I ran out of clean underwear two days ago.
Currently I am sitting on a king size bed in a room at the Hotel Explode.
What kind of place is the Hotel Explode? Well, from the king size bed there is a window that looks directly into the shower. That’s right. There is a window from the shower to the bed. Outside large and garish lights flashing from the hotel sign get trapped in the dense fog that we’ve been caught in since early this evening.
A room with a view.
There are mirrors on the headboard.
It’s ten dollars a night.
We are drinking Pulque.
Pulque is a milky moonshine made from the same cactus as Mezcal.
We bought ours from one of the many little huts along the highway whose sole purpose is to peddle this regional specialty. Two liters for 15 pesos, or a little over a dollar. It’s alright. Some men sitting under a tarp at the place we stopped shared some of what they were drinking, Pulque mixed with strawberries, with us. Or rather, they shared some with Bode and he shared his with me. I was a bit out of place as a mujer. Even though I understood their Spanish and answered their questions, they spoke only to Bode. That stuff was good though. Sweet and slightly fizzy from fermenting.
A little roadside hooch, Pulque con fresas.
What we are drinking now is a bit bitter. And slimy, just like you imagine hooch from a cactus would be.
So this is Mexico.
Actually, Mexico has been amazing. Truly.
We’ve had little to no internet for about 5 days now. Struggling against a weak and impossible signal to get out even the most basic message and now nothing at all.
The place we stayed last night had Internet but it was down.
But if the internet hadn’t been down we would likely have holed up in our room rather than spending the night talking with Javier, the guy running the place. Javier is in his 50’s and writes poetry. He read us many of his poems and looked at pictures of what we have been doing. Cute as a button with a trimmed mustache and slightly coke bottled glasses, Javier is who told us to try Pulque.
The stunning ceiling of our hotel in Huichapan.
That hotel was in Huichapan. I have no idea where we are now. We’ve passed through a dozen little towns with more letters in their name than I can keep track of, most of them q’s and x’s. This place is simply somewhere in between two more.
As the fog decended, surrounded by the scent of conifers, there were only a few landmarks to remind us we were still in Mexico.
I can see Bode is peeing through the window. There is a small divider between the toilet and the shower. I suppose some privacy is called for, even at the Hotel Explode. And I’m grateful for it.
It seems every moment in Mexico is something.
We aren’t getting very far in a day. Mostly due to being lost. That and the absolute insane amount of speed bumps. Seriously, they are everywhere and often come out of nowhere. Our little Rat is not in the best shape to handle these interruptions. The sickly scrape we often hear has us both patting Rat’s dashboard in pained sympathy. But 142 cans of spray paint (a number Bode is quite proud of) will make anyone’s back end drag a little.
Hard at work in Matehuala.
Our map is one step above unless. There are a lot more roads than what National Geographic has chosen to show and about all we use the map for is to look for names of cities to navigate towards. Which is really the only way though it may send us in circles a bit. Today I swear that the distance between us and our navigation point kept being somewhere in the range of 130km. But last I saw it was 80km so in a round about way we are getting there.
We left Monterrey on Saturday.
There is a lot of benefit to traveling like we are, no plan, no hurry.
But at the same time you wind up places and have no idea what to do. Monterrey would have been worth some research first. We stayed at a place right off of one of the main roads of the city, which in a city of 4 million people is no joke. Six lanes in constant motion. It took 15 minutes just to cross the skyway to get to our Starbucks directly across from us. Seriously though, don’t judge.
We attempted to go out the night before using a Lonely Planet I had bought 9 years ago. We took the train into what was supposed to be the hippest place in town. Perhaps it was, 9 years ago, but today it was a lot of closed up shops that during the day would actually be quite busy. We did happen upon two night clubs side by side. One was playing traditional Mexican crooning songs and the other Taylor Swift.
Feeling like dancing we tentatively looked into the one that held promise and were told by a man working the door to the other place that it was ok, to go in, there was no cover. Just as we crossed the threshold a woman with short spiky hair stopped us.
It was a gay bar.
She almost didn’t let Bode in because he didn’t look gay. But told me I was ok, she could tell. Hmmm. Deciding not to correct her in her assumptions and wondering what it was that she thought she could tell, we went in. We drank some beers, danced a bit, and left. For all the build up getting admitted it was pretty tame, aside from Bode and I’s conversation. But that’s between us.
Our hotel was also directly across the street from a Karaoke bar that 6 lanes of choked traffic did little to drown out. They even had speakers on the roof to project the temporary stage dreams of the singers within to everyone in a 5 block radius. Two nights in a row I listened to the same Mexican man sing New York, New York. It was actually pretty awesome in a “This can’t really be happening!?!?” kind of way.
But it was only as we left Monterrey that we truly appreciated where we had been. Surrounded by strawberry shaped mountains, Monterrey is a modern and busy city. Factories but up against high class neighborhoods which sandwich in tiny Puebla streets. We ate at a taco stand manned by one of the grumpiest and most toad like women I have ever seen. She didn’t smile once but something about her seemed to grudgingly accept us when I ordered in Spanish.
Though we felt we’d done exactly what we needed to there, we agreed we want to come back.
Driving through the mountains out of the city was really special. It’s simply pretty. Warm and green yet completely dusty. Here we knew that we really liked Mexico, like really really liked.
But it wasn’t until we stopped for lunch that the spell became complete.
Following the lead of about seven large parked semi trucks we pulled over at the sight billowing smoke and grilling meat.
Dust blew around our legs as we walked into the rustic roadside eatery. All outdoors, enclosed with only one cement wall in the back with a corrugated plastic roof there were about four long metal tables with chipped paint of many colors. Dogs, chickens, and the occasional cat roamed freely.
But the food. Mountains of guacamole, acres of meat, and a dizzying selection of salsas covered dozens of overturned barrels. About eight rolls of brown paper towns hung from the roof by string.
Back now to the Hotel Explode.
There is a large bug on the wall across from the bed.
“What is that?”
“A bug,” Bode replies.
“But what kind of bug? It has wings, like a moth?”
“A roach,” he says and then sits back on his heels where he has been cutting more stencils.
He ponders it a little more.
“A flying roach.”
He then goes back to cutting.
I name our flying friend, Chuck, because if we are going to be roommates we may as well be friends.
Another friend. We named her Entonces after Bode’s favorite Spanish word.
We’ve seen so much. Every turn so different.
Guanajuato is a city that would take too long to put into words. Colorful, vibrant, and a little over the top in terms of its perfection. I could have sat and watched people there for days.
Guanajuato, you little gem.
I’ll take them all…. If only we had room in the car.
Guanajuato is for lovers.
And friends who like to make music together.
The city is equally obsessed with Don Quixote and Frida Kahlo. Quite the pair and a perfect combination to give you an idea how the air feels there.
Its cold. The fog has not lifted, and it’s time to get moving. To where, I think some pyramids. If we can find them that is. So I’ll pick up again as soon as there is Internet and hot coffee to keep me going. And if we do get lost, the Federales are very good for directions. We learned this after being asked to pull over for the first time at a check point. This was right before I ate pigs ear for the first time. Which by the way is much better than boiled pig skin.
There is pig ear in this taco. And other pig stuff too but I didn’t ask.
See, Im learning so much already here in Mexico. Keep it coming, mi amor.
I think Mexico looks good on me.