On the hunt down Mex­ico way

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - LES EVERETT

FREMANTLE, WA WE told ev­ery­one we were headed to Mex­ico. We got tips about places to go, where to avoid, sights to see, food to seek out. The plan was to land in Los An­ge­les, check out a few places in the US, then hurry down south of the bor­der. Things didn’t quite go to plan. Mem­phis, Ten­nessee, with its mag­nif­i­cent Pe­abody Ho­tel, Elvis’s Grace­land and the ribs at the Ren­dezvous, kept us much longer than ex­pected.

The Grand Old Opry in Nashville with Tom T. Hall, Porter Wagoner and Ricky Sk­aggs was too tempt­ing. And of course we needed to point our rented Lin­coln in the di­rec­tion of the Jack Daniel’s Dis­tillery in the dry county of Lynchville.

Then down to San An­to­nio. Well, what a town. We didn’t want to leave. Mex­ico was sud­denly look­ing a long way away. In our room at the Menger Ho­tel, over­look­ing the Alamo, was a brochure for a train trip into Mex­ico and ac­com­mo­da­tion for two nights. I booked.

First stop was a ho­tel in Laredo, then a bus across the Rio Grande to Nuevo Laredo. My mem­o­ries of the train trip are hazy but I re­call cacti and plas­tic bags.

The friendly Amer­i­can owner of our ac­com­mo­da­tion picked us up at a tiny sta­tion. He­seemed sur­prised by our lack of lug­gage but shrugged and of­fered us each a beer for the ride.

The place was great — cir­cu­lar with a huge open liv­ing area in the mid­dle; our gue­stroom was on the first floor. We’d hardly set­tled in when six mar­gar­i­tas ar­rived. Min­utes later the waiter reap­peared. The drinks had been de­liv­ered to the wrong room. He seemed sur­prised at how much we’d al­ready con­sumed.

That night we played pool with some Amer­i­can guests. They were puz­zled why we’d cho­sen a hunt­ing lodge when we clearly had no in­ten­tion of hunt­ing. Hunt­ing lodge?

In the cool of early morn­ing I joined one of the Amer­i­cans by the pool. He was on to his sec­ond bloody mary and wasn’t happy. ‘‘Th­ese sons-of-bitches promised good huntin’,’’ he said. ‘‘Well we got nothin’.’’

As we left the next day we saw lots of dead things lined up out­side the lodge. My new Amer­i­can friend was there and I have to say he did look rather pleased with him­self. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@ theaus­tralian.com.au. Columnists re­ceive an Aubecq fry­pan ($99.99) from the Ever­green Clas­sic range of ce­ramic-based eco­cook­ware with non­stick coat­ing. More: (02) 9662 3450; mor­gan­ware.com.au; pe­ter­sofkens­ing­ton. com.au.

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