Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 22 — Conclusion. 

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Chapter 22. Conclusion. 

I just turned 32-years-old. Facebook posts from friends and people I haven’t talked to in years are posting congratulations on my wall.

I usually hate my birthday. People give too much importance to it. Which puts pressure on having a good time. But it’s just a day. Worse. It’s a Wednesday. And I have some work to do. Work that I don’t want to do. 


Last birthday, I got drunk as fuck early during the day and passed out in the early afternoon. I don’t know why birthdays depress me. 

 

This year, I’m just trying to let it be. I don’t feel as depressed as other birthdays past. 

 

I don’t understand people that like their birthdays.

 

What is to like about getting older? 

 

Count it.

 

I’ve lived for 11, 680 days.

 

Toddler years don’t really count. 

 

I’ve lived for 9855 days.


It seems like a waste.


 

What’s next? 

 

Nothing is next. The same as always. Beer and tacos. Beer and tacos. Beer and tacos.


 

I read all I wrote for the past months. I repeat myself a lot.

 

I repeat myself a lot.

 

I repeat myself a lot.


 

Many stories are missing. Many bachelor parties blend into one. I got three emails about bachelor parties this week. That’s not a common occurrence. 


I just rejected one. They wanted a tour for this Friday. Replied that I’m booked. I’m not really booked. I just didn’t like the way he emailed me. Also, he wanted a bachelor party and strip clubs, no mention of craft beers or fancy food. 

 

I feel like I am retiring from those.

 

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my tours.

 

I’m not sure what I’m doing with all this crap I’m writing.

 

I do have to work Saturday morning. So fuck doing a bachelor tour Friday night…


 

Next tour is in a week. Old couples. Much more my speed. Craft beer, street tacos, fancy eats, Tijuana views, and perhaps a dive bar. 

No more craziness. 


Ted’s Story.

 

One last crazy bachelor story. 


 

We had to carry Ted across the border. This was probably my favorite bachelor party. I was hired by the best man, who had a Chinese name. I was nervous that it was going to be a Chinese tour.

 

Nah. Of course, they were Chinese Americans. And not all of them. It was around 8 guys, half of them were white boys. 


 

Fuck. My bachelor tours blend so much, that I don’t remember if one of the white boys was a reformed yoga teacher. I’m thinking that’s from a different tour, but for the sake of this fucking story, he was a part of that group.

The yoga white boy had long greyish beard and hair, wore sandals, and other hippie bullshit. Apparently, he was recently married and he had all been doing his yoga persona for a couple of years. Before that, he was a businessman that was always clean-shaven and it was all about the money.


 

Yoga white boy was quiet for most of the tour. Barely drinking. Being a hippy. Peacefully observing the bachelor party mess.


 

It wasn’t much of a mess. It was the classics. Tacos, beers, cocktails, tequila shots for the bachelor, party, party, party.

And then! 

To the strip clubs.


We got to Hong Kong and I grab a table for the whole group. Then took a couple of the guys and the bachelor, Ted, to get him a couple of girls.

 

That’s what I usually do at bachelor parties. Grab the best man or a couple of the guys in the party, find hot girls for the bachelor, sit him down, and have the first lap dance.

 

From there on, the party always splits and they do their own debauchery.


 

With Ted… we walked to the back. He sat down where they were doing the show de espuma. Imma gunna repeat myself once more. Show de espuma is two or more naked chicks covered in shaving cream that you can finger for a dollar. It’s fucking nasty. 


It’s really fucking nasty. I went with a good friend from my hometown when he came for a short visit years ago. It was Monday, so not much was open and I always have to show people that are new to Tijuana to Hong Kong. The first girl we saw had the most beautiful pussy I’ve seen… no panties. Just pussy. I remember my friend’s face lit up like he just saw the face of god and it only cost him one dollar to see it.

 

Later that same night, I remember watching the show de espuma, but not watching the girls… just watching the audience. The wolf hungry audience. 25-30 horny men salivating at two naked young girls. Throwing money. 

 

I am sure the girls in there are in drugs. This shit is a bit extreme. $5 and you can grab a dildo and go to town with them. Guys sometimes delve in and lick the pussy that is covered in shaving cream while the girls slide around the stage for another guy to do the same. So many dirty fingers being shoved in exchanged for money, and then they lick that…

That’s the show de espuma.

 

You can understand why I want to retire from this shit.


Another story that went missing was with some Canadians. Just three guys. Not a bachelor party. Just a Tijuana Adventure that ended in Hong Kong. Many tours ended up there and not necessarily were they bachelor parties. 

One of the three Canadians was an extremely good looking dude. We were drinking beers at Plaza Fiesta, because back then, Plaza Fiesta was actually good. Two cute short Mexican girls approached him (and his friend) while I was talking to the Moroccan-Canadian dude. The girls were really cute, and the dude blew them off. And after asked me, “those were hookers, right?”

 

NO DUDE! They fucking weren’t! They were two cute girls that wanted you…

 

That night… we did end up in Hong Kong with hookers… The Moroccan-Canadian dude was so happy spending $5 to grab a dildo and go to town with the girls in the show de espuma. He thought it was two pumps and done. NOPE! You can really go to fucking town with them. 

 

The Moroccan-Canadian dude came back. My tours blend so much and I’ve done plenty that I didn’t even notice him. It was halfway through the tour that he was like, “yo, remember me? We toured together before!” And I came to the realization of who he was. He was with a different group that time… 


 

Fucking tours.


 

Well…

Ted sat in front of the show de espuma. I told his friends to give him money so I can give it to Ted so he can go to town. I yelled at the girls on the show de espuma that it was his bachelor party and show them a $20. They didn’t fucking hesitate. They knew there was more money to be thrown. One of them instantly climbed on Ted covering the poor guy on shaving cream and the other said: “let’s grab him and put him on stage.”

 

So I helped Ted go on stage and told his friends near me that this is going to get out of control.

 

They stripped Ted down to his underwear. Ted was wasted. He was loving the stage and did a little dance with the girls. Then they laid him down on his back, one climbed on his face, and the other climbed on his cock (with boxers still on). And they started grinding and performing other things… 

 

When this shit started to happen, I ran to the table (that was at the other far end of the strip club) to tell all of Ted’s friends what was going on. 

