After working and popping to the gym I thought I’d treat myself to a walk around the more lively neighborhoods. As usual, the sun was warm, the streets smelled of food, and I had the whole evening ahead of me. I got home, charged my phone, showered, and made myself look pretty. I didn’t think I would be out long, so didn’t see the need to bring any extra power for my phone, it holds a charge for about 5 hours.
My first stop off was a taco stall just down the road from where I’m staying. It came highly recommended by my host. Joe, my hometown taco-man, recommended I tried the suadero. A lean cut of beef, slowly braised and cooked in its own fat. I got a plate loaded up with tacos and dug in. Joe wasn’t wrong, it was absolutely delicious. Fatty, meaty, beefy.
A short phone call dropped my battery to 70%. I looked up a mezcal spot I had found earlier and set off on the 25-minute walk. The evening was just opening up as I made my way. Bars were starting to fill, the sun was beginning to set, and the sounds of music and laughter spilled out onto the streets.
I found my spot and grabbed a table on the streets, a nice spot to people-watch. I ordered a mezcal and a beer and sat back with All Quiet On The Western Front. The mezcal came with clamato, a spicy tomato-based drink, and lime. What really surprised me was the size of the shot, it was enormous. I think their measures are about 2 ounces or 60 ml.
I took my time with it, I wasn’t looking to get pissed, just wanted to taste the local poisons. A nice easy eve and in bed by eleven was the plan. I wanted to go and see Teotihuacan the next day, so getting up early was on the cards. I sipped away and decided to get one more before I moved on, I was loving the book, and the atmosphere was cozy.
The smoky taste of mezcal is something I can really get behind. I have always been a huge fan of scotch, and the smokier and peatier it is the better. Mescal, I find, has a lot of the woody smoke of whisky but with that crystal smoothness that is inherent to white liquor. I think I need to try cocktails next, they’re going to be delicious.
I made my way to Rosa to see what it was all about. It’s the drinking district of my bit of CDMX and hosts bars, nightclubs, music venues, and a lot of sex shops. I sat down and checked my phone, it was about halfway dead, but there was also a text on one of the meet-up whatsapps. Some guy was hosting a poker night just around the corner; cheap buy-in and low enough blinds. I dropped him a message, finished my drink, grabbed a six-pack, and made my way over there.
I had to get shown to the apartment of the poker star. The building was insane. It had 50 floors and the rooms all had balconies looking over the enormous four-lane road outside: think Las Ramblas style. I walked into a room full of Mexicans drinking beers and smoking cigars, two of them were in the bathroom doing coke apparently. I was greeted warmly and invited to sit down.
To say I wasn’t on edge was a lie. It would be weird not to be, but I figured I was going to be okay. I go to the gym so I’m really strong. My rock-solid abs can deflect bullets and knives. The poker game barely began before they decided that poker is for chumps and let’s go play pool instead. A decision was made and Ubers were ordered. While we waited I got to chatting, what’s ya name what’s ya game homeboi.
Turns out a lot of them had American educations and just moved back to Mexico when they were done because America sucks. Being bilingual in Mexico is incredibly lucrative. I didn’t know what everyone’s relationship with everyone else was and I was prepared to get hustled at pool. The host of the night was a total freight train of a personality. Charging into everything, with an attitude that says he owns everything and everyone better just be happy about it. I found this both charming and entertaining.
The pool hall was above a closed shop and consisted of a very brightly lit room with four full-length tables and a chipboard bar at one end. The toilets weren’t gendered because I’m almost certain these hallowed halls hadn’t once been graced by a muchacha. The human embodiment of a business degree started calling for money to be put on the first game. He wanted to play duos and he wanted $500 per team. He wasn’t fucking about. I was on his team, I allowed a $100 bet. I’m English, all we do is drink pints, play pool, and talk about the weather, I should be fine.
On that note, I had them all cracking up by putting on my best ‘English’ accent and quoting englishisms for them. “good day old boy, isn’t the weather looking changeable today”. I’m a comedy genius. One of them did ask if I was being racist, or if they were being racist by laughing. I reassured them nobody takes the piss out of the English more than the English and permitted them their mirth. I think the fact that they all use the N-word like punctuation should have been more of a concern, but hey, who am I to judge, not my place.
