After two days in the metropolis that is Guadalajara, I was itching to get to the countryside. After considering various routes, the easterly path of Highway 15 on the south side of Laguna Chapala then through Zamora and Morelia before reaching Mexico City looked like a good way to avoid traffic and see some beautiful parts of Mexico.
This plan would get delayed for a day though after late in the evening, I received an email from Ruby saying that she too was in Guadalajara. Fully surpised that she wasn"t further along the road to Mexico City, we agree to meet up the next day at the Catedral de Guadalajara.
At what seemed to be one of the city"s busiest tourist attractions, we met again to catch up after almost a month of my absence from Mexico.
Over lunch, she tells me of the new experiences and foods that she has had since Mulegè while I relate my story of realizing my lack of desire to return to a life working behind a computer when I still had plenty saved up for years of touring.
After learning that Ruby had used up all of her Indian spices making curry for 13 people the day before, we make our way towards the Mercado Libertad, a three story bazaar filling two city blocks. Our perusal revealed only endless stalls of every Mexican food imaginable and tight corridors of clothing, backpacks, electronics and household goods. Nothing perishable was to be found anywhere in this shopping district.
On our way from lunch to the market, we had passed an interesting bar in an old colonial building. After shopping disappointment, a return to this bar was required after learning of a sweet liquor called Ronpope that Ruby had been introduced to in the interim.
They knew of but didn"t carry Ronpope so Modela Negra took its place as we enjoyed the pianist playing and singing Spanish songs. Although in the middle of a Friday afternoon, the rowdiest of the packed bar joined in the songs, providing a lively backdrop to hear more about the parts of Mexico I had skipped on my detour back north.
At one point, a man sat down next to us with a finely carved statuette of Christ. After a few curious minutes, he turns the sculpture upside down to reveal the artist"s name carved into the base: his name. It was modelled after a 30 meter sculpture in the city Aguascalientes to the north. He produced a business card for his sculpture and furniture fabrication business and urged us to follow up on his works. Explaining how we must carry everything on our bicycles, we had to decline loading up with wooden sculptures.
As night fell and rain followed, we made refuge in another bar. Again, Ronpope was not on offer. Nonetheless, a rum and lime based drink combined with a game of pool provided a respite from the rain outside.
Ruby sinks the 8 ball and I am now tasked with dropping my remaining three, I ask, "Do you like to watch me flailing?"
Even though I"m having no luck with the last one, Ruby replies, "You"re not flailing."
In order to get Ruby back on the cue, I ask, "Would you show me how to get it in?"
Ruby replies with a grin, "You"re being a rude boy."
With an authoritative strike across the table Ruby slams the last one in, "It"s all about the angles."
Now that I had learned about Ruby"s practice with pool growing up, we found that the rain had stopped and we were able to continue the search for this elusive sweet drink on our bikes as we rock out to "Welcome to the jungle" blaring from a nearby bar.
With no liquors available at the 7-11 and larger grocery stores already closed, we try a cafe on Av. Chapultepec, enticed by the live music duo serenading from the front patio. The hot chocolate catches Ruby"s eye and with assurance of its picante quality she orders one. I follow suit and we complete the order with a cheese sampler plate then return to the patio to enjoy the surroundings. Picante flavors could be scarcely detected in the hot chocolate. At Ruby"s request for more picante, the waiter informed us of the impossibility. The range of white cheese cubes must have been intended for a party greater than two as completing it became a task of endurance.
The night before, after multiple meals of street tacos, I had a hunger for something vegetarian which led me an Indian restaurant. Since it was only a few blocks, we walked there to get the scoop on where these precious flavors could be purchased.
The servers there first explained that they had the spices mailed in but after a few minutes, I was handed a phone connected to the English-speaking owner of the restaurant who assured us it would be no problem to give some of their stock and that he would come down in a few minutes. We passed the time with an English-Spanish language exchange with one of the waiters. He was very excited to learn specifics about life in California for future travels. The Oakland Raiders apparently have a draw much beyond their loyal fans in California.
The owner appeared, lit a cigarette and informed us that this request was no trouble and that he was happy that we enjoyed the food. Being the only Indian restaurant around, he had had the chance to cook for the Prime Minister of India on a visit to Mexico. We thanked him and continued on our way with a bag of seeds, peppers and powders.
Ruby and I parted ways at this late point in the night so that she could return to her host"s house before they fell asleep.
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