man, it's been a long week and a half since i wrote you all last, and sadly this is the last trip update, as we're going to be heading back to the states the day after tomorrow...since we have to get to the airport at 2am on wednesday, tomorrow we'll be pretty much hibernating, socking a few extra hours of sleep away...which is very unlikely now that i think about it because of the nightclub seemingly located right above our room that plays shitty house music and banda till 3am. oh well.
i left you all off in the sleepy town of melaque...our last three days were a little bland. kind of like living in iowa, i imagine. not much to do. not much to see. not many cultural attractions. farm animals the only creatures moving. one restaurant to feed the whole town. too damn hot. so i think we'll just skip any further details...save one, the food in this town is terrible. oh, and anyone out there who has ever disparaged TexMex cuisine is silly in the head. Texmex has vastly improved upon the mexican version of certain foods, namely enchiladas (mostly dry here, with a little bit of meat and not much else), burritos (same as enchiladas, except they use flour tortillas instead of corn...none of that veggie stuff, or cheese, or rice), and fajitas (here they're basically some meat and tomatoes stewed up and plopped onto your plate). otherwise the other foods everywhere else on the trip have been mighty tasty.
we took our first 2nd class bus of the trip to puerto vallarta, and instantly regreted it...there is nothing to compare to the pain of holding your pee for 6 hours while bumping along the road, hitting every pothole and topes (speedbumps...which are EVERYWHERE), making you feel like your bladder is going to explode all over the front of the bus. so yeah, no bathroom, and the driver allowed no stops (except to buy himself beer and smokes, of course). the views were great though, craggy ocean cliffs and tropical jungles...it's still very dry here, but much more green than other places we've been to (for a visualization, this is where they filmed the movie predator, with that naziracist prick arnold swasticaneggar, or how ever you spell the guy's name). finally, we entered puerto vallarta, and took a cab to the amazing resort of villa del mar, our home for the next week. The resort is pretty fucking mindblowing in it's extravagance, especially since we've been living in substandard housing by U.S. standards for most of the last month and a half. beachfront, 3 pools, 2 restaurants, a sports bar, a grocery store, an internet cafe, a bakery, laundry facilities, bocciball courts, tennis courts, i mean shit the list goes on and on. there is everything you'd need if you're rich enough to eat and shop here...and this is exactly what most people who stayed here did. they spent their time in mexico at the pool, eating at the resort restaurants, watching the resort-sponsored entertainment, watching the sunset from the resort's roped off manicured beach complete with strips of lawn with signs proclaiming "don't walk on the grass"...this was their total experience of mexico. how very very sad. i'm not going to lie, though...after roughing it for 6 weeks, we were ready to relax a little ourselves, spending hours at the pool and laying on our unbelievably comfortable bed watching cable TV (and i hate TV), setting the A/C so high i think it reached freezing at one point. unfortunately, the staff at this resort are the biggest snobby assholes we've encountered so far...it must be that they've become jaded from dealing with so many ungodly-rich snobs themselves, that they can't even bring themselves to act decently to someone who isn't slipping them a $10 dollar tip for answering a question. it didn't help that we look like we just walked out of the jungle, but really, we're still guests. for example, every service staff member would ask us our age, seemingly out of the blue...when we would tell them 25 and 27, they would either act very rude to us, or simply stop talking with us and walk away. it wasn't until several days later that we learned everyone at the hotel gets a commision of $50 for helping guests sign up for shows, tours, trips into town, etc...but, only if the guests they are dealing with are 28 and over. what utter crap. so our entire stay, we rarely had a meaningful, or even decent interaction with any member of the resort staff...which was just so opposite of our interactions with our other hotel hosts, it really left a sour taste in our mouths.
The city of puerto vallarta is a mixed bag...on one hand, the entire city is designed to take away the resort-goers money. i certainly don't blame the people for this, as i'd do the same thing in their shoes. unfortunately for us, though, we don't have a lot of money, so everthing was extremely overpriced and unfriendly to the budget traveler. throughout our trip we've been paying 20-40 pesos (2-4 bucks) for a complete meal (soup, entree, beans, rice, tortillas, drink and desert), and here we find that the cheapest eats go for around 80 pesos...for a sandwhich! our only saving grace was that our resort room had a full kitchen, so we stocked up on groceries for the week and mostly cooked our own meals. otherwise, we wouldn't have lasted two days here. to be fair, though, this city has a great deal of charm. beautiful shining white buildings with red tiled roofs and cobble stoned streets...shaded plazas, a great malecon (beachfront boardwalk with some of the most amazing bronze statues i've ever seen), sandy beaches, a very safe atmosphere, and a plethora of traditional mexican entertainment. on any one of our many trips into town, we were regaled with live mariachi music, baile foklorico (traditional dances), clown shows (which are very popular here), indigenous pipe music, and our personal favorite, the voladores...these crazy lunatics climb to the top of a 150 foot (at least) pole, and wrap an equal lenth of rope around the pole's top, hand tie it to their waist, and jump backwards...four do this at the same time, all spinning earthward in ever increasing arcs as the rope tied to their waist unravels from the pole...they do this upside down, with their arms outstretched...one guy, who was obviously crazier than the rest (watched a few too many telenovelas i assume), played music the entire way down.
oh, before i forget, our room at the resort has a separate room designed specifically for ironing your clothes...is this for real? i don't understand that world...there are families in this country living in a space this size.
