Category Archives: Mexico

Curse of the Pharaohs

We visited one of the most breathtaking and spiritual places on Tuesday; the ancient city of Teotihuacán, which is located 45 minutes from Mexico City. Its construction started 200 BC, and in the years 400-500 AD, it was one of the largest cities in the world, with a population of 200 000 people!! Over there, you can find three pyramids (Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon) as well as many living complexes. Its inhabitants were either Nahua, Otomi or Totonac ethnic groups – but it might also have been a multi-ethnic population. The city fell in 750 AD, due to unknown circumstances, but it might have been because of internal conflicts or attacks from other cities (some parts of the city have been burned and destroyed).

The site can be reached by taking the metro to Autobuses del Norte station, then buying a ticket from the “Piramides” kiosk, which will cost you 35 pesos each (3$ USD). The bus will take you to the gates of Teotihuacán. There, you need to pay an entrance fee of 51 pesos (4.30$ USD). Cheap as hell eh? When you arrive, you will enter some sort of small museum that will show you some artefacts and history of Teotihuacán, all written in Spanish. And then, you enter the sacred site…

The first monument you will visit is the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, later named Quetzalcoatl by the Aztecs. It was a very important religious and political center, and was built first – before the Pyramids of the Sun & Moon.

Details of the Pyramid... you can't climb it because it is very detoriated. It's 2110 years old!!

Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent

200 bodies of men and women (mostly men) were found as sacrificial burials as part of the dedication of the pyramid. Some men, believed to be warriors, were buried with some special necklaces, made out of human jaws – how metal is that?!

Sacrified warriors with human jaw necklaces - photo taken at the Museum of Anthropology (we went to visit this incredible museum on Wednesday)

After, we took the Avenue of the Dead (the main road, leading to all the pyramids) to the Pyramid of the Moon. Along the way, we saw many of what remained of living complexes:

Ruins of living complexes

Mural of a puma, found a few years ago while exploring the city

And here is a photo of the amazing Pyramid of the Moon:

Pyramid of the Moon - Photo taken from the Pyramid of the Sun

We could climb it about half way, which gave us an amazing view of the entire sacred site:

You see here the Pyramid of the Sun (left), and the Avenue of the Dead (right).

After this, we took a little break and then attacked the Pyramid of the Sun.

Us in front of the Pyramid of the Sun - see how great it is? It's actually the third biggest pyramid in the world!

That one has something like 351 stairs, and is a total pain in the ass to climb – as the air gets really thin.

Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun - see how abrupt the stairs are?

We actually took a small nap after the first set of stairs of the pyramid. Haha. It was really physical!

François, finally reaching the top!!

The view was amazing from the top – but didn’t really come out well in photo so we are not including any… haha. There was a lot of wind, and it was way colder than at the bottom. A real good feeling! Supposedly, the Pyramid of the Sun also served a purpose to worship the storm god. The locals made ritual sacrifices to attract rain. Bodies of children were found at the four corners of the pyramid. Also, a tunnel was found underneath the Pyramid – believed to be the entrance and exit of Xibalba, the underworld. We could not visit that one, unfortunately!

After this, we left the site and went to eat a nice Mexican meal. This visit was absolutely breath taking, and anyone visiting Mexico City HAS to go to visit this!!

***
During the week, I made some Enchiladas at our hostel, with a totally typical sauce called “Mole Negro”, which is basically chocolate (non sugary), chiles, seasonings and oil. I’m sure you guys can find that at any latino groceries. The taste is very exotic and is not that good at first, but becomes addictive. For the meal, I used 1 chicken breast, 2 corn tortillas (put some water on them and cook them slightly on the pan to make then softer), some cheese, as well as 1/3rd of a Mole package. The results? See for yourself:

Pollo enchiladas con mole

***

Last night I had my first DJ job at a local bar! I played metal from 5:30 to 9:30 at the Gato Calavera, a small but very busy bar a few blocks away from our hostel. It was really fun, and I was able to put some songs that normally people there don’t listen to. The owner, Tatiana, is also very nice – she let me do whatever I wanted, and paid me in beer! Woohoo!

Me at the Gato Calavera with my lightweight DJ gear.

My friend Fernando from the Hard Insurgentes store also came for a visit, along with Diego and his girlfriend.

Beer drinking and hell raising!

Tonight, I’m going to a thrash metal show, and tomorrow, I am DJing again at a Death Metal gig. So much metal! Haha! Life is great. Cheers!


Coup de Métal

We arrived last Thursday in Mexico city, and already fell in love with this place. It’s absolutely huge (21 500 000 people – 3rd biggest city in the world!), and there is something for everyone here. Our temporary home, Hostel333, is located very close to the Bosque de Chapultepec, a huuuge park which is much nicer than Central Park in NYC. We tested it already with a nice siesta on Friday! Haha!

