18 Weeks, 3 Days.
Mom would have loved this place. I’m in Tecozautla, Hidalgo, in the ranch of my friend’s parents. The ranch is called Rinconcito, and for now, it’s just a lovely open-court house and not much of a ranch. Their property stretches quite a bit though, and you can see the future of agriculture, some chickens, and more.
My mom would have loved this place…
Not only because it’s a beautiful property, but because it’s one of her best friend’s house. They had their happy hour days frequently when they both lived in my hometown of Querétaro.
That’s where I was to start my vacation. Querétaro.
The trip started fine but almost had a nightmare scenario played out.
I forgot shit at home!
My phone charger. The micro USB cable for the camera to the MacBook. My sandals. My boardshorts. That’s what I forgot.
When I called the Uber for the airport, he was right outside. He gave me no time to check if I had everything. I didn’t. It’s fine. I bought it all again. Except for boardshorts. Got me some new huarache sandals from my hometown. I remember buying almost the exact same ones around two decades ago. The only difference is that the sole is not made of parts of a tire like it used to be.
Forgetting shit wasn’t the nightmare scenario. The plane ride wasn’t either. I paid some extra money to choose premium seats all the way to the front (forgot how much, I believe it was less than $12). The plane ride was nice.
Shit happened after I arrived in Mexico City. I had several choices in how to get to Querétaro, but I ended up with the easiest, getting a bus from the airport for 415 pesos (around $25 USD). My friends told me it was going to be pricey, but the comfort of the bus was worth it. And I got to watch Crazy Rich Asians on the bus… in Spanish!
GREAT MOVIE! Well… I loved it. It has very VERY cheesy moments, but that’s what a rom-com is. I was happy.
The nightmare started shortly after the movie ended. The bus driver stopped to the side of the road to tell the passengers he was switching the route. A handful of trailers collided up ahead and the road had very heavy delays. All the passengers yelled that they agreed on the switch of the route.
A few minutes into the new route… BARUMPH BRAH!!! we heard crackling noises. As if the bus hit a low branch of a tree… or worse… people threw rocks at the bus.
The window of the first row of passengers was broken. Luckily, it has double windows, so it wasn’t crazy.
A handful of minutes later… it happened again. BARARARUMPHHH BRAAHHH!! Same noises, this time right behind me to the left. I was on the second row, this time the third-row window got hit with rocks. This was no normal incident.
The passengers on the bus started to freak out. A lady walked by the hallway and told all of us that if we had pens, to bring them out and stab the perpetrators above their clavicle so they bleed to death. Paranoia ensued. I had a bunch of cash because… well… vacation. Hid most of the cash inside my sock, left enough in my wallet that would leave the perpetrators happy. I hid my camera under my seat and left my MacBook in my bag, left enough to leave the perpetrators happy (the Mac is from work and hopefully is insured…. who knows). Hid my phone in a small bag where I had some garbage.
Wrote my friend’s phone number. And held the pen in my hand ready for the worse (as if).
The bus driver stopped a few minutes after the second attacked and asked if everyone was alright.
Everyone said yes and to continue to drive.
He did so.
Twenty minutes later, we could see the lights of the city and there was a collective sigh.
As we left the bus, I noticed that the bus driver’s window was also cracked. That was from the first attack. The bus driver reassured everyone that they were just kids playing with rocks… But throwing rocks at a moving bus two hours before midnight on a very dark road, yeah… that seemed like an attack.
One of my best friends from childhood pick-me-up from the bus station. He drives Uber so he was in the area and offered to swing by. He also offered me to stay at his pad. This was not part of the plan and sort of last minute.
I thought he lived in his old pad… the pad that I know by memory. I can draw that house perfectly. I can draw the house where I grew up as well. I can draw my another friend’s house by memory too. He still lives there with his mom. I never saw him. I have pictures of us when we were 3-years-old. I really wanted to see him.
I saw his mom a couple days later. And my other friend’s mom. And I was swimming in nostalgia and great memories.
I had a great childhood.
I really, really, had a great childhood. I often take it for granted. This trip was great for that.
But my nostalgia got murdered
Stabbed in the heart.
