A Travellerspoint blog

September 2014

Viva Mexico

Guadalajara, Mazamitla, a dying puppy, and a fake wedding

After the amazing thunder and lightning show, I was expecting great things from Mexico. My first taste of my new country was when the immigration officer gave me his phone number and face book details so that he could show me around his country personally! I had to laugh at how easy it was to enter a country for a year; especially after all of the dramas I always have entering the United States. I came through the gates to find my good friend Adrian waiting for me, as promised. He took me straight out for dinner, where we had quesadillas and sopes, pozole and agua de orchata. I really love Agua de orchata, it is like rice water but it tastes like some kind of spicy milk. He then took me to my friend Dirce’s house, who I have been staying with since my arrival in Mexico. Dirce has been one of my very favourite people since I first met her 18 months ago on her first day in New Zealand. When I arrived, it was in the middle of her sister’s birthday party, so I was immediately given tequila and cake – making me realise, I was going to be eating like a King during my time in this country!

Over the next couple of days we went to Zapopan, a border city to Guadalajara. It used to be an individual city, but now they have merged together – like Auckland and Manukau. Again, we ate delicious food, wandered around the church and the beautiful little buildings, and had a couple of beers. I went to a party at her Aunties, for which we had previously helped make the most delicious cakes for. The party served all traditional food – more sopes (like arepas/ corn cakes topped with delicious ingredients), quesadillas, pozole (a type of corn and usually meat soup), taquitos (mini tacos), and home grown elotes (corn on the cob, but not as I have ever known it, served with fresh lime and lots of chilli rubbed all over it or sour cream if you are that way inclined). There were even mini pavlovas, which of course everyone then learned are a New Zealand dessert! I fell in love with Cari, the tiny Chihuahua of Dirce’s Aunt.
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Over the weekend of Mexican Independence Day, I went with a group of 10 of Dirce’s friends to a small town called Mazamitla. They are the loveliest group of people, the entire time I felt so loved and included. They were so patient with my Spanish, and helped me to understand when I couldn't. I really enjoyed their company, and felt like I had know all of them for forever.IMG_20313391163654.jpegIMG_28857230693962.jpeg
On the way, we stopped at a small town, where there was a huge line of people queuing in the rain for something. I didn’t understand what they were waiting for, but quickly realised we too were going to be waiting in this same long wet line. My friends explained we were going to be buying Vampiros, an amazing drink that this town is famous for. Apparently people drive from Guadalajara just to buy them and then return home. They are made in front of you and are a mixture of tomato juice, lemonade, orange juice, salt, chilli (I think) and of course – a lot of Tequila! They are made, and served, in a plastic bag with a straw. You can even choose which type of tequila you would like! You then pile back into your car and drive on with your vampiro in hand – Vampiro means vampire, and the drink is called this because it is bright red like blood. And omg is it delicious!
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We got to Mazamitla, which is a beautiful town, absolutely magical, sitting up on top of some mountains. The entire town is painted white with a burnt red around the bottom fifth of the buildings. The cobbled streets, the magnificent church in the centre, and the surrounding woods make it feel like paradise.
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We went out for breakfast, we cooked the most amazing food at home, we stayed up all night dancing salsa and bachata, and there was a guitar just for me to play until the wee hours of the morning. The funniest part was when everyone loved the song Dom and I had written for a very disliked boy I used to see. When I had first said I would play the song, Paulo was worried I would cry. When he heard the lyrics, everyone laughed and laughed. I must have played this same song 30 times, each time the others learning more and more of the words!
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On the night of el grito de Mexico – the cry of indepence, we went into the town and looked around the markets, we met some dancers called the viejos, who do the dance of the old people.
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Everyone laughed when I told them I wanted to find my Mexican husband, and then when we found a giant tequila bottle - well, it was love at first sight and there he was - MY HUSBAND!
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We tried all sorts of different candy and sweets in the village, and then came back for a nap/ rest to prepare for the Independence Day party that evening. Brissa and I dressed up for the party, her as a beautiful Frida Kahlo, and me in traditional Mexican attire. Sandy helped do my hair, and we were set to go!
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In the town there were fire cracker towers, music, dancing, and lots of tequila! At one point I remember some random guy just pouring tequila from a bottle straight into my mouth, and the mouths of everyone around him. Everyone was having a great time – maybe not so much the guy who was in the ‘bullring.’ Completely different to those of Spain, this involved a bull made from fire crackers and the man having to run away from it – much to the delighted screams of everyone who watched!