In the past few days I have been seriously craving listening to metal. I was used to listening to some more than 4 hours per day. Fortunately for me, I had an extremely metallic past few days that should keep me going for quite a while!

On Friday afternoon (after our nap), we went to visit a cool record shop a few blocks away from our hostel, simply called “Hard”. It is run by a nice metalhead named Fernando, and they carry more underground records at extremely good prices (about 15$ USD for a CD). He was very friendly and told us where to go to drink beer, etc… really cool guy! And the store is small but good – they sell CD’s, a few 7″s, some DVDs, accessories (necklaces, bracelets), shirts, caps (François got a great Black Sabbath one). They carried some Saint Vitus and Scald CD’s, which is an instant winner for me. They also had some local stuff for good prices… support this store!

Hard Insurgentes Av insurgentes sur # 363 local 8 Col. Condesa (dentro de Rock Shop)

Saturday was the biggest metal day I’ve had in a long time. We started the day by meeting Diego (guitarist of heavy metal band VOLTAX) and his girlfriend at the constitution plaza, in the very center of the city. They then took us to El Chopo, a famous flea market for metal, punk, goth and all sorts of other things. It was extremely crowded, but we managed to find a few gems, including a mint copy of LUZBEL – Pasaporte del Infierno on vinyl for a great price (15$ USD!!!). Diego also recommended me some great Mexican metal records, like Khafra’s Kafra, Vixit’s El Poder Del Metal (which I bought), as well as Transmetal’s first LP+EP, Mortuary Drape’s Into the Catachtonium and the new VOLTAX record. A great haul! Also, we stopped at the BLOWER RECORDS stand, which is easily the best stand of all El Chopo in my humble opinion. They had a small collection, but really, really good and underground material. Do yourself a favor, and visit this awesome flea market if you are in Mexico city on a Saturday. You need to take the metro to Buena Vista.

El Chopo flea market

Killer Mexican bootleg shirts

BLOWER records stand

My haul of SaturdayMy haul

We went to eat Tamales and drink Atole de Chocolate (a nice warm corn-based drink, flavored with chocolate) at Fleur de Lis (!!) – a well known restaurant in the area, and then went to VOLTAX’s rehearsal, which was pretty much improvisation because their drummer never showed up… haha. The bassist played the drums, and the vocalist (WHAT A VOICE!!!) played bass. François and myself were really impressed – we can only imagine how good they must be live! Check out their songs here, on myspace: http://www.myspace.com/voltaxband – their second record, Fugitive State of Mind, is really good heavy metal with catchy riffs and a real metal spirit.

Diego with Ganso in the background

Matt and Jerry of VOLTAX

Ganso filling in on the drums

Jerry and Diego
The rehearsal room is located on the 21st floor of a giant building, where the view was absolutely astonishing:

The view from the VOLTAX rehearsal space

Mexican sunset
After this, we went to see some cover bands at a bar… the first two bands were so terrible, they had really strange distortion and made really bad mistakes – as if they started rehearsing only a few weeks ago. They totally butchered songs like Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water, Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze, Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song and more… and what a choice of boring covers! Argh! Then came a band that did only Maiden covers – they were good for two songs, but then I got a Maiden overdose… which was quickly washed away by beer. We were drinking 1,2L of Victoria beer for 5$ each – a steal!

Diego and his awesome girlfriend. Check out the huge beer in his hand!

The last band we saw before we left was a Judas Priest cover band. They did Night Crawler, the Ripper, Living after Midnight, etc… not bad, and the vocalist looked like a tiny Rob Halford! But we left halfway through their set to go finish the night at Diego’s place – listening to some real metal until 4:30 in the morning… ahhh, it truly felt amazing.

The Judas Priest cover band

Today I did nothing at all haha, I slept all day and listened to my new records. Feels good to take a break – even on vacations!

To end this post, here’s a photo of François in our 4-bed hostel bedroom, reading a book on Santa Muerte. More about that later…


Volcanic Slut

Alright, you guys haven’t heard from us in a while because we’ve been traveling to three different cities in the past four days! Haha! On Monday we were in Guadalajara, and Tuesday + Wednesday in Uruapan (and now, we arrived a few hours ago in Mexico City). Here are our experiences for the past few days…

Guadalajara
We unfortunately decided to stay here for a day only. Unfortunately, because we fell in love with that city! We found it was very cultural, and kind of reminded us of Montreal. Tons of record and music shops, libraries and of course, great food. As soon as we arrived, we went to visit some metal shops. We found two, each called “Capital Rock”. They were ok – nothing truly special, except for some killer bootleg shirts (like a long-sleeve Acheron – Rites of the Black Mass shirt!!!). The CDs and DVD’s were quite expensive and were mostly of more known black/death and thrash metal bands.