It hurt so fucking much…
I saw the house where I grew up. It was nothing like what my house used to be like. They made it ugly and aggressive. Not welcoming and warm like it used to be. Big white wall and a big heavy gate. It used to be a small wall made with handmade blocks of arcilla (yellow clay-like material) with a green pointy gate that let you see through the marvelous patio.
It just felt so damn cold.
My friend didn’t understand why.
Nostalgia got obliterated.
Before all that… after the bus incident when I arrived. We had a couple drinks at a place… familiar to me. Cervecería Chapultepec. Those fuckers are everywhere. I saw one of my buddies who had a huge house where we used to play soccer because he had his own soccer field.
And I hung out with my brother’s best friend who also acts as one of my best friends. He is one of the smartest and kindest people I know.
I’m at his parents’ pad right now… His mom is playing with his son on the foosball table.
Family moments that I wish could happen with my mom. But hey. Life.
All I wanted was to swim in nostalgia. Almost a decade without going to my hometown. There’s no reason for me to go back anymore but to swim in nostalgia…
And… well… WHAT I ALWAYS DO!
Drink beer and eat delicious food.
In Tijuana, people told me of the greatness of Cervecería Hercules… Though I trust the word from brewer friends, it was hard to believe that my shitty little hometown had amazing craft beer.
Fucking blown away!
I was expecting a small place with tiny batches of quality in a cozy spot in downtown. Oh boy was I wrong.
Hercules is situated on a textile factory hundreds of years old which was 80% abandoned and 20% still working on soap, fabrics, and other goods. In fact, it was one of the first factories in Mexico and at some point, it basically had workers as slaves. The workers would get paid in money that they could only spend in the factory.
So Hercules… the brewery… Took over the spot. And has been restoring the space. Including a new Cine Tonalá.
I was actually walking to Cine Tonalá’s new space to simply check it out when I heard “hey, you are from San Diego aren’t you?”
WHO THE FUCK recognizes me all the way over here?!
It happened to be one of the many partners that own Cine Tonalá… and well… I’m good friends with the owner of the Tijuana one, helping her with menu choices, suggestions, and overall, she’s a very smart woman who I admire and enjoy her company (plus hey! free food and drinks for me just so she can hear my opinion).
Thousands of miles away from Tijuana and from work. I end up talking work and business…
I wanted to try all of Hercules beers… but they have some silly rules in place about what can be in your flight, only five beers, pre-selected. Couldn’t make my own choice. So after 5 samplers, you have to choose a full pint. Bullshit. But hey, those are their rules.
The dude that was serving me beer didn’t know much about what he was serving me and was giving me the basic explanation beertenders give to a person who is drinking beer for the first time. I don’t have credentials or nothing, but I was like, yo… I want to talk to someone that knows their shit.
That’s how I met Fernando who seemed to be the manager of beertenders. HE WAS GREAT and knowledgeable and gave me splashes of the beers that I wanted to try.
What I learned…
Hercules dominates European style beers. Their lager “Hombre Pajaro” was my favorite. Terricola is a very drinkable fresh saison. And Macanuda is their hit of a brown ale. Styles that I usually don’t drink are their best.
Styles that I usually obsess over like IPAs and Sours are not their strength. I am spoiled by California hoppy beers that their “hoppy” beers were not on par. Don’t get me wrong, they were drinkable and without a mistake, but just not what I am used to in terms of dry crisp piney resinous hops. There were no sours.
I also learned that the investment comes from Comercial Mexicana, virtually the Wal-Mart of Mexico.
That makes sense. That’s why it’s such a beast. Space is inimitable with the abandoned factory feel. I was mindblown by the quality of their beer.
They brought the brewer of Cigar City. Or so I was told.
And while drinking Hercules beers… I spotted a familiar face and one of my brew heroes. The owner of Insurgente Brewery, my top choice in all of Mexico.
Before leaving the place, when I was headed to the bathroom, I finally spotted him not surrounded by people. Went in to say hi. Dude never recognizes me. He never adds me on Facebook either. But he seemed to be a bit familiar with my face now.
