Saturday, October 27, 2012

I survived!!! (Back from Mexico)

Five Days without INTERNET! :::GASP:::

Last Thursday, I hopped on a Volaris jet and flew down to Guadalajara Mexico.  Mi amiga mas preciosa, D, met me at the airport and we made our way down to Jocotepec (appx an hour from GDL), to their most GORGEOUS hillside casa overlooking Lago de Chapala...

Million Dollar View!

Now, I had planned ahead and purchased an international data plan for my Droid (100 megs for $25.00), as well as packed my Netbook.  Last time we were there, one of her neighbors had unsecured WiFi that was accessible from the side-yard.  This time?  No WiFi!!!  Okay, no worries, I'll just use my phone for email and occasional FB updates (no photo uploading, however - gotta limit my data usage).  Well, as soon as I arrived at D's, my Droid's battery was almost dead, but I was pleased to see that I still had 3G coverage (Yay! Internet!!!), so I shot an email off to hubs to let him know I'd made it okay.  Then I shut down the phone and hooked-up the charger.

The very next morning, I fired up the Droid and EEEEEKKKK!!!  No 3G!  No internet!!!  WhatEVER shall I do?!!

Now I should note that D and her husband are VERY low-tech...  bordering on ANTI-tech, to be honest!  And they both kind of laughed at hubs and me, last trip, because of our apparent "Internet Addiction!" (We spent an inordinate amount of time - with our "Dueling Netbooks" - in the Side-Yard/Smoker's Lounge/Internet Cafe!).

Well, this trip, I (more-or-less) proved that "I can quit anytime!" because, well, I *had* to!  Of course, I was checking my phone about every half-hour *looking* for a 3G signal.  There was none!  Not in Jocotepec, nor Ajijic!  I can personally confirm that! (Eeeek!).

Actually, it was All Good.  D and I had a FANTASTIC time just hangin' out; staying up late, drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and yakking endlessly about nothing!  We got up whenever we decided to wake up, and we left the house by the crack of 11:00am, every day!

Now generally, D, dons her "Julie the Cruise Director" hat and plans out every-last-minute to ensure non-stop entertainment.  This trip was decidedly more low-key (Thank Goodness!  I do *not* expect to be "entertained!").  But there were a couple-three "Must-See" Attractions on my list.  

First up was Viva Mexico Restaurant in San Juan Cosala.  They make THE VERY BEST Chiles En Nogada, and I was totally jonesin' for that dish.  We went there on our second night and discovered - much to my dismay - that the restaurant was closed.  Evidently, there had been some Narco Trouble in their neighborhood, earlier this year, and they've shortened their operating hours.  We arrived at 8:15pm, but they had closed at 8:00.  Augustin, the owner, was most apologetic - but we went back the next night.

Started off with a Margarita:
I think this glass held about a quart!
(I kept giving myself Brain-Freezes - it was sooo good!)

Then, my All-Time-Favorite Dish:

OMG - The dish was just as good as I remembered and I damn near had a Meg Ryan Moment, right there in the middle of the restaurant!

I thoroughly enjoyed dinner that night, and explained to D that I had located several recipes, online, but I hadn't attempted to make it yet (it looks like a BOATLOAD of work!).  Although I wondered, aloud, if they might be willing to share their recipe.  I mean, it'd be a shame to go to all of that work and NOT have it come out as good, right?!

So D asked our server, in Spanish, if they would share the recipe with us.  The waitress replied "No" and explained that it was their own Secret Recipe.  Well, damned if Augustin didn't come out to our table, a few minutes later, and pull-up a chair.  I then "Ooohed and Ahhhed" about how wonderful the meal was, and explained (in my seriously-broken Spanish) that I had looked-up the recipe and it looks like "Mucho Trabajo!"  He agreed that it was a lot of work to prepare, and then he proceeded to explain (in detail!) how he makes his Chiles en Nogada! (His English is very good, BTW, Thank Gawd!)  I grabbed a scrap of paper from my purse and started scribbling notes furiously!  In fact, he went so far as to excuse himself and run to the kitchen to bring out his Secret Ingredient (a specific brand/flavor of Mexican yogurt - that I probably *won't* be able to find in the states!), and he hands me a spoonful of the yogurt explaining "I want you to remember the taste - THIS is what makes the sauce so good!"

How FREAKING cool is THAT?!!

Needless to say, Viva Mexico will ALWAYS be a "Must-See" attraction whenever I go back!

As far as the recipe goes:  I'll save that for another post - whenever I work-up the nerve to try to make it.  It really is Mucho Trabajo - a whooooole lot of work!!!

Another "Must-See Attraction" was the Cholesterol Delight (No, I still don't know the name of the place).  This is where they cook the meat (Pork, Beef, Goat) on rebar stakes jammed into flaming/glowing wood embers.  Unfortunately, the last couple of times D and her husband ate there, they both got sick.  They think it was from the salsa (since the meat, clearly, is fully cooked), but she was a little scared to risk it again.  Bummer!

