Week 44: Zacatecas, Chihuahua & Creel. Mexico

I was told that Zacetcas was a must visit while in Mexico. This is a gorgeous mining town home to where Corona is made so I didn’t have to think twice about coming here. I did couch surfing with a lad called Edgar who turned out to be a complete legend. On our first night we went for beers with his friends where I was introduced to the Mexican delicacy mescal (similar enough to tequila but nicer). I then had some tofu ceviche with the most spiciest piquante of my life. I ended up getting a migraine from it. It was outrageous stuff. Even the Mexican lads were in sweats. The next day Edgar took me to all of the street vendors  where we sampled lots of local Zacatecas dishes. We climbed up to the most stunning view points and hiked for the rest of the day. We then took a drive out to the mountains to watch sunset and to sample some surprise surprise tacos. These were in fact my best tacos to date. Delish.

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Mexico in a nutshell: Tacos y Micheladas
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View of Zacatecas
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The sombrero on its second week (record!!)

Edgar was a complete gent. He was living with his parents and gave up his room for me. This guy has backpacked before so understood how precious a bed is while travelling. Edgar warned me about his two dogs one a German Sheppard and the other a poodle (quite the combo). Anyway he informed me both dogs were vicious and would probably bite my legs so I wasn’t allowed leave the room without protection. So if I needed the loo in the middle of the night I had to wake him up.  This was a bit of a disaster as I generally need the loo every morning at 4 am.

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Edgar in one of Zacatecas’s caves
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Stunning views of the valley
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Trekking in Zacatecas

Anyway post tacos I wasn’t feeling the may west (at all!!).  I said good night to Edgar and prayed the feeling would pass. I felt so so guilty for waking his entire family but had no choice because of the dogs.  Anyway the night was a rough one and I was in ribbons. 4 am came and I felt violently sick, not wanting to wake Edgar/ not knowing if I would make the bathroom in time. I ended up frantically trying to empty my food bag to get sick into it. Food bag was conventionally ripped so sick ended up all over me and the floor. I then tried to do a tidy up job using some of my clothes. I was a little bit panicked/delusional that I ended up gathering up all the sick and putting it in my backpack. Delightful.

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The delicious culprits

Anyway the next morning I felt marginally better and managed to eat some grapes and beans (probably the worst combo). I still hadn’t a chance to dispose of the sick monstrosity as it was steaming away in my backpack. Anyway after an excellent tour of Zacatecas myself and backpack full of sick made our way to bus terminal where I eventually managed to get rid of last nights evidence (including some of my clothes). Clothes supply is steadily decreasing yet weight  of backpack steadily increasing?! So once again not my finest moment but needs must. Thank you Edgar for a memorable few days in your gorgeous hometown.

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I absolutely loved this church
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Loved the colours
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Beautiful squares in Zacatecas

Next stop was Chihuahua in Northern Mexico where a few people had warned me not to go because it is notoriously dangerous especially around the boarders with Narco trafficking. The reason I wanted to go here was because of the famous Copper Canyon ( crazily lots of Mexicans have never heard of this place). The journey here was nothing short of nightmare. So from San Luis  Potosi  I had organized a bla bla car. We planned to meet at an Oxxo shop (Oxxi is like the spars of Ireland). Anyway obviously I went to the wrong Oxxo and the driver just left without me. I waited desperately for an hour for him and eventually realized he was never coming. This was v dodgy because my flight was leaving in a few hours. I luckily managed to get the slowest possible bus. There was some serious mechanical difficulties from the get go and the bus crawled through the streets stopping every few minutes to check the engine. We were stopped on 4 different occasions by the police looking for our passports. It was a hideous journey that took 4 hours longer than expected. I had resided to the fact I would miss the flight.

