This trip occurred in 2014. I had written these posts a long time ago on a different computer which I just gained access to again. I hope you enjoy Mexico as much as we did. It is a wonderful place to visit and live.
In the courtyard of our hostel was a small grill with a short menu of breakfast items. Beans and eggs primarily, but no free breakfast options as I’ve seen before at other countries hostels. It was delicious and inexpensive, less than $5 for a plate of food that would fill you up. I noticed a disheveled man wander into the courtyard while we waited for my friends’ taxi. The porter and he spoke for a few moments and the guy sat down. Soon after they spoke, a plate of food was set on the table and he ate quickly. I spoke to the chef/hostel clerk after the bum left and he told me he was fed every day. The bum never bothered anyone, he was just hungry. Beside, the hostel was doing well, it wasn’t much money for a plate of food to help someone, so why not?
I talked to the guy behind the grill, same guy who checks everyone in, and he said I was ok staying in the same room alone as it was open for the night. He said I was lucky we were there during the week when it was less crowded. There was an English guy seated at the table next to me whom I had briefly met the night before. I struck up a conversation, eventually joining him for a smoke while we talked about what brought him to Mexico from England.
He taught English at university there and was near the end of the semester. He ended his lease at another place in town and was staying at his favorite hostel in the city for the final two weeks of school. After final exams, he would take a train down south where he would crash on the beach for a month, living in a tent. He didn’t make much money as a teacher, just enough to pay for good living, drinks and food. He hadn’t been back to England in years and did miss his mates, but he was very happy here. He realized that it was basically the same life, in a much more hospitable environment. He said he was always just scraping by living in London and saw the future clearly: work all day to make just enough to buy a flat a bit closer to town with each raise, fight traffic commuting to work every day, repeat until retirement. In México, he made more than enough for a nice apartment, he could walk or ride his bike around town, loved the food and music, and the weather was near perfect most of the year, why not live here and be happy? I too was struggling with this reality my new friend was currently living. Is it worth it to give up friends and family to live simply, as you want?
I walked through the plaza past the drummers and dancers, past the bland but famous restaurant in search of street tacos. To my surprise, my travel companions were a bit hesitant to eat street food, preferring the comforting golden arches, restaurants and snacks. The closest thing I’d had that was street food was the breakfasts at the hostels. A couple blocks and there sat a guy on a corner serving tacos. A couple guys were standing near the grill, eating so I felt this was a solid option. There were no seats or chairs, you ate standing up. There was no menu, just tacos and sodas. This wasn’t a food truck, it was a food trailer as this one was attached to a motorcycle though some were manually pushed around.
On the asphalt sat a cooler, inside was meat in plastic bags to one side, limes and beverages on the other with a no doubt sturdy divider separating the items. He shot a spray of oil onto the hot, metal sheet which immediately smoked, he plopped some meet onto the grill, which sizzled, and then a tortilla soon hit the metal. He took his time letting each one sit for what seemed too long before flipping. Back and forth he worked until at some point, they were combined. I am fairly sure it was chicken I ate, but it might have been pork, there wasn’t a menu. The pink meat was cut into strips so it was unidentifiable. All I know is I was eating the best tasting taco I’ve ever had. The tortilla was a bit crispy but still soft so it held together unlike a hard-shell taco so you could hold it and not drop everything to the ground. I quickly ordered another one, then another before waving goodbye. These tacos were 10 pesos or about 2 bucks
I snaked up road after road, through neighborhoods, dodging cars and scooters the whole way. Where the hell was I? All I knew was the sun was to my left and that meant I was walking towards the avenue a bit north of our hostel. As long as you could recall at least two known points, such as street name or orientation with the sun, you can find your way back. If not you can pop into a bar or restaurant and ask, no worries. Unless you are the only person around for miles, I’ve learned you are never truly lost. I enjoyed walking in a new area and trying to figure things out. A short time later, I was on an avenue I recognized. The sun was just beginning to set so I hung around to watch it disappear behind some mountains.
This avenue was the same street that had the British pub on it so I decided why not, I was on vacation. I had a couple pints, watched Mexican sports and videos on the ring of TVs. I had found a choice place to people watch, which is my favorite activity in bars. You’d usually have a couple in love or fighting at a table, a group of friends laughing at another, a lone guy or girl waiting for a date. I ordered a couple Mexican beers I’d not had yet. The cervezas I bought was a very light, pilsner style, which was the most common option and a black ale, both were made with rice.
Before too long, I knew I had to leave. I located another taco truck on the way home and had a couple. Again delicious! I bought one for a passerby that was how good I thought they were. We all had a laugh, they enjoyed how much I loved their food. There were a few people hanging out inside the hostel so I bought a beer and hung out with them in the media room. It was just a place with a couple couches and TV. There was the cool couple from Sought America, just traveling the country and a couple other guys, one of whom continued to fall asleep in his chair. They were sort of watching a movie, but mostly talking and passing around a pipe whilst sitting under a sign that said No Drugs. This was the first conversation in a different language that I completely understood! A guy was explaining how he was late for a train and was running after it until he jumped on. It was in very basic Spanish which was the only common language we all had, no one spoke English but me. We all understood and laughed at his tale. After awhile I grew tired and wished them all a good night.