 

They all went to check it out, leaving behind sunglasses, jackets, and other shit on the table. So I stayed behind with the best man. We discuss what will happen in the next few hours for the bachelor party and while figuring shit out… We saw him.

 

Ted was fucking running around the strip club down to his underwear covered in fucking shaving cream, literally fucking running like a little kid, screaming “I AM GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW WOOOO I AM GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW!!!!” 

 

It was a hilarious view. 

 

The bachelor party kept going. Ted kept getting wasted. At some point, we thought we had lost him. And that’s when we saw him with a girl that was trying to take him up to the room though he was WASTED beyond capabilities of deciding what to do. Luckily, we found him and stopped him. The girl was pissed, but Ted gave her some money anyway. 


 

Not even midnight and it was time to go back. We had to carry Ted to the border. Poor guy couldn’t walk. 


What happened with the white yoga hippy dude? Well… that was a different tour. But the point of that hippy dude was that I ended up losing him on that tour.

 

He was supposedly the calmest most chill dude. But when we arrived in Hong Kong, he fucking disappeared. I didn’t hear from him that night. I had to split the party in two. Part of the party stayed in Hong Kong while I took the rest to the border.

 

I was told that they found him hours later. Apparently, he went up to the rooms with a couple of girls. And repeated. And repeated. 

 

Hippy dude had a thing for threesomes. 


 

And that’s barely a tip on the iceberg of what Tijuana can provide. 


 

Libertarian hedonism stuck in fake progress. 

 

So much change, so little change, the dollar still rules supreme. 

 

Anarchy. Drugs. Sex. Sleepless City. Murder. Drugs. Drugs. Sex. Sex. 

 

Craft Beer. Fancy Baja-Med cuisine. Amazing street tacos. 


 

I just got an email asking about barbershops. There are so many barbers in this city. It’s fucking wild how many barbers there. A tour client that later became a friend comes from Los Angeles to get a haircut and his beard shaven. The fucker can’t even grow a beard! 

 

But he still comes for the weekend with that excuse. Then he just enjoys the city.


 

And enjoy the city I will. It’s my birthday, which doesn’t really mean crap. I want to play tennis again. I’ve been playing tennis with my buddy. Yes. I won the first game… and the last two… We tied!

 

We had a tie-breaker on the one before last, and I think I won… But it was more of a tie.

 

And this last game, it was just a straight-up tie. One set each. Third set and the score was 6-6. Instead of playing the tiebreaker… we just left it at that. It was also getting dark that we could barely see the ball.


Then we had beers, more beers, saw a couple friend, told them it was my birthday, more drinks, a couple of joints, and then home. With el Pinche Kevin. I barely beat him on tennis, but I own him on Super Smash Bros. I fucking beat him with Jigglypuff against Cloud. He beat me right after that… but HAH! 

 

Jigglypuff!


 

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Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 20 — An Actual Guide Part 2: Food + Tacos.

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Chapter 20. An Actual Guide Part 2: Food + Tacos.

 

It’s a slow Friday, so fuck it, why not write stupid shit to feel productive for a change.


 

Billie Joe Armstrong, the singer of Green Day, was here in Tijuana yesterday with his new project The Longshot. I wanted to go to just take a picture of him. I didn’t. I’m a lazy fucker and I hate crowds of people.

 

I regret it a bit…


 

The past couple of weeks have been nothing but eating and taking pictures of tacos. And writing about tacos. It’s the third time I’m part of the special edition about tacos for the magazine I work for. The second time that I’m in charge of the cover picture.

 

My section is obviously all about Tijuana. More specifically, Tijuana taco porn. Even more specifically, I follow a guy name @Baja_Cali_Food on Instagram and he posts some of the best food porn.

 

So I went to the places that he posts to see how they are.

 

And they are pretty fucking fantastic.

 

In fact, I found one that challenges my all-time favorite of Tacos el Rey.


I’ve been writing and taking pictures of tacos for several years now. There are way too many to cover with a simple list. Some that I liked have disappeared. Some I have yet to discover.

 

This is taco city.

 

This is everything city.


Drug city. 


 

In recent news, an American Pale Ale called Juan Cordero by Insurgente just won gold medal on the San Diego International Beer Competition.

 

Fauna from Mexicali and Rámuri from Tijuana got bronze on the World Beer Cup. 


Beer city.


 

Tacos el Rey has been around since the 70s. I’ve been living next to them for more than four years. A couple dozen full moons ago, I was eating at Tacos el Rey on acid with two girls: my used to be neighbor, and some chick who was coming from Houston.

 

We went to a show at Mous Tache.

 

HEY! That’s where Billie Joe Armstrong was last night.

 

I don’t remember what show I was there for. All I remember was the bad trip when I thought the Houston girl was into me, I tried to grab her hand, and got rejected.

 

Mistake.

 

And I remember eating in Tacos el Rey and la tortillera looking at me in the eyes and saying “ya te ves bien mal Mateo, vete a dormir Mateo.”

 

I didn’t return to Tacos el Rey for months after the embarrassment. 


 

I still go there at least once a month. They are still so incredibly good.


 

I did so much acid that year… even played a show on acid. 


 

The new tacos I found are called “El Nuevo Tecolote.” They aren’t close to my apartment, so I don’t think I’ll go that often… but they are fucking delicious. The carne asada is prime rib and their adobada is more like al pastor.


 

Near my apartment, there are more than a dozen taco choices. In downtown Tijuana alone, there are over 100 taco places to eat.

 

So yeah.

 

I can’t cover them all.

 

Next to Tacos el Rey is Tacos Los Albañiles. They are pretty good, but expensive and they cater to Pochos. Mexican-Americans coming down from LA. It looks like a taco place from LA. It feels like a taco place from LA. 


 

There’s a fish and shrimp taco truck nearby called Mariscos San Francisco. I like the batter they use there, so I usually get two fish and one shrimp. That’s breakfast. It costs me less than $4.


 

There is another fish and shrimp place called Los Compadres. I don’t like their batter there… but they have the best fucking camarón enchilado ever.

 

It’s greasy, it’s lava hot, it’s packed with shrimp and cheese, it’s the correct amount of spicy and it could be spicier if you like, and most importantly… it’s fucking dirty, just like the Tijuana gods intended.

 

I’ve been going to Los Compadres for many years now. Both Los Compadres and Tacos el Rey were recommendations from Danger Dave. 

