My Favorite Mountain Town in Mexico

There are two kinds of traveler in the world and only two kinds: the kind who go to inland Mexico, and the kind who don’t. The kind who DO go to inland Mexico one can’t say enough good things about. They’re generally intrepid explorers, kind, compassionate people who’ve spent very little time in prison. They’re the kind of people who help people because they like helping people, not because they want something in return. They generally read a lot and have high IQ’s. They do fun activities like skateboard and play the piano. They have grander aspirations than just living the rat race, working 9-9, living on a prayer.

Etc, etc.

Then you have the other kind of traveler. “Um, like, I don’t DO inland Mexico.” My friend’s mom actually said these very words to me, about 15 years ago. She actually used the word “do.” She actually used the word “Mexico.” She actually used the word “inland.” She actually ended her sentence with a period in the form of the briefest of pauses, a tiny breath of air, a moment that stood suspended in time…

And I was like —

And she was like —

And they were like —

And we were all like —

Mexico.

But that was 15 years ago. It’s not like I still think about that. It’s not like I mention it from time to time in blog posts. It’s not like I sit up at night with a little voodoo doll of my friend’s mom, pretending to parade her on backroads from Guadalajara to Tlapujahua, forcing her to take in the amazing highland culture, forcing her to sit by the shores of Lago Zirahuen whilst church bells ring in the distance and the searing sound of a fresh tortilla placed on a comal can be heard. It’s not like I resent her saying this. It’s not like I have some big chip on my shoulder regarding people who only go to super touristy places and never dare to venture off the beaten path. It’s not like I’m sitting on a sailboat right now, wearing mesh basketball shorts and drinking tea from a Starbucks cup I got three days ago, counting the minutes till Chelsea play and I can watch Our Lord and Savior Christian Pulisic slice and dice defenders from Brighton en route to a opening matchday victory. It’s not like I haven’t showered today. It’s not like a don’t have a beautiful drawing of a kingfisher in my boat, expertly framed, that totally livens up the room.

In other words, it’s not like I care.

Except I totally, deeply care. In fact, this might be one of the only things I care about.

ANWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s talk about San Sebastian del Oeste, Jalisco’s premier destination nestled in the Sierra Madre Occidental, a mist-enshrouded gem of a pueblo.

Barold and I got there after a harrowing drive on backroads from San Blas that involved hotsprings and a frightening deluge which turned the arroyos into rivers and threatened to carry our little Nissan March off into the fray. Luckily, though, we made it to the main highway that goes from Puerto Vallarta to San Sebastian, gaining thousands of feet of elevation in a matter of minutes. Because here’s the thing about San Sebastian del Oeste: It’s fucking high. But it’s also quite fucking close to Puerto Vallarta. You can get there in less than two hours.

We stayed at a place called Hotel Mansion Real, which was kind of a huge mistake. It cost about $113 dollars. The room smelled musty. The banisters in the courtyard had saran wrap on them, because Mexicans have weird ideas about sanitation and COVID. And the weirdest thing: There was a sitting room connected to the bathroom where you could look out over the mountains. Why was the sitting room in the bathroom?????? Literally the only thing we wanted the room for was to be able to gaze out over the mountains, but you don’t want a toilet next to you when you’re doing that.

Luckily, there was a terrace where we could smoke cigs. Not that we were doing that. We were drinking celery juice.

The coup de grace of the whole trip was going to a restaurant I’d always wanted to go to ever since going to SS del O two years ago: Jardin Nebulosa. The reason I hadn’t gone last time I was there was because it was apparently fancy and nice and I didn’t want to go to a place like that on my own. But this time I was with Barold, so of course we went, and of course we went all out. Aka got appetizers. Aka got multiple drinks. Aka didn’t think about the price. Aka we were the only ones dining there and it was a gorgeous night as the afternoon turned to dusk and the dusk turned to night and the little lamps in the garden became illuminated and our server gave us expert attention and was good-natured and cheery and conversed at length with us about life in San Sebastian and life in general.

We started with a spread of fresh tortilla chips covered in various kinds of insects, chapulines (grasshoppers) and some kind of larvae. Then we had lamb carnitas. Then we had dessert, texturas de maiz for me and some kind of fruit cream thing for Barry. The food was delicious and the best part? When I got home and checked my bank statement — after going all out — I’d only spent 27 dollars. Que viva Mexico, carbones (sic).

Anyway, go to San Sebastian del Oeste, or rather don’t go there because you don’t do inland Mexico. Don’t stay at Hotel Mansion Real, but rather stay at Hotel del Puente if you want something budget or Boutique Villa Nogal or Galeritas if you want something high class. But don’t stay at Masion Real. Definitely eat at Jardin Nebulosa. Definitely spend most of your time at Cafe Fortin, on the plaza, a quaint AF cafe that has great coffee drinks and cheaper fare. Definitely go to the coffee finca. Definitely don’t hike up to Cerro La Bufadora unless you like hiking god hiking is the worst fucking activity in the world it’s only cool if you’re going bouldering mother of Mary.

But like, yeah.

Go to San Sebastian del Oeste.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to sitting on my boat. How is it still four hours till Chelsea play???? What’s for breakfast, salmon with eggs? Am I having salmon with eggs for breakfast???? Am I millionaire?

The answer is yes.

– Wetz