samos38.jpg]
Sunset over the Arno river in Florence, Italy. [image: 20130825195930316_2.jpg]
Swimming in the Dead Sea was on my Bucket List. I got to check that one off in October, 2014, when my son, Kevin, got married to Nadia in Jordan.
Taking off from the Venice airport offered a unique thrill: Venice from the air. Wow. Look at that!!
One strange thing about Marseille is that you don't see a lot of American tourists wandering around. Which is a shame. It's a wonderful city.
And I have a theory as to why.
I have found that tourists in general, and American tourists in particular (because vacation days are so few and rare), tend to take trips in search of cliches, stereotypes and scenes and scenarios that reinforce existing preconceptions.
They go to France to drink coffee at a sidewalk cafe with a view of the Eiffel Tower, go chateaux hopping in the Loire Valley or drink wine in Bordeaux.
Cities like Marseille don't fit into any widely understood category. It's France. But Marseille has always been a port city, close to Italy, teeming with immigrants. Compared to many French towns and cities, Marseille is a bit on the grubby side. An astonishing number of surfaces are covered in graffiti.
Many of the markets and stores in the central downtown area are owned and largely patronized by Muslims, primarily for North Africa but also from all over the Middle East. And this is one of Marseille's most delicious charms. You can buy all kinds of foods from the Middle East and North Africa, and it's all cheap and authentic.
There is also an extraordinarily eclectic restaurant scene in Marseille, with fantastic Vietnamese, Mexican, Pakistani and other restaurants operating side-by-side with creperies and boulangeries.
The bottom line is that when tourists go to France, they want French stuff, not global stuff. And this is a missed opportunity. Because Marseille isn't just a French city filled with the influences of immigrants. It has its own unique identity that has to be experienced to be appreciated.
Plus, some of the graffiti is breathtaking.
So take my advice and spend some quality time in Marseille.
Dragging our bags across Marseille after our bus arrival the other day, we passed a cool Egyptian restaurant called La Cantine de Nour d'Égypte. We made a mental note. Tonight, Amira and I ate dinner there. (Click on the picture above to cycle through all the photos.) The decor of the place is pleasant, with all the furniture apparently cobbled together from wherever. About 1/4 of the interior is the kitchen, which is just out in the open and meticulously clean and orderly. Tables ranged from regular table-and-chairs to very low tables on the floor with diners sitting on cushions. We had something between the two extremes -- very low chairs and an even lower table. Everything was very good. Amira has a very nice, freshly blended cantaloupe drink and I had blended lemonade with mint. We started with a lovely plate of random Middle Eastern things -- falafel, hummus, olives, eggplant, yogurt stuff and other such foods. For dinner, Amira had a fish and I had a stuffed duck dish. It was delicious -- all of it. You don't come to France for the Egyptian food. But one of the joys of Marseille is the extensive North African, Arabic, Muslim and Berber presence, with attendant restaurants, shops, stores and markets. La Cantine de Nour d'Égypte is just one sample, and we loved it.
It's on the 4th floor, up this spiral staircase.
Aix-en-Provence has this little cars (some with advertising all over) that can take people through the narrow, winding streets of the old city. The back is like a very spacious golf cart.
You might be able to park, but you can't get out.
It was nice to get outside and work for awhile. : )
Everywhere we go now, Amira buys cabbage and makes sauerkraut as soon as she can. This batch was ready in just over a week of fermentation here in Southern France. Because sauerkraut makes everything better!
When you're on vacation, you eat at restaurants. When you're a nomad, you discover amazing stores, shops and markets and make your own meals at home. Here's a nice plate of France we're having for dinner.
Amira made the mistake of bringing me with her to do food shopping. I dragged her into an awesome cheese shop and bought some more delicious cheese, including this incredible Mimolette.
This particular cheese was aged close to two years, and the aging process involves the cultivation of cheese mites, which nibble away at the rind, turning it grey and introducing incredible flavors and small holes that aerate the cheese. It's a cow-milk cheese colored and flavored with annatto. Mimolette is associated with Lille, France, which is pretty much as far away as you can go in France from where I am, which is Aix-en-Provence. Anyway, some FDA goobers in New Jersey tried to ban Mimolette in 2013 because of the cheese mites (which are present in smaller numbers on many aged cheeses), but American cheese enthusiasts publicly shamed them into surrendering and allowing its import.