Sadly, I can no longer remember the sequence of events for Ric’s visit. [More gingko biloba and less vodka soon!]
Suffice to say that Ric and I spent the next four days of his trip here seeing sights and having fun with my friends. Here are some of the highlights.
You’ll remember that I told you that Ric was going to go out with my good friend and helper Antonio on Thursday evening, and so he did. Ric’s plan was to buy Antonio some dinner and sit and talk shop. Didn’t really happen that way.
At about 5:30PM on Thursday evening, Antonio picked Ric up at my house and off they went. Four or five hours later, they stumbled through the gates here. Ric’s first words to me were “I will bet that I have seen places in or around Joco that you have never seen!” And I’m sure Ric was right!
Apparently Antonio had given Ric’s the great locals’ tour of the area. I had spent a fairly large period of time showing Ric around Jocotepec, but Antonio really DOES know the area so much better than I and wanted Ric to see it. Not only did they “cruise” Joco, with Antonio waving to his friends, they went as far east as Chapala and as far north as some of the little pueblos on the other side of the hills that surround Lake Chapala on the north shore.
About 10PM, Ric and Antonio came dragging back through the gate bearing tacos from a street vendor. Antonio was still insisting that he wasn’t hungry, while Ric and I were voraciously devouring the contents of the bag.
And what a long, strange, enjoyable trip the two of them had had.
During those last four days, we also drove around to the south side of Lake Chapala. I showed Ric the small pueblo where I used to live (San Cristobal Zapotitlan). We visited Tizapan el Alto and Ejido Modelo Emiliano Zapata, both still in Jalisco state, but very near to the Michoacan state border. In Tizapan, we didn’t get too many looks because they are comparatively used to gringo visitors, but in Ejido Modelo Emiliano Zapata, we were definitely NOT commonplace.
Since Ejido Modelo Emiliano Zapata is almost straight across Lake Chapala from Mezcala, I think we can definitely say that Ric saw at least half of the lake. And became even more aware of how large it actually is.
In a Pemex gas station in Tuxcueca, Jalisco, I paid my 2 pesos to use the bathroom [cost covers toilet paper and part of the bathroom cleaner’s wages]. In the countryside, it is not unusual to pay 2 or 3 pesos to use the restroom at Pemex gas stations. And, no, you don’t drop it into a slot on the bathroom door to enter the stall as you might in the US. It’s often on an honor system, although occasionally there is an elderly woman sitting outside to collect from you and hand you a few pieces of toilet paper.
For this reason, I always carry a roll of toilet paper or a box of Kleenex in the truck with me. I certainly don’t begrudge the amount and always do pay it, but sometimes the amount of toilet paper they give you is downright stingy….at least by American standards. These women may be the only people on earth who took Sheryl Crow’s toilet paper comment seriously!
While Ric was waiting for me to vacate the ladies’ room, he started talking to a local vendor and wound up purchasing a 10 peso CD of Mexican music. This is another thing you can often find at Pemex gas stations here. Which, by the way, are the only ‘brand’ of gasoline we have here in Mexico.
Pemex is short for Petroleos Mexicanos. It’s owned by the federal government. The good news is that gasoline prices throughout the country are the same. The bad news, if it really is bad news, is that there are no “gas wars” going on, ever. However, while gasoline prices may fluctuate greatly from day to day, from week to week, and from place to place in the US, they remain constant here, with scheduled periodic increases.
So while you folks in the US often see your gasoline prices rise or drop dramatically in a relatively short period of time, we pretty much always know what we are going to pay. Makes it so much easier if you are trying to budget your fuel costs!
In small town Pemex stations here in Mexico, you often find vendors of various and sundry kinds. They can be selling anything from candy to windshield wipers. At this particular station, Ric ran into the CD vendor who managed to convince him that he needed a 10 peso selection of Mexican music. And, oddly enough, in the “foyer” to the bathrooms, there was a red-haired English-speaking bloke who was selling freshly fried potato chips and hot sauce.
Tempting as those were, Ric and I opted to go down to the crossroads and find a little soft drink and sandwich stand. We got three Cokes and a HUGE jamon sandwich for 30 pesos [$2.23US at today’s exchange rate and it was probably better then]! And we sat and watched the world (okay, small pueblo Jalisco) drive by. It was a good day.
I mean, really, you gotta love a guy who is just happy doing this, don’t you???
We did numerous other things during Ric’s stay here, including dinner and more games at Jonnie and Craig’s, dinner and another round of Trivial Pursuit with Kathi and Warner. What I’ve hit upon here are just some of the highlights….although I suppose they may not be very exciting to many of you.
But this is the way life is in small town central Highlands Mexico, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.