 

Most people in Tijuana think El Mazateño is the best enchilado in town… and though it’s good. It can’t compare to the power of Los Compadres.

 

And I’m sure there are many more and some better places. But these are the ones I know.

 

Tijuana is way too big, changes way too often, and it’s ever-growing.


 

We just got a caravan of hundreds of migrants from Central America trying to cross into the United States. Guess where most of them we’ll end up living?

 

Yep.

 

In Tijuana.


 

Migrant and deported city.


 

Back to tacoland. There are birria tacos by my house that are cheap and filling. They aren’t necessarily good, but they aren’t bad. They are the same as the popular tacos in Calle Cuarta. That place is always packed and everyone is yelling at the poor taquero for more shit. 

 

Seriously. It’s a tiny corner with two taqueros and two dozen people that they want tacos or caldos de birria.

 

If they only knew that the birria is the same in a couple other corners in town, it wouldn’t be such a fuckfest.

 

The one by the park (near my house) is usually empty. And they also have asada that looks tasty (but for some reason, I’ve never tried it).


 

There are more taco places in the park. Tacos varios. Tacos al vapor. Tacos de birria. Tacos de mariscos. All fucking kinds of tacos.

 

Every corner has a plethora of different tacos.


And more taco places are opening soon.


 

Then there are the tacos regarded as classic or best. Taconazo. Tacos el Franc or Tacos el Frances in Playas. Tacos los Perrones in Rosarito. Tacos El Polo. Los Salseados.

 

Classic fish tacos as well. Tito’s Tacos, those are stupid cheap and everywhere. Aforementioned el Mazateño.


 

Classic cenadurías resembling central Mexico are everywhere and stupid cheap.


 

Hipster place tacos. Telefónica has a plethora of hipster choices such as the vegan cauliflower mole, same place has the cactus and panela or the pork taco. That’s La Carmelita. The pellizcadas there are my favorite.

 

Telefónica also has the huitlacoche pulpo taco by Tacosteño. The spicy tuna tostada by Otto’s grill. They have my favorite spicy salsa. It’s tasty and it makes me cry.

 

And more vegan choices with La Taquería Veggie. They recently opened in San Diego after major success in Tijuana. 

 

Tacón Veggie is another hipster vegan choice that is fucking great if you can catch them… They run out of tacos fast. And they might either grow or disappear soon. 


 

Tacos el Gordo is another classic, but it’s not that great. They now have locations in Vegas, San Diego, and other places. It started here in Tj. It’s definitely good, but with the plethora of choices, you can find something better.


 

Tacos Coahuila or “where the prostitutes go eat.” There was an article in Vice about this. I’m in the last picture of that article.

 

Tony Tee, famously as the guy who took Anthony Bourdain around Tijuana, but also a major promoter of the city and in general a decent dude who just likes to party.

 

Well.. yeah. Him.

 

He wrote an article about that place. We went together.

 

I’ve been hanging out with him a bunch lately. We didn’t for a while after he got mad at me for writing about his independent candidate, but that’s all water under the fridge now. 


 

Writing about politics.

 

Writing about food.

 

Writing about bullshit. 

 

It all gets you in some sort of trouble.


 

Tony Tee now has his own food truck in San Diego. I might have mentioned it here already because I’m that stupid that I forgot what I wrote already. The tongue tacos his food truck serves is some of the best in the region. He is celebrating his one year anniversary tomorrow.

 

And tomorrow is also a Reddit meetup/tour with /r/Tijuana and /r/SanDiego.


 

Out of the handful of Reddit meetings I’ve done, a couple have been nice and successful and still not worth it. I didn’t organize this one, but I’m a part of it. 

 

Let’s see what happens.


 

It’s going to be a Border Psycho, one of the leading breweries in the Baja region. Their beer… it’s not that great. It’s more the marketing and name behind it. And collaborations that they’ve done with Mason Ale Works or other big breweries.

 

Ok.

 

And by saying not that great… I don’t mean it’s bad. I’m just spoiled.

 

Beer changes here so often. 

 

Border Psycho started strong, opened a taproom in Plaza Fiesta that also started great… but then the staff and uncleanliness of the place ruined it. The taps weren’t properly clean. All beer got infected… 

 

Also, their beers tend to have a heavy alcoholic taste (and they tend to be high ABV). 

 

Their latest IPA called Hoptastic (or something like that.. It’s new, leave me alone). That IPA is pretty good. They have a double IPA called La Perversa that’s on the sweet caramel side instead of hops. 

 

Many other beers are drinkable but difficult to do more than one.

 

They had one special beer called “Beso Polacho” or Polish Kiss that was a “smoked wheat” beer or a Grodziskie, a very old style of beer not brewed often today. I thought it was excellent… but I was one of the very few that thought the same way.

 

It was very complex. It tasted like smokey bacon. Very dry and pungent. And surprisingly smooth to drink. Only a 2.8% abv (or maybe 3.2%) point is that it was light. 

 

I liked it. I’m never drinking that again because they are never making it again.

 

Overall, they have been improving and going in the right direction and do not expect them to go anywhere. 


 

Beers are next. I was on tacos.

 

Border Psycho has a kitchen now… though not necessarily tacos, their sopes are pretty good and filling. Burgers also decent, but sopes are better.


 

Speaking of sopes, it’s probably the best plate at Caesar’s Restaurant, their tuetano sopes. 


 

I used to go to Tacos Las Amigas, between 5th and 6th in Madero, as a regular stop in my tours. I don’t really like their tacos anymore, but they make huge tortillas on the spot. It’s also one of the few places I’ve ever seen where the taquera is a woman and a man is the one that sweeps and cleans around the shop. In a sexist country like Mexico, it’s nice to see something different. 


 

Near Las Amigas… another great place. La Corriente – Cevicheria Nais. Popular place. When I first got there, it was cheap and they had sold 8,000+ red snapper tostadas written in a blackboard near the kitchen. Nowadays, prices have tripled and they have sold 220,000+ red snapper tostadas, and have several locations, and other spinoff restaurants.

 

That was in just a couple of fucking years.

 

La Corriente is still great. Two tacos or two tostadas is my recommendation (or one and one). Yes, the red snapper is probably the best still. Ahi tuna is second favorite. They have a new ahi tuna called Pacifico that I liked better but that they rarely have since it requires fresh scallops. Tacos, the chile with shrimp and cheese called Taco Kalifornia is one of my favorites, but also Cachondo (octopus) or Mazatlán (shrimp filled with marlin, wrapped in bacon). 