They didn’t hustle me at pool, it turns out this guy is just a bad gambler. I lost the first game and paid my $100 and sat the rest out, I wanted to chat, it had been a long time since I’d had a conversation. It turns out they only knew the mini powerhouse through one of their mates, most of them worked in a call center together, and one of them lived with him. This made me feel a lot safer, these guys were just a bunch of young fellas out for a good time.
The conversation really got going when one of them indulged me in another of Mexicos exports. It was nice to be trying two of Mexico’s own productions in one eve. It was a fine vintage and was nothing like the cheap, pub grub, watered-down, speed ball we get back in old blighty. I got hints of nut, smoky afternotes, and a really peppery nose. Ya boy with the bag was sporting them knock-off Jordans, this was a good omen.
By the time I looked up from my conversation, El Hefe had doubled down so many times on his pool bets he had just lost $1,200 and was demanding a rematch. He was freaking everyone out though so plans were made to move on, somewhere with music and chicas I think the general consensus was. I was just happy to be along for the ride at this point My phone was down to about 30% so I switched it off.
We ended up in a strip club, I had no idea either, innocent little prude that I am. We just got ushered through the door without having to pay. I could hear pounding music and the bouncer slapped a sticker over my phone camera. I guessed it was a Berghain-type deal. Our host seemed to know the staff, hence the free entry.
I was surprised to see the least. I wasn’t expecting to be exposed to bare naked breasts and I hadn’t mentally prepared myself. I had to say a few quick hail Marys and genuflect my way up to the private booth we had for some reason been gifted. I quickly realized why; this guy spends cash, and I reckon he’s in there a lot. He quickly rounded up deniro from everyone and bought a $4000 bottle of tequila. He was bugging the young guy next to me right out, I’ve never seen someone sink into a chair harder. I realize they were all about 21 to maybe 28, and teen self-consciousness and embarrassment were still rife.
I loved him, he was a fucking nightmare. He was so fired up that security had posted themselves around our booth waiting for him to fuck himself up in some way. He poured the tequila liberally and badly. He filled my glass to the top, there was no way I was going to be able to drink all that, I could tell we wouldn’t be there long. The boys were getting antsy and the staff was getting way too involved.
I had to turn my phone on again to get a snap of the main man and his housemate beefing. Something had gotten into the host’s head that he was being disrespected. Face to face they shouted at each other, oblivious to the sensual gyrations going on around them. Security got even closer. The guy who had basically become a part of the leather sofa indicated he wanted to go to the bathroom for me. He told me he wanted to get out of there, the vibe had gotten a bit too rotten. I agreed and we all made moves. We kept the tequila in a brown paper bag, the most expensive roady I’ve ever had.
We marched the street, they wrestled, and we hid from the police. Street drinking is illegal and according to these guys, the police are the worst of the worst in Mexico, they will collar you and extort you at every opportunity. It was a good thing to know, because apparently, as a gringo, the fines will be cataclysmic. I was getting tired and I felt I had had my fun for the evening, they were talking about going back to his for some afters, but being in an apartment with that energy, no matter how big and swanky the location, wasn’t what I was feeling. I made my excuses and dipped.
I was on about 15%, it was a 25-minute walk. As long as I didn’t have to keep checking my map and I could get back somewhere I could recognize I would be fine. It wasn’t fine. About 10 minutes from the apartment my phone died. I wasn’t really sure where I was and it died in my pocket so I didn’t have a last location reference point. At 3 in the morning, everything looks very similar all of a sudden.
I started pacing the blocks, I knew I couldn’t be too far away but the sheer size of the districts is very intimidating. I was just on the lookout for some building or shop I could identify. Any little marker that might give me some indication as to where I should be going. There was nothing and the situation was getting a little dire. Was I walking away or towards my place, how long had I been walking, was I even in San Rafael? I’m not sure how long I had been zigging and zagging the blocks but I eventually came across a shop I knew. The relief was a rush.
I got in, took out my eyes, brushed my teeth, and collapsed into bed. I had picked up a hat somewhere along the way. I call it compensation for the ridiculous amount of money I spent. Today was a right off, no Mexican pyramids for me today. I managed to get across the road to buy half a grilled chicken and some tortillas but apart from that I have been recuperating. I also got a few new job offers which are excellent, it’ll be nice to switch up my work.