After party

So I finally had the chance to realise one of my dreams: going to a Mexican after-party. And all I can say, is that it didn’t disappoint… It was everything I hoped it would be plus a WHOLE LOT MORE. Unlike in Guadalajara where clubs organise their own after-parties, the tradition here is that after the club closes for the night, everyone moves to someone’s house to have the party.

The night started off at a techno club a short taxi ride away from the Sacristy. I’m not really a huge fan of clubbing by myself these days, but in Mexico it’s absolutely not an issue. Mexican people are so genuinely warm, welcoming, friendly and hospitable (at least towards foreigners anyway) and everywhere I’ve gone people have seen that I’m by myself and asked me to join their group. So even though I knew no-one in this club, within about 20 minutes of arriving, it was like I was out with a bunch of old friends.

The club was really cool with three different DJs playing… The main annoyance were the drinks waiters who were on a mission to rip-off everyone as much as they could. I’m sure they make a killing every night this way. They automatically took their own tip, as much as they felt they should or could. At the beginning of the night the tips were small but by the end of the night the tips got bigger and bigger. Nor would they return change unless you chased after them and made a special point of asking for your change back. The price of a beer was 40 pesos and a bottle of water was 20. At the beginning of the night the waiter wanted 50 and 30 respectively but by the end of the night the price for a beer and bottle of water was 150! The general feeling I got was just pay the money, keep them happy and avoid risking any trouble. So despite being in Mexico, it worked out to be quite an expensive night.

The only other issue in the club was a plumbing issue. Nothing flushed in the men’s bathroom so you can imagine what state it was in by 6 a.m.

After the club closed at 6 a.m. about 40 people shuffled off to someone’s house for the after-party. Anyone who wanted could go and there was quite a collection of characters. I’m the first to admit I’m a bit of a pig when it comes to household tidiness and cleanliness but even I was a bit shocked at how quickly and how badly trashed this guy’s house became. Just about every drink was spilt on the floor and nothing was mopped up and pretty much everything else ended up on the floor aswell. On top of that, in Mexico it seems that the floor is used as the ashtray… and Mexican people like to ash and put out their cigarettes with such passion and gusto. So after a few hours, everyone was slipping and sliding around in a sea black debris strewn murkiness. The owner didn’t seem to mind and for me it was truly the cultural experience to end all cultural experiences.

I arrived back at the Sacristy at about 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon looking a little rough round the edges. The only bummer about the Sacristy on days like this is that it’s maximum security. First there’s a big wooden bolted door and then another padlocked iron gate, so there’s no way of just discreetly sneaking in with no-one seeing you. You have to buzz for someone to let you in.  

I went up to my room and and at that time the housekeeper had had arrived to clean my room. I must have looked like a fright because she took one look at me, jumped, dropped her keys and cried, “OK, I’m leaving” and rushed off. I was glad she left but I was a bit embarrassed by the whole situation.

Last night was a very lazy night just hanging at the Zocalo and eating tacos and today it was hanging on the rooftop of the Museum Amparo taking in the sun.


A day at the markets

Day 1 mezcal and beer + Day 2 deep fried street food = Day 3 feeling disgusting and wallowing in regret. Why do I do it? It’s time to take the bull by the horns, after tonight of course. No more deep fried goodies that’s for sure… except that I did manage to sneak in an empanada today that some guy was selling out the back of his car.   
Thank God I’m going to Cuba… As they say, “What are the three failings of the revolution?” … Breakfast, lunch and dinner! Hopefully, this will work in my favour and I’ll be able to reign the diet back in.

I spent most of the day just slothing around on the terrace watching the housekeeper over the fence prepare the room next to mine… Another guest today!!

Eventually I dragged myself out of the Sacristy of Solitude and went and checked out the markets. Puebla’s a popular weekend getaway for Mexicans… Lots of people come from the capital, so the weekends here are really pumping! People galore in the streets! There’s a definite tourist vibe here today, with all the good and bad that brings. The good part is that pretty much the whole Centro Historico turns into a big market! The specialty here seems to be antiques and all things retro and rustic. It was really fun browsing around the flee markets.  And who remembers the spirograph?   That thing that allows you to draw creative circle patterns… It’s alive and well in Puebla!!