My new favorite thing there is to order the “Pulpo Pacheco” (stoner octopus), it’s four big chunky pieces of octopus grilled with olive oil with a side of tortillas, vegetables, rice, and beans. AKA four great octopus tacos.

 

Oh yeah. And their drinks are fucktastic too. I already mentioned them before…


 

Circle jerk on the food of downtown Tijuana.


 

Tupidos is a classic restaurant with the usual Mexican menu, but on the side, they have handmade Tacos Varios. 

 

Next to Tupidos is Sanborns. Fuck that place. Just go in if you need to use the bathroom. 

 

But also nearby, El Tucumano, an Argentinean empanada place.


 

Just like La Corriente, I saw El Tucumano grow from a tiny place to a huge operation. They used to be in a tiny corner near Mous Tache (oh shit! Mentioned that in this chapter and so many times already… the place Billie Joe was just at).

 

Yeah. Tiny place. Argentinian empanadas with delicious chimichurri.

 

And yes, I know Argentinians are going to be like “fuck you we don’t put chimichurri on empanadas.” I’m aware. These empanadas are probably not Argentinian, however, they are delicious and cheap. So fuck off.


 

Near all, there are Chinese restaurants. If that’s your thing… then go crazy. I can’t even imagine trying to cover a the dozen of Chinese restaurants here. There are hundreds in the city and some were caught serving dog meat a few years ago. 


 

It’s like there are more restaurants per capita than any other place I’ve been at.

 

A lot of Tijuanenses eat out for all their meals. It’s just cheaper. Especially when you earn in dollars. Food is fucking everywhere.


 

Everything is fucking everywhere all the fucking time.


 

Except for a great delicatessen. Yep. A good ole deli. There is nothing like that. There are some cheese and meat stores that try… but usually overpriced and not that great.

 

I just need a classic great deli where I can get a cheap sandwich to go. 

 

Preferably in a liquor store.

 

A deli that sales caguamas and craft beer. That is also a barbershop and tattoo parlor. 

Tijuana could use a place like that. Hipster bastardized the place to beyond Portland levels.


 

KoMe was a Korean taco place that had great tacos, but it was poorly executed. 

 

They lasted 9 months. I wished they didn’t close. That was the last place I wrote for the food section in the magazine. I couldn’t deal with the editor. He turned a positive review into a negative one. 

 

My article didn’t have anything to do with their demise, but I still feel bad.

 

Their mistake was opening to big and simple. They should have done it small, secretive, and hipster.

 

That’s what Millenials want. Places that they only hear from word of mouth as great but that no one really knows the spot.

 

And Tijuana has a lot of those places.


 

There was a birria place by my house that also lasted less than a year. It was goat birria, which is rare to find up here. Almost everyone uses beef birria.

 

I miss them. They were delicious and cheap.


 

There’s taco alley, called Las Ahumaderas. My first apartment was behind the taco alley. The smell from the five (now four) taquerías in a row would enter through my kitchen window. All the taquerías have a similar name to “El Paisano” except the fifth one that closed that was named LAS QUINCE LETRAS. “The Fifteen Letters,” when counted, is actually fifteen letters. Dumb. 

 

I would go to the same one (third from the corner) every Monday when their tacos de cabeza were 2×1. Get four tacos and a caguama from the store and barely spend any money. Being a regular, they opened the caguama for me, put it behind the bar, and serve me in a plastic cup.  

 

The dollar was cheaper back then, but everything was also cheaper.


 

And there are tacos fucking everywhere! In every single neighborhood. In every single place. All types of tacos.


 

I went to Otay for Tacos el Gallito recently. In the same street, I saw that there were another dozen taquerías.


 

I went to La Cinco y Diez, which is barely halfway through the city, for Tacos Wichos… and on the way there… well… You could eat at three different taco stands for a whole year in Tijuana and not repeat a single one. 


 

Fancy restaurants also tend to serve tacos.


 

There is a club called Esquivel that has a taquería inside near the dance floor called Mucha Muchacha. That’s pretty fucking new… let’s see how long it lasts.


 

And I barely even scratched the surface of how many tacos there are. Much less how much food you can fucking eat. 


There are secret foods as well.

 

I’ve actually only seen this one once… and that was before I even lived here. The morning mariscos.

 

Apparently, the corner of 11th and Negrete (or somewhere around there) there is a little shop that sells only caldo de mariscos (seafood broth) from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. to drunk people.

 

I was there once years ago when I was still living in LA. I wasn’t hungry for seafood soup… so I didn’t order.

 

But there was a long line to order and a wedding arrived at the scene. I was too drunk to recall details, just thinking “this is fucking insanity.”

 

I haven’t tried to get that seafood soup… but have heard it from uber drivers and others about the place. And supposedly, the main guy died, left the place to his sons and it’s not the same as before. 


 

Other secret or weird foods… a liquor store called El Oasis. They recently remodeled it… but it’s like a house that is also a store, that is also a restaurant…

 

That sells giant ass clamatos and beer with whatever ingredient you want in the big gulp glasses from 7-Eleven. Two parrots sit inside the store annoying the fuck out of the customers.


 

My clamato with beer is using cheat codes. Right downstairs from my apartments sits Israel “el Buzito” son of El Buzo (or scuba diver). 

 

He has been selling ceviche tostadas and seafood cocktails in the corner below my apartment since the 80s. It was his dad’s business, which Israel told me that grew to several restaurants, but finally ended up closing to just ending up in the same corner.

 

His dad was an alcoholic, hence the name “Buzo,” because scuba divers are always underwater, which apparently means he was always drunk.

 

Israel is the complete opposite. He is a Christian gentleman that works hard to support his family in his little food cart.

 

And this is where the magical clamato is.

 

I get a caguamón of Tecate in the corner store and get a shrimp cocktail from Buzo (sometimes with clam and octopus, sometimes just shrimp). Eat a bit of the shrimp cocktail, then fill with beer, rinse and repeat. 

Thanks, Chad. I think he originally did this and I just perfected it.

 

That’s one of the best breakfasts you can have on a hot day. Buzo told me where to pick-up the shrimp he uses… 

On Calle Sexta, there are a bunch of fish stores… like three straight blocks of just fish. He says the Chinese have the best and biggest shrimp at the best price. His shrimp cocktail usually has nice big shrimp.


