travel tales

Mexico City, It's a Big Place

Mexico City is a big place. We all know this, but unless you're right in it, a scale is just a fact that you can agree with and not much more. When you approach by plane, you get the overview and you begin to have a better impression of that fact. A city that stretches as far as you can see into the mountains in every direction.

When you land and take that taxi to your apartment, that impression may fade a bit as it becomes less apparent when you're on ground level, only going block by block. Maybe you hop neighbourhoods here and there, still only covering a small portion of the city. Roma to Condesa, San Miguel Chapultepec to downtown D.F.

Yesterday I had a day that gave me a bigger impression than flying over the city ever has. After a group breakfast, I was taken by a brewery we work with at Casa Barriles in a transport van out from the downtown area, through the city, to its outskirts and hours beyond to San Juan del Río.

The van was filled with Mexico's craft beer distributors, heading out to Cerveceria Primus for a brewery tour, some sensory training and a discussion on the state and potential of the craft beer industry in Mexico.

Thank you beer for letting us see new places and meet new people.

Driving through more of the city than we had done previously, passing out of the main district and into the countryside gave me more of an impression and made its scale more real than it seems from above. 

Heading in one direction for hours and still being surrounded by city is an overwhelming thought when you imagine zooming out. You can fit the entire city of Vancouver 14 times into one Mexico City. Going from north to south would be like getting in the car and driving straight from Vancouver to Whistler and being surrounded by buildings, intersections, traffic, pedestrians the entire time. City block after city block for 100km. Then, you realize that is just one road around Mexico City, and maybe even just cutting around the outskirts.

Mexico City is a big place, and if you want to feel small while having an adventure, put it high up on the list.

Strange Encounters in the Michoacán


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.