My week and a half in Ensenada was an excellent introduction to Mexican culture. Learning the Spanish words for different foods (specifically taco variations) and how to avoid things like ‘tongue.’ I became pretty excited upon learning that pescado tacos are available everywhere along the coast for around a dollar a piece. Beers from the OXXO (convenience store) coincidentally are the same price! However, there is a really absence of variety. The most popular beers among the locals are Tecate Light (as if regular Tecate isn’t piss weak already), Pacifico (equivalent to Molson Canadian, so Yuck!), Corona of course, and Modello Especial. The last continues to be my go-to in small bodegas and bars where they have just the basics. At the Modelerama (liquor store), you get a few more choices though it’s pretty hit and miss. Sol and Dos Equis (and they really do pronounce it Doseckis, even in Mexico! :)) can be found pretty regularly (though I’ve been told real Mexicans don’t drink Sol and they actually went un-drank when I purchased a round for some new friends in Mazatlan.) Then you’ve got darker beers such as Indio, Negra Modella, Noche Beuna and Bohemia. These are sold in bottles and are not regularly available everywhere although we Canadians and discerning Americans get excited when they turn up. Lastly I’ve seen Carlsberg in a couple stores and Guinness appeared in Sayulita (but its Mexican-made Guinness in cans and I still haven’t ventured to try one at time of writing this entry.) I also re-learned some important lessons such as always look down when walking on the streets in the 2nd world. Also, don’t assume what you feel crawling along the back of your leg is just a fly and clumsily swat at it because it could be something much more unexpected and terrifying!
After moving on from Karloz’ casa on the edge of town, I stayed with Sony, a 30 year old girl who works at TelCel. Sony and many of her friends are extremely active in the CS community. While I was there, three of her friends even flew to Mexico City for the CS national conference. I was impressed at how organized the community is here. I’m not sure if there is a similar gathering in Canada. Many people in Ensenada have over 50 references from surfers and they all know one other. Sony was absolutely lovely and invited me to stay even while already hosting an Australian guy, Gerald, who was also on a motorcycle he’d purchased and fixed up in LA. His bike was a 1986 Honda XL600 and he was having engine problems (mucho humo blanco) and was trying to befriend meccanicos to assist him with the repairs. We had a good time together and attended many of the Baja Mil events. Gerald had previously done 11 months in South America and so spoke passable Spanish which was a big help for my learning proficiency. We also shared tips and recommendations gathered from previous moto trips, other bikers we’d met and stuff gleaned from online forums about our future journey. The onward trip through the Baja desert can be particularly harrowing and it’s good to be prepared, especially as solo travelers.
Both of my cohabitants enjoyed to take a beer, so after the errands of the day were complete, we would split some beers on Sony’s roof top and watch the sun go down over the water, through a tangled network of electrical wires. It was a most impressive view though especially considering the cost Gerald and I were paying for our accommodation and combined with the alcohol put us in a very good mood to start the evenings festivities. Sony seemed to having something fun planned every night of my stay, weekdays not excepted. Went to numerous bars with her and her friends. On evening 9 or 10 of us went to a karaoke bar where someone immediately ordered 4 buckets of beer. Each bucket containing 8 beers for 100 pesos ($7.50) or the price of one beer at an upscale bar in Gastown. The group surely didn’t stop at just the 4 buckets either and when Gustav suggested we head to one of the many strip clubs in town as we staggered down the stairs, it made perfect sense- girls and guys alike. The strips bars here were of similar style manner to those in Tijuana, I had been told ie. not a lot of rules. It was interesting to watch the rich businessmen in the shadows watching the show on stage while absent-minded fondling the bodies of the girls sitting around them. And there didn’t appear to be a challenging entry try-out or even attractiveness criterion for the staff. No matter what you look like nor even how old you are… if you want a job in this establishment and your willing to get naked, then you’re hired. This would explain why there were 50 women to the 25 male patrons. A more appealing bar that we visited was Hussongs; one of the oldest saloons in all of Mexico. It was a true wild west establishment in appearance, clientele and behavior. Packed every night, Hussongs is a must see with great life music performed by a mariachi band playing right in the center of the jammed packed room. Enough ho-downing and hi-jinx for the most accomplished partiers.