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I was into it, screaming Viva Mexico along with everyone else, but it did feel really strange to be celebrating Mexico after celebrating Colombia so whole heartedly during the world cup. I almost felt like I was betraying my own country – even though Colombia isn’t my own! I must admit though, from what I have seen so far of Latinoamerica, the people are so patriotic and they love their countries. They know how to throw an amazing party, and they all pull together to celebrate their love for their land. I wish New Zealand knew how to party like this in celebration of our land.
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The following day we had to leave our little home in the woods, and as we headed back to Guadalajara, I had a pretty serious hangover. But thankfully, by the time we made it back to the town with the massive line – this time in the sunshine, I was ready for another vampiro to see me home! I learned to ask for one without salt, and found it was much easier to drink. It certainly took the edge off the headache! When we got home, it was straight to bed for about 18 hours!
I guess I need to mention about my baby… As Dad says, in true Katy style, I went to Mexico to find a rich husband, and instead found myself a poor, street dog. But in my defence, Taquito is the most adorable little puppy I have ever seen!
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Dirce and I found him when we had gone to buy fruit. He was sitting in a cage, without any food or water and was the skinniest, sickliest looking dog I had ever seen. I told Dirce how we had to save it, to take it home and look after it. She agreed but was worried as she already had 7 un-homed dogs she had rescued. We worked out a plot to steal the dog from the cage, and then I suggested,
‘Well, why don’t we just ask it’s owner?’
She looked at me as if I was crazy, but decided to give it a try. She located the owner, who said how this was the runt and no one wanted him, that he was skinny because his brothers and sisters had eaten all it’s food etc. We knew he was lying, but we went along with him. She told the man how I was from NZ and that I really wanted to have a Mexican dog, and he basically threw the dog at us, grateful to be rid of it. I have never held such a tiny, bony, smelly, sickly puppy in all my life. We took him straight home and fed him some water. He must have drunk nearly a litre of water, in huge gulps, and to the point where he would throw up and then keep drinking. The dog was hugely dehydrated, and it was heart breaking to see.
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Thankfully now, after nearly a week and a half with us, Taquito is no longer flajito (skinny), rather a real tubster! He walks around like the boss, comes for walks with the rest of the 7 dogs, and sleeps like a little angel. Oh, and Taquito is a she not a he, but I think Dirce and I have forever given her gender issues because we refuse to change her name! We are trying to find her a new home, hopefully one will come up that will love her forever and treat her like a little princess.
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My days in Guadalajara have been pretty lazy, involving a bit of sightseeing with Dirce, some salsa and bachata dancing, and a couple of parties with Adrian.
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One of the things I really loved, was how they had a massive square which was surrounded by sculptures who helped within the revolution of Mexico. I loved how amongst the sculputres stood artists and poets, alongside the fighters and the war heroes. It made me realise how Mexico values the importance that the arts have in society, or at least it did at one point..
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I finally tried tortas ahogadas, the food that every single person from Guadalajara had told me about. It was pretty delcious, amazing bread, avocado and prawns drowned in delicious sauce. It was virtually impossible to eat without being a giant mess, but somehow I made it through!
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I tried to sort out my visa to live here but the immigration centre tried to rip me off and recharge me the money I had already paid in Wellington. To get my visa approved will mean spending a further 2 months here in the city, and I already have my plane to the Yutucan peninsula booked for next week. I fell in love with a pair of python cowboy boots, that unfortunately were the only pair over $100 in the shop (of course, they were the only $300 pair there).
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I sadly had to leave them behind me, as I knew $300 is the price of the sailing trip (San Blas adventures) from Colombia to Panama that I want to do before flying to the Dominican Republic. I was only able to completely cheer up at leaving my boots behind when we decided to enter a bridal shop and dress up in thousands of dollars worth of lace and tulle! I had always wanted to do this, but never had the courage or the opportunity. I think I make a pretty sexy bride, now I just need to find the rich husband!
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Only prolem is, if I don't stop eating all of this delicious food that Mexico has to offer, I will never find the rich man!

