A Travellerspoint blog



Old friends in Guadalajara and a visit to the birthplace of Tequila !

sunny 20 °C

I arrived at the bus station in Guadalajara to meet my old friend Franki. We threw my stuff into the trunk of his car and hightailed it - you guessed it - for tacos and micheladas. Even as I write this now, I am filled with some sort of sweet yearning and nostalgia to be back in Mexico where the air is filled with the possible taste of the next sweet ass meal.

We drove over to Dirce's house, stopping to buy her a huge bunch of flowers on the way. I was so excited to see my friend, but possibly even more so to see my beloved puppy Taquito - who had since grown into a giant 2 year old boxer x bulldog !

I stayed up late chatting with Dirce, knowing that she would be working all week so I wouldn't get to spend much time with her. She hadn't been having the best of times so I was desperate to get a smile out of her. It made me so happy just to be back in her house, wrapped up with all of her beautiful dogs and drinking tea in her kitchen as always.

Early the next morning Franki came to pick me up and take me on an adventure - god knows the guy owed me a few after I showed him around so many of my beautiful secret Kiwi spots! He knew I was freezing after coming from the Caribbean to the cold summer of Guadalajara (high teens - low twenties) so I must admit, he did a bloody good job in lining up the days plan - a trip to a naturally hot water river in the midst of the mountains of Jalisco.

We hiked up and down the river, finding the best spots to lie against the natural springs as the hot water washed over us.
I fell off a huge boulder into a huge pile of mud (and got an equally huge bruise on my leg that lasted about 2 weeks), but it was all in the name of adventure!

That evening, I wanted to spend some time with Dirce but I really wanted to make sure she got to go on an adventure. so I talked to Franki (who of course is how I first met Dirce all those years ago in Auckland) and together we came up with a list of 3 things she could choose from:
1. Going to see a movie
2. Going for tacos
0r (inspired by a giant billboard we passed on a highway)
3. Going to what shall forever be known only as trampoline wonderland.

We called Dirce on our way back to the house and presented her with her three options, to which she nervously replied she would be ready for anything by the time we arrived at the house - and so we kidnapped her and took her to trampoline wonderland!
From the moment we stepped onto the trampolines, we all began to laugh and laugh and laugh. I kept needing to run to the bathroom to pee cos I was laughing so hard. We bounced and threw ourselves against trampoline walls, played trampoline basketball - and then we found the pit. We threw ourselves off the trampolines into a huge pool of foam and laughed hysterically as we landed in twisted positions or directly on top of each other.
It all got completely out of control when we watched a giant man (possibly too giant to be on the trampoline in the first place sized man) have to be dug out of the foam. And as they dug, he kept falling down and down, further into the pit and further away from his redemption of being heaved back over the sides. Our plan on kidnapping and taking Dirce out for a fun night proved to be great therapy for all of us as we laughed and laughed ourselves the whole way home - stopping for these killer cookies on the way too ...
They were so good, I went back to take a photo so I would never forget them (sometimes I do wonder about myself...)

During my time in Guadalajara I also got to catch up with my friend Adrian which made me so very happy since he had spent so many hours with me patiently practicing spanish many years previously in both New Zealand and Mexico! Naturally we met over tacos and chelas - does anything in Mexico revolve around something different? Certainly not when I am there that's for sure!

The very next day , Franki and I headed out on our planned roadtrip to the actual birthplace and town of Tequila!
Tequila is like Champagne and can only be called Tequila if it is produced from the blue agave plants grown within the area of Tequila in this particular part of Jalisco, Mexico. I had been to the province of Tequila during my previous travels to Mexico, but had never made it to the town itself. Franki had never been before either so it was a perfect opportunity for an adventure with an old adventure buddy.

As soon as we arrived in Tequila, I saw this absolutely ridiculous ginormous chile car wearing a cliche Mexican sombrero, parked right next to the town square.
I usually hate tours. But I fell head over heals in love with that chile and in true Katy style, I begged "PLEASE OH PLEEEEEEASE CAN WE GO ON THAT CHILE!?" and so naturally - we did!
The Chilote turned out to be an awesome tour of the town of Tequila and it was super fun to ride along in with all of our new chile bus friends. The Chile drove us all over town and stopped to let us off and see the sites (and taste plenty of Tequila!).
We booed at the only factory in town that sold off to the Japanese (Sauza), and cheered at the famous Mexican factories - Jose Cuervo, Patron, and more. We stopped to see a set of wash basins known simply as Los Lavaderos. The tour guide told us the story of how the women of the village used to meet and wash the clothes at this famously old basin that has fresh river water constantly running through it. The women would sit and talk of love and good things in their lives, and the guide laughed as he called it the old fashioned facebook.
We saw inside the factories and learned how tequila used to be made - and of course how it is made more easily now.
The vats of tequila smelled DISGUSTING and it was not at all pleasant to linger beside them
So we sneaked off from the tour and found a pile of blue agave on a plate which we treated ourselves to a private taste testing (dont mind if we do!) and I must say - it was delicious! It tasted like a mix of pineapple with a crunchyness of an apple. I really liked it, but I don't think Franki did.