 

Today. Today is fried chicken Friday at Voodoo Stu’s. Dude that comes from Atlanta, married a Tijuana girl and has southern comfort food and gumbo shack in the art alley. Not sure how much longer he will last there either. This week, he is only opening today. He opens less than 6 days a month. Not sure how he stays in business. But I love it there and his chicken is fantastic. His side veggies always make me feel like I ate healthy hearty homemade southern food, or at least I like to deceive my mind to think so.


 

Today. I’m also hoping to play some tennis and maybe get a picture I took of tacos printed. Yep. Someone asked me for a poster-sized print of pictures of tacos.

 

The taco cover comes out soon. 

 

And I have much work to do.

 

A bunch of photography work. A bunch of writing. And a tour at some point. 

 

Book — Confessions of a Tour Guide: Chapter 14 — Pachangas Matt, Drugs, Rumble Fest, Donkey Show, Bands, and Party.

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Chapter 14. Pachangas Matt, Drugs, Rumble Fest, Donkey Show, Bands, and Party.

 

A blog post about my life 2 years ago show me that I was very sick in February, I was broke, and my life sucked. That blog post also contained pictures of Mila Kunis that I took 10 years ago.


But two years ago, I was a party animal.

 

Pachangas Matt.


 

I’m sort of a professional alcoholic now. I don’t really drink in moderation but it’s really hard to get me drunk.

 

My roommate said he never saw me drunk. My ex-girlfriend saw me real drunk probably twice, but she also said she never saw me drunk.

 

Besides that… I drink, I get tired. I go to bed.


 

I don’t know how other alcoholics can do it. I’m not capable of drinking and staying awake. At some point, I’m just done. 


 

Pachangas Matt lasted a bit until dawn.

 

Drug infused Danger Dave lasted for days. Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

 

And in Tijuana, cocaine is usually not the purest…

 

Chad was fueled by caguamas back then. He could last until noon or later just drinking caguamas and talking to everyone. His Spanish improved after three or more caguamas. 

 

Spanglish ruled supreme. 

 


 

I often had to drag Chad back to the apartment or leave him behind because I was fucking going to bed. 

 

The sun rising felt like an indication that it was bedtime.


 

Some bars never close in Tijuana.

 

I haven’t been in any past midnight in a while.

 

It used to be an every night thing.


 

$100 a week is all you need to live off caguamas and street tacos. 

 

Making US dollars and living in Mexico can be very cheap.

 

Rent was $340 a month (split into two).  Expenses were minimal. That’s a couple days of work. Or just one. It depends.


 

There’s a lot of time to be spent drinking caguamas. It was a full year of doing it. I still do it now.


 

The average caguama in a dive bar goes for $2-4, they are $2 in the store, so bars virtually sell caguamas for the same price. 

 

I don’t want to do the math, but that’s a lot of caguamas a week for just $100. 

 

Tacos are just $1.

 

You get it.

 

Your money is worth a lot more.

 

That’s why thousands of people do it. Cross the border, work for a couple of days a week, live in Tijuana like a king.

 

Two workdays, five rest days. Caguamas and tacos.


 

After many caguamas as the three amigos, we came up with the idea of Fist Fest.

 

Nope.

 

That was wrong.

 

Fist Fest turns out to be a festival of men fisting each other.

 

That wasn’t it.

 

Yep. Just googled it. Still is that shit.

 

“Fist Fest® is most likely the longest running men’s fisting weekend in the world. Established in 1997,Fist Fest® came under our stewardship in 2011. We are thrilled to be able to continue and grow this event. We currently produce four annual weekends.”


Rumble Fest.

 

Let the rumble fest shit begin.


 

Rumble Fest was the attempt of an impossible idea. The perfect and cheapest music festival uniting Baja California and California under one abandoned factory. 28 bands. Live art. Cheap beer. Lots of drugs.

 

$2 entrance.

 

And people fucking didn’t even pay.


 

We lost a lot of money that night.


 

A lot of money for our standards. I lost close to $1,000. 

 

There was more money lost.


 

Hah. I just realized I’m wearing the rumble fest t-shirt.

 

I spent $300+ on t-shirts that didn’t sell.

 

By the end of the festival, I was begging people to buy one so I can recoup some money.


 

It was the most stupidest fucking thing I have ever attempted. 


 

That shit snowballed out of control quickly.


 

We had the idea in early March and started printing the first posters when we found the location of an abandoned factory owned by a gym that Danger Dave frequented. The gym became partners. That’s why the name of the festival had to have something aggressive. Like fist.

 

Except not that.

 

Tijuana Rumble Fest.

 

Shit tons of bands.

 

More than half drop from the first poster. Second poster. More bands from LA. More Hype. New graphic designer who I never paid. Sorry, Zuko. 


 

100 Fucking ONCES.

 

That was one of the things I cared about the most. That band fucking ruled. Too bad they are not together anymore.


And my band.

 

Donkichow.

 

Or Donkey Show.


 

Pretending to be a rockstar playing shitty math rock for bands from LA that are barely known.


 

100 Onces got big for a bit. Not big big. Just big in the math-rock circles. 


 

Music. I miss it.


 

Before Rumble Fest.

 

Three months of previous shows. Getting drunk as fuck. Cocaine seemed to be everywhere.

 

Fucking cocaine.

 

Never liked that drug until the year of the Rumble Fest. 

 

There was also a lot of acid…

 

And a lot of ecstasy.

 

And there might have been some meth.

 

I haven’t done any drugs for more than 2 years ago.


 

You only YOLO once.


 

 

The End of a Fucking Era – No More Fried Chicken – Bye to Voodoo Stu and Magic Mael’s Gumbo Shack

That was it.

That was the end…

That was the last fried chicken Friday.

And that was the last Sunday special (fried chicken again).


There was a line out the door for his last day. I told Stu to save me a chicken breast and I went back two hours later when it was relatively quieter.

I brought the fried chicken nazi a bottle of bourbon because it fits the theme of the Southerness, because I know he likes bourbon, because I fucking love bourbon, and because bourbon is fucking good.

Especially Buffalo Trace, which I’ve had plenty before but never bought a bottle.

I drank half the bottle…

So you can imagine the type of Sunday I had.


All that was after a crazy Saturday with four white amigos. So even after retiring from tours, I’m still doing tours.

