One ungodly early morning bus ride later and back to Guadalajara it was.
The plan was to show Trevor my life for the past 5 weeks and hopefully introduce him to some of the wonderful people and places I had gotten to know. I also really, really
wanted to share with him the fabulous nightclub scene I had spent so much time enjoying to my bad tequila lovin’ self. We also hoped to take a trip out to Tequila town and catch Mexico in the first World Cup Soccer match. It was a grand plan; one meticulously executed... well, except for when it wasn’t.
Stumbling block numero uno: We Had No Where to Sleep.
Neither of us realized that Guadalajara offered very little in the way of affordable places to sleep and as I had just spent the last 5 weeks “living it up”, our splurge funds were limited. We couldn't find anything for less than about $75/night. This is the cool part: Oscar, a friend of a friend whom I’d only met briefly for a few hours, opened his home to us. I had messaged him on facebook to ask if he knew
of a decently priced hotel and he replied back with “I have somewhere you can stay.” His grandma had recently passed and her home (which was actually the lower half of his parents home, but with a separate entrance) was vacant. He said as long as we didn’t mind sharing a single bed or showering with cold water, we were more than welcome to stay there. How awesome is that? We graciously accepted his offer! He even insisted on picking us up to take us there, and when we arrived, his momma met us outside and kissed us hello. Oh Mexican hospitality, we heart you!
Stumbling block numero dos: The Night of the Disastrous Club Hop.
The plan was simple: Drink tequila. Get drunk. Dance like crazy people. My friend Kathrin, her boyfriend Mike, Oscar (our host) and a few of their friends headed for a night on the town. We started off at the club we had gone to on my birthday (yep, the one that made us wait for 2 hours to get in), but the line was horrendous and no amount of Kathrin or Kristena bouncer schmoozeling mattered. Fine, no biggie. Guadalajara is a
big city, we’ll find another club. Club number two was closed. Ok, club number three it is. Nope. Club number three had some sort of private party going on and wasn’t open to the public. Hmm. Let’s try club number four. Club number four was open, had no line, and was accepting members of the public - perfect! Ha ha, and then we went inside.
It. Was. A. Freak. Show. Perhaps the word “freak” is a little strong, but it wasn’t what um, we were expecting. It was dark and dank and grungy and looked like it was filled with homeless people on drugs. The music was terrible and it smelt kinda funny. To top it off, our group was dressed for a night in a “classy” club, so, the guys had on nice dress shirts and Kathrin and I were in dresses and heels. The patrons of this club were in some sort of sweat pant/ripped jeans hi-bred. We stood out like sore thumbs. Nonetheless, we gave it a go and bought tequila shot after tequila shot, more out of stubborn determination to have a good time than anything. Fortunately for us, tequila turns anything into an adventure/party!
We'll forever fondly remember that night for sure!
Not quite a stumbling block, but definitely an honorable mention: The Return of the Tamales.
After settling into Oscar’s Grandma’s house, Trevor and I set out to visit my host family. When Alejandrina came rushing to greet us, the first words out of her mouth were “I saved you some tamales!” My stomach dropped and ran to hide in horror. Of course though, I put on my best game face and replied with a great, big “Gracious!” Trevor just squeezed my hand and I could see the glee in his eyes. Sure enough, as we sat at the table a big plate of tamales glared up at me, taunting me, mocking me. I took one for the team and ate three, while silently vowing never to eat another one as long as I shall live. Trevor thought the whole thing was hilarious. I definitely did not.
Things that went well in Guadalajara: Tequila Town and the World Cup Game!!
We bused out to Tequila and did a tour of Mundo Cuervo - the Jose Cuervo distillery. I liken the experience to an avid steak eater
taking a trip to the farm. It’s nice to know where your beloved comes from! We were able to try baked agave hearts (delicious!) and the second distillation of the tequila which was at about 55% alcohol, an experience we could probably do without in the future. After the tour we did an official tequila tasting (think wine tasting), and though it was interesting, it wasn’t really our thing. Tequila, in our world, is used for shooting or mixing, not for sipping! We also paid a little extra for a tour of the family vault where we were privy to a sample of the family reserve. Again, it was interesting, but not really our thing and certainly not worth $10 more than the regular tour. We loved Tequila though; it's such a cute, quaint little town!
The world cup game (Mexico vs. South Africa) was on at 9am the day of our departure and we watched upstairs at Oscar's house with a bunch of his friends and family. This is possibly the most wonderful thing about Mexico: when soccer is playing, the country stops. They either A) leave work to watch or B) bring it into the workplace. We
Go Mexico Go!!
First match of the World Cup: Mexico vs South Africa
were amazed at how many people could stay home to watch the game at 9am on a Friday! Definitely a memorable experience. The chanting has to be the best part. Hockey fans don’t come out with the same sing song soccer fanatics do!
So, that’s it for Mexico 2010. Back to Canada we go. A few of my final thoughts:
I came to Mexico with the experiences of past travels at the forefront of my mind; that is, to always be on guard. Be prepared to fight for fair prices. Be smart. Second guess intentions. Locals don’t want to talk, they want money. It sounds jaded, but it has been our traveller reality, even in countries we truly loved, such as Thailand. Definitely not the case in Mexico! My positive experiences here easily far outweigh my negative ones.
I have been absolutely blown away by the kindness and honesty of the Mexican people. They’ve stood incredibly patiently at times trying to decipher my horrid Spanish. They’ve driven me around and refused gas money. They *LOVED* to feed me. They’ve given directions and then followed up to make sure I understood, or insisted on walking me to where
I wanted to go. They told me where to get off the bus. They’ve invited me to their parties and out with their friends. My laundry lady always charged me half price “just because” she liked me. They’ve stopped me on the street to ask me if I was lost. They’ve offered their homes to me because I was a friend of a friend, so therefore, I was a friend. I seriously have just been so humbled and consistently wowed by the generosity and honesty of the people I have met. And not just a few of them. Almost all of them, every day, everywhere I went. It has been an incredible lesson in hospitality. I really do love this country!! It hurts my heart the rap that Mexico gets through the media and fear mongering.
This country was phenomenal and after spending 6 weeks here I would absolutely without a doubt say that it takes the cake for my most favorite country travelled thus far. Considering the love I had for Thailand, Rwanda, and Turkey, that speaks loads!
Happy Travels Amigos!
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