We returned to the tour just in time for Tequila tasting - and wow, I never knew there were so many different flavours of tequila! First of all we tried the different strengths and colours to determine our palate - and I discovered that just like rum, I really like the extra viejo style. Dark tequila and dark rum (dark like my men perhaps? haha)...
Our last stop - and where the beautiful chile abandoned us, was at yet another tequila tasting station where I may or may not have had a tiny wee nap on the couch between shots... We tried so many flavours - chocolate, mango, banana, chile and lime, and finally the strawberry tequila that my wonderful friend Dan had told me about many years earlier. Then wandered through to explore the rest of the town on our own


The sun was shining and warm so we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon in one of the swimming spots that we were told about on the tour. Typical Mexican Frankii was more than fine to drive, while old bad liver Katy was hanging out the window singing the whole way to La Toma natural water springs where we floated away the rest of the afternoon.

The next day our adventures continued, and we drove through the beautiful mountains and valleys with the windows down and some sweet tunes playing as we drove past fields and fields of blue agave with the volcano of tequila looming in the background.

Our destination was the most delicious tacos at Franki's friends new vegetarian restaurant - I think we ate like 9 tacos between us, my favourite was the portobello mushroom one!

After feasting on Tacos, we walked around the lake town and it's beautiful craft market. The bright colours of everything were gorgeous, and the handiwork was perfect. I found myself wishing for more baggage space as I was buying hammocks for the hostel, bracelets for Billy, shoes and bracelets and earrings for me - and all for such ludicrously low prices that I gave everyone a tip because I didn't think they were selling their crafts for a fair price.
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The towns of Tequila, Chapala, and Ajijic were so beautiful, I really didn't want to leave and head back towards the city to spend my final night before heading back to the USA. I was spellbound by Mexico, and truly believe if my baby Grace had not been awaiting for me at the other end of my flight to Los Angeles I would not have boarded the plane! Even as I write this, I still feel eternally grateful for the opportunity of a visit back to mi querido Mexico, without dwelling on the fact it was such a short trip. I will always hold so much love and awe for a never endingly beautiful country, filled with wonderful friends I have shared so many memories with over the years - and millions of new friends that I just havent met yet. Gracias mis queridos amigos y muchisimas gracias amado Mexico mio x

Posted by chasingsummer 11:00 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Back to magical Mexico

sunny 40 °C

Sarah, Paul and I all had flights from LAX so we knew we needed to leave Vegas and make our way towards the coast. We looked at the prices of flights, busses, and car rentals and were very surprised when we found we could rent a car for 4 days for just $100USD! We later found out the low prices are because LA is always very very short of cars so they are desperately try to attract people to drive – and it worked!

The drive was long and tiring, Sarah and I took turns as we drove through the ever changing desert and into the night. I was not at all sad to leave Las Vegas, and very much looking forward to getting out to see some of my old favourite Californian haunts during our time in Los Angeles. We went out in search of my deep desire for dim sum, and made it to the best yum char in Chinatown – Oh the sweet joy of tasting what I had craved for over two years since leaving New Zealand!
With our bellies full, we made our way through the terrifying LA traffic and freeway systems towards the favourite beach of my youth - Venice! I was shocked with the change in temperature as soon as we arrived to California. So much for sunny summer and Californian beach weather – I was freezing! I can’t imagine it was much higher than 22, and I needed to wear a light sweater nearly the whole time we were there. But strolling along the beach, admiring the artwork and street artists was as fun as it ever was in the past.
Laughing at how nothing had changed when it came to the men with muscles stretching their skin to extremes as they worked out to impress on Muscle Beach.

The two major changes I noticed were a great rise in the number of homelessness and people everywhere seemed to be sleeping rough. The other thing I noticed was that the whiffs of marijuana seemed to be all store bought – from the well-advertised medical marijuana stores on every corner, where a consultation to get a medical marijuana id would cost just $40.

