I saw the most Mexican thing I’ve ever seen the other day. I walked across the street to look for something to eat, preferably a taco cart, or someone sitting on the sidewalk with a cooler full of tamales, and found a pet shop instead. Instead of pets, they sold chickens, lambs, rabbits, all kinds of barn fowl, and a cat. There was one cat. And a cage full of kittens, 4 or 5. And some parakeets. No dogs. I asked the guy if they were all pets and he said they were. So if you ever wanted a pet lamb or chicken, come to Mexico. No one will think you’re weird:
Michoacán is always in the news for cartel violence. Dozens of people die violent deaths there on an almost daily basis. There’s a town I’d like to visit that’s famous for guitar makers, but my Spanish isn’t good enough to get through the roadblocks. You know you have to take a detour when you see a burning school bus in the road. It’s very unfortunate, because it’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen:
In fact my Spanish isn’t even good enough to talk about Michoacán without somebody thinking I’m talking about how scared I am of the cartels, even when we’re in a place that isn’t Michoacán. My Spanish is good enough, however, to talk my way around the desk girl’s B.S. at the hotel in Jilotepec, northwest of Mexico City. She said they didn’t have any rooms available, at 4pm on a Monday, when I already booked one online. Many people think Mexicans are unscrupulous, opportunistic liars, but it’s just a different brand of B.S. Americans are used to American B.S., and tend to have a haughty opinion of Mexican B.S. Personally, I prefer it. It’s more street. It’s not as haughty. I saw the hate in her eyes, or maybe it was aggravation. Something adamantine and hostile, but unlike American B.S., there was nothing in it that was going to quote policy to me. American B.S. thinks too highly of itself, and looks down on others from a pedestal of policy. This wasn’t that. So I bribed her. I told her I had cash as well as a credit card, and to take the cat fee in cash if she likes, and buy herself a new pair of shoes with it. I implied that last part. But I straight-up told her to pocket any portion of the cost of the room she felt she needed, and I did it politely, with a smile.
And I got the room for less than I booked it for, and didn’t have to pay a cat fee. So there you go.
So instead of looking for another hotel, I was able to watch some rock & roll muppets discussing something incomprehensible on TV:
So we made it through cartel territory and the desk girl, albeit on a fancy toll road built for the purpose of bypassing all the burning roadblocks and angry desk girls, at least partially, and on to Chapala, a nice-looking town on Lake Chapala, where I met a guy in a yellow truck who led me to the Jungle Farm. This is a portion of our journey:
The Jungle Farm is a place I’m going to be staying for a couple months. It has goats, chickens, pigs, and some hornets, which attacked me today on the steps to the roof. I got stung 3 or 4 times, and discovered I’m not allergic:
It wasn’t stated whether or not the animals were pets. Or the hornets, for that matter. The line between friendship and animal husbandry is thin down here.