Ándale, or so they say. It’s already been many a week between drinks on the ‘press. And what a many week they have been. We’ll keep it to stage numero dos on this installation and pull the reigns in on time between innings for the next chapter…
So your Mexico, ¡Què pasa! For those who have yet to experience the juxta that is this country… wow, estupendo! Its history and its development alongside its raw beauty, yet dynamic mix of simplicity make it a truly amazing experience. The nation is a proud nation, and why not? The people and their scenery arrangements are a brilliant blend of both friendly and unique, their history deep and powerful, their food fresh and irresistible, their vehicles mostly Volkswagens (punch buggy! Punch buggy!). And yes, the cacti grow in abundance. And remember to put your baños papel in the bin por favor. However, ¡no manches!, you might’ve already known that so our blogstical story we shall continue.
Mexico City, an assault on the senses. The aromas wafting are good, bad and dear god, is that dog eating a dirty nappy?! Fresh off the plane from Vegas (there was nothing fresh about us) we were thrown into the Español end as our taxi driver – who can’t speak a word of the Queen’s and overtakes cops whose lights are flashing and are on the chase at speed – trys to tell us he can’t deliver us to the hostal as the roads are closed. Dropped in an obscure part of town at night, a few words in the vocab bank come to the party as we deduce from hombre that a five minute walk behind the Cathedral and to the right should see us away laughing. The federales are everywhere and dub tee eff there goes a coupla mighty bangs in the distance… Hola, are we fresh onto the scene of a cartel street battle? We later find out the gunfight we got caught up in was Easter Friday fireworks.
This old capital city is a mish mash of old and new and rich and poor and haves and have nots. The beautifully decorated Catedral, the enormous collection of ancient treasure in the insightful and overwhelming Museo de Antropologia, the National Auditorium shadowed by the 50 x 28m Mexico flag, the gold plated Angel of Independence and other statues in the middle of bustling roundabouts. The hundred children swimming in the park fountains to escape the heat, the four men hanging by the waist rotating and being lowered from a deathly height. And the guac, oh the guac! It’s everything we’d hoped it would be and more. A day trip out to the Teotihuacan pyramids saw us in for some calf pumping, quad trembling stair climbing. The sheer size and span of these ancient pyramids is incredible, moreso to think of the manpower involved in their creation – who needs beasts to carry stone? The local salespeeps creep out from behind the old structures and egg on a healthy barter. There is no souvenir more annoying than a wooden device that mimics the snarl of a jaguar. None. No señor.
Back in the metropolis the local tourist circuito open-topped double decker bus (or more formally and simply, Turibus) whisked us around the plethora of monuments and statues of downtown MXC. ‘Heaps of important peeps lived in those buildungs, oosh those massive brick ones are, like, even older than New Zealund!’ We tuned in to (Queen’s) channel two on our headphones and let the immersion of this capital city commence. Captain Inglès gave us insight into many of the diverse attractions…”CAUTION, we are entering streets with low power cables and trees. For your safety remain seated!” He wasn’t wrong. We shared hits to the face of palm tree fronds but came away with our lives after the possibility of being clotheslined at pace by the hundreds of birdsnested 110V powerlines millimetres above our croning kiwi necks. Through the obstacles we did come upon a quaint yet upmarket and trendy suburb of La Condesa which shed light on the contemporary-hip persona we young Wellingtonians come to like the taste of. Tasty pizzas and a recommended suburb.
Five nights between two hostels, the time then came to pack our backs and ride the 5 hour bus through valleys and hills overrun by countless, gargantuan cacti to the town of Oaxaca (wa-ha-ka). Vamos! A contrast from the hustlin’ and bustlin’ of Mexi City, the gridded streets couldn’t be straighter and more cobblestoney and a million wheels less driven. We hadn’t however escaped the abundance of loadspeakers on bikes and utes selling everything and nothing – each morning we were awoken by the LPG man and his fog horn, and another fella who was searching for a guy named Tony on his megaphone?
Oaxaca was much more artsy and craftsy and walkable. Infamous for their spontaneous fiestas and tradeables, it wasn’t long before we sniffed out the famous Oaxacan cuisine – the 7 varieties of mole sauce – Kim’s fave flav the chocolate spicy one drizzled over ya pollo. They’ve got a thing for chocolate here as it turned out the hot (and cold) chocs were too a bit of alright. Aisle upon aisle, stall upon stall fruit, vegies, meat, mextronics and artisian tradeables are at your reach. We missed out on, but are still commited to tasting, the delicatables Mexican treats such as the grasshoppers and grilled cactus. But the real star of the region is mezcal, that potent poison courtesey of the agave plant that burns on the way down (possibly the way up too, but yet to cross that bridge). While on a packaged day tour we were shown the process from in-the-ground to in-your-glass, and compared the freshly distilled to the 8 years in the barrel (slightly less burny).
We explored another fantastic, and this time picturesque mountaintop view, ancient site of ruins at Monte Alban and the small town of Mitla, and checked out Hierve el Agua, the massive cliff faces made of mineral deposits resembling petrified waterfalls. Other notables include Arbor del Tule, a big old tree – someone had a green thumb cause this beast has the stoutest trunk in the world (that’s a 42m circumference, sheesh). And eat ya heart out Valentines, there’s a new (Mexican) buffet in town. 150 pesos for too many plates of sauces and meats and gravies and spices and salsas and heaven and take me back. No margarine sculpture but no points lost. Plenty of points gained for the continous sightings of federales, street dogs and shoe shiners though (I have special shampoo for that suede, Señor!). The latter seeing no less than 20 stalls inside Oaxaca’s small central Zocalo, each with their own feet resting up on the stools, awaiting the next pair of scuffed leathers to trod past. The Zocalo also offered us the chance to thoroughly enjoy drinking jugs of cheap beer while being entertained by spontaneous, well dressed mariachis – negro y blanco ropas – that will serenade on request. Salud to you.
And so another few weeks of mindboggling fun had ensued. The sweltering heat (muy calor!) of the inland left us thinking it was about time we found some beachy sea action… next stop, famous for its laid back surf beaches, Puerto Escondido.
Kimmy + Jimmy