Luck was on my side and we pulled into the terminal at 5.15 am so I got into an extortionatly priced taxi and told him to peg it to the airport. I get to the airport and ques were out the door. Stress was on a next level. Although long bus journeys are sick they are definitely less stressful than flying. I was allowed skip the que given the circumstances. It was no surprise when my backpack was announced overweight and I would have to pay. Obviously I insisted on wearing all my clothes/ sleeping bag and carrying my pot. I looked and felt like a hobo but who cares I managed to get myself and excess luggage through free of charge. I literally have no recollection of being on the plane but we landed in Chihuahua and my next task was to find a bus to the small village of Creel, 6 hours away.

I managed to hitchhike from the airport  where the man dropped me off at a massive supermarket. As per usual I got seriously overwhelmed and bought enough food for a small army. The man packing my groceries ended up dropping all of my tomatoes and stood on them (?). It was a sign of how stupid the shopping expedition was. The subsequent 40 minute walk to the terminal was hell on earth with the big family grocery shop and 25 kg backpack. Anyway en route a lad called Pedro felt sorry for me and carried my groceries to the terminal where I got the last seat on the bus. Things were looking up. Until…….the bus broke down. We were all told to abandon the bus and wait on the side of the motor  way for a new one. Trying to organize all my stuff was a nightmare and all of my food bags ripped. I was literally walking around the motor way with tomatoes, tins of tuna & sweetcorn,  a pot , a sleeping bag and a sombrero. An hour later I realized I had forgotten my entire back pack luckily I found bus man and it was retrieved. In fairness losing the big backpack wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world.  I am starting to look and feel more like my Uncle Joe as the days go by (not that that is a bad thing he is a legend). Delirium levels were reaching an all time high.

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Scenes….

At this stage I had almost been travelling for 24 hours. When the new bus came I made mates with a chap called Guatalupe and the rest of the journey flew in (Guatalupe was also extremely delirious so we hit it off immediately). We arrived into pissing rain. I had planned on camping but considering the abysmal journey I treated myself to a room (this place is not touristy at all that no dorms exist). I was disheveled to say the least and was so grateful to have my pot, stove and abundance of food. I cooked up a mushroom pasta dish and a cup of barry’s teas in the room and k-od for the next 12 hours. The only other backpacker in town was an Israeli chap I met on the bus so we planned on going mountain biking the following am.

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24 hours and still going……
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Room service (backpacking style). To be fair the freshly ground pepper in luxurious

Luckily the weather was amazing the next day.  One of the must sees here is Valle de los Monjes. It is a formation of rocks where you can climb to the top and see the most amazing views of the nearby canyons. The place was deserted and we had it to ourselves. Definitely a highlight. It was clear the horrible journey was completely worth it.

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Mirador at Valle de los Monjes
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Valle de los Monjes
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Me on top
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I could look at this view for days

A personal favourite was valley of the mushrooms where they had loads of rock formations naturally shaped as mushrooms (v random).

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There were mushrooms everywhere
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Just  another mushroom

The next day myself and Eres rented a scooter and decided to visit the nearby Cusarare waterfall. This was a stunning drive and the waterfall was seriously impressive (and empty!). We met a local who showed us how to get up close to the waterfall. This was probably a bit dodgy but definitely worth it. Isreal wasn’t to keen on me driving the scooter but I insisted and loved every minute. One of the most spectacular drives I have ever seen.

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Cascada Cusarare
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From this point we saw a complete circular rainbow. 
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Rainbows and waterfalls

Afterwards we decided to make the most of the scooter and venture to a nearby town that someone had recommended to me. Eres was getting really ancy with me when there was no sign of any village. I was delighted and really enjoyed the amazing scenery.  It was honestly jaw droppingly beautiful. We were getting slightly worried (Israel more so than me) as we were dangerously low on fuel and at the bottom of a canyon. Anyway we decided to turn around and managed to reach a tiny village near the waterfall where we figured we could get petrol. There wasn’t a dribble in the whole village. We definitely weren’t going to make it back to Creel. I got chatting to a lovely lad and  explained the situation and he suggested taking fuel out of his car. This worked a treat and he didn’t charge us a penny.