Posted by chasingsummer 15:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged food guadalajara tequila delicious mexican_food comida mazamitla cowboy_boots Comments (0)

My time in Bozeman, Montana

hunting, fishing, sunset, and a sky full of colours

sunny 25 °C

My time in Bozeman, Montana was so amazing. The place itself is really cool as it is set in the plains surrounded by magnificent mountain ranges. In the way that Auckland is named City of Sails, Montana is named Big Sky Country – and that it certainly is. Dom and Erie always laugh at me because I have figured that you can measure your own personal sky by counting how many hands it is across, similar to how you measure a horse. I swear that the sky is bigger in Montana, it stretches farther, it’s bluer and deeper, and just prettier. I was determined to go out and watch the sunset from a mountain and to see the stars while I was in town…

The night my parents left town, Uncle Butch, Aunt Terri and I went to a pig roast. Not the best place for a vegetarian, but they were determined to hook me up with a guy who had lived in New Zealand and Colombia. Isn’t that so thoughtful? However, when we met the guy it turned out he had lived in Colombia for 4 years and had never learned Spanish so the future arranged wedding that my parents and Aunt n Uncle had planned was instantly off! It was a cool gathering though, they had a keg and so much pork! I tried the tiniest bite ever but it was so gross, so I didn’t try anymore. Thankfully they had bread and a salad too for us veggos! After the party, Aunt Terri and I wanted an adventure so Uncle Butch suggested we do what is called ‘The Bermuda triangle.’ This is when you go to the 3 bars that are positioned in a triangle and have at least one drink in each. When we entered the first bar, The Hauf, we ran into a group of people who some worked with Uncle Butch. We joined up with them and started chatting, and I met two guys Casey and John. I instantly clicked with these two, and their two other friends, because when they asked why I was doing my travels, they asked if I was just following my heart - instant trust and friendship! The bar itself was awesome. Everything was carved with names, and I was super excited because you could eat peanuts and then throw the shells all over the floor. I asked John if we could carve Katy into one of the tables and the owner of the bar even gave us the knife to do it!
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John and Casey came with us to all 3 bars, and at the second bar we played a game of shuffle board (Aunt Terri and I lost by just 1 point!) and had our next drink. When we got to the final bar, Uncle Butch and Aunt Terri decided it was time for them to go home after their drink. So I stayed behind with John and Casey. We went to another bar, one with live music, and danced for what felt like hours. There was a guy who approached me, he was the tallest man I had ever met, and he wanted me to teach him how to dance – so I tried my very best! He was so happy, I think I made his entire week, especially when I thanked him for the dance afterwards and told him he did very well – something people always did for me when I was learning salsa or merengue in Colombia.
We went back to John and Casey’s place and John and I took Trigger out for a walk, where we went down to the skate ramp and just talked for hours and hours and hours under the stars. It was so cool how much we had in common, from ‘warmth insurance’ where we both always try to have one more layer of warmth available when we are away from home, to being able to see the colours of people. No one has ever been able to tell me what colour my aura is, and I learned that to him I am turquoise/ mint green. Which makes sense, as that is the colour of my hakuna matata tattoo and the reason I bought Trixi!
The following night I went for dinner with Jorgelina, my friend from Argentina who I met at my cousin’s wedding. After dinner we partied at a bar that had a DJ playing.
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The next day I had the worst hangover, but I still managed to go fishing with my Uncle. And it turned out to be the best hangover cure ever – the mountains, the river, the grass, the birds, the sunshine, and of course the ginormous sky!
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I caught two fish, and was so proud of myself. I was screaming and jumping up and down. Later, my uncle taught me how to cut it up and gut it. I nearly vomited the first time, but I did manage to do it myself. We then cooked them up and had them for dinner – delicious!