We went to Teléfonica because that’s what they love, then fuimos al BEIS (though the original plan was Hong Kong), and then, street tacos. When they were dropping me off at home, the cops pulled us over.

Yadda yadda yadda.

Mordida.

And we were let go.

The full story maybe later.


Toros lost the match. But it was a fun game and my friends had fun. That’s what matters.


And oh boy is it hot out!


Oh hi.

If you are new, welcome to my rambling, I go in every direction. I call it word vomit. Some people don’t like it. They don’t like that I swear either…

But fuck that.

And because I swear here and there I’ve been called “Bukowskish.” I have never read him. Just his Wikipedia and snippets about him. He seems like a fun dude.

So make of this what you will. Just, please… PLEASE don’t fucking take me seriously.


Alright, back to it.

Fried chicken fried is no more. Stu retired the Voodoo Stu and Magic Mael Gumbo Shack. That’s the official name. It had a lot of funny little quirks. And if you weren’t a regular, you would probably be confused by the lack of menu (or the phony menu) or how the restaurant works. Or how it used to work…

And how it used to work… You bark your order towards Stu like Batman (that’s the restaurant’s old dog). Or be courteous and nice to Mael and asked her for food.

Just ask for food and drinks.

Enjoy. Not only the delicious fried chicken but the atmosphere. A pocket of Tijuana taken you far towards a swamp in Louisiana. Or more like a hipster place in Atlanta. Whatever you want it to be. It just didn’t feel like Tijuana. Though Tijuana never feels like anything but everything and not Tijuana.


Three years of that gumbo shack. I remember when it started. I was living with Chad. And him and Stu bonded immediately like brothers from another mother (both tracing their lineage to the south). And thus began the days of eating at Stu’s pretty much weekly.

Stu started mainly with gumbo. But that didn’t fly well with Tijuanenses who have never heard of the dish.

He used to also give it to you on paper plates to make it cheaper and not to deal with the hassle of cleaning.

Then came the fried chicken Fridays… and that became a staple.

So much, that Stu didn’t bother to open Wednesday through Sundays (like it was at first). But simply Friday chicken, Saturday blackened fish, and Sunday some sort of special. Pretty much whatever he felt like.

It was all more than good.

But some plates were beyond great that it was a joy to eat in Tijuana for so cheap.

And again. That is no longer a thing.

No more fried chicken Friday.


But fear not dear friends, Stu will be back in some sort of kitchen or food projects. In some sort of evolution, just like the Tijuana Adventure, he will get more exclusive and MORE EXPENSIVE!


I missed Saturday’s blackened fish. I was never a huge fan though a lot of people loved it. Peppery fish with a lemon twist. The veggies are what brought me on Saturdays. Stu prepared vegetables in ways that I’ve never had before, so I truly appreciated that shit.

#EatYourVeggies

You fucking hipster.


Nah. Saturday was Teléfonica like I said before. Got my usual tuna tostada and the boys got the Tomahawk steak and some flank steaks on the side.

This.

Looks great doesn’t it?

The Tomahawk is delicious, but not worth the price. The flank steaks are way better. Not sure what they do, but I feel like the meat gets a salt rub/massage and that’s why it’s so damn delicious and tender.

#MassageYourMeat

Ok. No. That hashtag probably means something else.


And Sunday was the bottle of Buffalo Trace. My buddy Bryan joined in. We drank… .we drank a lot. Until 2:00 a.m.

Keep in mind the bottle was drunk around 6 pm at Stu’s.

I forgot to pay him when we left. I messaged him on Instagram and his reply was “Fuck off. You’re good.”

And that’s how you say bye to one of Tijuana’s restaurants.

It will be terribly missed. My Fridays will not be the same anymore. Or my weekends in general. It was a must go to spot…


Oh. And the veggies for the last fried chicken was some sort of minty bean salad (that was my favorite), cold pasta, some chopped chile poblanos with grilled elotes, and a deviled egg!

Great Reception to the Change – Ok. Here We Go I Guess? – Tacos and Drinks at Cine Tonalá

Cool.

A lot of support right away after saying no more tours and now writing about food.

And… now it seems people are excited that I said I would be blogging more.


Crap.

What did I get myself into… again?


“You have a lot of enemies,” remarked someone yesterday while having beers.

I do and don’t. Or who knows.

Some people don’t like what I have to say. That’s for sure.

But in here I intend to be good. I’m not planning on shitting on restaurants or drinks. If I don’t have anything good to say, I simply won’t say it.

If you wanted brutal destruction of places, this is not about that.

Or perhaps some… just a tad.


With that in mind, I went to Cine Tonalá yesterday. This place has mixed reviews from everyone. Americans tend to love all of it. Mexicans tend to think it’s a great place but overpriced and bad.

So what is it?


Well… It has good things and bad things. The good can be very good and the bads can be like, oh shit, I can’t believe I paid that much for that.

Mistakes are made. Mistakes are hopefully corrected. If not by the place, then by oneself. And some things are not worth it.

Things that are worth it.

Santo Tlali. Ok. It’s 105 pesos for a small mezcal drink, but maracuya + piña, habanero bitters, and tajin rimmed glass is delicious and refreshing. Gin Saavedra is also good. I avoid the Old Fashioned until they have a proper ice cube (or ice ball) at proper temperatures and replace the idea of Wild Turkey for something nice like Angel’s Envy, Buffalo Trace, or Makers (at the very least).

But you are not just paying for a drink, you are paying for the atmosphere, the rooftop views, the music is generally good, there are constant events, and new people visiting. So yeah. You are paying for all that and the drink. So the drink better be as good as the views. Some are, some aren’t. There’s one made with Baileys that… well… don’t get it. And usually, you shouldn’t do that.


Look at me. Pretending to know what I’m talking about.

Don’t buy into my bullshit.


Food.

I like the burger a lot. It’s one of my favorites in town. But that’s because I’m a sucker for Persian cucumbers and garlic aioli. My exgf loved the salads (especially the beet with goat cheese) and the portobello burger. Vegetarians usually really like the salads and the portobello burger.

Now the TAY-KOHS.

It is tough to compete in taco town. There tacos. They are good. They would be even better if they were half the price (or at least 1/3 of the price) or if they were doubled in size. If you ignore that, don’t care, earn dollars so it doesn’t matter much, then they are great tacos… but… but…. taco town.