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The drive…
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Our shitty scooter just about making it out of the canyon
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Operation get fuel!

En route home we stopped off at the most stunning lake to chill for a while. Eres is a professional spoon maker and is an expert at carving wood so that’s how we spent our afternoon.

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Lake Arareco, Creel

That evening when I got back to my hotel I realised I had locked myself out.  I wasn’t too concerned and figured the hotel would have a spare key. There was no spare but there was a machete so the owner  without hesitation literally cut the door open without batting an eye lid. Only in Mexico!! My room was right beside the train tracks so anytime a train passed the room would shake violently. It was actually kind of scary as the hotel I picked  definitely wasn’t the sturdiest. Creel is an up and coming place and definitely in 10 years time will be different and presumably a lot more touristy.

Myself and Israel planned on making our way to a village called Batopilas the following morning. It is located at the bottom of the canyon. It takes 5 hours to reach by bus.

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The indigenous people here were scared of tourists and kept running away from us
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Bird shaped rock
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Beautiful Creel
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Artesanias
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Week 43: Tamasopo, Xilitla, Sótano de las Golondrinas, Tamul & Naranjo (Huasteca Potosina). Mexico

An excellent start to the week with me finishing work and making my way towards Huasteca Potosina.  This is in central Mexico and home to hundreds of stunning waterfalls, lakes and caves.  Bla bla car is really popular here where you basically hitch a ride with someone headed in the same direction and pay them for petrol. My first bla bla car experience was excellent I met the loveliest guy Carlos who wouldn’t let me pay because it was his birthday and he was feeling generous. Another Mexican legend.

Day 1 was spent at Tamasopo’s beautiful waterfalls and rivers.

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Tamasopo’s waterfalls
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Tamasopo
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Swimming here was paradise

I found a random woman’s house where she let me pitch my tent for 2 euro. She was a bit icy but it did the job.  Dinner that night was in Don Julias’ house. Her are her 84-year-old mother are producing some of the most delicious food I’ve had so far.

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Don Julia and her legend mother

Next morning was back to Don Julia’s for breakie. She was a little eccentric and spent the morning screaming at the customers and visa versa. It was great entertainment. Next stop was Puente de Dios a stunning natural water pool.

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Puente de Dios
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I had this place completely to myself
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Huasteca has the most stunning colours

Next stop was Xilitila a subtropical rain forest in the middle of the mountains. This is home to the garden of Edward James. He was an eccentric character from the UK who built this crazy garden in the middle of the jungle. I spent hours here and it is a photographers dream. I had a delicious lunch in the town and to my amazement when I asked for the bill the waitress told me that a man had paid for me but was gone. I don’t think I have ever experienced a nicer/ more unexpected gesture. Some true gems out there.

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Garden of Edward James
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Amazing structures in the middle of the rain forest
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This place is filled with the some stunning butterflies

I tried to make my way to Sotano de las Golondrina. This was a big challenge as it was completely off the beaten track and most people take a tour here. The main attraction is this really deep cave where at sunrise millions of swallows emerge. I managed to get a bus to a random village. I then hitch hiked to another village so things were looking good until I found out where I needed to be was 18 km up a mountain. I figured I could start walking and hopefully try to hitch hike not the easiest  task as it was getting dark. After about 1 hour walking I found this drunken man on the curb telling me he lived in the mountains and he was headed in the same direction. He said there was a jeep going up but the driver was in the pub so we just had to wait for him. Absolutely delighted! Eventually the lovely albeit very drunk Malachy arrived (jeep man). He started the bumpy journey up the mountain  and stopped twice en route for supplies of Corona. Malachy was getting progressively drunker by the minute but I was in no position to complain. He told me where I needed to go was another 4 km. He said he was in a great mood so he would drive me all the way. When we arrived I had no idea where to sleep but Malachy saving the day once again said I could pitch my tent in his mates garden.

