Where: Mexican Pacific aka Baja California (Tijuana, Ensenada, Mexicali + La Paz, Los Cabos) and a bit of Sonora (Hermosillo), with a surprise trip to Mexico City
When: 25th March – 10th April 2017
Who: An Italian girl, a Romanian-English girl, an Ecuadorian guy and yours truly from RAC Stockholm
What have we seen: deserts, mountains, beaches, a geyser(!), Mexican traditional dances, Chinese traditional dances, native noisy masked dances whose name I forgot, but they remind me of Croatian “bellmen”, zebra donkey, football and baseball stadiums, dog races, casinos (we haven’t played), mariachi bands and a lot of live music, quinceañera celebrations, winery, vineyards, churches, houses of captured narco bosses, sunsets, museums, seals, me trying a free fall slide and an aerotrim because god knows I have never missed a chance to try something with either heights or hanging from something.
What have we tried to learn: dance salsa, prepare sope, break piñatas, find sea shells hidden in the sand…
Cuisine: A lotlotlotlot of food! Breakfasts were as big as my usual lunches, and so were dinners, while every lunch was like my two lunches! If I had stayed a bit longer, I would have probably looked like a Micheline Man? Although the meals were delicious (except being super-spicy for my tastes), I was amazed with the choice of natural juices, smoothies, ice creams, sorbets and fruits in general. My favourite taste was of a soursop (guanabana), usually described as “a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy texture reminiscent of coconut or banana”. Who wouldn’t like it!
Social projects: we cleaned a beach (cleaning has never been easier with such a beautiful view like we had), and we volunteered with preparing and serving food in two public kitchens (mostly for deported or failed wannabe immigrants from Central America to the USA) and some of us fed and played with dogs from an asylum.
Hosts: I have changed 7 houses, where they had all together 7 dogs. Although sometimes at home I forget that I am afraid of dogs, with these mostly outdoor and mostly not so trained, but very playful dogs, it wasn’t easy. Dogs aside – Karen, Luis Miguel, Sofia, Ana Cristina, Alex and Dennise were quite welcoming hosts! The biggest couchsurfing surprise were Rotarians Blanca and Juan Rafael, who are both retired and not so good in English, but their hospitability overshadowed both age and language difference!
RAC meetings: They seemed to be much more efficient than European ones. Firstly, there are more serious (flag salutes, reciting the rules, “a judge” in charge for order etc.), but they are also more entertaining than ours. All members get a nickname, and since the four travellers (Los Trippers) didn’t have one, we became Tequilini, Gamesa, Chokorol and I was the only one with a nickname not inspired with food and beverages – Televisa!
Also, we have got all kinds of regalia and memorabilia, T-shirts, caps, pillows, card holders, pins, badges, fanions, sunglasses, bags and even shot glasses with our logo.
Viva Mexico!: As my last hosts tought me, this exclamation is used in all the cases when things don’t work as they should, but in a Mexican way. From sloppy construction work over delayed buses to corruption. Viva Mexico!
A surprise trip: While we had thought we were going to spend a few hours at the airport, Ismail (with great help of his dad who served us both as a driver and a guide) organized us a suprise trip to Mexico City, which was over 2000km from our final destination! An amazingly efficient sightseeing tour was divided in two by a delicious breakfast in one of the most beautiful premises I have ever seen, Casa de los Azulejos.
Weird stuff: Barbed wire, barbed wire everywhere! Every house and every private property has all kinds of barbed wires, spikes and glass shards to prevent burglars. The other weird thing are big cars and a lot of cars. It seems that every decent family has three cars, of which at least two are pick-ups or full size SUVs. Finally, I can’t miss mentioning policemen, soldiers and marines in search for drugs and drug dealers. Many of them have a full combat equipment and long guns and they ride around while standing in their light trucks. Our car was also stopped for a search, which I used as an opportunity for a photo.
Switzerland and wooden clogs: Every time I would say Sweden, people would answer “Switzerland” or ask if I speak French or German. Also, I have learned that Dutch wooden clogs (klompen) are for some reason called “Zwedes” (zuecos) and some were really disappointed after hearing that clogs are not really so Swedish (even if they exist here too).
To sum it up, we have learned that Mexico is not only tequila, cactus and sombrero. Mexico is also mezcal, chili and mariachi… no, wait. Mexico is a huge country and hard to get to know in two weeks or describe it in a few sentences. Maybe I haven’t found my evil twin or discovered my rich grandmother (damn Televisa!), but thanks to everyone who made a sacrifice to share a bit of their homeland with us, this trip won’t be easily forgotten.