The beach sprawled in front of us and the rollerbladers and bikers trailed around in circles as we perched on the grass bank and planned our next moves. Sarah and I had promised each other we would ride the rollercoasters of 6 Flags – something we had both always wanted to do, ride the best rollercoasters in the world. We knew it would be best to enter the park as soon as it entered, so we drove north and stayed at a hotel right next to the theme park. Turns out however that it didn’t matter at what time we entered – because there was nothing more than lines and more lines ALL DAY LONG! Everything was against us – height of summer vacation time, 42-degree weather, and we didn’t have the money ($120 each, on top of our entry fee!!) to pay for the fast pass which means you can cut all of the lines. It really was quite the disaster. Even lining up for a drink refill took over 45 minutes – as no water, drinks, or food is allowed to be brought into the park they certainly had quite the money maker going on with everyone craving ice cold refreshments!
Because we had entered early, we managed to get on a few rides without too much of a wait – but then the madness really began. Wait times of 3 hours were posted at the queue entry points, and I just had no patience nor desire to stand in a line for so long. I was convinced there must be another way; how could 6 Flags still be SO popular when people were paying $90 just to get into the park and only be able to enjoy 2 or 3 rides all day due to wait times? I was quickly losing despair, when Sarah and I realised that yes there was another option. As long as we didn’t ‘need’ to be sitting together, we could travel up the exit queues of most rides, and then be put on as single riders – basically where a family of 5 takes up a cart for 6 then they throw us on into the empty seats. And it was the best trick we learned as we managed to do nearly every single ride at the park that way – and in most cases, we were sitting together anyway!
The final ride of the day, we had heard was amazing but the queue was too long and single rider wasn’t available. So we waited it out and decided to wait when the sun had gone down a lot more and there were less people. We only had to wait 45 minutes – and it was worth it. Seriously, it was the best rollercoaster I have ever been on in my entire life. You sit into the seat, which straps you in before rotating the entire cart so that everone is facing downwards. The cart travels underneath the tracks, with your back parallel to the track, feet and face dangling down so you can see the ground underneath as you are thrown around, upside down, and up and over huge drops that throw your stomach somewhere below for you to pick up again once you get off. I never even knew a ride like that existed!
The next day, my early morning flight was due to leave for Mexico so we stayed near to the airport for easy access. I was sad to be parting from Sarah. Growing up as cousins in different countries, we are used to having our time together as concentrated madness and fun. But I have always wished to have her in my life in a more normal context as well. Hugging her at the airport, I was sad our time was already ending but beginning to feel excited to head to Mexico again – and of course because it meant another day closer to seeing Grace on my return to LA.

I arrived in Puerto Vallarta very excited to be back in one of my all time favourite countries. The yearning for dumplings had been eagerly replaced with my deep love for all things Mexican – tacos, sopes, quesadillas, burritos, ceviche, tostadas, salsas, aguas frescas, micheladas, tequila – I WANTED ALL OF IT! And I quickly got it too, as my friends Mom picked me up from the airport and took me straight to their family’s favourite seafood restaurant where I ate marlin and prawn tacos, a seafood hamburger, drowned with a HUGE cielo rojo michelada. What a dream life. The weather was HOT and super humid again, and I was excited for Adriana to finish work so we could go on an adventure.

Little did I know that the adventure would begin before I even found my beautiful friend again… Tere (Adri’s Mom) took me to a beautiful viewpoint over the ocean and town of Puerto Vallarta where we sipped on round two of giant Micheladas... this time with prawns and veggies on top!
She then handed me the keys, and told me I was to drive to the resort where Adriana works so that I knew the route and could pick her up the next day! Having never driven in Mexico, and with quite a few micheladas down – I slowly made the drive as Tere clutched the dashboard and yelled directions in Mexican slang. Now if you speak Spanish, you understand what I mean about Mexican slang and no further explanation is really needed here... However, if you do not - basically they have millions of bizarre words that no other country d oes. And they have double meanings for everything too – like hidden meanings. And then they even have words that mean one thing yet simultaneously mean a completely different thing. Like “Que padre.” Which means literally; “what father.” But it is used to mean “wowwww that’s so cool!” Or my personal favourite “que pedo” which literally means; “what fart” but has a million different uses from “wow, that’s difficult” to “what’s up?” I love Mexican Spanish, it is my favourite accent and dialect of all the Spanish speaking countries I have visited, and their happiness and way of life is totally contagious. But when driving tipsy – which is something I have very very VERY rarely ever done, through Mexico, in my friends Mom’s car – Mexican Spanish just made NO sense. So when she warned me that there was a hidden speed bump – I thought she was showing me the coconuts on the side of the road. Then she started yelling “speed bump” which I still didn’t understand, before finally PARATE YAAAA! (STOOOOPPPP NOWWWWW!) which I did – just in time. After the hidden speed bump I also had to stop for a racoon, a family of ducks, and a hedgehog. I was more than grateful to hand the keys over once we got to the resort where Adriana works… Suffice to say, I was never asked to drive again and thankfully Tere is filled with the same sense of humour as her daughter because we all still laugh about it to this day!

It was so wonderful to be reunited with the gorgeous friend I met on the island of Holbox all those years ago. We had always kept in touch and my promises to return were finally fulfilled. Despite headaches and tiredness we decided to go out just for one or two drinks – ha. That always ends exactly the way the plan starts doesn’t it? We met up with some of her wonderful friends and began to down rum until the foreigner had the stupid idea to shout
“he estado en el querido Mexico ya hace 9 horas y no he visto ni una gota de de tequila. Todavia estoy en los pinches estados unidos o que?” / “I have been in Mexico for 9 hours and I still haven’t seen even a drop of tequila. Am I still in the bloody USA or what?”

Well, one doesn’t say such a thing in Mexico without being surrounded by a variety of beautiful bottles to choose from. Thank fully the experts were on hand to choose for me as we made our way through most of the bottle. We entered the club next door to the bar where we were seated at a private table and loaded up with bottles of rum.
So much for one drink – we stumbled out of the club at closing time, loaded up on tacos – thank god for taco trucks, and tucked ourselves into bed at sunrise.

