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.

Hangin’ in Puebla

I shaved today. It was the first time in about a week. With the combination of travelling, late nights and not shaving, I was starting to look less like a well-worn traveller and more like a vagabond that had just climbed out of a dumpster. I felt it was the right time. That’s another one of the cruelties of getting older. If you’re young and you don’t shave, you’re a hipster. If you’re Latin American and you don’t shave, well… you just look Latin American. But if you’re middle aged and don’t shave, you just look homeless.

I went down for breakfast and had a chat with Andres. He proudly announced that as of Monday, the Sacristy of Solitude will be a full house!! Woohoo… THREE GUESTS!! Rock the house!! Anyway, I just ended up having a coffee and no food. I usually lose weight when I go away overseas… But it ain’t happenin’ in Mexico! I thought I’d better ease up on the enchiladas and chilaquiles and just have some fruit when I go out.
As it happens the word “papaya” (as in the fruit) is also slang for “vagina” here in Mexico. I headed down to the Zocalo and you can imagine my delight when I came across this guy…

Suddenly… The only fruit I wanted to eat was papaya and all I wanted to do was practice every Spanish sentence I knew using the word “papaya”…
“I want papaya… 

Please, give me papaya… 

Lots of papaya…

I want a very big papaya…

I love eating papaya…

Papaya is delicious”

It’s the small things in life.

I spent most of the day just hanging around the hood. There are a lot of school kids in Mexico learning English. It seems the standard English lesson is to get the kids to write a whole bunch of questions and then send them out on the streets to go and find gringos, interview them and video the interviews. It’s an easy lesson for the teacher and judging by the amount of grammatical mistakes, they don’t even check their work. I noticed them in DF when I was there last year, but here in Puebla there are swarms of them. I was happy to help but I ended up answering A LOT of questions. One of my interviews was with these star students…


They had prepared a very extensive list of about 17 000 interview questions including an in-depth sub-section of “What’s your favourite..(insert anything and everything imaginable) ?” They’re destined to become talk show hosts I think. I gave it my best shot but towards the end of it my favourite things just became “what”, “God” and “fuck”.

What’s your favourite shoe? … What?

What’s your favourite decoration? … Oh, God!

Whats your favourite bean? … Oh fuck!

But don’t worry… I don’t think they actually understood any of my answers.

These guys had written a conversation about organising a party and wanted me to help them with pronunciation. Another easy lesson for the teacher… “Teacher please help me with pronunciation.” “What?  Go get a gringo to do it.”


After that I went to Puebla Cathedral and had a look around. It’s certainly a stunning piece of architecture. The exterior is not that amazing but the interior is. Apparently it was the first Baroque Cathedral built in the Americas. It’s the second largest in Mexico but the bell towers are the tallest.
Still not feeling Catholic enough after my stint in the Cathedral, I thought I’d better have a look at the exhibition of the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Saint,Teresa of Avila.  

They had volunteer guides in there and a very knowledgeable gentleman took me around. I lot of the talk involved the names and numbers of bishops, popes, cardinals and saints and so largely went in through one ear and out the other. I thought it was odd though when we were looking at paintings and sculptures of Teresa, that about three times he said, “Look she has no pimples.” Like… Is that a criteria for being canonised? 

There was one sculpture … well, actually, just a photo of the sculpture, the original is in Florence… which depicts the moment that Teresa was stabbed with a flaming arrow. The guide’s English was very good but I thought it was funny when he described this moment. He said that “Teresa had felt so much pain and so gay.” … Huh? What? Of course he meant pain and happiness but I got a giggle out of it for about a second.

Next it was off to another first, The Biblioteca Palafoxiana, the first library in Latin America. It’s right behind the Cathedral. You couldn’t look at any books, obviously, but the interior was stunning.

A bit of street food next… I couldn’t quite catch the name of this one but it was corn kernels and chicharron cooked in a bit of a light broth with chilli and lime. It was sensational!!

The rest of the time was just spent wandering around taking some happy snaps and soaking up the atmosphere of this beautiful city… and then back to the Sacristy of Solitude getting ready, preparing myself to take on Puebla’s nightlife!

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.