The Great Mass of Mexcio City

Trip Start Feb 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 20, 2009

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Where I stayed

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Saturday, March 7, 2009

We arose at 4am to trudge through San Diego to the bus stop to catch the airport bus, so we missed the free pancakes at the hostel that morning. Although we were glad that it would be our last time going through the US airport security, we were both a bit weary of what the Mexican Immigration was going to be like. In Oregon a pharmacist had told us a story about her friend who got pulled aside and "had" to pay the authorities $200 to get through. We had heard so many mixed reports about Mexico that we just wanted to get there to see it for ourselves.

After a connection to LAX we boarded an Alaskan Airlines flight to Mexico City (that reeks of a cheap flight aye). When we sarted descending, we could see a clearly defined layer of clear blue on top, with a layer of thick grey on the bottom. Then the mass of the city loomed beneath us, as far as we could see through the haze in all directions. The airport was really clean and well laid out. We went through immigration in record time, all they did was stamp our passports. At the bag check, everyone was put in front of a board with just a red button on it. I stood there wondering what the heck was going on and a lady was standing there saying "Button! Button!". I hesitantly pressed the red button and was then moved along, pleased that a trap door didn´t spring open under me. It was the random bag check system, a bloody comical way to do it.

After fending off about 50 people wanting to carry our bags for us, we bought a pre-paid taxi ticket and caught a ride into the "centro". Suddenly we were hooning down narrow streets packed with people and markets, and, of course, everything was in Spanish. We got dropped off at a Hostal in the Main Square, the Zocalo, behind a massive Cathedral. The lad at the counter spoke English fairly well and organised us a room. At this hostal, there was a cafe/bar on the bottom level, and a bar on the top level. We sat down and had the house special, which was two 1.2 litre Coronas for 85 pesos, about NZ$9.

We were staying in the Main City square, the Zocalo, with the main government buildings, the cathedral, and 2000 year old ruins of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan just off our doorstep. Our first venture out wasto the Aztec ruins. Thay had been long forgotten about after the Spanish conquest in the 1500´s and were accidentally discovered in 1978 during some digging for foundations. It turns out the entire historic area of Mexico City is built right on top of an even more historic area, the Aztec city of Tenochitlan, which flourished for 1000 years before the Spanish arrived in 1521. The foundations of the old pyramid are still well intact which was quite amazing.

The locals, and there were a lot of them, were really friendly and when they heard us attempting Spanish, sometimes miserably, they perked up and helped us out. One time when Clare´s metro (subway) ticket didn't work at the turnstiles a fella happily handed her a new one. However an eye opener was the military presence in the Zocalo, a truck full of armed troops was always on hand around the government buildings. On a Sunday took the metro to the massive city park, Chapaultepec, which was full of families and markets and muesems. We visited the Museo de Anthropoligica, one of, if not the, largest muesems in the world, housing artifacts and exhibits on all the indiginous Mexican cultures.

The food was great. Our stomachs managed to agree with statement also. People were selling food and stuff everywhere and out of every crack in the wall. We bought 10 minature tacos for 10 pesos from one vendor. We shifted to a different hostel on our last night to escape the noise from the two bars that pumped music all day and night in the other one, that novelty had worn off quickly. 
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