¡Bienvenidos a Mexico! Although I made the plans for us to spend 3 weeks in Mexico over 5 months ago, it was not until yesterday that I actually gave our trip much thought. I literally threw clothes in a backpack and worried all night that I was forgetting something. I have not done any planning for this trip other than plane and hotel reservations, so at least I minimized the worrying to one day. We left Kerrville at eight this morning, drove to San Antonio, and after a short 1 hour and 40 minute flight, we landed in the sprawling megapolis of Mexico City. As the plane descended into the anthill that is interrupted by intermittent lush mountains, you start to realize that the dark blanket surrounding the city is not rain clouds, but pollution. The girls were a bit shocked when I pointed that out. We exited the plane and instead of walking through a tunnel to the airport terminal, we were met by a bus on the tarmac. We climbed aboard and then promptly sat there, not moving. Standing there, I realized that although it is a cliché, being on “Mexico Time” is a very real thing. I have never figured out if it is a byproduct of bureaucracy, or if most other countries in the world other than the United States are simply just not in a hurry. Either way, we sat on that bus for a full 20 minutes before actually going inside the airport. Upon entering, we found the migration line for foreigners and were a bit dismayed to see roughly 150 people in line ahead of us. We snaked through the line for another 45 minutes and luckily got our passports stamped with no problems. Walking outside to catch a taxi, there were several choices. I have read that cabs from the airport are generally safe as long as you get a prepaid one. I went to the first kiosk and was quoted a price of 380 pesos… roughly $20USD. When in Mexico, you should always shop around for a better price, so I went to the next kiosk…280 pesos. The third and least fancy kiosk was the charm…180 pesos. These kiosks were literally right next to one another so shopping around was a breeze. Our cab driver was friendly and despite the fact that we almost had at least 4 wrecks we arrived at our hotel in one piece. Carmela commented that Mexico “looks like India minus the cows.” She meant that it is filled with little shops and there are people everywhere trying to sell you things. Sitting in traffic, we were offered water, chips, cell phone cases, gum, and of course window washing services.
As we approached the Zocalo, or city center where the government building and the main cathedral are housed, we noticed a huge number of soldiers positioned every 20 feet carrying automatic weapons and bullet shields. It is not uncommon to see soldiers outside of buildings in Mexico, but this number seemed excessive. Apparently, government elections are being held this Sunday and in anticipation of civil unrest, the troops have been dispatched. Great!
We met my aunt, uncle, and cousins at the hotel and spent the rest of the evening walking around, eating dinner, and enjoying ice cream in the rain. Our hotel is over 100 years old and houses the 2nd and 3rd elevators to be introduced in Mexico. It is beautiful, but there does not seem to be hot water and the aircon does not blow cold air due to energy shortages and rolling blackouts in this part of town. Imagine watching a heated soccer match on TV with rolling blackouts. Doh! When in Rome, I suppose.
Tomorrow we plan to spend the day at the Anthropology Museum.