The first three nights in Guadalajara constituted my first experience with couch surfing. I stayed with this really chilled out and cool guy who lived about 15 minutes walk from the centre. From the moment I turned on my computer and realised there wasn´t any reliable wifi (white people problems), I knew by Friday night I had to be gone. Normally I wouldn´t care too much, but the swans were due to play the grand final on Friday...and I needed good wifi if I wanted to watch them take out the premiership!
My host spoke perfect English with an American accent as he lived in LA for many years, before being deported from the land of the free. Active within Couch Surfing, he frequently goes to Guadalajara meet ups, and on Thursday, he brought me along. We went to the oldest bar in GDL, where I met all the other hosts and took in the atmosphere of mariachis in the background. I was also given a much needed crash course in Mexican slang. Notable expressions include no mames (literally translated as don't suck me), meaning I don't believe it, or fuck me. The other one that sticks out is of course chinga de su madre...I'll let you find out what that means.
After my second night there, when we were walking home from a pub, I asked him if he wouldn´t mind telling me how it all happened. He obliged, and seemed surprised that I thought it was a big deal, I suppose he´s just a really down to earth guy. It all started when his family, having arrived undocumented years before, decided to apply for citizenship. Their request was denied, despite the fact they all spoke perfect English and had lived in the US for like 15 years. They immediately appealed, and that was also denied. Shortly after, when he was thinking of leaving the US anyway, agents came to his family´s house and decided to deport them. The fact that they tried to go through the proper legal channels, were denied citizenship and then to add insult to injury, were deported, was a massive injustice. One thing my host told me that was particularly interesting and surprising is that out of the homeland security agents, the biggest dicks are the second or third generation hispanics (usually Mexican). They were the ones who called indulged in racial slurs against their OWN background, using terms like beaner and wetback. I can only wonder as to why this is the case, one hypothesis floating around in my head is that the agents really want to be considered American, so they employ jingoistic behaviour just so no one questions their patriotism.
One of the coolest thing about my host was his undeniable passion for tequila. He is an expert. When we were in the supermarket and i was looking at thge various tequilas, he told me, ¨don´t worry about buying tequila man, I´ve got that covered.¨ He told me the difference between blanco (unaged), joven (a mixture of blanco and reposado), reposado (aged between 2 months and 1 year in oak barrels), añejo (aged for between 1 to 3 years in oak barrels) and extra añejo (aged more than 3 years). According to national Mexican law, tequila, to be called tequila, has to be produced in the states of either Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit or Tamaulipas. In addition, Mexico has the exclusive right to the word Tequila, and has threatened legal action against manufacturers of blue agave spirits wanting to call their product Tequila.
When I got to my host's house, I discovered there was a 20 something Scottish couple who were also staying there. Although it was not my main reason for leaving, I was glad to be rid of them. Apparently they both knew everything about everything, even beginning to lecture me on the situation in my own country, reminding me of an aging doctor, who, because he's a doctor, naturally means he is all knowledgable. The end point was probably when I mentioned that I hated extreme political correctness. They continued to lecture me, saying that "sexist, racist and old white men say that to try and continue with their old ways" and that "not in any way am I calling you a sexist or a racist or a bigot, but when you use language like they do you have to have a look at yourself." FUCK OFF. Who gives a shit if they use that language, I know I'm not a bigot, and you don't even know me so shut your dirty trainspotting mouth.
On Friday I arrived at the hostel, which was located in Chapultepec, about twenty minutes drive from my hosts' place. Chaputepec is a cultural melting pot of Mexicans, comprising snobby middle aged Polo Ralph Lauren wearing white Mexicans, skaters, couples who seem to get off on PDA, hipsters and 'others.' On Saturday, the day after the Swans' ultra epic win, I made my way to these alternative markets I had previously heard about. I have to say, by this point I was convinced that Guadalajara is the Melbourne of Mexico, i.e. the cultural and artistic capital. I wonder if alternatives in other cities in Mexico stroke their fringes while saying "I totes wish I was born in GDL," kinda like people from Sydney do when talking about Melbourne. These markets had all the hip young crowd of GDL could want; leather jackets for goths and 1970s rock enthusiasts, vinyl, block sunglasses for hipsters, weed pipes, tarot reading for the mentally ill, old school marxist propaganda and possessed teddy bears with massive claws and blood shot eyes...they looked like they were high on ice.
Even more protests...they don't stop. Loyal readers will recall my 'core' promise to find out what all these labor reform protests were about. I know you have had many sleepless nights waiting for me to lay down the details, so thankfully you will sleep well tonight. The Labor Reforms actually remind me a bit of Work Choices, making it easier for employers to fire people, thus making it easier to hire them, or so the 'pro' argument goes. The reforms will also pave the way for temporary working contracts that don't require compensation when they expire and create contracts for employees to be paid by the hour...so in a nutshell, the casualisation of the labor market. The anti reform argument is also similar to as it was during work choices, i.e. that the reforms would lead to lower wages and less secure employment. Imagine though, if Labor had voted for the reforms. That's exactly what has happened here, with the centre-left party, PRI, voting for the reforms in the lower house.
Certainly another event that stuck out in my mind was when I was sitting down having dinner, and having glanced to my left, I saw a woman telling her child to cry. I had no idea why she had requested such bizarre behaviour, until she went around to everyone in the restaurant, balling child in arm, telling people 'my children are hungry, please give me money." I thought it was quite an inventive begging technique, and knowing that innovation is essential in a vibrant market economy, I rewarded her effort with 10 pesos.
After the night in the oldest pub in GDL, I decided to join the GDL group on couchsurfing.org, where travellers and hosts alike arrange activities and detail their future travelling plans. As I logged in to the conversation threads, aimlessly skimming over information about where to get a camera lens fixed, I came across a photo someone had posted that blew me away. After doing some research and finding out where it was, I was sold. That was my next destination. The photo I'm talking about was of the Marieta Islands, about an hour by boat off the coast. I google mapped the closest small beach town, I didn't want to stay in Puerto Vallarta, and made my way to Sayulita.
Sayulita was nice enough, but the beach was a bit grey and it was full of loud, crocodile skinned Californian retirees...I was sick of it by the second night. Additionally, I think it may have been more refreshing if I swam in soup than in Sayulita beach. Sayulita was hot, so I ran into the water to cool down...only the water was 30 degrees, how ridiculous.
Marieta Islands certainly didn't disappoint, I have nothing bad to say about them. I took a tour with a friend I made at the hostel and two guys from Mexico City for about $50 each. The Island is a magical place, with a big hole in the middle leading to a picturesque agua beach. Our guide told us the official watching over the Island would look the other way if we wanted to quickly walk on the Island and take pictures. As it is a protected area, officially you are not supposed to step foot on the Island. But readers will know this blogger as someone who never says no and is always pushing the boundaries...fuck you society is my favourite saying. To get to the 'pocket beach,' as I like to call it, we had to swim through these caves that run into the Island, even having to duck under water to reach them as it was high tide. I'm not great with adjectives, so I'll just use the word 'amazeballs' to describe the beach. Unfortunately I couldn't take photos either, as I don't have a waterproof camera.