Canada, Poutine and Gay Marriage

I have such a bad memory, but my German aunt doesn’t, so she clearly reminded me that it’s been almost 10 years since the last time I set foot on the Great North. So there I was, on the 14th of October, arriving to Toronto Airport, where my cousin Karen and her fiance, Cheyenne, were waiting for me.

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Niagara Falls – Far out, bro! 

Karen and Cheyenne are two wonderful girls, and the most important reason for me being there was their wedding… and eating poutine again! (Poutine is a Canadian dish, originated in the province of Québec, made with French fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy.)

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Lake Ontario 

So there I was, at this beautiful chapel, while Cheyenne was standing there by the atrium, waiting for my uncle to walk my cousin down the aisle. Suddenly, all the attendees stood up, turned to the entrance and there she was, holding my uncle´s arm with a shy smile on her face. My uncle looked proud, happy and, honestly, he brought it, wearing that pretty awesome suit.

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Anyway, where was I? Right, #LoveIsLove and poutine is awesome. So, the ceremony was fantastic and I couldn’t be happier that I got the chance to be there with them.

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Going back to my Canadian experience, well, my neighbours have taken their love for poutine to the next level. While I was there I had pizza topped with poutine, regular poutine, poutine and eggs and I reckon somewhere in Toronto they were selling poutine icecream (this last one might not be real at all).

So, that was part of my abroad experience this 2016. After my cousin’s wedding I crossed the border into the USA, headed to Washington D.C, then to NYC. But that’s for a different post.

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PS: Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, certainly is a beacon of hope for the Americas and the Western countries, as he understands how a global civil society should work together towards development, tolerance, and respect. In times where racist and authoritarian leaders rise in the horizon, we should be suspicious of behaviors that equal to those seen in fascist, nationalist and tyrannical regimes from our recent history.

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Oaxaca and Mezcal

 

IMAG2351last March I went to Oaxaca City for a wedding, no big deal, it was my second time in that beautiful city, but this weekend I committed myself to get to know a little bit more of this amazing place in the southwest-centre-ish part of Mexico.

First things first, I took a bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca on a Friday. A bus trip surprisingly enjoyable, I must say.

I traveled with ADO as my bus carrier at the 23 hrs service to Oaxaca City, leaving from the Central del Norte (the Northern Bus Terminal in Mexico City), costing around USD25 to 45. The terminal was super crowded as it was prior a long weekend, but nothing to worry about.

We arrived to Oaxaca around 7 am, and from the bus terminal in Oaxaca it takes you no more than a 25 minute walk to get to pretty much anywhere in the city. And believe me, anywhere in the city, so if you are only carrying a backpack, well, before getting to your hotel  go and explore a little.

 

For instance, from the bus terminal to Oaxaca City’s main square (commonly known as Zocalo), it’s about a 20 minute walk, but a taxi could take you there in 5 minutes for USD$3.

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At the wedding there were plenty of friends from my hometown, Tampico, it was very interesting to see all these lads in this part of the country. The wedding’s reception was on that very day, at Tule, Oaxaca, a wee town located 9kms East of the city. Santa Maria del Tule is famous for a tree that lives there, according to a lot of studies, this tree could be up to 3,000 years old, 14 metres in diameter, and often referred to as the “Tree of Life”. IMAG2303Then, we finally got the Hacienda for the celebration, found my table and decided to enjoy a magnificent feast. As entré we had pork crackling, longaniza and Oaxaca cheese, while each table had at least two bottles of mezcal, which was “silky-smooth”, simply beautiful.

As a main we had mole negro (black mole), a typical local dish, which by the way, is the  Pièce de résistance in Mexican cuisine, and the most representative of Oaxaca’s gastronomy.

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On Sunday I woke up craving some market food after a wedding with plenty of mezcal, well, Oaxaca had just the right place for me: the Juarez and 20 de noviembre markets.

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There I had a quesadilla with pumpkin flower and a tlayuda with chorizo. Both markets were loud and alive, like any other market in Mexico, however, the ambiance was different as the aromas were unique and, regardless of the new look the food stands had,the cooking technique used there was refined as a result of years of experience.

Oaxaca City seems to be the right place where to go for a weekend off, a peaceful town where to forget, at least for a couple days, the loud and over polluted Mexico City. I highly recommend it, it has awesome food, great weather, but most of all, it gives the tourist a broader insight of Mexican identity and ethnicity.

Cheers…

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Punta Mita – Mexico

As it turned out, what I just needed were some days off, close to a Mexican beach, going for long walks, a beer as cold as my ex`s heart (or cold dead as William Shatner`s career), enjoying my home country’s cuisine, and celebrating the marriage of two great friends.

Pic taken while going for a morning walk

Pic taken while going for a morning walk

Punta Mita is an hour flight away from Mexico City (or, if you happen to be a bad holiday planners as me, a 12 hours bus drive). When you get to Puerto Vallarta, just walk a few blocks from the bus station to the bus stop, and take the “Punta Mita” local bus, it’s only a 45 minute trip (don’t you worry, it’s says “Punta Mita” on it, hard to miss).

I stayed at“El Coral” hotel, which is fine, around USD60 a single bedroom, or USD 110 for a double (sounds weird, but go for the double if you are more than 3 people). And the food, my friends, the food is efing amazing, the restaurant isn`t that flashy, the kitchen looks dodgy (but they are so friendly, they even let me cook with them), and most people get there because it’s right where the boats leave to the “Marietas”, but it is fantastic.

Not Islas Marietas, but some other islands close to Marietas

Not Islas Marietas, but some other islands close to Marietas

I’m from the Gulf of Mexico, so the ocean there is quite tame, with soft waves and refreshing breeze; but this is the Pacific, the water breaks against the reefs, the waves storm on the shore pulling the sand back into the ocean which such ferocity it is sort of intimidating even for experienced swimmers like me. The seafood is different, the shrimps, lobsters, fish and oysters are bigger, making any seafood platter you order here look voluptuous, massive and awesome (or, like John Key might even refer to these specimens as “tantalizing”, while stroking any wee Mexican girl’s pony tail). Unlike the seafood from my hometown, aye, seafood is bigger, but the flavours from the Gulf are sweeter and, honestly, more delicious.

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However, the food was outstanding, like the “Pescado Zarandeado”, or “Pulpo a la plancha”, or the fresher oysters I`ve ever tasted. Literally, I was just hanging out at the restaurant and this fisherman gets out of his boat carrying a bag full of oyster he just got out of the ocean. Without hesitation I told my waiter “I want a dozen of whatever he`s carrying in that bag”. 15 minutes later, he arrived with a platter of delicious oyster, fresh, sweet and massive.

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What about the wedding? It was beautiful. My mates looked like coastal royalty, and the venue was fabulous. They said yes to each other while the sun was setting in the background, and we couldn´t resist but to let a wee “awwww”.

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Anyway, just wanted to post some pics of this weekend off, mates, if you are really keen to visit a magical place, take some time off and get your arses to Punta Mita, you won’t regret it.

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