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Yuan filling up on chicken while waiting for the bus man to get his corona

I pitched my tent in Ceaser’s house. He was a lovely Mexican Man and had the most stunning view of the valley. He was pretty horrified when he saw my atrocious excuse of a tent.

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Early wake up call to watch the swallows emerge from the cave

Ceaser had a similar swing to the one in Banos (Ecuador) the only difference it wasn’t a tourist attraction just for his own enjoyment. A highlight was getting pushed while watching sunrise. This was an incredible experience and one I had completely to myself. Moments like this always make me realise sometimes taking the more challenging route is so much more rewarding (although I definitely admit the tours are easier).

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Home sweet home
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Ceaser’s deadly house and swing
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Sunrise swings

Husateca Potosina is not the easiest place to backpack with most people having cars or taking tours. It is a stunning place and completely worth the effort. En route down a tour bus asked me did I want a lift. Without hesitation I was on board a bus full of hilarious retired Mexicans. They invited me for a delicious breakie. They too were off to the famous Tamul waterfall. They insisted I tag along.  Cascada Tamul was out of this world  you have to take a canoe through beautiful caves to see the waterfall.

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The crew
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Obsessed with these boats
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En route to cascada Tamul

During the boat ride the guy next to me was asking about my trip etc. He then asked where I had eaten lunch the previous day and it transpired this was the guy who had randomly paid for my food. Alex, a young guy from Mexico city said someone had done something similar for him in the past and when he saw me he thought I looked wrecked and could do with a treat. I couldn’t believe that we happened to meet each other and be on the same boat. As the saying goes it is a very small world. I was so grateful our paths crossed again. Alex good karma is on your way muchas gracias ( + the power bank is saving my life)!!!

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Alex, Mexico’s kindest stranger
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Cascada Tamul
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Me and Miguel

That night I arrived into the village of Naranjo. I hate arriving to a new place in the dark especially when you’re looking for somewhere to camp. Not ideal at all. After some quick street food I tried to suss out somewhere to pitch the tent. The place was a bit of a ghost town with not even a taxi to be seen.  A few people pointed me in the direction of a camp site which was 2 km walk away. Instead I went to a nearby hotel to check could I pay to pitch my tent there figuring that would be the safest option.

I got chatting to a lad at the entrance who said he was the hotel owner. He said he had a spare room that wasn’t ready that I could have for the night free of charge. I couldn’t believe my luck. That soon changed when I realised that Fransisco wasn’t the hotel owner and  his intention was to share the room with me. Luckily there were two beds but it still felt a bit dodgy. Fransisco said he was going out to get tacos and that I would  have to let him back in because he had no keys (also a bit odd). At this stage I realised I had been completely stupid to accept the invitation and that he was quite clearly a funny fish.

When he was gone I left the room to try and find reception to see if I could pay for my own room but there wasn’t a sinner around. I honestly had no idea what to do or where to go. Francisco came back 3 hours later locked.  Naturally enough I didn’t sleep a wink. In bed I had my panic whistle and my pocket knife close at hand (just in case!). In the middle of the night he was hovering over my bed asking me was I was frightened of him. The obvious answer was YES but I just pretended to be asleep. I then started to hallucinate and genuinely thought there was another man in the room. Frightening stuff but still think it was just my imagination.  In these situations you always think the worst and I was convinced he had  me locked into the room but luckily at 6 am I made a dash for it and it was open.

A horrible night that I was extremely lucky to escape from.  I know that sometimes I am too trusting of people too quickly and on this occasion I put myself in un necessary danger. Completely stupid. I have been amazed about how generous, kind and helpful the Mexicans have been but obviously this doesn’t apply to them all. No matter where you go there will always be funny fish. I think Fransisco was harmless enough just a bit of a looser. Lesson learned.

