Mexico City

Trip Start Jul 08, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

While I am writing these lines, I have left la Ciudad de Mexico going towards Puerto Escondido, on the mexican west coast.  After a few weeks here, 4 hostels, hundreds of pictures taken, douzens of tortillas and probably around a 100km walked, I can say that Mexico City is one of the great city I have visited.  It is really here that I could feel myself feeling really traveling.  Before, was only a warm up!  Think about it, 24 millions people living in the same city... its almost the population of Canada.  However, it does not give the impression of such a big city as it is so spread out in a gigantic valley.  Most of this valley used to be a lake but the Spaniards dried it up hundreds of years ago to make more room for the city;s expansion and ironically today, many places in the city are now lacking water.  My favorite sectors were: El centro, Zone Rosa, Roma and Coyoacan. 

El Centro is Mexico old city which of all the sectors I have seen, is the one I found the most impressive.  Hundreds of small streets, people selling everything and anything everywhere, thousands of cars, many thousands of people, hidden secrets and wonderful architectures everywhere.  Its simply a delight just to walk around!  The old Aztec Capital  of Technochitlan lies in its center.  Not much left of it or most of it is still to be restored, but it was a weird feeling trying to imagine Aztecs living there 500 years ago or so.  Around it are the cathedral, the Government Palace and the Zocalo Square, all built by the Spaniards when they first arrived.  A little further from there, lies the second biggest city of the Aztec Empire, Tlatelolco.  Zona Rosa, Roma and Coyoacan are also nice places with live activities, restaurants, bars, nice colonial architecture, residential areas and marketplaces areas.  Police officers at every street corners keep this huge city in check... or is it in corruption.   Thousands of people are selling illegal things on the street: cds, dvds, etc, but thanks to the police and in turn to the politicians, this system keeps on working well.  Shops do also sell legal stuff (I assumed) such as food, fruits, nuts, porn magazines, lots of it actually, at every street corners and along every major arteries.  Most of the Mexicans I have spoken to say that their country is so corrupted, that it is a real problem that stops then from truly emerging as a whole.  For years politicians have promessed to fix the problem without success.  I knew this for a fact beforehand, however I did not know how bad it was.  Mexican have a saying: "If you can get away with it, its fine".  Now that was my guide;s opinion anyway, talking about her countrymen.  I have met so many nice people there, I cannot believe everybody think this way. 

As I was saying, people are very nice in general and some are curious about outsiders.  No one asked me for money, although I somehow became a pretty hot prospect for a new credit card, as numerous people asked me to fill in a registration form.  I could easily get rid of them by asking them if they spoke French... lets just say they were not as ressourceful as the Marocains I have encountered in Casablanca :).  In general, I did not have the feeling that many tourists where there, which was great.  And forget English, Mexicains are simply not interested, all is in Spanish... which I loved as I was forced to listen and speak it the best I could.  It really justified those few weeks I am about to spend in Puerto Escondido to learn Spanish ... and surf.

The colors of the city are great!  I especially loved the food markets all around the city, where you can buy everything, as well as dried insects!! Hum very delicious... a bit like chips.  The city is in general an interesting mix of old and new and there is a sense of controled chaos.  Almost seems like everything could go out of control, but at the same time, everyone seems pretty relax and I found it quite inspiring and relaxing.  Other than the metro, the best deal I have found is 10 pesos (1$) for 4 mangos, cut and ready to be eaten in the street.  Hmmmmm mangos... so sweet and delicious here.

The metro is very efficient, safe and I found its the best way to travel! I have never waited more than 2 min at any given time to get in and altough it can get quite crazy and OVER packed at rush hour, especially on the pink link, for 2 pesos (0.2$) per ride, its a very good deal!  Its also quite a show.  At every stop, there is someone coming in to sell music cds.  Once their sales speech is done, often very incomprehensible due to the background noise of the metro, they play the music they are selling using a portable cd palyer and a bag-speaker kind of system.  Quite impressive really! Some are selling other things such as food, pencils and Super Glue!?  Not sure what is the deal with Super Glue, but I guess Mexicans must break their plates often or something like that? Hundreds of people doing the same thing, from young, to old, to disabled (blind) people.  Really made me realized I was lucky and would not like to do their job, especially at the price they are paid.

The Mexican economy is primarily focused on $ coming from Mexican;s outside of the country, majoritarily from the US.  I had no idea it was so important.  People dont earn much money here and the corruption takes care of the rest.  Mexican have a pretty big Petrol Industry but the government;s management inefficiency, apparently does not allow it to be as big and profitable as it should be.  Storms and hurricanes don;t help either.  As I was here, the Government had to shut down 1/3 of its global production because of the hurricane DEAN.  They lost 100M$ per day.  Of course the tourism industry is huge, employing a lot of people and Mexicans also build a lot of our stuff.  For example, Volkswagen have huge plants in Puebla, not even 1 hour from Mexico... so much, that I heard they also control part of the politics of the area.

I have really enjoyed my time here, met interesting people and was a very good landing platform to start my exploration of one of the greatest emerging country in the world.  The Chinese have: Made in China.  Here it is: Hecho in Mexico!  Was also a great place to furthermore deepen my knowledge of Mesoamerican cultures, namely the Aztecs and Mayans.  I am now going to Puerto Escondido, away from the mountains and the big crowds seeking the peace of the Pacific Ocean.

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erriuc on

Corrections on the Mexicain economy numbers
Hello vcvcv, thank you for the corrections. I should have double check that prior to writing it. I guess my guide was wrong. Really seemed weird to me that this could have been the case anyways.

ps, You wouldnt know the approximate portion of revenues the Mexican government does not get from corruption would you?


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