After rushing through YVR, I arrived at my gate, suit in hand, for my friend’s sister’s wedding, to which I somehow was invited. Located in the scorching and tanned Hermosillo in the border state of Sonora, it was my first time in Mexico, but after an enchanting weekend with my dear friend in her home town, I can assure myself I will be returning someday soon.
Arriving in Hermosillo, one can try coming from the north or south. ‘From the north’ means flying into Phoenix, Arizona and then taking a bus ride for a few hours across the border to arrive in this desert city (or town as my friend calls it). ‘From the south’, Aeromexico is the cheapest option, flying through Benito Juarez in the capital, Ciudad de Mexico. Specifically if you are coming from Vancouver, expect red eye flights; they are the most common.
Prior, my opinions of Mexico were all relatively positive … despite the preconceptions some still hold. In many Latin America countries/ many countries in general, there is some corruption and areas more dangerous than others. We just tend to focus on some more than others …
In the US where some people have a venomous take on our neighbours to the south, I myself was worried I would get some disappointed looks from customs. However as I arrived as dawn broke and plainly do not look like one of the rich asshole frat mates who would get plastered in Cancún while chanting ‘build the wall’, I faced no challenges or scowls arriving. As a note upon arrival, visitors are issued an immigration form that you must retain and return to leave the country. Keep it for your entire stay!
After what seemed like an endless layover in the capital, I boarded to head to northern Mexico. One misconception I did have was how big Mexico actually is. I did not expect it would be a 3 hour flight back up north, but with so many climate zones and states, I guess I should not have been surprised.
Not surprisingly, the language was something that was most distinct for me to experience upon arrival. Having learned Spanish in the opposite side of Latin America, I faced some dialect differences, even having someone ask me, ‘why do you say ‘po’ all the time?’ Nevertheless, I surprised many with my speech; although, there was some general confusion at times when I was not sure exactly what was being asked of me. I found I had about a 75% success rate that was heavily influenced by whether ‘the squad’ slipped into some heavy Northern Mexican tendencies (which I loved anyway).
Arriving in Hermosillo, I was picked up (in the wonderful climate of a regular 30+ celsius) and was whisked away for a seafood lunch at Cayomango. As I would discover, despite being a hot, dry desert region, Hermosillo’s proximity to the ocean (only about 40 minutes) allows its residents to enjoy a vast array of fresh seafood. Scallops, marlin, and octopus are all common delicacies that one can find in more refined dishes like ceviche as well as in simpler tacos.
Hermosillo is the capital of Sonora, but comparatively smaller than one might expect. What it lacks in actual population, which hovers around 900,000, it compensates with its glorious open skies and sporadic rocky hills. Together, this place is straight out of a old timey western. One of the perks for me visiting Hermosillo, aside from going to wedding where everything was paid for (Ileana + Panchito por siempre!), was that it was not extremely touristy. Located away from general tourists destinations, Hermosillo is laid back and rustic, home to Mexico’s most delicious meat products and la Expo, a month long state fair through Mid-April and Mid-May with music, comedians, rides, livestock galleries, and of course, food!
General tickets are 50 pesos (about 2 dollars), which is a steal for a fun night to experience authentic northern Mexico, or mostly authentic. My friend was telling me that some people just dress like vaqueros when they go or are generally just enthusiastic for the image, but are not really cowboys!
If one does decide to go to la Expo/ Hermosillo, there are a few things one must sample. Firstly, the elote (boiled corn on the cob with toppings) is heaven on earth. Slathered with butter and decorated with a dusting of cheese, one can add an assortment of spices and sauces to complete the classic Mexican treat. Additionally, the hot dogs, quite literally ‘hat dogs‘ or ‘dogos‘ are also calorically dangerous, but tasty to bits. Packed with all the fixings one desires (guacamole, onions and peppers, hot sauces, more cheese, more onions …), one can couple it with cheese fries … Simply perfect.
You could definitely buy a sombrero or some ceramics, but as one might surmise, the best souvenirs from Hermosillo are edible. Real tortillas can be bought and travel quite easily as well as traditional sweets from bakeries! Of course, tequila is a must. Some of the brands can be bought in Canada, but the lower price alone makes it worth it.
It sort of goes without saying, but I will anyway — one has to try the tacos. Have tacos everyday. All kinds! The best places to go are Taco Fish and Jaas. Obviously, Taco Fish offers the best fish tacos one can probably ever find for only 33 pesos. On the other hand, Jaas has the carne asada and al pastor that dreams are made of. As a drink, go with coca (coke) made with real sugar cane or horchata by the bottle. You have to shake it first! As one can probably tell, it is quite easy to gain a few extra pounds while here in Mexico. Don’t sweat it. Well, you will sweat it I suppose because again, it is blistering Sonora.
This vacation was one of my most eye opening. However, this sentiment was unexpected. I attended my first Catholic ceremony of memory, which inversely made me think deeply about my own Judaism. The wedding was so beautiful, but also so different; I had to reflect how I would want to be married myself and with which traditions. It also occurred to me that I do want to live in Latin American when I am older. I like the atmosphere here, the humour, and language. Why I feel I gravitate here? I don’t know, but won’t it be fun to find out. As for now however, maybe it was because I just finished exams after a tough year, maybe it was the clear romance in the air and the nostalgic intoxication that brings (as well as the fucking tequila …), or maybe it was my friend’s hospitality, but I really did not want to leave Hermosillo, the capital of Mexico’s sun scorched state.
Well, at least I’ll be back — that I can guarantee.
Now, I return to Vancouver. I have a paid position with the endangered language department, so I have that to look forward to as well as a summer in Van! It will not be 34 celsius, but I can’t wait for the beach, beers, and a little R&R after second year. Stay tuned. We have a lot in store …