Later in the morning I took a taxi to the nearby waterfalls Micos. Another set of stunning waterfalls with barely anyone here because  it was a Monday. I camped out here for a few hours I met a lovely American family who ended up giving me a lift to the next set of waterfalls Minas Viejas.

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Mica’s waterfalls
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Swimming here was pretty divine

Minas Viejas was practically empty which was great but not exactly great when trying to leave the place. When it came to leaving I started to walk the 6 km down the mountain when luckily a police van kindly stopped and drove me the rest of the way. Even better, the police were super sound they set up a check point where they stopped every passing car until they found someone to take me back to San Luis Potosi.  Absolute legends.

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Minas Viejas
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The most amazing ducks
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Mirrador Minas Viejas

After successfully finding a couple to bring me home I was so relieved and my faith in Mexicans had been firmly restored. I gave the couple money for petrol so grateful for the lift. Once they got their money they said they couldn’t bring me any further and left me out in the middle of the motorway. I still had another 200 km to go. A disaster. I saw a bus pass, flagged it down and begged the bus man to let me on but he refused saying I needed a ticket. Things were looking really grim and I had no idea what to do as the sun was setting in. I started to hitch hike with no other option and prayed someone would stop before it got dark. That’s when Jose stopped the kindest Mexican Man. He wasn’t going my direction but insisted on driving me to a nearby town where I could safely get a bus.

En route we had some laugh and we stopped for delicious tacos (complements of Jose). I ended up getting a parting gift of a sombrero and an apple and Jose insisted on paying for my bus ticket. A true gent. I eventually got onto the bus and made it back to San Luis in one piece.

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Two lifesavers!

Huasteca was an adventure to say the least and although I probably took the more challenging route I loved it and met some amazing people. This part of Mexico is relatively untouched by backpackers during my week there I didn’t see one foreigner  just Mexican families. Highly recommend it!

Week 41 & 42: San Luis Potosi. Mexico

I volunteered in hostel Sukhe for the past 2 weeks so it was a quiet one. There is not a whole lot going on in San Luis except for a ridiculous amount of churches. It’s v v holy but the perfect place to do absolutely nothing and that’s exactly what I did. A significant time was spent watching netflix. Luis Miguel is a hero in Mexico; a famous singer. The netflix series is a must watch I’m addicted. Highly recommended!

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Historical centre of San Luis Potosi
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Lovely evening light in San Luis
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Love the colours of this church

Naturally enough my first night on the job was a bit of a disaster. It was a Saturday so everyone went out so I was left in charge of the hostel (the owner fecked off to Texas without telling anyone).  At 1am a lad started banging down the door saying he had a reservation. A girl in the hostel was convinced the guy outside was trying to rob the place. Apparently the same guy had tried to rob the hostel a number of times in the last couple of days. Naturally enough I was freaked out and had no idea what to do but I let him in any way not knowing what else to do. He seemed a little dodgy but harmless enough. He told me 3 of his mates were en route and they would be arriving at 3 am. Absolutely fantastic so I went to bed with the doorbell and safe. I got the fright of my life when the other 3 lads rocked up (very punctually at 3am) with a broken down car being rolled down the street. I was convinced it was stolen. I quizzed them a bit to try to ascertain were they dodgy or not.  I didn’t sleep a wink afraid of god the place was going to be fleeced. Luckily nothing happened  and I actually felt quite bad considering the icy reception I gave the lads. They were all off to a wedding the next day. Anyway after a few cold beers we were all friends again.

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Jose, me, Roberto and Paula, hostel sukhe

That same morning I went to clean the terrace were I found 4 drunk men offering me beer. They definitely weren’t staying in the hostel and still have no idea where they came from so extremely dodgy. All in all a rough introduction to hostel work. Thankfully things chilled out after that.