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I spent the rest of the week working, riding my bike around town, buying things I needed to get before being back on the road (headlamp, pocket knife, drink bottle etc), shopping with Jorgelina, fishing with my Uncle, cooking pizzas, pasta and arepas for my aunt and uncle, and working on editing Rob’s book.
One night, John came for dinner at my Aunt and Uncle’s before taking me on a hike up a mountain to see the sunset. When we stopped to buy some cider to drink at the top, I made him laugh by pretending these two giant watermelons were my breasts.
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It was so beautiful, you could see for miles and miles and miles. It was so bizarre watching the sunset behind other mountains, knowing that it was still in other parts of the USA. It felt like a ‘fake’ sunset, as if it was all just an illusion. I am so used to watching the sunset out over the sea when it takes with it all the light from New Zealand.
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On one of the days, I went with my Aunt and Uncle to a Taco bus in Dillon. We had the most delicious Mexican food, and I suddenly got super excited for the next part of my travels.
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On the way back we were looking for sand hill cranes, as opening season began the week after my departure and my uncle had a license to hunt two. We were also keeping an eye out for a rabbit, because my aim was to shoot something. I had already proved to my uncle that I could shoot, having been taught many years ago by my ex-boyfriend. Uncle Butch was most impressed when I managed to hit the target every time with both a shotgun and a rifle, so we knew that any rabbit we did see would be suicidal because there was no way I would miss. Finally, we saw two rabbits just sitting on the side of the road on the grass. It was state land, so I was allowed to shoot them. My uncle got the gun ready for me, and I panicked asking “do you think they are best friends?”
My uncle gave me a weird look, “are you going to shoot a rabbit or not?”
And I knew that I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t. I was determined to shoot something while with my uncle, because I truly feel that people who eat meat can only do so if they are able to go out and hunt the animal themselves. So I lined the bunny up with the barrel of the shotgun, half hoped that the gun would jam, and I pulled the trigger just as the bunny put his head up – meaning a perfect shot in the head. The rabbit still had grass in his mouth, which my uncle told me meant that he died instantly and never panicked or felt a thing. After I killed the bunny, I was so excited that I had made my shot, but so upset that the rabbit was dead. I even asked if there was anything we could do, maybe we could take the rabbit to the vet…
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I watched my uncle skin it (or really peel it) gagging a couple of times. Thankfully he didn’t make me do it myself, I don’t think I could have. Then we prepared it for cooking the following evening in my cousin’s famous, published recipe… And I can’t deny it, the rabbit was truly delicious!
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I had such a good time with my Aunt and Uncle, and I really enjoyed my time with them in Montana. I think Michigan will always be my home state, but Montana really is the most beautiful part of America that I have ever seen. I was so lucky to have met Jorgelina and John, meaning that I had people to have adventures with while my Aunt and Uncle were working (or deserving a break from me)…
It took me 12 hours to reach Mexico on 3 different flights, where my friend Adrian was waiting for me. As I flew into Guadalajara, I looked out of the window and saw the most amazing thunderstorms surrounding me. Our plane was not even in the clouds, but I could see in the not too far distance that there were different groups of clouds, each with lightening flashing within them. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, the clouds and sky around them would glow different colours every couple of seconds; blue, green, yellow, orange, and white. In all my years of traveling and flying, I have never seen anything quite like it. I can only imagine that a sky full of rainbow colours, as I land in a country I feel my heart has been calling me to, is a sign of amazing things to come.
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Posted by chasingsummer 11:21 Archived in USA Tagged fishing sunset hiking fun adventures montana hunting rabbits big_sky Comments (0)

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