5.16am, 27 November 2019: I know it must be freaking early when I am awake before Señor Gallo. Before today, I thought he never slept. For me to be awake this early can mean a few things, but usually it means I have a flight to catch.
The back story (feat. small rant)
Some of you (now all of you) may know that we have applied for a visa for Piolo to come to Australia with me.
Let me rant for a moment: if I’ve learned anything, it’s that visas are a fuckton of work. All the things you take for granted about being part of a couple are now under the microscope of the immigration department – remember that Christmas card I sent you – well, you need to find it because it’s proof we are together and so on. Very romantic!
Unpopular opinion (to express)
redacted in case Australia is not, in fact a democracy.Me, 2019
Besides paying money and having your relationship scrutinised, there are other things that need to happen – health checks and security checks etc. which are not surprising and have their uses I suppose. What makes them annoying is that we don’t know exactly when to do them because the visa processing time is a mystery and the checks expire so we may need to do them again if we get them too early. Added to this, there are two places in Mexico to get these done and none of them are Hermosillo. Mexico is a big country and it’s kind of like asking you to go to Melbourne to do something if you are in Bundaberg, if Melbourne had 20 million people and was dangerous and dirty…
So when we got an unexpected letter from the immigration department asking for ‘biometric data’ (bureaucrat speak for a photo and fingerprints), with 28 days to supply them, you can imagine I was unimpressed.
After I finished yelling for a bit, we decided that we would go to Guadalajara, Jalisco and take a bit of a holiday at the same time. Guadalajara is quintessential Mexico – the home of mariachis and tequila. Guadalajara is also just 2.5 hours by bus to Aguascalientes, where Piolo’s football team were playing in the semifinals that weekend. Fast forward to 5.16am and heading off to the airport.
The airport is quite a way out from the city. Getting to the city requires driving down a big freeway. I would liken the freeways of big cities in Mexico to a hybrid of Crazy Taxi and Frogger video games. Guadalajara was no exception. I’m not sure if the Uber driver was drunk, insane or just really tired, because we almost died twice – nothing like seeing a B-double hurtling towards you after he pulled out illegally in front of it – 2 stars.
After arriving at our hotel with mild PTSD, we checked in. I had booked based on the fact it had a pool, was in the historic centre and and well priced. The hotel was decent, but the neighbourhood was divided by a big avenue and we were definitely on the wrong side of it. We explored a little in the afternoon, had excellent tacos and beer and scurried back to our room before it became too deserted, only leaving to go and get some McDonald’s (normally neither of us eat it, but it was directly opposite the hotel and well lit).
Entrepreneurs or rateros?
We went to the US embassy to get the official biometric business sorted en route to Aguascalientes. The 3 pages of rules we were sent for our appointment did not include the fact you were unable to take any bags inside. Conveniently, there was a cafe opposite the embassy for people like us in transit, where we could store our things for that 20 minutes – $MXN120. Ironically, you can get robbed in the nicest neighbourhoods after leaving skid row unscathed.
El corazon de México
Aguascalientes translates to ‘hot waters’ and is a city in the centre of Mexico – legend has it that it is in the exact centre (although this is geographically incorrect). It has special significance for Piolo, given his beloved football team Necaxa is from there. It is special for us as a couple as we had a holiday there in 2018, which helped cement our relationship and commitment to each other.
Besides all of this, it’s just a really nice place, off the main tourist trail (I believe Lonely Planet calls it a ‘good place to spend an afternoon if you are in the area’), which is fine by me – they’re the ones missing out. It has a relaxed vibe, good food, decent people and thermal baths (hence the ‘hot waters’ title).
It is also the setting for one of my favourite movies Abel, directed by one of Mexico’s favourite sons Diego Luna – you won’t be disappointed if you watch it.
We extended our stay here, because we really love it.
I’ll tell the Aguascalientes story in photos and captions. Enjoy!