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Yet another church
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Leonora Carrington museum
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Leonora Carrington museum

One of the guys I was working with sadly explained to me that his cousin had cancer and desperately needed blood. In Mexico the system is really bad  in order to get blood you need to recruit your own donors and if not you  pay. So alarms set for 5am myself and Jose went to the hospital to donate. It was an experience in itself seeing the operation of a Mexican hospital. There were ques out the doors and we had to wait a mere 4 hours to donate. Poor Jose wasn’t eligible because he got a tatoo 2 years ago. It was worse than the Spanish inquisition  as I was being question by the iciest doctor. They made us feel like criminals and were actually really mean. They were very concerned about the fact that I was a dietitian and almost wouldn’t let me donate because of it. The Doctor told me in Mexico if you work in a hospital you can never give blood because of all of the infections. Another interesting difference is you’re not allowed eat before hand. This was hell because of the waiting time and the waiting room is located right beside the restaurant ideal.  Apparently it’s because there would be too much fat in your blood? Afterwards myself and Jose had the most delicious gorditas for breakfast and came back to the rooftop terrace in the hostel for a few well deserved whiskey and cokes. I was delighted to have been able to donate and wish Jose (the patient’s name too) the best and hope he recovers soon.

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Whiskey and cokes on Sukhe’s roof terrace

Definitely one of my favourite activities is people watching and just wandering aimlessly around the chaotic markets of Mexico. I love talking to all the vendors and most of them are delighted to lap away especially Mexicans they are the best.  Mexico’s markets are probably the most random I have ever encountered with plenty Jesus’s, skulls and dolls sprawled around the place.

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Your average feature in any Mexican Market
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Would you like a heart?
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Cow’s Stomach the main ingredient for Mexico’s famous Menudo soup (minging)
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These type of tortillas are traditional to San Luis
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This fella has been selling chillies and spices his whole life in San Luis’s Mercado
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Acho!!
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There are over 150 different types of Chillis in Mexico
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One of the cutest Mexican ladies selling tortilla makers
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Mexico’s famous Tortilla makers
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If you don’t want to make your own Tortillas you can always buy them from some of the excellent Tortillarias
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Another typical feature in any Mexican market
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Hard to understand how there is a market for these….

I met some amazing people during my time in San Luis. So with batteries fully recharged Ró is back on the road and heading to Northern Mexico. Wish me luck!!

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Me  after 10 months of backpacking!

Week 40: San Luis Potosi & Real de Catorce. Mexico

I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work to relax and recharge the batteries.  I thought I was going to the mountains but obviously didn’t do a tap of research and ended up in one of Mexico’s most religious towns; San Luis Potosi. Trying to make the most of my time here I figured I could volunteer in a restaurant to get some experience. I had looked up cookery courses but they were working out really expensive. So I thought this was an excellent way at getting free food, free cookery classes and a chance to improve my Spanish that was until I met Regina…..

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One of the many churches in San Luis Potosi

I looked up on my lonely planet authentic Mexican restaurants and Cafe Pacifico was top of the list so with no deliberation I decided to give it a go. I was interviewed on the spot by owner Yuan. Trying to explain myself in Spanish was a bit of disaster. He was more obsessed with the fact I was travelling solita. He finally agreed and said I would be safer in the kitchen than on the streets! Anyway I wasn’t arguing and we agreed I would start the following day at 9am. I was absolutely delighted with myself and really excited to learn about Mexican cuisine. My excitement was short-lived when I met Regina, the head chef. I tried to introduce myself  the response was just a grunt. She was the type of woman who looked 70 but was actually 50. She made it quite clear she was pissed off having me there. I tried to be as positive as possible which pissed her off even more.My first job was to cut a couple of hundred chilis. My hands were on fire for the rest of the day and subsequently my eyes (and other body parts!).