Here are just some random snaps from the day at the markets…


Molotes and pelonas

When the first drinks of a night are three shots of mezcal in a row followed by a beer, you know petty much how that night’s going to turn out…

And it did turn out exactly like that!! I spent the night in Cholula at “Container Town”… It’s a whole bunch of shops, bars and cafes made out of shipping containers. The nights are really cold here, but Mexicans still seem to like sitting outside. All the containers are open to the elements. Anyway, at least the mezcal helped to warm things up!

That made today the perfect day to just relax and eat some deep fried street goodness. There’s a lot of street food here… and a lot of deep fried street food at that. I managed to get through only two today.

The first was a “molote”.

It’s made by rolling out a corn and potato dough really thinly and then filling it with pretty much anything… I had mine with beef and some chillies and herbs… flipping it over, deep frying it and then smothering it in salsa and cream. The basic premise with sauce (as it is with food in general) is that too much is never enough.

The next was a “pelona”. How can we make a sandwich even better? … Let’s deep fry it!

The pelona is a bread roll that’s been deep fried and then layered with lettuce, beans, cream, salsa and another filling of your choice. I had mine with shredded white cheese. Again, the basic premise with the sauce seems to be that unless the bread roll is disintegrating, you haven’t put on enough sauce!

The deep fried deliciousness tour will continue over the weekend. Stay tuned.

Mesón Sacristía de la Soledad

Sacristía de la SOLEDAD…

Sacristy of the Solitude… SO – LI – TUDE  

The fact that the name of a hotel already includes the word “solitude”, you would think would be a sign… But, oh no… Not for me! It seems I have a knack of booking myself into hotels where I end up being the only guest. Oops, I did it again!! And actually, this hotel only has a total of three rooms so even at full capacity I’d only be one of three guests. It’s eerily reminiscent of my stay at the Doña Sol Guesthouse in Cali last year. But whereas John the alcoholic proprietor gave the Doña Sol a distinctly “Bates Motel” flavour, the owners here, at least on the surface, seem quite normal. And there’s no beer shenanigans going on in the middle of the night! 

The Sacristy of Solitude is run by Mr and Mrs Espinoza, both from Puebla. This is Leobardo Espinoza.

At first I was calling him Leopardo, as in “leopard” (the animal with spots) until his assistant told me it was actually spelt with a “b”… The name Leopard would suit him better I think. He’s got a very colourful personality… to match his neon orange Hugo Boss trousers presumably and also runs runs a radio station from the guesthouse called “Mexico Prioridad”. Each morning Monday to Friday from 7 am to 9 am, he hosts his own show where he talks about art, culture, politics and a little bit of everything else.

This is his wife Lourdes a.k.a. Lulu.

She seems very sweet and does all the cooking at the guesthouse and runs private cooking classes. She was preparing breakfast for me this morning… All the concrete floors, stone work, antique furniture and latch doors around this place give it a kind of “Medieval Dungeon” vibe… I felt like I should be calling out to her, “Bring me my turkey leg, wench” rather than “Huevos rancheros, por favor”.

My table in the dining room this morning…

This is Andres, the assistant from Barcelona.  

He studied tourism and is trying to work in hotels around the world. The year prior to coming here he was working at the Ritz Carlton in Krabi, Thailand. He went from working in a five star hundreds-of-rooms hotel to a Mexican three room guesthouse. He’s a very nice guy and very helpful. Maybe I misinterpreted things but I was getting a very “Thank God there’s finally a guest” vibe from him this morning.

But overall, it’s a really beautiful place. The attention to detail is just amazing.

And, most importantly… I LOOOOOOVE my new ‘hood!


From Guadalajara to Puebla

Today I headed south-east from Guadalajara to Puebla, Mexico’s fourth largest city. The journey involved taxi, plane, bus then taxi again. It all went pretty smoothly without any major disasters although it took way longer than I expected. I left for the airport at about 10 a.m…. Miguel called me a “special” taxi. He promised me that this “special” taxi would get me to the airport at half the price… Afterall, who doesn’t like a bargain? So I said, “Bring it on!” It was an unlicensed cab and indeed it did get me to the airport at half the price … and at twice the speed! He drove like a Formula 1 race car driver and had all the windows open so the wind chill factor in the back seat was about minus 50. I didn’t know how to politely say in Spanish, “Can you wind the freakin’ windows up, please?” so I just had to suffer in silence.