I don’t know how Adriana worked that day – mad respect. And I don’t know how she managed to finish work early, buy a box of beers for the road trip with all of the friends as we piled into a variety of SUV’s and head out to Sayulita. I wish I had the liver of a Mexican. My god, they know how to pile away chelas/ beers without even batting an eyelid!

We arrived to the beautiful beach town of Sayulita around mid-afternoon and of course the first destination was a beach bar for delicious food and more alcohol. The town itself was absolutely gorgeous – it reminded me slightly of a busy and bustling Coromandel. Lots of tiny hippy stores, yoga and surf signs everywhere, vegan and vegetarian restaurants, and lots of funky looking hostels around town. I knew instantly why Adriana had taken me there, and I thanked her for the wonderful gift of sharing with me one of her favourite parts of her beautiful country.
The afternoon drifted into sunset as Adriana and I threw off our clothes and swam in the warm Pacific Ocean. My first time in the Pacific Ocean for 2 years – despite looking out across the ocean towards New Zealand from El Tunco in El Salvador the year before, and the week before from Venice Beach in California. I was instantly hit with a reminder that the Pacific is COLD even when in Sayulita with 38-degree heat and 100% humidity!
As sunset turned into evening, we moved on from our ocean side spot and headed to one of the little bars alongside the central park of Sayulita. We danced and continued to consume ridiculous numbers of tequila shots while my other hand held tight to an endless supply of micheladas. By the time we finally made it back to our beds at sunrise, both of us had swollen legs and the beginnings of killer hangovers – however only one of us had to work that day (and it wasn’t me)!

I went out with Adriana’s sister Danny and her Mamma to a birthday party at a beautiful apartment overlooking the ocean and the city. We got all dressed up to join in the madness, and had a wonderful afternoon – again with micheladas in hand and piles of glorious food. I swear, my soul is a true Mexican.

My time in Puerto Vallarta was short and sweet and I headed off to Guadalajara with a heavy heart. I was hugely disappointed that I wasn’t able to get out to the secret beach in the islas marietas due to the destructiveness of human activity, but I was so pleased to have had a chance to spend some time with one of my favourite friends from my time out of New Zealand – and to get to know her town, and meet some of her wonderful friends and family who are now mine too! Thanks Adriana for the memories, te quiero siempre mi loquita x

Posted by chasingsummer 10:17 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

The Princess of Mexican TV

sunny 38 °C
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Again, a million things have happened that it is, as always, almost impossible to begin. The easiest thing for me to do is to start where I left off and work my way up to today, by including as many as the cool stories I can – or at least the ones that are able to be shared. In the last 2 weeks I have been on a Caribbean island, my skin has turned black once again, I have had fish eat at my feet while swimming in a cenote, and I have been the Princess of New Zealand for 3 days. I have also flown from Mexico to El Salvador where I met a lovely man who took me for a drink and dinner, before flying to Cali, Colombia where I have a 5 hour wait before I board my plane to Bogota. Hence, I have the time to write this while sitting on a dusty floor in a dirty corner of the smelliest airport I have ever been to. It is 1.30am and I am writing rather than shopping or drinking with new friends as the airport is closed so I am actually not within the departure gates so I am slightly terrified of being jacked. And I am sitting in the corner because this is the only part of the entire airport with free wifi signal. Even my fancy new wifi hacking app (wifi password is the highly original name in case you care) hasn’t found anything available that is near a chair. Actually, I had a chair but then the security came and took it away despite my protests. I guess I lost my royal rights as soon as I left Mexico…