Regina may as well have been speaking Hebrew that’s how impossible it was to understand her Spanish. She would shout random words at me one of which being ‘pollo’ repeatedly. The girl doing the dish washing translated for me saying that  I actually needed to boil 50 chicken carcasses (delightful). This was a disaster as I ended up dropping one of the carcasses by slipping in  a puddle (I’m blaming my cheap Colombian shoes on that one). There was blue murder when she witnessed the chicken incident. Regina regularly commented about how slow a worker I was! Progress was made later that day when Regina asked me how old I was and asked me if the soup needed any more salt. I said no it was perfect and subsequently a fistful of salt was lashed in!

I will say one thing I was impressed with Regina’s stamina. The woman was as thin as a rack and told me she didn’t really like eating. In fairness to her although she was like a demon the Woman worked like a trooper and watching her made me dizzy. She has worked in Cafe Pacificio for almost 35 years so I completely understand why she didn’t want me lurking around the place. The hygiene standards left a lot to be desired with raw fish, chicken and vegetables all  being chopped on the same boards (naturally). A lump of meat fell on the floor and was just thrown back into the pan with the rest of it.  It was incredible nobody took a break  during the day.  I was literally about to keel over with tiredness that I kept pretending I needed the loo just so I could sit down. These women work like machines and get paid pittens. Serious respect especially for the dishwashers. They never once complained and had one of the toughest jobs.  It brought me back to my days working on the belt in the MPH except for the minus craic. I had agreed 2 weeks work with the owner but after that hellish day I happily through in the towel after day 1 and said Hasta Luego. Raging I don’t have a photo of Regina but it was too risky she probably would have cut off my fingers!

It turns out the hostel didn’t actually need me to work for a few days so I decided to make the most of the free time and go to Real de Catorce. This place is incredible and not like anything I’ve seen before. It previously had a population of 40,000 because of the silver mines in the surrounding hills. Once mining declined the population dropped to almost zero. It is famous now with the hippy population who come here searching for Peyote. Peyote is a hallucinogenic cactus (not my kinda gig). The village is built-in a high mountain valley located in the middle of the desert.

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Hippy Central
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This view was just above the place where I pitched my tent

The only way to get into town is through this incredible 2 km tunnel. It feels like your going through a mine with only one car able to pass at a time. A lot of miners were sadly killed during the building of this tunnel.

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Trust cocoa cola to be found in the middle of the desert

I decided to camp here because the scenery was spectacular and accommodation was v expensive. I know I promised to put the tent in the bin but I figured one last outing wouldn’t hurt. I instantly befriended the most adorable dogs; Cracker and Cookie. There was no one else camping which is always a little scary especially during the night. But I knew I was in good hands with my new dog friends. My tent and sleeping bag were still wet/sandy from the camping expedition in Panama. It was a stunning afternoon so I left them out to dry and explored the town.

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Typical buildings in Real de Catorce
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Local lad just having a sit
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Entrance to the local church

Myself, Cookie and Cracker went for a few beers. We were then joined by Iv, a Mexican friend I made on the bus. Iv was a gem and brought me all the freebies from her lovely hotel like fruit, yogurts and shampoo. She completely gets the backpacking life. Iv it was lovely meeting you and I will see you in Merida. We went wandering around the town to find somewhere for dinner when  a massive thunder-storm broke out. It actually took me ages to realise that I had left my tent open and my sleeping bag was outside ‘drying’. Disaster!

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Doesn’t look the prettiest but does the job (kind of)

Dinner was as authentic as it gets in a local Woman’s kitchen. I went for the enchiladas de los mineros, a local delicacy and a cafe oyelo. It is coffee sweetened with some natural plant. Iv went for the reliable gortditas.

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This summarises Mexican dining in one

That night was always going to a rough one. The winds were incredible and I thought the tent was going to blow away. Both of us were looking a little worse for wear but we made it through a sleepless wet night. I was greeted by Cracker and Cookie full of the joys of life waiting outside my tent. The three of us set off together to get some breakie. I had planned on trekking into the desert into one of the nearby towns. It was stunning and Cracker and Cookie decided they were game and tagged along.