We did grab dinner To-Go from a questionable-looking roadside stand: El Rey del Pollo (The King of Chicken).  D trusts this place because the "cold stuff" is kept on ice and the folks who handle food do NOT handle the dinero (and vice versa).

El Rey Del Pollo

We ordered a whole grilled chicken and some fresh-grilled chorizo.  That was, quite possibly, one of the best grilled chickens I ever ate!  We did take it home and snarfed it down with homemade tortillas, queso and salsa.  And - I just couldn't resist - I had to SIN and drink a Mexican Coca Cola, from a glass bottle and MADE WITH REAL SUGAR. Waaaaaaay the hell better than that High Fructose Crap we get here in the states! 

We also ate, one night, on the plaza at a little sidewalk taco stand.  Evidently, we were the talk of the town because Gringos don't generally eat there. :::shrug:::  I'll admit, it wasn't a Five-Star dining experience, but it was still damn good food!

Anyhoooo...  This isn't all about eating, believe it or not!  The purpose of my trip was to get all Artsy Fartsy, right?!!  Truth be told, we spent most of our time at D's house, just yakking and drinking and playing old 70's and 80's rock (on LP vinyl no less!!!).

We did go into Jocotepec, one afternoon.  I love Joco and the old "50's-Style" of shopping (You want fresh produce, go to the Fruteria.  You want meat, go to the Carniceria.)  And you have to have extended conversations with each of the shopkeepers! "How is Tia Lupita?  I hope she is getting better." yada-yada.  I wanted to pick-up a poquito puerco molcajete for P, so we bought it in Joco.

We did breeze through Ajijic - but the Gallery Scene just *isn't* my scene.

No, the highlight of my Girls-Gone-Wild Weekend was our trip to Tonala (where they DO have 3G coverage!).  I'll share pictures of that portion of our trip in a separate post.  I will say that Tonala is f**king AWESOME!  Loved it COMPLETELY and, honestly, can't wait to go back again!

Now, when I left, I packed fairly lightly.  I've got a large, expandable suitcase.  But I also had enough room to pack a large (empty) duffel bag inside of my suitcase.  We were very cognizant of baggage weigh limitations so, when we went to Tonala, we actually BROUGHT my large suitcase - along with a scale!  The ladies in the metal shop thought we were nuts until D explained that I was traveling back to the states - and then they agreed that we were very wise for being so prepared!  HA!

Anyway...  Our first stop in Tonala was Forja Española (Note: Website is written in Spanish and, honestly, the pictures don't even BEGIN to capture it!).  An AMAZING shop with metal sculptures, furniture, lighting fixtures, etc. etc. etc.  Now THIS is where they actually manufacture the Mexican Metal Art Stuff you find at expensive galleries.  They have a very nice, tasteful showroom.  Hell, I was blown-away before we even set foot in the place because they have these MASSIVE metal sculptures out front (including a life-sized horse made entirely of metal washers!).  Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the shop - but I think I snapped a few pictures of the sculptures out front (I still need to go through them - hence, the need for a separate post).  

Anyway, we browsed briefly in the showroom (and availed ourselves of el baño!).  Then we headed for the back-room where the cool stuff was absolutely overflowing!  It was complete Sensory Overload!  Sculptures of all shapes and sizes of Anything and Everything!  Iguanas, fish, turtles, chickens, dogs, horses (Oh Gawd did they have horses!  A HUGE LAMP made out of  wagon-wheel and metal horses!).  It was positively dizzying - the assortment of metal sculptures.  And furniture?! Oh My Gawd!!!  Srsly - if I lived in Mexico - I could outfit my entire house JUST from that store alone!

Anyhoooo!  One thing that I really-and-truly wanted was a set of Metal Mariachis.  D has a life-sized Mariachi welded to her Terrazza - and I think he is too cool!  And every time P and I go to the SF Garden Show, I drool over the smaller (~30" tall) Mariachis that are for sale, every year, at one of the vendor booths.  But they are, like, $120-150 apiece (and I want a trio!  More $$ than I am willing to spend).  

Welllll...  I am happy to report that I DID find my Trio of Mariachis.  Annnnnnd they are UNIQUE!  And I love them!

Tres Al Rojo Vivo ~ Muy Picante ~ Chile Pimiento Mariachis

What's funny is: D originally thought they were potatoes (which made no sense).  I decided they were frijoles (beans - which makes a little more sense!).  But then the gal who took our money told us that they were actually chile peppers - which made the most sense of all (Duh!).

Soooo...  I think that's enough of an update for one night!  I'll try to go through my Mexico Pictures and hope to share more of My Messkin Adventure in the days to come... 

Hell, then there's still the Boise Buffett Show to yak about (I have been on 6 planes in the past week!  Enough already!!!).  In other words, I am BEAT, so I'm off to watch the Giants Game and hopefully go to bed EARLY tonight!


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