But, it is now time to talk about the past few weeks before I can talk about today. I know in my last entry, I was in Tulum with two good friends Memo and Juan. Memo is from Mexico City and Juan from Colombia. We travelled together from Tulum to a town called Bacalar. The reason we went to this town is because it sits on the bank of the most beautiful lake I have ever seen, La Laguna de Bacalar.
We stayed in a horrific hostel, shared a bed in a sweaty and crowded dorm room because they mucked up our last minute reservation. I was full of a nasty flu (which at one point I was convinced was Dengue) so I went outside at about 11pm, covered myself in repellent and slept in a hammock under the stars and with the breeze. Everyone thought I was nuts because of the mosquitos, I just laughed and added a couple of extra layers of coconut oil before sleeping until the came up. I was still feeling sick but we had already booked out sailing trip out on the lake. I figured that what I truly needed was a cleanse – and what better place to do it than in one of the best lakes in the world? So off we went.
The lake was stunning, and the day was super hot and sunny. We stopped at all sorts of interesting places along the way to swim and explore the different areas.
At one point we all jumped off and followed our sailing captain to a specific area. He started covering himself with sand from the bottom of the lake, instructing us to do the same. We covered ourselves in calcium and sulphur rich minerals that made our skin feel as soft as silk. Some people kept theirs on until it dried, but as always I needed to be clean so mine didn’t last much longer than a few photos and many more laughs.
The sailing trip was a full day out, at least 7 hours. At one point everyone jumped off with their legs through the arms of life jackets and then floated down a beautiful canal way. DSC00351.jpgDSC00350.jpgDSC00348.jpg
Ichose not to because I was cold, despite the 35 degree weather. I knew my fever had really kicked in, so I tanned on the boat in peace and quiet instead which was heavenly. I kept looking up to see that I was all alone in the most beautiful turquoise water. It was the same colour, if not more vibrant, as San Andres. But the water was fresh water rather than salt, or agua dulce (sweet water) as it is called in Spanish.
We decided not to spend another night in that hostel. It was just super weird, the girls were super hairy, the men had long nails, and everyone seemed to be pregnant to each other. I don’t know about that last part for sure, but we certainly didn’t dig the vibe. So we headed back to Tulum to camp in a remote part of the beach for a few days. The bus ride back was a joke, we were all crammed in like sardines and had to wait for people to get off in order to get a seat. I didn't like it one bit because it wasn't safe, but there was nothing I could do as getting off the bus in the middle of the night to stand on the side of the road in Mexico is probably even less safe.
We met up with Ilse, a friend of Memo’s from Mexico City, and we rented a little beach cabin. By night we partied on the beach and by day we swam. Ilse and I made a fantastic sandcastle one day which we were so proud of, I think the photos are on Memo’s camera and I hope I can get a hold of them. It really was a spectacular castle which everyone on the beach came along to admire!
After my time in Tulum and Bacalar I needed to say adios to my 3 traveling buddies and head for Holbox. Now, I ask that as you read this you please say the name properly. The word Holbox is not Spanish, and is actually a Mayan word and it is pronounced like this: OLL-BOSH.
Holbox is a beautiful island three hours bus ride north of Cancun. You then need to take a short 30 minute ferry to the island itself. On Holbox there are no cars at all and the streets are made of sand. All of the buildings are painted different colours or have murals on them, it is so pretty. If you need a faster way to get around you can rent a bicycle or a golf buggy. Everything is in walking distance so I chose to walk, which is always a great thing to do as a traveller because I find that I meet so many more people - especially if I walk without a phone in my hand or headphones in my ears. I stayed in a Hostel called Tribu. The hostel itself is gorgeous, it has the most beautiful buildings and artworks everywhere you look.
Sadly, the atmosphere was horrendous and I didn’t particularly enjoy the company of anybody there. Actually, that’s not entirely true, the first night I met some lovely girls who were leaving the very next day. But the reason for the lack of atmosphere was because the owners had called in some friends from Argentina to help with renovations. And these friends were very closed off to anyone else which is a shame because as workers they should have been actively trying to make the hostel a fun and friendly place. Also, the only area with wifi was the common area so everyone would go there and just sit on their phones! It was such a shame. However, I was very grateful to my amazing friend Gabi from Guadalajara who had given me the phone number of her friend Adriana, who lives and works on the island. The first night I was there, I met up with Adriana for a quick drink and a dance – one that ended up with us returning home to bed at sunrise!
The following day, Adriana's cousin Alan had arrived for the weekend to celebrate his birthday. We hired a golf buggy and went off with another friend Cristian to explore the different points of the island.
At the different points there were some beautiful and remote areas for swimming and exploring
We tried to see the flamingos but we couldn’t cross the river because there were crocodiles swimming in it (thankfully they knew what to look for, if I had gone by myself the thought of a crocodile would never have even crossed my mind!). We saw sunset from the beach which was stunning, then went home to get ready to go out for dinner and some drinks that night.
There were many days of tanning on Holbox, and I loved spending the day with Ariana at her hotel. Her hotel was right on the beach and had all sorts of amazing tanning chairs that non-guests paid a fortune to lounge on - but not us! DSC00398.jpgDSC00399.jpg
There were days spent lazing on the beach with the local fishermen. Sometimes they would cook up fresh ceviche on a beach stove they had made.
Sometimes I would go for a drink with new friends, there were plenty of cool bars to try. My favourite ones had swings at the bar where you could catch a breeze.
Other times we would just share a rum or a beer. I met lots of lovely people in Holbox and I loved how everywhere I would walk I would meet someone I knew, and then they would offer me a seat and a beer. It was the atmosphere where to say no would be rude, so I found myself casually drinking beer with new friends all day long. I met one friend who became my Mexican father. He was a fisherman with a lovely heart, reminding me of my own dad. He would always bring me a beer or a michelada and make sure that I had the comfiest seat or that I was warm or dry or whatever.
