Friday, December 14, 2007

swimming with lions and dining with donkeys ...

It seems like we've been so busy over the last week - three new cities explore, as well as trying (spectacularly unsuccessfully) to form some sort of plan for our next few months in Latin America.

Crossing the border into Mexico was a rather unusual experience. One that involved us watching a hispanic soap opera at maximum volume, on a portable TV with the cleaning lady, while we waited for the immigation official to return from the sandwich shop.

As the worlds most visited border town, Tijuana is the place where Americans come for cheap drugs (prescription and otherwise), while the Mexicans line up by the riverbank at night to play their own version of British Bulldogs with the US border patrols.

I didn't feel the need to take any photos in Tijuana. The only spectacle truly of note was the opportunity to have your photo taken with a Zebra for a couple of US dollars. Closer inspection revealed that some enterprising local had taken a few tins of spray paint to a regular a Donkey to create this tourist attraction. Not exactly RSPCA approved.

Not really having a plan didn't stop us jumping on a plane the very next morning to the laid back city of La Paz (we'd heard it is nice - so why not?) in Southern Baja California.

At the risk of appearing a little obsessed after my last post, beside an inexplicable statue on the Malecon (above) the absolute highlight of La Paz was a boat trip to a Sea Lion colony where we had the opportunity to swim alongside them - a much more authentic experience than the zoo, and one I´ll always remember. As much for the palpable sense of relief at not being bitten by one as anything else.

After La Paz we took a flight to Mexico's second city Guadalajara for the weekend. Incredible old stone colonial era architecture sits alongside some genuinely gritty neighbourhoods providing the starkest of contrasts. Most notably the town of Tequila lies just outside Guadalajara and while we didn't have time to make it out that far, it would have been incredibly rude to pass up the opportunity to sample a few glasses on home territory.

Let's just say I now recall all too well why I don't drink Tequila at home anymore.

I have to say that our first week in Mexico has been hard work covering so much ground, but absolutely brilliant. After spending the last couple of months in the English speaking world it's great to immerse ourselves in a completely different culture again. The food here is quite different to Mexcian food at home, offering a greater diversity of flavours and at prices that are very complimentary to our ever diminishing budget. Even the restaurant signs are a continual source of amusement as they play on the dual meaning of the word Burro (Donkey/Burrito).

One week into struggling along with my very rudimentary grasp of some basic Spanish phrases and we've decided it's time to go "back to school" as we catch the bus to our next destination, the city of Morelia for some intensive tuition.

Somehow my Tequila hangover isn't filling me with enthusiasm for our entry examination for the Baden-Powell Institute at 8.30am tomorrow morning ...

The other notable thing about Mexico is the remarkable ease with which they seem to have stormed my beer league, including
a brand new No.1!

After a long reign at the top, Japan's Yebisu has finally yielded to Modelo Especial, and there are several other very respectably placed Mexican beers.

Of course it still remains to be seen what we´ll be drinking this Christmas so keep posted ...

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