One of the Capital Rock entrances - Garibaldi 333

Some CD's - Candlemass' Epicus was 2700 pesos!

We also found by accident some incredibly dusty second hand record shop, which had some used LPs of 80’s Mexican metal bands (Luzbel, Ramses and more) as well as some classics (Possessed, Satan, Baron Rojo, Tygers of Pan Tang, Judas Priest, several copies of all early Maiden’s, etc…) The place’s name is Roxy and Roll (huhh huhh). Unfortunately, the owner asked outrageous prices for each record (around 20$ USD each and more), so I actually didn’t buy any. I know I’m going to find more in Mexico City!

Roxy and Roll - Juan Manuel No. 747-A

Tons of gems are hidden behind those Metallica and Guns 'n' Roses records...

I’m sure there are tons more record shops in Guadalajara, but we could only explore for one day. We also saw some interesting things along the way… Like a gum sticking panel!

And ate some wonderful tacos from a friendlyMexican guy, to which we spoke 100% Spanish. We were quite proud of ourselves!!

Tacos of lard, chorizos and beef. SO GOOD.

And while coming back home, we glanced upon one of the many churches… this one looked quite creepy with a full moon:

The Return...

Uruapan

4 hours bus ride from Guadalajara is the city of Uruapan. Having an altitude of 1600 meters, it has a climate perfect for growing avocados. We were staying in a 450-year-old guest house owned by two Canadians, and had a really great time! The first day, we pretty much only had time to visit the National Park, which is a sub-tropical park with tons of man-made water streams and cascades. But first, we had lunch. Here is the hamburger François had… An odd mix between a burger and a hot dog! Haha!!

Behold! The incredible hot hamburdog

And here are photos of our walk in the park:

Parque Nacional Eduardo Ruiz

Parque Nacional Eduardo Ruiz

Parque Nacional Eduardo Ruiz

ARRGGHH!!!!!!!!!!

After the visit in the park, we were hungry again haha, so we went to a restaurant of “comida economica” (cheap food) and had an amazing dinner for 10$ including gigantic dishes and drinks:

Fried chicken / Pollo dorado with rice, refried beans, salad and fried veggies. MM!

The great cook, making my plate

Chilaquilas / Tortillas, spicy salsa and eggs mixed together, and coated with parmasan-style cheese and hot peppers. Served with frijoles refritos, of course!

About 35 km from Uruapan lays a tiny village called Paricutín… which got completely destroyed 67 years ago by a volcano that grew out of nowhere in a farmer’s field. It completely covered the village with lava, leaving only ruins of their church.

Desolate land

Ruins stuck in lava rocks

The volcano is unique in the fact that its formation was witnessed from its very inception.

We attempted to visit its crater, but unfortunately our guide got us lost, which ended up taking too much time.

San Salvador under the ruins

After our expedition (which lasted from 10AM to about 5PM… my legs are still killing me!), we went to eat some Quesadillas, made by a local grandmother and her family. It was the first time that I saw someone making tortillas completely by hand, so I approached her and asked her if I could make some with her… but she didn’t speak Spanish! (She spoke the local indigenous language) So I had to ask her son haha… anyway, she made me do two tortillas, which I totally butchered. They were thick and oval… but tasted really good!!

The abuela

Failing to make tortillas by hand

Quesadillas de carne con aguacate

Upon returning to Uruapan, our guide drove us to the world’s (apparently) thinnest house, measuring 1,5 meters wide!

World's thinnest house in Uruapan

Then we slipped in our bed to make 450-year old dreams…

More news from Mexico City this week!


Eat the Rich

Only two days left in Puerto Vallarta, and we’ve been having a total blast… especially our stomachs! Mexico is truly a paradise for gourmets, where gluttony is queen. The city is filled with food stalls that spreads an amazing aroma all over the streets… day and night! It’s truly hard to resist eating everything in sight haha

Taco stand

The result: chorizo tacos + carne quesadillas

Quesadilla de camarones

Also, we discovered that Mexico had some quite amazing beer – my ultimate discovery (for now) is “Indio”. It tastes like really fancy Czech pilsner! It’s round in the mouth, and really really tasty. I can’t wait to find a bar and drink a whole pitcher of it…

Indio beer… a real gem of a cerveza. The other one (Negra Modelo) is a nice Vienna-style lager.

Today we saw some cheese that looked like curds, so we decided to make mexican poutine for dinner. We used (for two), 1/2 cup of olive oil, 5 potatoes cut in fries, a pack of salsa and 175 g of oaxaca cheese.

