Saturday, January 05, 2008

beetlemania and last orders from mexico ...

Once we'd completed our recovery from New Year we continued the journey back to Mexico City with a 12 hour overnight bus journey to the city of Oaxaca.

One thing I noticed straightaway in Mexico is the number of "old" VW Beetles still on the road - in fact production of the original shape continued here well into the 1990's, long after they ceased to be available in Europe.

The overall impression is one of streets full of restored classic cars driving around with excellent paintwork.

Just walking down the street in Oaxaca I almost managed to fill the viewfinder (above) at a road junction near our hotel with just VW beetles - including a solitary example of the new-shape. I didn't see too many of those, so it would seem they aren't a big hit here either.

Perhaps it's a worrying trend, but every one of my recent blog posts seems to contain some element beer related information. But why change a winning formula now?

It was here in Oaxaca that I tried my first Mexican beer cocktail - the Michelada.

Here's how you make one.

1. dip the rim of a tumbler in lime juice

2. dip in chilli powder - margherita-style

3. add a cocktail of lime, salt, chilli and worcester sauce to bottom of glass

4. add ice cubes

5. pour a fresh bottle of cerveza into your glass

6. Enjoy. Or at least try to.

This is probably where I should add the disclaimer not to try this at home - my experiment was conducted under the close supervision of a trained professional. Bartender.

In fairness I must say it wasn't quite as bad as you're probably imagining, but after I'd finished the glass it continued delivering a warming sensation which I had to extinguish with a further ice-cold beer. This time unadulterated.

We took yet another bus ride to finally arrive back in Mexico City where we spent the night before flying onward to our next destination. It provided just enough time for us to enjoy a few last Modelo Especial's before flagging down one of the capital's iconic VW Beetle taxi's for the ride home (see below).

In most countries the lack of rear doors in a taxi would be a problem. Here they just remove the passenger seat and attach a piece of string to the door so the driver can pull it shut by remote control. For once the legroom was brilliant.

Vorsprung durch Technic eh?

seeing in new year with the zapatista's ...

On New Years Eve we left the sweltering heat of Palenque for the 5 hours bus ride to San Cristobal de la Casas in the highlands of Chiapas.

Famous for being the city captured by Zapatista rebels in Mexico's failed 1994 revolution, San Cristobal is a perfectly preserved example of colonial architecture and boasts a vibrant bar and restaurant scene. A fine location for seeing in 2008.

Back in Guadalajara we had learnt a useful lesson - if you start drinking early enough then most bars in Mexico will provide you with complimentary tapas style snacks, thus removing the need to go out for dinner.

So it was that at 4pm we found ourselves settling in at the wine bar which would be our home for the next few hours, and as the evening progressed we found ourselves in the company of two recent graduates from Leeds University and a French girl who had recently been studying in Coleraine in Northern Ireland.

It was almost like a taste of home.

At midnight we enjoyed fireworks in the cities main plaza before I escorted a rather excitable Melanie (above) back to our guest house where following a ten minute struggle lining our key up with the lock on the front door we were eventually rewarded with sleep.

And a two-day hangover.

Happy New Year.