On Monday, May 12th, I started my journey to the World Cup. My dad and his girlfriend dropped me off at the border in Nogales. I intended to walk across and take a bus in Nogales, Mexico but found a station in Nogales, Arizona. I said goodbye as I walked on the bus with my 2 bags; my camera bag and my clothes bag. The combined weight of my bags have to be around 60 lbs and it’s been a pain in the ass lugging those things around. As the bus crossed the border, I had an extreme feeling of accomplishment but I also felt nervous. I’m a tall white guy with a red beard (depending on the light), I was carrying a lot of stuff, my Spanish was horrible (it’s getting better), but knowing that there is no turning back, knowing that I am traveling 10,000 miles to Brazil, knowing that if I backed out and didn’t do this trip I would regret it for my entire life, that all made it better.
I arrived in Hermosillo, Mexico around 8:30pm. Hermosillo is about 350 miles south of Phoenix in the desolate, Sonoran Desert. This place gets as hot as Phoenix in the summer but it’s a lot worse. It’s treeless, grassless, and no matter how fast you drink your beer, the ice will melt before you finish. Ice and beer you ask? In a cooler you ask? Well, every time you buy beer at a store they put it in a bag, cover it in crushed ice, and you’re on your way. I love it.
I met my longtime friend, Aretes, at the bus station with a few of his friends. We went to one of their houses and had a few drinks and caught up. My friends and I used to travel to Hermosillo a lot to hang out with Aretes and his family, which is growing.
He has 2 kids and a fiancé now. In his house lives his mom, dad, brother, 2 sisters, 1 nephew, his fiancé, and his 2 children. The house has probably doubled in size from when I last saw it. They added a room in the back and build a complete second floor.
Hermosillo is not a touristy town whatsoever, it’s a workers town and there are only a few things to do on your free time, like drink and eat.
So that’s what we did. Tacate, Indio, and micheladas, followed by Sonoran dogs, fish tacos, and burros percherones.
After about 3 days in Hermo, I hopped on a bus to Guadalajara; a 21 hour trip. About 23 hours later I arrive in a beautifully vibrant, green city. There were trees! Guadalajara is the 2nd largest city in Mexico and is full of universities and people from all walks of life. I didn’t know much about it so I went on couchsurfing.org to request a couch or someone local to take me around town. I was in communication with one guy the day before but since I don’t have cell service and am relying solely on wifi, our communication was scarce. I walked all around the downtown area where there were quite a few parks with free wifi, and waiting for a response. I got nothing and after about 2 hours of walking around I just checked myself into a hostel called Hospedarte. A nice place with wifi, towels, a garden, free breakfast, a bar, and it was close to everything. It was $15/night. The cool thing about hostels are you meet people from all around the world who are traveling as well. It’s the easiest place to start a conversation. “Where are you from?” “Where are you going next?” I was worried about staying in a hostel and not being able to see the local side of the city and only the touristy side but with this one, most of the workers were from Guadalajara and if you asked, they told you where to go. The first night I was hanging with Colin from the UK and we got a tip to go to this hidden local bar called The Rusty Trombone. Hidden to where there are no signs for the bar and the door has a slot for when you knock, the bouncer opens it as if he needs a password to let you in. We both immediately thought, “hell yeah!” and then right after we thought, “what if it’s a gay orgy bar?” Because we were both aware of the sexual connotation it has, but also aware rusty trombones aren’t just associated with homosexuals or orgies. So off we went. After about an hour of walking around, asking around, getting lost, we finally found it. It was just like it was described to us. Nestled between 2 homes in a neighborhood I walked up to the door only to ask, “este es Rusty Trombone?” and the door opened for us. That must have been the password. It was a dark and classy joint, local people were dancing and talking. It was great!
Like most cities in Mexico, Guadalajara has history. There’s a giant cathedral in the center as well as a few museums but my 2nd day I just walked around the city center. My stomach was upset from the chorizo and carne asada tacos I had the night before, so I wasn’t up for eating anything and I missed out on the famous Tortas Ahogadas. A regular torta dipped in a spicy sauce in which you eat with a spoon. They don’t serve them after 1pm though because they’re mainly a food that cures hangovers. I didn’t end up eating a single thing that day until later in the night where I ended up with 6 tacos. 2 birria, 2 chorizo, and 2 carne asada. From 2 different taco carts. Mostly I hung out with people from the hostel, but I wanted a local to take me around town. I then met up with Efra and Omar from Couchsurfing. They brought me to a couple bars and we had a few beers and it was a good time. At one bar called La Tarraza, I was confronted by a cholo type guy who told me, “when in Mexico, you speak spanish!” I wasn’t sure if he wanted me to speak the language while I was there or if he was just educating me on the country and the official language. I responded in Spanish that I am learning, cheersed his beer, and we left.
Later that night, as I was eating my 6 tacos, Mike from Switzerland and his local friend, Carlos walk up after returning from the club. We talked futbol mainly, from Chicharito being a shitty player and Guadalajarians having no idea why Man Utd signed him, to the World Cup and who we thought would win. Between the 3 of us we made a bet. We each picked 2 teams that would win the World Cup and the 2 losers have to mail out a local beer from their city to the winner. Mike picked Germany and Belgium, Carlos picked Arentina and Colombia, and I picked the USA and Uruguay. I love the bet because even if I lose I don’t mind sending the winner a couple local beers, Phoenix has amazing beer! We were talking for a few hours until we realized it was 5am and should go to bed, only to find out that the hostel was locked and the 1 person running the desk fell asleep and wasn’t answering when we rang the bell. We ended up sleeping on the picnic tables out front. We were mad because we really only need a hostel for its bed! Mike ended up getting a free night out of it but since I was leaving, I didn’t get anything.
The next day I walked to a bus station I thought was pretty close to the hostel but it ended up being about 3 miles away. It also ended up being closed! So I hailed a cab and for 100 pesos he took me to another station that was open. I bought a ticket to Mexico City, boarded the bus and forgot about Tortas Ahogadas! I didn’t have the one dish everyone told me to get! I arrived in Mexico City and was going to stay there for 1 day but it was 11pm, it’s a huge city, I have no idea where to go, the terminal doesn’t have internet, so I just bought a ticket to Veracruz. I’ll go back to Mexico City one day, there’s a lot to see and I was told to spend about a week there. I was on an overnight bus to Veracruz, stuck in the most uncomfortable position behind a guy who reclined his chair to the fullest extent, a guy next to me hogging the arm rest, my giant bag on my lap, it was horrible. I finally fell asleep and woke up as we were approaching Veracruz. This terminal didn’t have internet either so I couldn’t figure out where to go. This is how I like traveling though because when you travel with a specific itinerary, reservations, etc. you tend to become stressed and always in a hurry. I knew I was headed towards the beach though, so after an offer from a cabbie for $40 to take me to the beach, I decided to walk. Through this pocket GPS communicator I have, I texted my dad who gave me an address to a hostel called Oyster Hostel.
While I was walking I hear, “hey! You American?” “Yes” I said. His name was Joseph, a Mexican construction worker sitting on the side of the road. He is currently homeless looking for whatever work he can find. He told me he spent 20 years in the States and that he wishes he could go back because the money is great. He offered to walk me to my hostel and help me find it. We walked and got on a city bus. We spent about an hour trying to find the place. He denied the money I offered for his help, so I told him instead I’ll pay him for an interview. Tomorrow at 11am we meet on the beach and I’m going to ask him a few questions on video. I was too tired then to take any photos or videos.
But here I am now at the hostel, which I have all to myself! I’m done writing and I’m going to check out the city.