I checked in to the flight. I was told boarding would start at 11.25 a.m. for a 11.55 a.m. departure at Gate 16. I didn’t even think to check the departures board, but I did think it was weird that while I was waiting at the gate there was no aeroplane and very few other people waiting. Finally I checked the board and it turns out they had changed the gate to 28 and not informed me! But at least these days, no plane would ever leave with an unaccompanied checked bag so I figured I was safe. I bolted to Gate 28 but the flight had been delayed for about 90 minutes anyway so no worries there.

The flight on Interjet was really good. It was less than an hour’s flight but the rum Jack Daniels was flowing freely! And finally we touched down in Mexico City.

It seemed so frantic after spending the week in laid back Guadalajara!  

I headed straight for the Bus Terminal at the airport and got myself one of the last seats on a bus bound for Puebla, leaving in about 10 minutes. My seat was wedged between the WC and a 5 year old girl. Fortunately though, Mexican 5 year olds are much better behaved than Australian 5 year olds! The security was good… Everything X-rayed… 

A security guard even came on board and took an individual face photograph of everyone, presumably to make identifying the bodies easier should the bus get torched en route to Puebla. The bus trip to Puebla is supposed to take about 2 hours but most of the motorway looked like this…

So the trip ended up taking well over three hours. At about 7 p.m. we reached the Estrella Roja bus terminal in Puebla and from there it was a short cab ride to my hotel in the Centro Historico.

My room at the Meson Sacristia de la Soledad is cool, complete with art works, flower arrangements, polished concrete floors… And tolietries in glass bottles!!   I wonder how that will end up???

And then finally it was time for some dinner: Chicken Enchiladas with Mole… The Mexican philosophy of food seems to be similar to that of the Latvians:  Too much is never enough.

And now to bed. It was an exhausting day. The city from what I have seen though looks beautiful. I can’t wait to go exploring in the morning.

Last day in Guadalajara

It was my last day in this wonderful city so I spent it wandering around my hood, the Colonias of Centro and Americana just people watching, sitting in cafes listening to music and having some mindful moments.

A few people I had met before I came said that they loved Guadalajara and now I can really see why. It’s cool, funky, friendly, genuinely warm and welcoming, unpretentious and unselfconscious. Guadalajara rocks!

Here are just a few random snaps that I took while wandering around.











Rainy days and buses (always get me down)

Totally rained out today!
I woke up feeling quite energised… The jet lag is gone and the weekday nightlife hasn’t cracked up to be all that much. There are a lot of really cool places around, especially in this street, Priciliano Sanchez and seem to stay open late… The only problem is that they’re empty most of the time! 

I went to one club last night a few blocks down the road. It’s a big club with three floors housed in a colonial style building but again it was almost empty. When I walked inside there were only about 8 people there and those eight people were 8 of the roughest, butchest looking women you’ve ever seen in your life sitting around a stage watching a drag queen called Candy attempt to twerk and do the splits on stage while lip synching old Mexican classics. It was either lesbian night at the club or a truck drivers’ private Christmas party. I reluctantly sat down with the “girls” (I use the term loosely) in front of the stage and the “no fuss” waitress came up and took my drink order. I could’ve done without any drink but I got the impression it was obligatory to order at least one. “Un Tecate, por favor!”… She replied, “40 pesos”, which I thought was odd since the going price in a bar or club seems to be about 20 or 25. A couple of minutes later she comes back with two. She had a very stern “don’t mess with me” look in her eyes so I took the two beers and said thank you. I don’t know if it was just a case of “take advantage of the gringo” or they were so desperate for business and she figured I’d be out the door after one so she’d better sell me two quickly.

Anyway, I hurriedly guzzled my two beers and made a swift exit and sprinted down the road to the nearest late night taqueria. I wolfed down 6 “pig marin” tacos (beef marinated in chillis and pineapple and other stuff) and went off to my rooftop hideaway and went to be bed.
It was grey and drizzling this morning when I woke up so I went for a coffee in the next neighbourhood, Colonia Americana. So named, I’m guessing, because the American Consulate is there.