English is THE language spoken in this city...yes, the mexicans speak spanish, but most know english equally as well to improve their chances of relieving tourists of their cash...this was really frustrating for us, as even when we tried to speak in spanish, they would respond in english every time...very strange feeling.
This city has excellent art galleries, which we explored for the better part of a day and a half...featuring only mexican artists...for those of you who care about art, check out sergio garval, luis macias, alberto fregoso, luis filcer, jorge marin, and agustin castro...speaking of castro, at one of the galleries, we befriended a cuban guy our age who worked there and he gave us a personal tour of the owner's house while he was away. fun stuff. while hanging out with Jesus (the cuban's name), we ran into the world's greatest liar...this new yorker just walked up to us and started spewing this great bullshit about how he wanted to buy some of the art in the gallery, but he didn't have any room in his house due to his mother dying and leaving him all her art and his mother studied in spain under salvador dali and also lived in spain with frida khalo and diego rivera and how he had pink martians living in his colon and bush was a good christian leader and basically a whole load of other great lies.
a definite highlight of our stay was our trip to a little town north of the city called el pitillal to take the xalixco tequila tour...this basically consisted of a woman telling us the history of tequila, showing us some old distillery equipment, and then letting us sample to our heart's content...it was the best $10 drunkeness since high school. a few bits of info to make you a more informed drinker (i.e. nice party trivia).
-100% of true tequila is made in mexico, 90% in jalisco, 10% in tamulapias...that means that all you petron drinkers aren't really drinking "tequila", since it's made in texas.
-no tequila has a worm in it...the alcohol with the worm is mezcal, which is made from the same succulant plant as tequila, the maguey, better known as blue agave. mezcal is much more harsh, because it is basically the undistilled, unaged pure alcoholic product of the plant.
a crash course in tequila sophistication:
-true tequila will have the words "100% agave" written on the bottle.
-tequila aged under 10 months is good for mixing.
-tequila aged at least 10 months, but not over a year is called reposado.
-tequila aged at least a year, preferably over 7, is called añejo, this is the premium shit, good for sipping...smooth like butter.
-the older the tequila, the darker it is...the darker it is, the smoother and more refined the taste is.
-time for a public service anouncement...because of the last tidbit, you´d think, "hey, jose cuervo must be pretty good stuff with it's nicely golden tint". no, you're wrong and will suffer a headache as a result. good ol` jose is originaly clear, and has coloring added to it to make it look older, along with extra ingrediants (sugar, preservatives) and scents...This is why jose cuervo gives you a hangover.
-tequila is hand crafted...the 40-230 lb. plant is popped out of the ground and stripped of it's stalks by hand (which should take one man no more than 60 seconds)...the only machinery used on the farms is the truck to take it to the distillery...all the plant is used, nothing thrown away...the fibers are used to make clothing and rope, and the excess pulp is used to make maguey molasses and honey, both very delicious. each plant takes 8-10 years to reach maturity. which is amazing, because i haven't even accomplished that milestone yet. fart. poop. hehe.
-we also tried some flavored tequila (apple, coffee, chocolate, hazelnut), a top shelf $200 a bottle tequila (so smoove), and a personal favorite called ricia...ricia is agave moonshine and hovers somewhere around 190 proof. surprisingly easy to drink, but rumored to make you see purple elephants singing the theme song to "sesame street" if you partake in more than 3 shots. good stuff.
and that was puerto vallarta...lots of being lazy and lots of wandering around seeing what there is to see. the resort was a nice treat (thanks pops!), but we could've done without the resorty people and those trying to get rich off of them. itching to get back to the states, we moved ourselves further away from home by traveling east to guadalajara (where we flew into and where we'll fly out of mexico), completing our journey of several thousand miles of mexican potholes, over 10 states, hundreds of cities, an unbelievable amount of good food, many fine people, and too damn many insects...i'm not going to provide any sort of conclusion on our travels, no summary, no synopsis of our rich experiences...you'll just have to come down and make your mind up for yourself, thank you.
it's been a good trip folkers...hope you enjoyed it, too.
Christ...i swear to God the roof in this internet shop just collapsed above us, showering me with chalky powder and nuggets of concrete...there is a 4 pound chunk on the ground next to me, missing my grillpiece by 2 feet. time to go.
Love you all, and look forward to seeing some of you soon.
PEACE...old and kesia