My cousin’s album is released!

#freepromo

My cousin, harmonica world champion in 2009 and 2013, has released his début album Lost In Time!

The album is now available on streaming platforms and also for digital download on iTunes. The physical copy is available in Hong Kong’s retailers whilst the online store offers shipping to Hong Kong and Macau/Macao.

Soon passengers on certain Royal Caribbean cruises will also be able to buy it.

https://ushop.umwebzine.com/bol.html

https://music.apple.com/au/album/lost-in-time/1457809023

https://www.last.fm/music/CY+Leo

Day of the Dead (Oaxaca + Xoxocotlan + San Felipe + Atzompa)

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Oaxaca de Juárez is the capital of the Free and “Sovereign” State of Oaxaca in south-wst México.

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It’s famously the home state of national hero and legend President Benito Juárez.

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But was mostly built by the dictator President Diaz after his imagination of what Paris was like.

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I have been to Oaxaca City before and have written a post about it. This is specifically about the city and surrounding area during the Day of the Dead festival.

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Ofrendas everywhere in the city.

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There were like five parades everywhere every day.

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The Pantheon General was closed after the 2017 earthquake, but reopened in 2018. They were cleaning it up at this point so there was nothing here.

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I joined the commentaries tour on 31 October and it was great. It could be as cheap as $250 apparently but overall it’s worth $500, even without drinking much mescal.

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The first cementary we went to was the one near Monte Alban called Atzompa. 

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That was the best one by far. Quite small but really Coco feeling. People singing with live instrument without a full band.

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Candles everywhere.

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The old cemetery of Xoxocotlan was great too, with the ruins of an imposing church in the middle.

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The atmosphere was magical.

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The new cemetery of Xoxocotlan was not interesting.

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It felt just like a party town outside.

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And inside there were actually fewer decorations and candles, even though the graves themselves were better designed.

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Practically a carnival.

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In the city, there’s a parade for Queen Mary and her consort King Jesus.

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The general cemetery in Oaxaca was striped off all possibilities of Day of the Dead atmosphere however, since it’s closed at 6pm. Outside it’s a big party though. With amusement rides and stuff.

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An old house of President Juárez Esq.

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On my final night (2 November), I joined another tour to San Felipe del Agua, branded the one that inspired Coco. Upon arrival, it was absolutely packed (but they quickly opened a second gate after people started arguing and pushing each other), and honestly there’s nothing special about this one.

I rewatched Coco on the way back to Mexico City, however, and I noticed the gate in the film, so there’s that.

The tour had the same price but not only was it much, much shorter, it was literally just this one place and practically just the transportation and nothing else. I would definitely advise against going to this one. If you want, you can just get a taxi there. It’s still within Oaxaca City to begin with.

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Actopan, Hidalgo, México

Tlaxco + Buenavista, Tlaxcala, México

Chignahuapan + San Pedro Atmatla, Puebla, México

The Nightmare that is American Airlines

Recently, I flew with American Airlines from Mexico City to Montgomery, Alabama via Dallas, Texas, then from Huntsville, Alabama to Mexico City via Dallas, Texas. It’s one disaster after another. Last year alone I flew 55 times, and I have never expected an airline to be this awful. So this is what happened in chronological order…

I usually try to fly without check-in luggage, and my bag was small enough as a carry-on. Nevertheless, cabin space got maxed out and I was asked to check it in literally outside the plane. That was annoying but not terrible.

The flight from Dallas to Montgomery was…odd. After taxiing for like 10 minutes, the pilot suddenly said the cargo door was apparently not closed and we would have to head back to the gate. Then, he said we would have to wait for instruction to see if we had enough fuel for the trip!

Then in Montgomery, I received notification that the bag was “delayed” from their mobile app. I was only in Montgomery for 3 days, so I wanted to make sure it would deliver before I left. Shockingly, there was literally no American Airlines staff members anywhere at the airport. No-one in the baggage claim area, and nobody at their counter. There were no other offices I could find! I wonder what would happen if I didn’t have the app, or if I didn’t have internet? Even the airport help desk was unstaffed.

Soon after, I received an email with a supposedly “live” tracking page that said it would be delivered at 2.35am the next morning, while in the email they said deliveries would be made the next morning if it was after 11pm, and if there wasn’t a prior arrangement with the airline. It didn’t say whether there was an arrangement, so I waited until that time to see if anything would happen.

I didn’t get anything. The “live” tracking page didn’t show anything new. So I went to bed and I waited the entire morning for it, as it was never mentioned in the email when in the morning it would happen. Nothing happened.

I called American Airlines at around 11am. I had to wait for an hour to get to someone. When I finally got through to someone, I was told the delivery company could not call me, that’s why they hadn’t delivered. Somehow, they didn’t try to update the “live” tracking page, they didn’t attempt to text me, send me a message, an email, or even ask the airline to contact me. Nothing. Apparently, if they couldn’t call me, they just don’t do anything at all. I was asked to then wait until 5.30pm for the delivery. So basically, they made me wait the whole day when it was the only full day I had in Montgomery…

When I finally received it, I was happy…at first. Then I saw that it was badly damaged! One of the corners was completely gone! The delivery guy asked me to report it to American Airlines, so I did. But what happened? They asked me to go back to the airport right away! What? I can’t even tell if there would be staff members there!

I went back to the airport the next morning for my flight to Nashville (with Delta), and I managed to talk to some American Airlines people. Guess what? They asked me to take my stuff out. I was like, but I have things, what should I do with them? As it turned out, they expected me to have a spare luggage bag so they could send it back to their headquarters for “repair”.

So I went to Nashville airport following their advice, hoping they would have a replacement bag or just to proceed with the damaged bag claim. There the person informed me that they could actually do nothing but to send the bag to the headquarters, and there was no way for me to do it anyway since I don’t live in the United States, and they would not send the “fixed” bag to Mexico normally.

After all that, I called again and told them all these things. Finally, they allowed me to simply ask for a compensation (which was only around USD$20), contrary to their earlier claim that only airport staff could do that.

But that’s not all.

On my way back from Dallas to Mexico City, the departure time was 6.30pm. At 7pm, the captain notified us that they needed to replace a part of the aeroplane and they didn’t have that in their inventory, thus they took the plane out of service! Half an hour AFTER departure time and we had to switch planes. Obviously these problems happen to all airlines, but wouldn’t they have checked whether a plane was fit for flying BEFORE boarding?

Worse still, we lost our pilots after switching to an older and less equipped flight. How? Like. How??

So departure time was 6.30pm. We didn’t have pilots until 9pm. Oh dear.