Sadly, I got sick during my time in Holbox. The Not-Dengue-Flu had not quite left me (the cough still lingers now of course, in true Katy style). It wasn’t a normal sickness that struck me down, rather a terrible allergic reaction to the mosquitos. Holbox has a terrible mosquito problem, in fact it is the reason most tourists don’t stay longer than 48 hours. They are vicious and relentless, and there are billions and trillions of them per square centimetre. And it wasn’t long (despite the 3 types of repellent I wore) until my skin had broken out with massive hives and rashes. Some of the hives were 20cm long and at least 2cm high. I was in pain and I could hardly walk, so I hobbled my way up to the hospital/ emergency clinic for a couple of injections. One which is full of vitamins and it actually changed the scent of my blood so that the mosquitoes no longer wanted me! However, after a whole lot of gel, antihistamine injections, blood scent changers, and some time spent in the sea and sun, it wasn’t long before I was ready to party again. So I met Adriana and we headed off to a Bachata dance class for the evening. Luckily the injections healed me, because my trip to Holbox coincided with their 3rd annual Gastronomical celebration.
The party went for 5 nights, of which I was there for 3 of them. All I can say is wow – the food, the music, the location, the decorations, the mezcal and tequila! They had booklets for sale, and you needed to buy one every night. Each one cost about $50NZD and it was full of coupons to eat at all of the different stalls and to get drinks and alcohol. But because I had spent over a week on the island, I was able to eat at most of the stalls for free because I knew all of the owners and workers of the restaurants! And the people that I didn’t know, Adriana or other friends knew – it was perfect! At one point, I even got given a book half full of tickets which meant I could then hand out some to other friends - so much for tickets and them making money from an event huh? They were great nights, and it always ended up in dancing until my feet ached. Everyone was drunk due to the huge amounts of free liquour. One guy was so out of it, he was dancing romantically with a chair! I was in stitches, trying to take sneaky photos of him.
I also knew the members of Holbox's local salsa band (and they knew me too, cos I was always requesting Bachata!). My friend Raphael let me try his saxophone and I was so excited, I knew one would present itself into my life at some stage!
There was quite a bit of media covering the event, and for some reason I boldy approached a TV crew and asked them if they would like the privilege of interviewing the Princess of New Zealand. They were thrilled to do so, and of course I was super excited to be interviewed – and to be called princess while doing so!
Each night we partied the whole time, and on my last night we found a whole lot of left over rum, vodka, cocacola, ice cubes, and a bag of fresh limes… Talk about an omen! So off we went, laden with goodies. I was scheduled to take the 7am ferry back to the mainland so I could meet my friend Brissa in Cancun at 10.30. However, I knew that if I did not get on the 5am ferry straight after the party, I would never ever wake up for 7am!
By this stage I had long left Tribu and was staying with Adriana in her adorable little house. It was really sad saying goodbye as she had become such a good friend in such a short time. With promises of trips to Cuba and visits to dance bachata in the Domican Repulic together, it was time to leave behind the great life and the amazing people I had found in Holbox. I arrived in Cancun to meet Brissa in the lobby of her hotel. I was beyond exhausted and fell straight asleep for a few hours.
When we both woke up, we headed off with a couple of her friends to Cenote Azul, about an hours drive from Cancun. This was exactly what I needed, a dive in fresh, cool, crystalline water.
The water itself was bizarre, it was full of lots of fish that would come and nibble on my feet and legs – causing me to laugh and freak out every time! They were like the fish in the fish foot spa’s in Asia, only bigger and scarier!
We then went to the beach in Playa Del Carmen for a few hours, had some dinner, and I then passed out for 12 hours!
I had been in contact with Benjamin, the owner of the TV station, in the hopes of receiving a copy of my interview. When he realised I was in Cancun, he asked if the Princess of New Zealand would have time to accompany him to events over the weekend. I was super excited, and of course I said yes – as both meant free backstage passes to events and places I would never have had the money to go to otherwise! The experience was amazing, I went to a musical called Que rico mambo and got to meet all of the actors before watching the show from right up the front.
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I got to go to Xplore in Cancun and see everything behind the scenes of the race, including all of the sexy men!
And at the race, I got to interview people for the TV channel! It was all super exciting, and everybody called me Princess. Someone even wiped down a chair for me before I could sit on it. I guess I will never truly know if people truly thought I was the princess, or if they were just playing along. But either way, I was treated like royalty and it was so much fun. I really enjoyed seeing all the behind the scenes stuff for the press – for the most part it seems to be quite a lot of running, very little sleep, and a lot of waiting around! The funniest part for me was interviewing people who were clearly Mexican celebrities, them thinking I was the Princess of New Zealand, yet I had absolutely zero idea of who they were!
When they realised I had no accommodation booked, I was put up for the night. Which was so lovely as money is certainly running low these days.
I was taken to a secret spot in Cancun where it is only for the locals. The water is a mix of fresh and salt and it so clean and pretty with tropical fish swimming all through it and around you.
Benjamin dropped me at the airport where I made my first flight of 3 to Bogota. And now, here I am sitting here in this dusty and cold airport with now just 2.5 hours left to go. I was sad to wave goodbye to Mexico, especially to all of my amazing friends who live there. But a huge part of me is already so happy to be back in Colombia. On the plane I met a lady who has invited me to stay with her when I come to Cali to explore properly, and I already have the magical feeling of being wanted and loved by even strangers, the feeling that only exists here in Colombia . I know it sounds stupid, sitting here on a smelly piece of concrete, but the truth is that Colombia well and truly stole my heart.

