On the Road With Lifetime Collective: Holbox, Mexico Part Two

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While swimming on a trip off the Caribbean coast, I asked myself, “Do I mention the two, large, shiny grey sharks directly below me in case chaos ensues… or keep it to myself so I don’t ruin the moment for the mothers and children swimming around us? Nah, don’t say anything. We’re fine.”

But that's another story, click here for the rest of that Holbox story on Medium.

Below is a quick recap of some of the other highlights and the rest of some of the images that didn't make it into the Medium post. 

Where We Stayed, What We Ate, Things We Did

Hotel Puerto Holbox — There are plenty of boutique hotels on the island that sit with beachfront access. We found staying to the west of town was quieter since the central area and east of it has more main streets, which means more pedestrian and diesel golf cart action. It seems slightly more peaceful on this side of town. Plus, Freddy's your boy when you stay here. He'll take care of anything — including chopping up some fresh coconuts for your rum.

Check them out on Trip Advisor here or their own site here

Los Peleones — This second storey spot is currently #1 on Trip Advisor for restaurants in Holbox, with a certificate of excellence for 2013. While it's not the cheapest place to find food on the island, it's by no means expensive for the service and food you get. Our plates were somewhere between $120-150pesos each. Beers are $30 while mix drinks are the standard $60-80pesos. We had some quality, homemade pasta and as attentive service as you'd ever want.

Follow them on Twitter or Facebook (personal page, not a brand page).

Cariocas Pizza — This was the first dinner we had on Isla Holbox. The place was packed, but they seemed to manage the rush well, even after a misstep with our order. The owner is from Napoli and must've brought over his mama's Italian recipes, because what they were serving on those pies was a damned fine marinara sauce. If you like pizza, which you do, go here.

Raices — We ate here two lunches in a row. It's a small palapa bar on a quiet part of the beach just out of town. Their fish ceviche could just be the best ceviche I've ever had. I'm not going to pretend I'm some kind of culinary expert or anything, but I eat a lot of ceviche. A lot. You get huge chunks of freshly caught fish, a great mix of lime, onions and peppers. Ask for the fresh chopped habanero for an added bonus.

I'd go back to the island just to eat here, but don't expect anything fancy, just good ceviche, a run-down palapa, cold beer and a view of the ocean.

The view at Raices Restaurant and Bar. Holbox, Mexico.

Golf Cart Rentals —  We rented ours from a spot next to Hotel Casa Barbara. The owners were mellow, just hanging outside with their friends on some plastic chairs. We didn't have ID and only half of what we needed to rent up front. When we suggested we'd go to a bank machine first to get the balance, they waved us off and just said, "See you in four hours. It's okay."

So basically, without ID, any proof of having funds or even so much as taking our names, we got to roll out for about $8 an hour. Not like you can really take off anywhere with their cart on this mini island. Good people, there are dozens of places to get carts, but go on and rent from them.

Vroom, Vroom. Golf Cart rentals on Holbox, heading out to Punta Mosquito.

 Pedro Rodriguez — This guy was the only person who ripped us off over the whole trip. At first he explained it was because we were late at night taking a taxi "after 11pm" that caused this higher-than-normal tariff. Taxis are about $30 pesos anywhere on the island unless you roll with our boy Pedro. Expect to pay more.

The next day he was the taxi that showed up at our hotel to take us to town and didn't even recognize us. This made for a good laugh when he again overcharged us, making up a different excuse that this side of the island is more expensive. Watch out for the sharply dressed, older cabbie with a moustache and gentleman's fedora. He's anything but. Pedro Rodriguez, we will meet again in this life or the next!

Punta Mosquito —  This is about as far east on the island you can go without getting wet first. There's a river that connects to another part of the island that's easy to cross by a short swim. Head out here on bike or with your golf cart. Bring a blanket and some cold drinks, it's a beauty for sunset — but bring some repellent too, once the witching hour hits you're going to be dealing with insects. 

 Tortas, Tacos and Late Night Gambling — I don't know how frequently the evening fair happens around Holbox, but it was on every night we were there. We grabbed street food to walk around with that was pesos on the dollar and delicious.

 


There was an arcade set up, foosball tournament and your other typical fair games: Test your pitching aim, shoot at targets with a wildly inaccurate bb gun, attempt to pop under-inflated balloons with dull darts. You know the scam, but you pay to play anyhow, because maybe tonight is your night for that big pink bunny. It's not.

However, there's one glimmer of hope within the usual cash grabs. A modified version of La Loteria (Mexican bingo) that involves the dealer rolling a set of oversized dice with Loteria symbols on each side. You place your bets on Loteria cards laid on the table, much like roulette. Shake, and read. If your symbol is called, it pays 6:1.

We took our first roll and we won big. $60 pesos big. Katy and I rode that high until the devil played us out. It was a hell of a ride, and there are two valuable lessons I learned that night: Never bet on the devil and always bring more change.

 

Take a look below at some more pictures and hit us up through the contact page if you have any questions or are thinking of heading to Holbox. If I remember some more items, or feel so inclined, I may update this page as a little Holbox resource.

More Photos of Holbox

The Cockfight. It's a Cultural Thing

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By Eric Greene

Sumbawa, Indonesia. There have been a few days of torrential rain and the brakes on my motorcycle are fucked. A new local friend offers to take my bike to his mechanic buddy to get a brake job. "Sounds good," I say as I toss him the key. He returns the following day with the cracked and corroded discs of the old, and plastic wrap and receipt of the new. The cost? Four dollars. Plus, an invite to attend the local cockfights that evening with the mechanic and his pals. They pick me up at 6 p.m.

