Hobo Tips from Mehico
It’s 5pm on a Sunday afternoon and I am sitting on a camping bed in someone’s house in Venice Beach being devoured by bedbugs. The Hostelworld pictures showed a cute shack on the infamous boardwalk. In reality, this hovel shares the same postcode as Compton, and I’m fairly sure its “owners” are actually squatting. But hey: I’ve learned a lesson. Because in addition to gaining international notches on your belt, the ability to vaguely point at a lot of shit on a world map and a bunch of Facebook friends you’ve met once, you tend to accumulate a lot of knowledge when you’re travelling. And this trip – two months of scabbing my way across Hawaii, California and Mexico – has been no different. Allow me to share what I’ve learned, dear hobos.
If you realise you’ve got no cash at the end of a post-party taxi ride in Puerto Escondido, the driver will be perfectly happy to accept your sweaty shirt and pants as payment.
When you’re in Mexico, anything in your meal that looks like it could be a large sundried tomato definitely isn’t.
Spam sushi is one of Hawaii’s most treasured foods.
Drink Mexican tapwater for three weeks and you will be sweet. Drink it for three weeks and one day, and shit will hit the fan. Literally.
Peyote was originally used by Mayans when they wanted to run for days on end in order to catch deer.
If you persevere, it is possible to drink a whole bottle of vodka with the security lock still attached.
Order fish tacos in Mexico and you will get prawn. Book a flight to Tijuana and you will end up in Mexicali. Take an 18-hour bus and you will arrive at your destination roughly 23 hours later. Complain, and you will be met with a shrug and a, “Why do you care? They cost the same.”
Instead of using sticks, Jenga can be played with naked humans on top of a pool table.
Raccoons fucking love marshmallows.
There is a village in Chiapas called San Juan Chemula where regular Mexican laws do not apply. In the central Catholic church – Iglesia San Juan Bautista – there are no pews: just a floor covered in pine needles and thousands of burning candles. A priest comes once a month for baptisms, but the rest of the time, shamans sacrifice live chickens in healing rituals, worshippers rub raw eggs on themselves and drink the yolk through a straw, and coca cola is used to help burp out evil spirits.
Californians’ pride for their weed is greater than that of a mother with her newborn.
Hipsters are inescapable, and may even sometimes consider it essential to bring their hula hoops and firesticks to the Mayan ruins at Palenque.
It is perfectly acceptable to perform oral sex in your hostel room in front of your roommates as long as everyone else is also getting action at the same time.
Jamie XX is a fucking legend who will happily play a free gig in the middle of the Mexican jungle the day after performing until 5am.
If you’ve got blonde hair, fall asleep outside a Mexican bus station and you may wake up to find hundreds of braids and plaits in your hair from excited little girls who have only ever seen that colour on a barbie.
Fried chicken drenched with maple syrup and wedged between two waffles is a Georgian delicacy.
Jesus is one of the top three most popular boy’s names in Mexico.
If you’re running low on cash but want to get really wasted, why not buy 96% Mexican alcohol for just 20 pesos?
Seasoned nudists are perfectly capable of not getting aroused by your naked body during conversation, despite your best attempts.
Fall asleep on a Mexican bus with your backpack underneath you and whoever is sitting beside you may steal the cash from your wallet and flush your cards and passport down the bus toilet when they’re done.
Albatrosses are sadistic demons who will tear the flesh from a still-live seal lion’s wound as it hops along the beach.
If your couch surfing host is a middle-aged father with a preference for “females only”, you’re probably going to get your drink spiked.
Super touristy places like Cancun and Tijuana are a prescription-drug lover’s dream: you can pay extra to bypass the script requirements for viagra, duromine and valium. Doctors are also perfectly happy to sign blank scripts.
If you accidentally break a bag containing a bottle of spirits in America when you’re halfway home, the store will gladly replace it for you free of charge.
If a Mexican child urinates on your bus seat during a stopover, don’t expect its mother to swap with you. Instead, you’ll be offered a tea towel to place over the top of the wetness… if you’re lucky.
A bump of cocaine at most Guadalajara nightclubs is cheaper than a drink.
Bury a bottle of rum at the beach for someone back home to find in five years’ time in front of a sea of 50 surfers, and it’s going to stay buried five minutes.
San Francisco has the coolest shared economy ever. Instead of a taxi, get a ride from a pink-moustached Lyft car and enjoy complimentary Doritos and lollies from a driver who could be your neighbour. If you want to drive yourself, use Getaround to see who feels like renting their car for the hour. This extends from shared favours like watering plants to renting patches at a winery to grow your own grapes.
If you are waxed within an inch of your life, have just fake tanned and have only eaten diet pills for three days straight, you won’t pick up. If you have a severe tropical rash in both armpits, a vagina like a Persian rug and skin so pale you’re basically transparent, you will.
I don’t care what statistics say about Australia having the world’s fattest population: America wins.