Entranced by Mexico

Entranced by Mexico

When I was planning this trip, what seems like a lifetime ago, Mexico was just another country on the map. Mexico was that country where my Canadian friends go for beach holidays at big, touristy resorts. I knew nothing of this glorious country and I underestimated it terribly. What a fool I was.

We spent almost a month travelling down Baja California, and I was introduced to a country, a culture, a way of life. Great food, welcoming people, beautiful beaches, desert, and landscapes. Mexico felt so exotic, truly the start of our adventure.

Since arriving on the mainland after the long ferry crossing, I have deepened my budding love affair with this complex country.

Flying around before the ferry departed La Paz

Phil has a go on my broomstick

 

Our stay with Frida in Durango was the third time we were hosted by a Mexican family. Frida became a close friend who I am sure we will see again. She introduced us to gorditas (stuffed tortillas, somewhat like pita breads), Oxacan cheese (delicious, similar to mozzarella, we used it in our lasagne) and the Mayan cleansing ritual that was the Temazcal.

I was so disappointed that our voyage through the centre of the country was marred by bad weather. We left Frida with rain gently falling, and the rain didn’t really stop for the next week or so. We were warmly welcomed into Rashide’s home in San Luis Potosi, where she and 14 of her family members were gathered for New Year’s Eve. Though the house was only 4 rooms, we were made to feel very welcome, fed delicious food, and taught to drink Micheladas (beer mixed with clamato, and/or a variety of sauces such as Tabasco and Worcestershire).  Her mother and her boyfriend Raoul took us to the cinema, we slept at Raoul’s house and we spoke as much Spanish as we could. We’ve discovered that watching films in English with Spanish subtitles is a good way to learn new Spanish vocabulary.

All of our new family in San Luis Potosi and Frida had raved about the beautiful area we were about to travel through – Huasteca Potosina. A land of waterfalls and natural beauty that needed days to be properly explored.

The view in the evening from our hotel room

Same shot in the morning

In the end the thick, misty rain meant that we only saw one waterfall, and that many of the extraordinary views were obscured by thick fog.

Phil’s feet hurt so much from hiking to the waterfall in his riding boots that we decided to take some weight off.

I struggled with the road conditions. Once again I was holding Phil back with my slow navigation of the twisty roads. He’s being extremely supportive, and trying his best to help me improve and gain confidence, but I’m sure it is very frustrating.

It was very rewarding to stop at Edward James’ castle in Xilitla. Although it was extremely foggy, the mist made the place more magical, rather than stopping our ability to enjoy it. Mr James had been a friend of Dali’s and Picasso’s and his property was filled with surreal sculptures and structures.

Why not have stairs that lead to nowhere?

Phil finds the castle a great place to get high. NB those steps are SLIPPERY!

 

The moss has started to take over the castle

The mist makes the castle magic even more special

Making magic in the jungle

Once we emerged from the mountains, we finally continued the “Ultimate” part of the Ultimate Ride. We rode into Queretaro already late for the pick-up session we had arranged to attend. Luckily there was still some games to be played, and we had a great run around.

The FIRST time I’ve worn my cleats since we left Vancouver over 5 months ago!

Lunch after Ultimate in Queretaro – great bunch of people

We were escorted back to the hacienda where our new host, and fellow Ultimate player, Diego lives. What a gorgeous home, and welcoming family.

Phil with Diego’s mum Anna in front of their hacienda

Phil and Diego devour tacos

There were too many people taking pictures in front of the big Queretaro sign, so we went round the back

 

We were introduced to his girlfriend, mother and father, and other friends and family who were celebrating both his sister’s birthday, and a festival (5 January). We were fed tequila, quesadillas, the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever tasted, and la rosca – a sweet bread which is part of the festival. Phil found a plastic baby in his slice, which as well as being very good luck, also means he’s responsible for buying everyone tomales on the 2nd of February.

Special sweet bread with hidden lucky babies!

Phil finds his lucky baby in the Rosca

I took the opportunity of the rain having stopped to give Cricket some new rear brake pads, make a new windshield extension, and a bit of a bath.

Our delightful stay with Diego and his family was over all too soon, and we continued on to stay with another Ultimate player, and couchsurfing host, Hugo, in Morelia.

On on of the small buses in Morelia with Hugo and Daurie – 6 pesos a ride

Very serious board game playing one night in Morelia

Morelia, like Queretaro, is an old colonial town, with stately plazas and beautiful architecture. It is also full of welcoming people and new experiences. Hugo and his girlfriend Daurie took us for Mexican style Japanese food, introduced us to their friends, who quickly became our friends, and organised some Ultimate for us to play mid-week.

The Morelia Ultimate Crew after our morning throw around

Isreal, Ricardo and Jayne

Phil, Ricardo and Jose

Everyone we meet has been incredibly generous. I am overwhelmed everyday at the number of people who buy us dinner, gifts, give us places to stay, or take us out to do their favourite things. I feel indebted to the world, and I will spend the rest of my life “paying forward” the outstanding hospitality and generosity we have benefited from. To all of you amazing people who may be reading this – thank you again and again from the bottom of my heart.

Once again we left our new friends with a heavy heart, although I won’t miss sharing the very small bed that Hugo generously provided. Phil and I are now able to sleep pretty much anywhere. We laugh when people reluctantly or apologetically show us whatever quarters they have available for us. It’s almost always better than our tent, and we are most grateful for it. Having separate beds is a luxury we rarely have. It is amazing to me how little these things matter. It is so liberating to let go of what I previously thought of as necessities, and to just appreciate whatever I have. Our grandmother used to share a bed with 4 or 5 of her siblings when she was growing up!

Our cosy sleeping quarters in Morelia

The more I travel the more I realise that my priorities have been wrong. As much as a big house, big car, big wardrobe, big bed etc are all enjoyable, life is so much simpler and more rewarding when it’s not spent solely striving for all those things.

That said, as I write I am sitting in a lovely little casita (guest cottage) that Phil and I have lived in for the past week. We first met the owners when our friends Graham and Sheila who we had briefly met in Mexico City in September introduced us to them the day we moved in. Perry and Moonyeen have encouraged us to stay as long as we like. There is a swimming pool outside the front door and a games room next door with a pool table, bar and poker table. None of it is necessary, but having it gifted to us is a special treat.

Graham, Perry and “the kids”

This little community beside Lake Chapala in the Mexican state of Jalisco has sucked us in and we love it here. We love it so much that it’ll be getting it’s very own blog post. Coming soon to a computer near you!