They say "When in Rome do as the Romans do", so the same logic should also apply to Mexico, right?
That was what I was thinking when I sat down in a classy Mexican restaurant a few weeks ago. The following morning would be the wedding -- the main reason I went to Mexico -- so this meal was to get acquainted with traditional Mexican drinks and dishes. As I was pouring over the menu trying to decipher it, the man beside me pointed out the "Tacos" section. I knew what a taco was, so it seemed like a safe place to order from. He then ran through the types of tacos on the menu. One was beef, one was shrimp and the other was dog.
I had to stop him. "Dog? Really?" Yes. It was three dog tacos. I decided then that if dog was what was commonly served in Mexico, then it's something I should try. When in Rome, right?
After about 15 minutes, the waiter brought the tacos with a side of salad and a bowl full of vegetables. I quickly took a picture of them and put it out onto Facebook, with the caption "Guess what kind of taco I'm having!?". Very quickly it was discovered it was dog, and my friends and family were a little less than happy with me. One comment summarized what everybody was feeling: "I think I'm going to woof."
The tacos were actually very good. The meat inside was kind of like pulled pork -- tender and stringy. The sauce was tangy and delicious, and the carrots and lettuce were very crunchy. In one of the tacos I found a bone, but that happens with any kind of meat, so I wasn't too put off by it. All in all, it was so good that I considered ordering seconds.
After supper we went out to the bar and I met some members of the bridal party. They were all about my age and we got talking about how I was enjoying Mexico. Quickly it came up what I had for supper and everybody wanted to know more about it. Nobody in the bridal party, it seems, had ever tried dog.
This seemed very strange to me, but then again I have never had tuna so it's not impossible to have something nobody else has ever had.
The night ended and I went back to my hotel. The following morning I woke up to my phone alarm, and noticed I had a message from one of my friends on Facebook. She asked me where I had found dog on the menu in Mexico, since she has never seen it.
Normally I would dismiss such messages. It was only because I highly respect this person (she's one of my old high school teachers) and because she has probably spent more time in Mexico over the years than I have in Canada, that I wanted to give her an answer.
I closed Facebook and went to the pictures on my phone. I found the pictures of the tacos and checked their geo-located position. I then opened it on Google Maps, found the restaurant, went to their website and found their menu. I copied the title of all the tacos, popped them into Google Translate and saw beef, shrimp and...
What!? I couldn't believe it! Surely it translated wrong! I isolated all the words from the title and translated them all individually. There was no mistaking it. "Pato" means "duck" and "perro" means "dog". Sure, duck is a more exotic meat, but it isn't unheard of to eat. Dog, on the other hand, is extremely taboo in the West. How could I have made this mistake?
I then thought back to the previous night to how I learned what the taco's meat was. I remembered that I was told it was dog by a man who had a thick Spanish accent. It's possible that when this gentleman said "duck", he gave it a harder "oh" sound, and it came out like "dock". "Dock" could have easily been misheard of as "dog", since a "dock taco" wouldn't make any sense.
So, for any of my friends or family thinking I ate dog, I'm sorry, I had duck instead. My bad.
In the words of the groom though, "When it comes to Mexico tacos, unless you see them cut the meat yourself, you never know what you might get." So, there's still a possibility, right?
What's the weirdest thing you've ever ate while traveling? Have you ever eaten dog? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Canada's 150th birthday cannot be complete without visiting the country's capital city... but which one should you visit? While Ottawa is the current capital of Canada, there have been four other capital cities, and it has changed seven times. It started in Kingston (1841 – 1844) and then moved to Montréal (1844 – 1849), believing it to be safer from the Americans. After the citizens of Montréal burnt it down, it rotated between Toronto (1849 – 1852 and 1856 – 1858) and Québec City (1852 – 1856 and 1859 – 1866). Finally, it was placed right on the border between the two provinces in Ottawa (1866 to present day). This tour ventures into each of these five cities and explores what makes them so unique.
Since the capital flip-flopped location seven times, it would be much more convenient to go through the cities geographically then historically. If we started in the West, we would start in Toronto, Ontario, Canada's biggest city. While G Adventures only mentions the CN Tower and Kensington Market, there is much more to see in this city. You could visit the 18th century Casa Loma Castle, stroll through the artistic Graffiti Alley, visit Ripley's Aquatic Aquarium, or go drink and dine in the Distillery District. Looking for more outdoorsy stuff? Check out the Toronto Islands, the famous High Park or the Toronto Zoo. You can even take a boat out onto Lake Ontario and see the city's iconic skyline!
The Island of the Dolls is in Xochimilco, a borough south of Mexico City. While it would be faster to take a car from Mexico City to Xochimilco, the traffic is dense and the roads are very congested. Instead, if you're going there, I'd recommend taking metro, which is easy and the cheapest in the world. What you gain in comfort, however, you lose in speed, as the train ride takes about 2 hours.
Mexico City and Xochimilco both sit in the Valley of Mexico. Until about a millennium ago, the whole region around Mexico City was surrounded by a massive body of water. Over the centuries due to both climate change and interference by humans, most of this water has dried up, for the exception of Xochimilco. With networks of canals crisscrossing the borough, car transportation is difficult and water transportation is essential. I'm sure there were motorized boats somewhere in the waters of Xochimilco, but I never saw any. Instead, canoes and rafts are common on the water. However, the most popular vessel is a trajinera – a colourful gonadal-like boat that is pushed along the water with a wooden pole.
Xochimilco is known worldwide for their Floating Gardens market, which are essentially canoes floating down the canals, selling wares to tourists on trajineras. These include things like food, drinks, silver rings, trinkets, ponchos and sombreros. Occasionally other trajineras full of Mariachi bands will approach tourists and offer to play beside them on the water.
After a long, dark, frigid winter, Canadians love the few months of summer we get every year. Once the snow melts and the mud dries, we are out hiking, picnicking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, climbing and exploring this wonderful country of ours.
Of all the provinces to explore, Alberta ranks at the top of many adventurers' list. From hoodoos to waterfalls, mountains to valleys, deserts to tundra and everything in-between, Alberta offers any outdoorsman the perfect place to embrace nature.