This whole area, Centro and Americana has a really funky retro feel about it, reminiscent of inner city Sydney like Glebe or Chippendale about 40 years ago. There are a lot of what seem to be derelict or abandoned buildings and that have been reclaimed and people are turning them into funky eateries and shops.

It wasn’t raining too heavily, but heavily enough to make wandering the streets sightseeing really not fun, so I opted for a shopping day and made plans to go to “El Palacio de Hierro” an upmarket department store. In DF, there are a few of them but the only one here is in Zapopan, a good bus ride from the Centro. Zapopan, like Tlaquepaque used to be a town in it’s own right but eventually got swallowed by the urban sprawl and is now a suburb of Guadalajara. Anyway, the Museum of Modern Art is there which I want to see so I figured I could kill two birds with the one stone.

Taking busses in foreign cities is always a nuisance, especially Latin American cities. The stops and routes and not clearly marked and it’s difficult to know where you have to get off. Catching a train is far less complicated and stressful.

It must have been beginners luck yesterday when I went to Tlaquepaque… I went to Avenida 16 de Septiembre and found the bus stop really easily. The bus came within a couple of minutes… I got on, paid the driver, told him “Tlaquepaque” and asked him to advise me when we were there. No fuss, no problem and in 20 minutes we were there.

Today was a different story however. Supposedly, it’s the same number bus, number 275, with Tlaquepaque at one end and Zapopan at the other, and the same bus stop, Av. 16 de Septiembre. I figured it’s be the other side of the road though. The 275 didn’t come for ages and I waited for a long time as the rain got heavier. Eventually it arrived, I got on with money in hand and said to the driver, “Zapopan”. He then pulled a face like he had just sucked on a lemon and blurted out, “Que??????” … I repeated, “Zapopan”, he pulled another face and started waving his hands around yelling “No!” I gave up waiting for a bus after that. I took it as a sign that I didn’t need to go shopping and besides the rain was getting heavier and I didn’t have an umbrella.

So, it was back to my rooftop hideaway for a lazy day inside via my local pastry shop to pick up some chorizo pastries.

Of course it’s still raining and of course it’s Friday night, the best night to go out.

Hmmm… To brave the weather and go out or pay attention to the signs? That is the question.


I was determined on this trip not to go to any touristy places but already on day 4 I caved in. Last night’s so-called mini weekend was a bit of fizzer. Not too many places were actually open. Most of the bars on Priciliano Sanchez were open but very few people in them. And what people there were went home early. The jet-lag is wearing off and I wasn’t too tired and feeling a bit restless. Although for future reference, the Blood of Christ starters followed by bottles Dos Equis is not a good combination. So I decided to hop on a bus and head to San Pedro Tlaquepaque.   

It used to be a city in it’s own right but Guadalajara spread so much that now it’s just a suburb of Guadalajara. And actually, it’s very close to the city centre. Apparently the name comes from an Aztec language and means, “place above clay land”. Hence, it’s famous for pottery and handicrafts. It’s a cute place, quite small with lots of galleries around and a pottery museum aswell…


Lots of nice restaurants too…

I stopped in one and ordered one of the specialities “Birria de Ternera”. Again it was a bit of a roll of the dice. I knew ternera was veal but didn’t know what birria was. It turns out it was much the same as what I had at Mama’s Stews yesterday but Mama’s was waaaaaaay better though. This one came served with hot fluffy tortillas and some chopped raw onion on the side.

I’m so easily talked into anything… The waiter took my order and asked, “What would you like to drink? Tequila???”

And I’m like, “Yeah, ok”.

It was actually pretty good but it means that my first meal of the day was just meat, bread and tequila.

After my meat and tequila breakfast, I promenaded myself around the town and stumbled upon these guys…

Doing the “Danza de los Voladores”. It’s an ancient ritual which was created, to end a drought. “At least 450 years ago there was a severe drought that brought hunger to the people. The gods were withholding the rain because the people had neglected them. The ceremony was created, to appease the gods and bring back the rains.” Five guys climb up a 30 metre pole and spin around for a while. One guy plays the flute while the other four descend to the ground by ropes.