Mexican curds… *drools*

You start by boiling water in a large pot, then adding the potatoes in. Cook until they are soft enough to pierce easily with a knife and then fry them in olive oil in a pan for 20 minutes or until they become golden and crispy. When the fries are almost ready, you can heat the salsa; it needs to be boiling in order to melt the cheese. When everything has finished cooking, do it like this: Put cheese on the bottom of a plate, place fries, add more cheese, then smother with salsa… and serve!

The result… sooooooo gooooooodddddd……

Unleashed in the feast

We also found a record shop in Puerto Vallarta! And they have a small but decent metal section too. The shop name is Sonido Rana, located at FCO. 1 Madero 325.

The metal section. Black Sabbath’s Born Again! Judas Priest’s Sin After Sin!! And they had like 5 sealed copies of the big Judas Priest box set – the one with studs on the side. But that was pretty much it.

So yup… the next time you hear from us, we’ll be in Guadalajara. For now, here is a non-vegetarian friendly photo of François in a butcher shop in the Mercado Emiliano Zapata.

Francisco el carnicero

FCO. 1 Madero 325


Under the Sun (Every Day Comes and Goes)

The past few days have been really relaxing – we pretty much did nothing beside relaxing under the sun, walking on the beach and exploring the city. The food here is truly amazing – everything is so fresh and affordable. Even making your own meals taste better because of the freshness of the ingredients. And the avocados… sooo much tastier than back home! I ate some awesome slow cook pulled pork tacos yesterday, but they were so tasty I didn’t wait to take photos of them… haha!! But here is a photo of yours truly eating a Dulce de Leche candy (A sweet of milk):

Dulce de leche candy thing... that thing was dangerously good. Like fresh caramel. With nuts.

Almost everything is perfect here, except for the fact that we are located right beside the city’s biggest church, Our Lady of Guadalupe:

La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe

The church wakes us up at 6AM with this weird song that lasts 1 minute, and then rings its bells loudly for a while, then more quietly every 30 minutes. As it pretty much never rains here, our windows don’t close completely and we can hear everything perfectly… it makes it really hard to sleep, but at least we got our earplugs. Take that, church! Haha! I gotta admit though, the 12AM church songs sound really cool and evil. I wish you guys could hear them. Sounds like a horror movie soundtrack. Or Italian doom metal (but that sounds like a horror movie soundtrack anyway!)

Today, January 13, we wanted to take a vacation from our vacation, so we decided to go to Yelapa, a place only accessible by boat (or as they call it, water taxi):

The Boca port, to take the boat to Yelapa

Yelapa is a really tiny and peaceful fishing town, which apparently only got electricity 4 years ago. There aren’t any big roads there, only small paths leading everywhere in confusing ways. We ended up visiting a waterfall. If you went on the left, you ended up in the woods with a toilet in the open.

A funny looking donkey haha

Soaking up the rays

666% relaxxxx

Downtown Yelapa

After a day in the sun, a gigantic slice of lemon-meringue pie was well deserved:

Lemon and meringue pie... doesn't look that good on the photo, but it was delicious!

Oh, and to finish tonight’s post, here is a funny spangrish photo… good night!

Spangrish


Goodbye Canada… Hello Mexico!

Family house in Orléans (Ottawa suburb) – photo taken on January 9th

Today we woke up at 3AM, and went straight the the Ottawa airport for our first destination flight; Puerto Vallarta with a stop in Chicago.

Us at the Ottawa airport - photo by Ginette Giroux

Us at the Ottawa airport – photo by Ginette Giroux

When we landed in Puerto Vallarta, we were literally assaulted by dozens of hungry taxi drivers wanting to make a quick buck, but we – being the cheap asses that we are (haha), we always want to take the cheapest option possible, so we opted for the city bus. It was something like 20$ USD cheaper, and it was quite a rough but fun ride! What’s cool about the PV bus, is that the driver actually gives you your change back – contrary to here in Canada… and you ride with the locals instead of being with rich tourists. We’re going to do this as much as possible when we travel from now on.

As soon as the bus stopped, in downtown Puerto Vallarta, I jumped on the occasion to get my first burrito – or as they call it, Burrita con pollo! Here is a photo of it. It was awesome in all its greasiness:

Yummy burrita

After that, we checked in our hostel (Oasis hostel), then went to walk around the block…

Testing the water… it was actually cold! ARGH!

A happy François

We then went to do our groceries for the following day… we found some pretty funny stuff that we’d though you guys would like…

Bimbo bread… huuhh huhh huuhh

Viking hotdogs! Wrapped in bacon!!!!!!!!

So yeah, that’s pretty much our day! We ended up meeting up with a fellow-hostel-resident-German Judas Priest maniac and we discussed good metal over beer all evening.

Beautiful colors