Tacos go for roughly $3 each which should get you a fine taco in many places in San Diego (sans the view and space). And it basically achieves the same thing (plus a view and space). I’ve learned that my favorite is the braised rib with black beans. Handmade tiny tortilla, somewhat greasy and slippery. It earns points for the use of Persian cucumbers, pickled radishes, and red onions.

Told you I was a sucker for Persian cucumbers.

The other two I had was the pesto octopus and the pork jowl. For both, I demand a bigger tortilla. The octopus was good, but slippery that it all fell out. Similar thing on the pork jowl, the tortilla was too small for the amount of meat. Double tortilla? Or perhaps they want me to use a knife and fork on my tacos? Who knows…

Pork jowl tasted similar to carnitas, so if you are craving that and other carnitas spots are closed, then go for it.

For me, if I get tacos there, it’s just going to be the braised rib.


I accompanied the tacos with a Juan Cordero by Insurgente at 85 pesos, that’s a fair deal. Most craft places are hovering between 60-100 pesos a beer. The addition of Insurgente was greatly needed.


All in all, I love Cine Tonalá and that they are in town and will continue to go. You just gotta learn what to avoid and what to go for. Bread and Dip as an appetizer and a couple of drinks if it’s early. Go heavy if it’s night.

It is a great place to easily wow visitors with the view and the creative space.


And this is what I wanted to avoid. To actually pretend to know how to review food…


Today and this weekend is Stu’s final week. I forgot to go buy a bottle of whisky. He deserves it.

I’m going to miss that place so much…


Oh.

And I spoke to Haydee and Bryan yesterday. They are both willing to be tour guides. Haydee will be your family-friendly day tour guide while Bryan will take responsibilities of crazy nights and bachelor parties.

Details, prices, and other things are still to discuss. But if you are looking for tours, there will be some through them.

It’s not all dead. It’s just not Tijuana Adventure with me.


 

 

 

No More Tours!!! – New Focus on the Website = Food+ and Beer+ Reviews

Why?!

Why would you stop the dream job?!

You get to go around and take people to restaurants, eat tasty food, drink tons of beer and other liquor, and at the end, you make a couple hundred bucks!!!

Sounds like the dream, right?

Well… to tell the truth, I’m just goddamn tired.

There’s been countless groups, bachelor parties, brewery heavy tours, a few all-nighters, crazy fucking stories with people from all over the world, copious amounts of delicious food and late night street tacos, appeared in a couple of TV shows, and other broadcasts (and a disastrous one), and a lot of other crazy things happened in my tours.

The stories I tell.

The crazy South Africans.

How incredibly cheap Tijuana can be for some people.

Vegas on steroids.

And a tour guide in Vegas is going to get tired… in Tijuana… I’m surprised I lasted this long.


Other tour guides hire other people to handle some tours… but without me… Tijuana Adventure wouldn’t be the same. Or so it feels like that.

My friend Haydee helped for a while and I am forever grateful. She did a couple of art tours and a wine valley tour.

My friend Bryan wants to be the new tour guide, and for people asking for a tour, besides recommending all the other tour guides, I’ll mention my friend Bryan.

He is a good kid. But he is a kid.


Another reason for quitting.

I got somewhat of a real job. It still not completely real, but good enough to not seek out the extra cash on tours.

Well… when I think about it… yeah… that extra cash is super nice still.


I’m just a bit tired man.

I said I was quitting on my last few tours and still kept going.

Give me a year or so. Perhaps less. Who knows. But give me some time and I’ll be back with something better. More exclusive.

AND MORE EXPENSIVE!

Sorry.

It’s just… trust me. It will be awesome.


No more strip clubs.

Can’t do those anymore.


Instead of tours, the website will be dedicated for me to write stupid shit about food and beer!

You see… I used to write my opinions a lot but suddenly stopped because of creative differences with the editor. That editor is now gone. But I still don’t want to jump through hoops of an editor to say whatever the fuck I want.

YAY!

I get to say the word fuck.

How edgy and cool of me.


So what can you expect?

Quality pictures and my stupid opinions!

Here’s an example of the latest.


Haven’t been to the enchilado gods in a while, I forgot what I was missing…
.
My friend Danger Dave took me to Los Compadres for the first time a few years ago. He guaranteed that they had the best camarón enchilado taco (spicy shrimp), better than Tijuana favorite El Mazateño.
.
I have since gone to Los Compadres almost every week for the past couple of years for that very same taco. If I upload a picture to social media, I get flooded with questions as to where to find this taco (and many jealous comments). Here’s the answer:
.
You find Los Compadres next to Parque Teniente Guerrero at the corner of 4th street and Cinco de Mayo. Open 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily, except Sundays. They start running out of shrimp around 1 p.m., so you need to get there early. They also serve fish and shrimp tacos (with or without batter), caldo de cahuamanta (stingray broth), marlin tacos, and more.
.
All of their tacos are big. The battered fish and shrimp tacos are nothing to rave about and sell for around $1 each. They deep fry longer than usual, making the batter dark and crunchy. I prefer that type of taco light and crisp, so for battered fish and shrimp tacos I go to a nearby food truck.

Their caldo de cahuamanta they recommend for hangovers, especially if you add a spoonful of their very spicy salsa. It will sweat your hangover away, and Los Compadres will turn a blind eye if want to drink a Tecate at their taco stand. Their marlin taco is decent and similar to what you would find at any other taco stand that sells marlin.

Definitely the MVP and the main reason to go is the camarón enchilado. I could write a love song about this taco. It’s gigantic, greasy, has lots of melted cheese that gets burnt around the crust of the tortilla, and is loaded with a lot of flash-fried shrimp that was dunked in buttery chili sauce. It is topped (all optional) with cream, cabbage, tomato, cilantro, and chipotle sauce. It’s a complex and messy item to pick up and eat.

It’s not just me that has been addicted to these shrimp tacos. My friend Erik Trejo, who worked at Blind Lady Ale House, would regularly cross the border early morning just to eat the taco and head back north to work. The painful wait of crossing the border wasn’t enough to dissuade him.

Another friend who teaches English in Saudi Arabia stayed in my apartment for a month last summer. He ate two tacos de camarón enchilado every morning for his entire stay. He still randomly messages me that he misses the taco.

