Thursday, February 25, 2010

Driving to Mexico City

We got up this morning with an extra hour of sleep (thanks to some realistic evaluation of how long it would take to get through the minimal security at the Xalapa airport) to greet a very  foggy morning. We set out for the airport, but didn't get more than 10 minutes on the road when we got the word: fog too heavy, no flights today.

Quick as that, the Pernod Ricard crew decided we'd DRIVE four hours to Mexico City. Is that okay with us? HELL YES! We strapped on the SUVs and headed west. Once we got to Xalapa (past the airport museum, past the SUX buses, past a bunch of people in raincoats, and gardens and a huge cemetery), we followed the signs to DF MEXICO, and climbed out of town for what was easily half an hour, grinding uphill on a two lane road that just kept rising and rising. The towns were something to see: colorful, poor, rich, bustling...and mostly wet, at first. We went through one town where every second store front  advertised QUESO! (cheese); we wanted to stop but didn't.

We broke out onto a plateau, where it cleared up and was COLD. I was in short sleeves and my breath was fogging. Just a short stop for los baƱos, though, and we bundled back into the cars. We saw forests of spiky, stumpy trees, cactus, and then hills covered in trees much like home. There were huge snowy peaks in the distance, including two that were volcanoes, rearing up out of this largely flat landscape; like Nebraska, with the occasional mountain. Just incredible. Passed through some tollbooths while on a divided highway; every one was guarded by at least one guy in a bulletproof vest armed with a big nickel-plated pumpgun -- with five extra rounds in loops on his belt! What the hell kind of problems do they have with toll evasion! Had a good time with the folks in the car, too. Very glad we drove.

Then we got to Mexico City -- huge, sprawling, and traffic worse than ever I've seen. We had a tremendous lunch -- seafood, beers -- went to a historic bar -- more beer, saw the hole in the ceiling supposedly from Pancho Villa -- and walked to our hotel...awesome. More stuff happened, but...I'm whipped. We go to the Kahlua facility tomorrow...and no, we don't get to see the distillery. It's down in Veracruz. We'll see the coffee roasting, grinding and extraction, and we will get to sample the rum that goes into the drink. And maybe...I'll get to come home. Snow's not looking good for that, though!

No pictures for now, unfortunately; I managed to jam the dummy SD card in the slot in my laptop...


thomas mckenzie said...

makes me want to take a break from making whiskey, and go to mexico.

Russ said...

Lew- I assume you'll post a link to the story here once it's up on the MBB site? I'm generally not a huge fan of sweet booze, but I'll admit I have a soft spot for Kahlua. I blame The Big Lebowski. ;-)

Lew Bryson said...

I will, Russ...and there was a LOT of talk about The Big Lebowski!