My next encounter was with these two lovely teenage guys, Javier and José…

They were in the central square shining shoes and persuaded me to let them clean my shoes. I was kind of reluctant since my shoes weren’t particularly dirty and they’re made of suede. But hey, you’ve got to support the local economy so I agreed.

In retrospect, I should’ve just given the money and saved them the work. I think they basically just wet my shoes and moved what dirt there was around. And because it was a cool overcast day, I ended up walking around for the rest of the afternoon with wet shoes. But they were both very well-meaning.

We chatted a bit in my pigeon Spanish. Javier (on the left) is 18 and his brother Jose (on the right) is 16. They come from Tijuana but left because they didn’t like it there and so came to Guadalajara to live with their grandparents. They come to the square in Tlaquepaque in the afternoon after school to earn money. The both need to buy new backpacks for school. The price for the shoe clean was 20 pesos but I gave them 50. I felt like I should have given more.

And that was it!!

Back to my secret rooftop hideaway!


Day 3 Guadalajara: Drinking the blood of Christ

So, it turns out that the day after the day after the day after is actually worse than the second day after! Or maybe that’s just me … The main problem is just the jet-lag. I was tired all day yesterday but held off sleeping ’till nighttime. Of course the minute I tried to sleep I was wide awake and only managed to doze off at around 5 a.m. Miguel in all his design wisdom hasn’t put any blinds or curtains on the ALL GLASS fronted ALL WHITE loft… It’s on on the roof and there’s a brick wall around the balcony so privacy is no problem… But as soon the sun comes up, it’s like trying to sleep in a Seven-Eleven. Read: IMPOSSIBLE.

I got out of bed around 10 a.m. but without my usual morning bucket of Japanese green tea followed by a celery, carrot and beetroot juice chaser I was feeling pretty rough. So an excursion to Tequila Town was out of the question. It’s about two hours by bus. Apparently the busses are good but the roads are not! So it was another low-key kind of a day just hangin’ ’round ma ‘hood for me.

At about 11 a.m. I downed a handful of “magic beans” a.k.a raw organically grown Peruvian cacao beans and hot-footed it down the road to go and brunch. I made sure I packed two packets of beans… I think it’s a sure sign you’re getting old when you start travelling with your own food, like all those old Japanese people who travel to Paris with a suitcase full of cup ramen.

There are a lot of really funky eateries around here with simple down to earth home-cooking made with lots of “amor”. I went straight “Mama’s Stews” to get me a heapin’ helpin’ of mama’s love…

You could feel the love as soon as you walked in and mama just radiated pure love!

And here is my plate of “amor”… A delicious plate of stew served with refried beans, a paella-esque rice and salad.

It’s always refreshing to travel in non-Australian parts of the world. I get such a kick out of the lack of rules and regulations. I always make a point of walking down the street swiggin’ a can of beer at any time and going to a club completely wasted… Just because I can! It was interesting to see Mama sloshing about in all the sauces and rice with her bare hands. Cleanlinss is good but I think we sometimes obsess over it and “use by” dates and the such a bit too much. Having said that though, I have been guzzling probiotic yogurt by the bucket load… Just in case!

After mama’s love, I went and explored the other end of my street, Calle Priciliano Sanchez…

As luck would have it, stumbled upon this scene…

This was it! This was my opportunity! Time to roll the dice again! I really love the humble down-to-earth uncomplicatedness of Mexicans. I went in and in my basic Spanish pointed to my hair and said, “Short here, here and here and here short also but a bit longer.” No problem! And wham bam, thank you MarTAN, I was in and out with a big smile on my face and looking fabulous!

I’m sure in the Sydney the same haircut would have been served up with a huge helping of attitude and there would have been tears before bedtime.

That was about it. I spent most of the rest of what was left of the day trying to find an automatic teller machine… Or “any time money” as my students like to say. They’re few and far between here it seems.

And now I’m back in my secret hideaway drinking “Blood of Christ”.

Yes, that’s right… Drinking Blood of Christ…

It’s ok. It’s sweet wine (not my preference)… I guess it’s intended for communion. I bought it just because I wanted to try Mexican wine and be able to say that I went to Mexico and drank the blood of Christ!

And now I’m off to see if what they say about those Wednesday mini-weekends here is true.