And it’s not just my friends. I have also bumped into owner of Baja-Med restaurant La Justina, Javier Cair, at Los Compadres. A former neighbor of mine, a white guy that partied too much, would take hordes of Americans and Europeans for that taco and kept the party going while drinking Tecate on the street.

None of the ingredients are gourmet or fancy. It’s a dirty fish taco truck just like the Tijuana Gods intended, and they happen to serve the best camarón enchilado taco I have ever tasted. They have a tip jar in form of a Tecate bottle. Drop some coins in when you are done with your meal and shout “por la causa!” Which means “for the cause,” the cause being to buy more Tecate.


That was actually an old article I wrote here. But they will follow a similar pattern and around that many words.

Just a bit more word vomity.


Most pictures will be taken with the iPhone X which is superb and posts will be posted in the Tijuana Adventure Instagram and Facebook pages. Pick whatever social media poison suits you best.

Then the posts will be later posted here. If there was a way for WordPress to simply post directly, that would be great. Alas, there is not.


Other pictures will be taken with my actual camera (Canon 7D for now). That’s the other job I’ve been also doing a lot.

I never really wanted to be a tour guide. This city needed one. I fulfilled my duty.

I can go back to photography work. Writing work. And now more work.


Tijuana Adventure will remain a hobby of food and beer reviewing.

I’ll try to be as honest as one can be without much hyperbole. Re-reading what I wrote about the sushi place sounds a tad exaggerated, but I meant every word. That place is fantastic and can’t wait till I’ll be back.


Both, Instagram and Facebook, pages grow by themselves without my need to sponsor them. And it’s stupid, now that I don’t do tours, I feel like throwing a couple dollars over to Zuckerberg and the social media void. At the same time, the real challenge is to grow those fuckers organically.


Oh.

And Reddit karma.


I basically promote and defend the fuck out of this city for free. They should pay me for it.

And somehow they do. Tijuana rewards me.

Tijuana has been good to me.


I might also get back into booking math rock shows. Hopefully, playing music again.


You see, it’s always been in this order:

I am a musician, writer, photographer, videogamer, and tour guide.

That last one was an additional one. It’s fun to be one and I’m very good at it. But it’s not my passion. It was paying me.

Video games I fucking adore and they had paid me for it in a few occasions (game tester for a couple of Guitar Heroes as well as the Transformers game and other little shitty things here and there). That doesn’t pay me now, but I still love it more than being a tour guide.


Writer and photographer right now are competing for which one makes more money.

They are sort of equal.

Some weeks I make more money writing. Some weeks I make more money doing photography.


Music is what I’ve always loved but has been a forgotten lover lately. I’ve been playing more guitar and a bit more inspired. So I need more time for this.


It’s the end of an era!

Thanks to everyone that came on an adventure with me. It’s been real. I seriously loved every single one of them except two.


And you all know this…

If you ever back in Tijuana, and I’m available. Just buy me a beer and let’s hang out. I like talking about all the new shit that the city has been going through and new places where to eat and drink!

I made friends with most of you. And I’m sorry if I don’t remember all of you clearly… it’s been a lot of tours. And they all blur into one crazy huge mega tour.


Oh. And one more reason to do this silliness. Last year I wrote more than 1,000 words a day but it was all about my personal life. Well, now it will be just about this. Keep my personal life out of this for a while (though I give 0 fucks).

And also. Because there are a lot of shitty people that do this and are no good. I feel like I’m better. So what?

I’m doing it for fun. Not for you. More for like myself and Tijuana. If you don’t agree with me, that’s okay. I probably don’t agree with you!


Thanks for reading and hope y’all enjoy a silly blog of food and drinks in this marvelous city. Let’s see how long this project will last…

 

Tijuana Adventures Featured in TravelMag.com – Sorry, This Has Been Sort Of Abandoned – Tours are Still Active

Ahoy! To all of those who stumbled into this page of Tijuana tours and adventures.

The blog has pretty much been abandoned for more than a couple of months. Things that I said I would fill in later, I never did. And ideas that I have never materialized.

Despite the page being virtually abandoned, a writer from TravelMag.com found me. And he had something wonderful to say about the tours.

Here’s the link to the article, or click the screencap.


Thanks to writer Paul Joseph for the mention.


So… why so abandoned?

Your tour guide has been busy with photography and writing. I’ve been writing every day the whole year in my own personal blog that I dubbed word vomit because I pretty much write about everything and anything. I also started a new gig as a freelance photographer for the magazine that usually runs my articles. So I’ve been pretty busy with other things that aren’t my tours.


Despite this, I have had several tours since the latest post.


And also, paid for the yearly subscription of this webpage. It was done automatically. I’m not sure if I actually wanted to do it.


Shit.

My latest post was from February…


I had around eight tours since then. Very sporadic and random tours. The latest was a repeat customer with new friends. A guy from Vancouver (with Moroccan family) brought two friends from Kosovo (but that grew up in Vancouver).

It was really fun times since the last time the repeat customer visited was a couple of years ago and a lot of things changed.

And a lot of things have changed with Tijuana Adventure as well.


Though I had the fantasy to make this into a food and beer blog, I’ve been too busy to keep that going.

However, I did start becoming very active on Instagram posting a lot of food porn.

If there was a way to post everything on my Instagram directly to WordPress, this page wouldn’t be totally abandoned.


So if you enjoy pictures of the Tijuana/San Diego reader, better follow me! It’s been a steady climb of followers. Easier than my actual profile @Matingas_

Repsonse has been good with the food pics. And it’s given me an outlet to write about food.


I also did business cards for myself and for this business.

They look like this.

Yes.

Exclusive tours.

I don’t do private groups and most people that know me have heard of me somehow, so they know what to expect.

So I’m more exclusive now. You get a tour with a photographer, writer, and musician with SHIT TONS of stories to tell. And that’s really what makes the tours special. They are small. I get to talk to everyone. I get to tell stories. We get to know each other.

So again.

My tours aren’t like other tours.

Go to the other tours if you want a basic (yet very fun) tour.


And finally.

I’m still working with Haydee if I ever need a replacement, or if I’m not available, or if people want to go to Valle de Guadalupe. She’s more knowledgeable about the wine valley than me. And she could also drive people there.

Basically, Haydee is still IN doing tours as needed.

I wish I had more tours for her. I wished I had more tours for myself. But life gets busy with other things and then time flies.