The great plan I had to arrive in Mexico City in the early morning hours with plenty of daylight completely came undone. I knew it would be crazy with people and I was told it should be dangerous, so the more hours of sunshine to navigate with the better. However I’d met a guy a couple of days before while camping who had me stay at his house in Guadalajara, he was really nice & wanted to take me to a great restaurant for breakfast before I left town. This made my departure time closer to 11am rather then 8am, I then passed on the idea of spending a night just outside of Mexico City and just went straight for my friend Ivan's place in the city instead.
Oh my holy fukin Jesus I got it all at once, cops, ambulances, sirens, buses, military, taxis, dogs, millions of people. I had landed just in time for rush hour & sun set then to top it off the one GPS on my bike died (no idea why) and google maps on my phone could only seem to land me within about a thousand feet of Ivan's and it was never the same landing point twice. After driving up, over, under and around the same area then landing in a dead end road full of peole I finally stopped and sent him some WhatsApp photos of my surroundings. Driving slowly down a street that looked like the photos he sent back I heard my name from the fourth floor of an apartment window. A little hungry and a little flustered by about 8pm I had unloaded my bike and I was inside talking ballet with his dad on the couch! Poor KLaiR would need a few days break after this.
Ivan seemed extra nervous about my bike as the locked up cage he had arranged to put it in would need a key, to which the owner would be out of town. He insisted we push it inside the apartment building (hampering the exit of the people on the main floor) while we arranged someplace to store it. Poor guy I think I exhausted him worrying about the safety of me and the bike. We walked around looking at the best possible options for the bike for about three hours. Offers to put it in front of friend’s cars, neighbours front lawns, a guarded compound with an old man who lives in the parking lot, notes were written to give to security guards explaining I was a “friend from Canada”, it was extensive. As the neighbours first watched us wheel it in, then out of the apartment building they were like WTF? Finally at about 11:30pm KLaiR was kept safe in a boarded up razor wired back yard of a dear old neighbour.
To get to actually live in the homes of families while exploring across their country is an eye opening honour like no other. It’s one thing to say chat up the guy who’s selling sunglasses about life in Mexico. It’s entirely different to see the daily lives of people who scrape out a fairly less comfortable lifestyle then the one I was raised in. You figure out that to flush the toilet you first need to fill the water bucket in the tiny shower then dump it in the toilet and that toilet paper can not be flushed so it goes in the waste basket. That nothing is immediately thrown away; the camera has been taped up three different ways, pants become shorts, a washer with a broken lid that now only spins is helped by a pre-scrub with a green scrubbie and those clothes get hung to dry on the rooftop in a locked storage cage. That a broken garbage can lid now gets a heavy tin can on to keep it shut, pants become shorts, bald car tires become new quad tires and so on. You get beet juice and a fish and vegetable taco mix for breakfast. You get to listen to the history of Mexico in a language you understand about 1/8 of. You get to stumble in on Mom in her sixties doing Yoga in the living room. You get to have Dad show you photos of his career in the arts. What little treasures have been stored away in a home that doesn’t allow for much extra storage.
Another little treasure is that I get to learn the personal history of people that is absolutely fascinating. In fact everyone has some magical moments in life you never really know until they let you in on it. Ivan’s parents we’re heavily into the arts for their lives, Ivan’s Mum worked on television shows reading poetry as a child and as she grew older she became a Spanish Dancer. She even took out some personal poems about life and how it should be lived and read them to me entirely in Spanish. She felt they we’re reflective of my current experience and wanted me to hear them.
Ivan father was a famous ballet dancer in Mexico City spending close to half of his life in Palacio De Bellas Artes, the main arts center for Mexico City, the site had been originally picked in the time of the Aztecs. There was a book written about Mexican dance history featuring his father including some of his time performing across Mexico, USA and Europe. Amazing!
It's interesting too see why other cultures think we live such a great life & try to immigrate any way possible. Living with your whole family until you marry only to then move in with another family. Doing anything you could to make money. I think if his family saw my humble two level home I either live in alone or rent out part of that has no real fences & a rarely lock the door I think they would fall over. Hell even how clean in general Canada is can be alluring enough. Ivan told me about the time this girl in Calgary took him to the mountains and showed him you could drink the water from the streams. You fill your water bottle from the falls and that’s it. He told me if he took me to the river in Mexico City the cleanest part would be my tears.
Most everyone I’d met had driven a motorbike and had lots of questions about my bike trip, I was having a tough time explain to people about how I’d driven from Canada. Mostly people were more shocked I was driving to the South of Mexico then from Canada, I really don’t think they could wrap there heads around the distance of Mexico City to Canada thou they know how far Cancun was and couldn’t believe I would drive to Cancun. If they pressed hard enough about the trip and I explained I would end in South America a year from now and we looked at a map to understand the distance it was then usually met with “Whoa, a whole year! You have a lot of money!!”, at what point I would usually change the subject. Basically I’m doing this trip for the price of a used car, thou that point I have a hard time making clear to anyone, especially anyone with car payments.
Ivan has some amazing friends and they wanted to show me a great time. It started to get the impression that everyone helps out the economic class below them. I had a Mexican guy who now lived in USA buy me and three other people window washes from a guy in a parking lot even though we didn’t need them, people would buy gum from kids and give it away, you’d tip the guy helping back you out of your car stall even though it was useless and in a circle of friends the one with the blue collar job seemed to insist on paying the bill for the ones who were just getting by. In this case that friend was Burgos and he would also insist I had the time of my life in Mexico City. Burgos figured I should be taken someplace nice so we drove forty-five minutes across the city to a historic area with a festive market going on. He then walked me to a strip of extremely nice restaurants and insisted I pick the one that I would enjoy the most. Fine Italian dining, classic American cuisine, flash French food all with low lit candles and white table clothes. I asked if any of these places had “Mexican Food”, they both looked at me. “You want a Mexican place?”, they looked surprised yet delighted.
Translated from Spanish I was now hit with a series of questions that would change the course of our evening.
"Kix you like cantinas?".
“Ahh sure.”, I think it's like a pub. Well I find out it sort of is, except everyone comes to get totally wasted especially around the holidays and there were two mariachi bands along with tonnes of action.
"Kix you like mezcal?"
“Ahh sure…”, and three fingers of their nicest mezcal shows up.
"Kix you like lengua?"
“Yeah sure…” And a well presented plate of delicious tacos shows up. Rich flavours of tender meat that melted in the mouth. Two tacos in I’m me thinking I’ve got the translation it finally is made clear to me. They are not saying the food melts on your tongue, but that we are in fact eating “lengua” cow tongue! Hahaha, that's a first for me.
"Kix you like tequila?"
“Ahh sure…” And this shot of a delicious clamato, seasoning, maggie and lime drink shows up with 3 three fingers ,of the their finest tequila.
I don’t know if I learned as much as I had hoped about tequila and mescal that night, however the tongue lesson I won’t soon forget.
Ohh man what an amazing time. We got home about 4am with my new found love of cantinas.