Posted by chasingsummer 13:12 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach caribbean tv colombia holbox media princess tanning cenotes Comments (0)

From Tequila to the Caribbean

sunny 38 °C
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Again, it feels like I just can't keep up with my own adventures. I try so hard not to be a tourist, uploading a million photos onto facebook that just annoy everyone because they aren't on holiday too - and because I know how know one really cares about another persons travel stories. It's why I like this blog, because it is partly for the amazing people in my life who do care and want to know where I am and what trouble I am causing (love you guys so much), and also because essentially, it is purely for myself and for the day when I compile the entire thing into a printed book. But to keep both the people I love, and my future self, up to date with this whirlwind adventure is dam near impossible.
Right now however, I am slightly sunburned so I can not face yet another day in the unrelenting heat. I am in Tulum, sitting in my dark dorm room, all alone, with the fan blasting on me while I take the opportunity to write my stories and share some photos.

I guess I need to start with Tequila, the region I went to explore with Advier, Alain, and Dirce on the day after Dirce's birthday. We all had a slight hangover from drinking too much red wine and tequila the night before when we went out for dinner.
I was so pleased to see Dirce enjoying her day, especially when she got given her prized gift of a ukelele!
After dinner, we had cake and tequila back at Dirce's house. I didn't know about a particular Mexican tradition where everyone chanted 'mordida' after singing happy birthday, and then Dirce was face planted straight into the cake!
Next thing I knew, there was a full on cake fight! Luckily there were 8 dogs and of course, me and my Taquito, so we could be licked clean!

So the following day, with head aches and the odd piece of sugar or cream still in our hair, we left to see the round pyramids. On the way, we stopped in the Tequila region to drink cantaritos, which are the most delicious drink ever! They are made from various types of freshly squeezed juice, salt, and tequila. The entire process is done right before your eyes, straight into a clay drinking cup that you get to keep!
First you have to pick the size that you want, I chose medium. The grande has an entire bottle and a half of tequila poured into it!
Then they chop and squeeze all of the fruit into the cups
And then they use a hollowed out cows horn to add 5 horns of tequila into each mug! The traditional way to pour and measure tequila is through a horn, and it is only recently that many places have changed to using shot glasses or more western types of measures. So I was very happy I could drink the real deal.
Then it is time to sit back, relax, and drink a whole lot of tequila!
Where we were was certainly not for tourists, I was the only person there who was not Mexican, and the outdoor bar was full of live music and chatter. The bar looked out onto the beautiful, UNESCO protected Blue Agave landscape and mountains.
Blue Agave is the blue plant from which Tequila is made. And Tequila can ONLY be called Tequila if it is made in this particular part of the world. And I went there!
I saw some cactus's and realised I had promised Erie I would take a picture behind one pretending to be the shape of a cactus.
I didn't see the wasp nest while doing it though, and one of the little buggers got me on my arm. I wasn't sure if I was allergic but I had my bee injection on me so I knew I would be ok if so. Thankfully I am not allergic so it was definitely worth the sting for the picture for my darling esposa Erie!
After finally finishing our huge drinks we drove to the pyramids. But we were devastated to find that our time in Tequila land had meant we missed our opportunity to enter to see the pyramids. And no matter how hard we tried to convince security that I am the Princess of Nueva Sandalia (translates as New Sandal, where my friend Ariel had mistakenly thought I was from, starting a great joke and of course, an entire new country of which I am the Princess), there was no way we were going to be let in. We were very disappointed as we headed back to Guadalajara, but the sunset over the mountains was beautiful and I was very grateful to Alain, Advier, and Dirce that we had tried, and that I had made it to see the Tequila territory.
That night we all went out for my goodbye party, we went to Paul-O, Gabi, and Ariel's house before going to a karaoke bar until the early hours of the morning. We had street quesadillas, of which I will always remember as the best drunken 4am food of my life, before heading back to sing and dance around the apartment once more. At 6am, we decided it may be time to get some sleep, so Advier, Alain and I headed off for home. However, we were locked in by the giant fence around the apartment building. Every house or apartment building in Guadalajara has a fence around it, many are also protected with very high voltage electricity at the top. Thankfully this one was not, as we had to jump it in order to get out! The fence was at least 12 feet tall but after I saw Advier jump, I knew that Alain would make it too, and I was NOT going to be the girl who couldn't jump a fence! So before Alain had the chance to go ahead of me, I began to climb up. By this stage, the rest of our friends were watching, cheering, and laughing from upstairs. I got up with the help of a car, a few broken bricks, and some dodgy electrical poles only slightly freaked about going down, and then swung my way down a very scary looking spikey part and a wobbly telephone pole. It was great, Advier was so proud of me and everyone cheered "we love the princess of Nueva Sandalia!" to which, I explained that everyone at home can do these things, and now everyone thinks New Zealand breeds tough women... And I guess in many ways we do, because I have been laughed at many times for wearing barefeet, running over rocks, choosing to take the beaten path instead of the paved one, and now climbing massive security fences like a monkey!
The next day though, I realised my jeans didn't quite like the fence jumping...
A couple of days later I met up with Franco's cousin Carlos. We went to see the pyramids together, and this time I managed to make it inside. The hike up the hill in the heat was pretty intense, and I was regretting not wearing my jandals so I stripped into barefeet again much to Carlos's disgust. I didn't care because I was boosting it up the hill and he was straggling behind, constantly asking for me to help haul him up and stopping for rests. I had to laugh, and I was grateful too because that has been my position many times with ex-boyfriends, and of course my amazing brother Dom. I laughed, partly at his unfitness, and mostly with pride at my new found independence and ability to do anything I put my mind to.
The view on our way up was spectacular, so Carlos got to rest while I stopped to take some pictures.
I saw a short cut, that looked beautiful. Carlos was too scared to take it, but I explained to him that shortcuts are only created out of humanity's laziness and desire for an easy route - that appealed to him. I kept secret that shortcuts can also mean harder terrain leading to somewhere remote and idyllic, but thought I would keep that one to myself. I had to wonder though, how could anyone desire a paved road of concrete over one so beautiful
Once we got to the top, there they were - beautiful round pyramids of grass and rock. We walked around, exploring them all. Sadly, no one is allowed to climb up onto them but you can see how they need to be preserved instead.
Carlos dropped me home, and then I took Dirce and her family out for dinner to say thank you for letting me stay there for 2 weeks. The next morning as excited as I was to head back to the Caribbean, I was very sad to say goodbye to Dirce and to Taquito. I was especially sad when Dirce told me that Taquito came straight back inside, failed to climb up onto my bed without my help, and instead curled up right against it and waited there for me. I wish I could have taken Taquito. but I know the best thing for her is to find a forever family now while she is still a puppy.