He was at Hercules talking about Insurgente/Hercules collaboration, and of course, bringing Hercules as guest beers to Tijuana.
I’m excited to see what these two monsters will brew… I guess we’ll have to wait 2+ months.
That same night I went to a party near the brewery. They had live cumbia playing which was fantastic. I saw one of my hometown buddies and his wife. Girls were staring at me.
Apparently, I’m good looking here. Or at least different. Girls back in TJ already know me and stay away. Here, I was getting glanced at left and right. One girl tried to rub shoulders with me. But no thank you.
They had a beer there called Mitote. I had their “Maiz Azul.” It was undrinkable. I actually just tossed it when halfway done. I went to ask if the brewer or someone was there. I told them, this shit has diacetyl (the bacteria that makes it taste like butter, I recently learned this shit but it makes tons of sense). Their other beer was ok. And their stout I didn’t have.
THEY HAD pulque.
So I had mango pulque and strawberry-kiwi pulque. That shit was delicious. So I kept drinking that.
After the party, we went to the after party. Some reggae bar near downtown. My buddy that picked me up from the bus station picked me up there after finishing his Uber shift. He seemed to enjoy the music and the bar that for 20 seconds he was loose and danced. I told him to stay for a beer. He wouldn’t.
You see… there were some signals that my friend was not the same. Extreme paranoia, some crazy beliefs in Martians (not aliens), superiority know-it-all complex, and lonely routine life. No friends. Only work, gym, healthy eating, rinse, repeat. No fun. No drinking. No smoking. No nothing.
I ignore the signals. He is one of my best friends. Everything was going fine. Though I tried and tried to get him to loosen up and have some fun. I’m on vacation I told him. I’m trying to have fun.
He viewed me like a raging alcoholic who couldn’t stop drinking and will end up in the street because of this. Nope. I explained to him I’m on vacation and that beer drinking is what I like to do. It’s not like I wake up and drink beer (I drink coffee).
Any drinking he sees as wrong. And that I’m slowly killing myself (which I am, it’s fine). He tried to convince me to join the healthy living. Gym life (on vacation). And to eat a healthy diet (I rather die). So I can live longer than 80 (I do not have a desire to be an old man).
A lot of clashing. A lot of disagreements. Coupled that with the paranoia… It exploded on what was going to be my second to last night.
That day, I went to explore my hometown all by myself. Found breakfast at Breton Café. It was your typical French brunch but it was executed extremely well. The waitress (who I’m guessing was a lesbian from Argentina) was lovely, cute, and helpful. The coffee was just okay. But my brunch…. well that shit was delicious. I wrote about it over at @TijuanaAdventure.
From there, I found a brewery by accident “Brewer Gastro Pub.” This dude that follows me on IG actually suggested that place, I found it by searching “beer” on google maps. The beer was … well … meh. It was home of Cerveza Toro. Yeah. It was no bueno. It wasn’t horrible, especially for my hometown, but it was… yeah.. no good.
Luckily, I got to talk to the owner of the place (not the beer). Brandon. A dude from Chicago married to a Mexican girl. He has been living in my hometown the time I’ve been gone. He told me he made the bacon from my croissant breakfast. His Spanish was similar to my mom’s. It was perfect, except you can hear some Gringo in it still. That was my mom’s Spanish… perfect, with a Gringa tinge to it.
Talking to Brandon about beer, he suggested “Cerdo Capitalista” by Chela Libre from Celaya.
OMFG! ON POINT YES YES YES!
SMaSH Mosaic beer, crips, bright, and piney. That’s what an IPA should taste like. I fucking loved it. The label was also great. Everything about that beer was simply good.
Brandon warned me “that’s the only beer I like from them.” So I haven’t tried another beer… but that Cerdo Capitalista… Yeah. If you see it. Pick it up.
Brandon also told me about the other brewery “Tap 27.”
So I went on my way the 20-minute walk to Tap 27 which was near La Biznaga (a hippie coffee shop I went to as a teen).