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Walking to Estacion
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Some of the views along the way
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Desert style graffiti

We lost Cracker along  the way poor fella was beefed and had to go home. Myself and Cookie made it to the pueblo where naturally enough there was nothing to eat. We were both starving. All that was on off offer was stale bread, beer and water. So that’s exactly what was on the menu. Cookie looked as if I had given him a T-bone steak.  After our feed we made our way back up the dreaded hills.

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Cactus at every corner
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The most delicious tuna fruit
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A very drunk Caesar and the legendary Cookie having a beer

En route back Cookie was in a heap and ran toward any shade he could find. We ended up taking about 3 siestas and plenty of breaks in between until we crawled back into the town and went to the only open restaurant.

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Trekking to Estacion
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Cookie full of beans trekking around Real de Catorce

We caught the tail end of a storm so we were both freezing. I ordered Menudo what I thought was a rich vegetable soup turns out it was quite the opposite. It was a very typical Mexican dish of cow’s stomach. It was Cookie’s lucky day I  wasn’t able to stomach the soup (if you will pardon the pun) so Cookie got to finish the goods after I requested a doggy a bag!!!

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Minging Menudo aka cow’s stomach soup

I got chatting to Sipriano, the restaurant owner. He was most entertaining albeit extremely deaf. We were both essentially screaming at each other in very bad Spanish. We definitely  scared a few customers off. After some cafe oyelos myself and Cookie made it back to the tent absolutely beefed. A fab day with the best company.

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Catalina was very proud of her food ( and rightly so)
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Sipriano an 83-year-old Mexican messer

After another sleepless night I was awoken by Cracker and Cookie sniffing out my tent. The three of us set off for a breakie of gortditas and a mosie around the stunning town.

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The stunning town of Catorce
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Central Plaza

To get the bus back to San Luis I had to make my way through the 2 km tunnel the issue was Cracker and Cookie hadn’t left my side in 3 days. I tried to say my goodbyes to them urging them not to follow me but to no avail. The tunnel is narrow and pitch black so I was worried for them. Afraid of missing the last bus I hadn’t much choice but to go through. I tried to keep the dogs safe but all of a sudden a motorbike came out of no where and ran over Cracker. I starting screaming at the motorbike as Cracker was still under his wheels as he kept driving. Words can’t describe this asshole. Miraculously Cracker was ok and just had a big chunk taken out of his coat. He immediately sprinted out of the tunnel shaking with the fright. We all followed to see was he ok. I figured the bus could wait. We went for corn on the cob to settle the nerves. I had no idea how I was going to leave Real de  Catorce without adopting two  new furry friends.

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Cookie the amazing survivor!

Luckily I found a bus going through the tunnel. Cracker and Cookie desperately tried to get on the bus with me until they were kicked off. It was really emotional and I could hear them crying from inside the bus. After about 20 minutes we arrived at the other end of the tunnel to transfer onto the main bus to San Luis. To my amazement who was waiting excitedly for me outside but Cracker and Cookie. I still have no idea how they made it through the tunnel that quickly. It was so sad and I pleaded with the bus man to take him back to the town safely. Bus man agreed…..

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Leaving Real de Catorce
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Trekking through Real de Catorce
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Always time for a bit of bird watching

I was so sad on the bus and really worried about Cracker and Cookie’s safety when the Man next to me kept tapping my shoulder and pointing out the window. Who do I see but Cracker and Cookie sprinting after the bus.  This went on for a solid 15 minutes until the bus stopped to pick up an auld one. The dogs made one final attempt to get back on the bus until angry sombrero man kicked them off with his walking stick. It was heart breaking stuff. These were without a doubt the most loyal dogs I have ever met.  I felt like I was in a movie. I absolutely loved Real de Catorce it was such an authentic experience but it was Cracker and Cookie who made it so special.

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Saying our goodbyes (Cracker)
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Cookie my best travel buddie in 10 months