I flew to Cancun (far longer than I had realised so I did some work on the plane). I got to my hostel, which was full of Aussie's and Kiwi's so we had a great evening. I met a guy from Venezuela and he gave me lots of advice about my upcoming trip there. We danced salsa and bachata too which was lots of fun. Again, I was the only non Latina who could speak Spanish, so I got extra tequila in my cocktail, free sunglasses given to me when I lost mine, and free beers all night. Sometimes, even still, I just high five myself!
The next day I took the bus down to Tulum where I have been for the past few days. I met a couple of friends in the hostel, one from Mexico City, one from Bogota, Colombia, and one from USA. We hired a car on one of the days and went to see Chichen Itza which was beautiful.
The only thing that faulted it, was the large numbers of vendors everywhere. They lined the sides of the grounds, and called out to you every single step of the way. It was very hard to enjoy the ruins, and appreciate the tranquility when there were so many people calling out for your attention. I said to my friend how I didn't like it and one of the vendors overheard only part of the conversation. He asked me, "don't you like it, don't you like the Mayan culture?" I turned to him and said, "I love the culture, but this is not culture this is cheap souvenirs sold by pushy vendors." He realised I was right, and let me go without any more hassle. I felt very sad though, to be on the grounds of such a significant place for Mayan people, to be hassled for a few pesos. I can't even imagine what the ancient Mayans would have done, considering the vendors lined the paths to their sacrificial steps where they would make the steps rain in human blood until the real rain would come.
One part that was very cool was how you could clap, and then hear the sound of the quetzal bird echoing through the pyramid. I was bouncing up and down with excitement, it took a while for me to learn how to make such a loud clap (the louder the better) but once I got it, I was away!
After walking around twice, clapping our hands a million times, being hassled for cash, and sweating more than I ever have at the gym, we left the pyramids and headed for a cenote. A cenote is an underground pool of water and there are said to be over 4000 of them in the Yucatan peninsula. We headed for one called Ik Kil and it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever swam. You could look down on the cenote from above, and of course in the nearly 40 degree head, that was super exciting!
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and then all you have to do, is jump!
We stayed there for a couple of hours, enough for the water to cool us down so much that we stayed cool for the rest of the evening. It was so beautiful, floating on our backs and looking up at the opening with the vines making their way down. Their were also all sorts of rocks, cavern, and mini waterfalls around the edges. It was paradise!
As we had entered the carpark, someone had taken a group photo of us. When we left, we were handed a bottle of indigenous Mayan liquor with our photo on it! We didn't buy it, but I was allowed to take a picture! I never had my face on an alcohol bottle before so I needed a pic!
We spent the following day riding our bikes to the beach, at a place called Papaya Playa Project. It was such a neat place, all sorts of alcoves to enjoy a drink with a great view! There were also beds on the beach inside little cabañas so we took over one of them for the day. The waiter brought us beer and nachos with salsas and fresh guacamole - bliss!
That was where I picked up the sunburn, forgetting it had been 6 weeks since I was in the Caribbean sun I over did it. Not too much, but I am feeling a little bit sore. Today I rode my bike to the Mayan ruins that are in Tulum. They were once a port city for their trading, and it was much bigger and much more impressive than Chichen Itza. Also, no vendors were allowed inside so it made for a much more pleasant day. And because of its location on the coast, I was able to stop for a swim half way through!
Tomorrow I am heading off to la laguna de bacalar which is a lake of 7 colours. I am going to go sailing and kayaking for a few days, perhaps before heading into Belize. Then I will head to the island of Holbox for 10 days before meeting Brissa for one last weekend of partying in Cancun before I leave Mexico and head to Venezuela!

Posted by chasingsummer 13:50 Archived in Mexico Tagged beach caribbean pyramids tulum mayan tequila cenotes Comments (2)

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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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..
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!
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).
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!

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)

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