My stupid mind, when I heard “Tap 27” is that they were going to have 27 taps. Oh boy. Not even close. 6 taps only. From that, only one was them. A stout. I had a taste. Yep. That’s’ a basic stout alright. The rest of the menu were familiar beers, Colimita, and Tijuana beers.
They had the collab between El Segundo and Insurgente, a DIPA beer that went dry in fucking seconds in Tijuana. I only tried it twice before they told me it was gone forever. And my little hometown had a little keg of it still. I ordered that (overpriced obviously). It’s a nice DIPA on the sweet side of IPAs. I love it because I love both Insurgente and El Segundo, but a bit of dryness would make wonders. It’s still a delicious fucking DIPA.
My Uber friend picked me up after. He told me he wasn’t going to work much on Saturday. I thought we were finally going to hang out instead of him Ubering all night. We hung out for a few minutes in a place called La Cañada. No joke, my nanny was from there. And I remember thinking “that is millions of miles away.” Nah. It’s right there in my hometown. And it’s gorgeous and colonial.
My friend explained more about Martians and Mayans there. It sort of made sense. When you view the temple and hear him out… he is onto something there (but with no concrete proof). We had ice cream, took pictures, and had a good time.
I had to pee really bad. There was a cantina next to the church. I suggested we should go have a drink there, he refused, but I had to pee so I went in anyway. I asked for the bathroom, cantinero told me nuh uh. I asked if I bought a beer if there was a bathroom, he just said “el migitorio esta ahí.”
Literally, in the entrance of the cantina/store, there was a space where you can pee. There was no one there, but if there were, it’s like prison style. You just pee on a hole on a corner. That’s where I peed. There was a little lever to let water flow to rinse the “urinal.” I flushed it. HUGE MISTAKE. Water sprayed strongly that all the piss water splashed to my face.
But hey. I got to pee.
And I had a beer that cost me a dollar. I gave the cantinero a dollar tip. No fucks given.
The cantina has been there since 1924. I am pretty sure they haven’t changed anything at all…
That place is going to get gentrihipstersized soon. It’s too lovely and cheap. And it is still close to downtown.
My friend, instead of quitting for the night and enjoying Saturday… he decided to get back to work.
I went back swimming in nostalgia town. Killer, a friend from middle school told me to meet with him at a bar. He was with his cute little girlfriend of his whole life (virtually). They make a lovely couple. My other friend, Irving, joined us as well. He is part of the group of friends who I play NFL Fantasy with.
I had two beers a Hop Hop Hurra by Santa Sabina from Guadalajara. YES! Another surprisingly good hoppy IPA. I loved it. Then “Pambolero Bicycle Kick” by Primus a drinkable Kolsch but not very memorable from their label that promised to be some of the best brewed globally from 6 different breweries in 5 different continents. Too much work for an okay beer.
From there, the plan was to continue to swim in nostalgia. Killer invited us to Gus’s place, a guy I grew up playing basketball with and the guy that named my car the name it has (Donatella). Those middle school/high school friends have not changed very much… and they love drinking… but drinking BOOZE. Just regular old booze. Bacardi. Tequilas. Vodka. Whatever is booze related. Not many beers or craft beers.
I saw friends from old. Girls who we suspected were going to be lesbians were there with their girlfriends. Friends from old were there with their girlfriends. And me and Irving were there just chilling (I brought me some Tecates and that’s what I was having).
Jolly old time going down memory lane. Nostalgia. Nostalgia. Nostalgia. Even more nostalgia when we talked about my whole life’s crush. Like Irving said, I’ve been in love with her for over 27-years. They say she’s a lesbian as well. I’m a lesbian trapped in a dude’s body… so there might still be a chance. But not really. I have her on Instagram and tried messaging her a handful of times. Never a reply. No fucks given.
Uber friend called me to tell me his shift was gone. He was picking me up and it was bedtime. I had the keys to his place. My plan was to give him the keys and find a different place to crash. I was having a good time. But at the same time, it was getting late and I should go to bed.
He arrived all stressed out. I went to greet him and told him, give me a minute, I’m going to go say goodbye. I was saying bye in a hurry because I didn’t want to make him wait, and he started honking like a madman.