We convoy on our bikes for a while and end up in someone's backyard on the outskirts of the village. There are at least 50 people there, all yelling and crowding each other around a little ring. Yes, like a boxing ring, only smaller. Little men swarm me. They're all holding roosters in front of my face and yelling at me. I want to be polite and put some money down. I came to play. But I don't understand the process and get the impression that we need to buy our own rooster in order to participate. All of a sudden my friend is holding a haggard looking white rooster in his hands and telling me we need to pool our money together, buy the bird and throw him in the ring. We try to make the purchase, but figure out we only need to choose a rooster to bet on. We don't actually need to own our own fighter. 

There are at least a dozen birds of choice. Their respective owners are each holding them, fluffing feathers and craning necks in effort to show us their value. I remember the only advice I've ever heard about a cockfight: Bet on the smaller one.

Odds are against us. We bet large because we don't really know what we're doing. Everyone else bets on the big bird. There must be fifty guys betting against us. The roosters go three rounds in aggressive attack. The crowd roars, they argue, they increase their bets, they turn away, and they turn back. We're all into it. Late in round three, the big bird tires. One leg drops, and then the other. Next, his head starts to droop to his chest. Our little man circles and takes a final jab and the big body sulks to the ground. The little hero turns his back on his defeated opponent in honour, triumph, pride and respect. Fifty pairs of eyes burn into us from around the ring as we hug each other and praise our little rooster. Aside from us, it's silent. We cash in and as the daylight recedes, the crowd disperses.

We take our dirty money and head back to town for a drink. Indonesian cockfights… It's violent. It's savage. It's a testosterone fest with no women allowed. I don't even eat chicken. But the cockfight is a cultural thing. It's about the working man coming together and celebrating sport through their faith in a rooster. Sure, it's a little weird and even primitive, but it's pretty cool. You may even win some cash.

Strange Encounters in the Michoacán

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by Eric Greene

It was a cold morning. Much colder than it should’ve been. You could tell that it would be a hot day, but the sun was yet to come over the mountains, so the sea remained a cold black from the night with a biting offshore wind.

I was travelling alone and had been in Mexico’s Michoacán state for about a week. I hadn’t met another gringo in this particular spot. There were already a handful of early-rising surfers in the lineup and the vibe was quiet and relaxed. Perhaps the rest of the crowd was as cold as I was and still waking up. I caught a smaller inside wave and rode it all the way into shore. I was loosening up my legs, but also milking a long ride in to enjoy the comfort of being above the frigid water for those few extra seconds. I kicked out to paddle back to the point and was joined by another surfer I took to be local heading out from shore. 

“Goodmorning!” he said to me, grinning keenly.

“Buenos dias,” I replied.

“De dónde eres?” he asked.

“Canada,” I answered.

“Oh, I love Canada!” he declared in smooth English, still grinning. “I did studies in Vancouver!”

And thus, our long conversation began. You know how it goes… the name game of all the places, things, and people you mutually share with someone random you meet on the road. This particular young man was from Guadalajara and out on the coast for the weekend to surf. He was a novice surfer, but possessed that passion for waves that brought him on the long bus ride from his city every weekend.

“I had a job while I studied,” he continued as we sat together between sets. “It was at the girlie bar, near Hasting Street. How do you say, for stripping?’”

“Oh, yeah,” I laughed. “I know it. That seedy strip club on the Downtown East Side.”

“Yes!” my new friend exclaimed. “My boss, the owner, was so nice. He gave me an old Jeep while I was living there. I cleaned the bar at night shift and studied in the daytime. After some time he gave me new job that was underground from the bar. I was making those pills of drugs for him. How do you call it? Ecstasy?

“Yeah, I believe it’s called ecstasy,” I answered, very entertained.

“Yes. It was a very good job. I love Vancouver.”

We shared some more waves and small talk in the lineup throughout that day. He was a really nice and excited little guy. The following day, he was back on the bus to Guadalajara and I never saw him again. But I’ll always remember the guy I met in the lineup at a remote Mexican point break who worked at a shady East Side strip joint while he was studying English in Canada and got promoted to pressing ecstasy pills in the basement.

Brideaux in the Bar

 A few old fashioneds between friends.

(This is an old snippet of dialogue from a dusty folder and empty story I wrote years ago.)

* * *

"I'm a literary romantic," Brideaux answered.

"What does that mean? Like, you write romance novels? I like that. Especially with a sexy name like, Brideaux."

"It's Jimmy, and you've got it all wrong," he said, "It means I romanticize about being a literary type. Mostly I just drink like a dog, do a hell of a lot of drugs and fuck like a wild boar when I can get it up. It's an effort, if you're asking, and I'd rather not put either of us through the hoops tonight."

"Oh. Well, are you still going to buy me that drink? My friend says you're famous."

"I'll buy you that drink, sure, then you've gotta go. A lady friend of mine will be here shortly and if she sees me here with a pretty — what are you, nineteen? Twenty? Either way, it won't go over well and then you'll have to be the one fucking me tonight. And you don't want to be the one doing that."

"What makes you say that? I think you're kinda cute."

"I've got chlamydia, for starters," he said, lifting his glass to the air and shaking loose the ice from the last ounce, "Secondly, there's nothing to eat at my place and I hate going out for breakfast."