Gus, the owner of the house, and not wanting to piss off the neighbors, went outside and yelled at him to calm the fuck down, that I was on my way out.
Uber friend freaked out and thought someone was going to beat him up and break his car. I am not sure where he thought that… but he just hit the gas and left me there. With the keys to his place…
That’s when shit hit the fence. He yelled at me for what seemed hours. As if he was the drunkard and I was the sober one. Irving was with me and heard the whole ordeal and guided me to what to say…
He said hurtful things. He said horrible things. He said things that were not true. He said a lot of crazy things. All of that yelling, not a normal volume. Screaming his lungs out while I tried to calmly tell him it was okay. Whenever I said “okay” he would yell “LET ME TALK! LET ME FUCKING TALK!” I wasn’t even trying to talk. I just wanted my things and leave.
I ended up having to beg for my things that were in his place and had to promised him on my dead mom that I wasn’t going to drink again. I didn’t want too. I don’t like breaking promises. But I had no choice. Otherwise, I don’t know where I would be right now.
He finally let me in (well… he came home because I had the keys). We went in. I packed as fast as I could and left. He said something like “go to bed and we’ll talk in the morning.”
Fuck no dude. I’m not staying there after all that.
And look. David (Uber driver). I love you to death, my brother. We grew up together and did some crazy teen shit together that made me in who I am today. But you are going off the rails… though you think it’s me who is going off the rails. I need therapy. I accept it. But you do as well. Please seek help.
Irving to the rescue.
To the fucking rescue.
I have no problem staying in a hotel/Airbnb. I can afford it nowadays. But Irving to the fucking rescue.
He took me back to his pad, we played some Smash (I kicked his ass), and let me crash on the futton. The following morning we had barbacoa tacos for breakfast with his lovely daughter. We played more Smash (his daughter was actually pretty good, I let myself lose on the first two… mistake, she was good).
Then met up with my NFL FANTASY buddies! For more drinks (yes, after promising I wouldn’t either… I sort of want a beer now).
The place was a Biergarten founded by an Austrian dude. Very very very German with Yodeling music and Oktoberfest decorations. And of course, with the classic German brews (which I don’t remember trying). Black lager, Hefeweizen, Pilsner, and more lagers. They were all great, but of course, they were. They were basically all the major commercial Germany beers… No mistake there.
The food was horrible though. It was like old food that he was trying to pass as premium German sausages and Brezels. Nope. It was old bread and Costco turkey meat.
Drank beers. Met another friend’s daughter (Saul’s). Hung out with Mora, Irving, and Saul for a while. Then, they have all sorts of responsibilities to attend. They married and with kids (well Mora has kids but not married). They have jobs to do. And it was Sunday afternoon.
Irving was still being a very helpful host, but he had work in the morning, so did his wife, and school for his daughter. So I went back to my best friend of best friends in this area. Doroteo.
I spent the night with him and his family, and the following morning, we came where we are now. Rinconcito!
That’s how my vacation is going.
This is the first time I had a chance to sit down on my MacBook. There is no cellphone signal here and the WiFi is torturously slow. But honestly. That’s how I like it.
I do not want to think of my phone, notifications, emails, work, or anything else. I just want to chill and take astrophotographs.
And that’s what we did all night.
And this is a lovely fucking house. I could fly back to Querétaro just to come hang out here again.
I’m missing a girlfriend or something. But I’m content with myself and my second family. I even got a birthday white chocolate pie! You see… my friend’s mom makes a KILLER white chocolate pie. Is on the very sweet side, but it’s not overly sweet. It’s very addicting. I love it.
The internet is too slow to upload pictures. It’s too slow to perhaps even post this. Here’s my latest Astro, hoping to do more tonight.
Mexico City is up next. I’m excited about Mexico City adventures… I was born there. Have gone my whole life, but never really explored. Just taken there. And I expect it to be full of adventures and beer. No more nostalgia… just visiting where I was born though not really from there.
I have 300+ pics that I have edited and I think they are great… Let’s see when I can post all that stupid shit. I wish I could post more right now, but the internet is way too slow and I don’t even have space to post in this blog.
After Mexico City, I go back to a mountain of work.