Guadalupe Shrine and Another Walk in the Park

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Jan 02, 2009

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Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Thursday, January 1, 2009

It was the first day of the New Year and we hoped it would be our last in Mexico. We had enjoyed our 5 days in Mexico but we hoped to get seats on the evening flight back to LA.

In the morning I finished my journal entry for the previous day and edited my photos, ultimately happy with the shots I got of the monarch butterflies. I went to the business center downstairs to go online and post another entry on my travel blog, just in case anyone wanted the latest news of our travels.

We decided not to go to Teotihuacan after all, as both Suzan and I had been there at separate times in years past. All of the walking there would have been tough for Suzan, as her calves were sore from the hike at the butterfly sanctuary. We went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe instead, in the hopes of attending Mass for today's feast for the Solemnity of the Virgin Mary. When we arrived at the Villa Basilica metro station we suddenly found ourselves amongst huge crowds who had the same idea as us. There were thousands and thousands of people, and it seemed ironic that 24 hours earlier we were observing millions of monarchs all clustered together in the butterfly sanctuary, while today we ourselves were at a religious sanctuary amidst a sea of Catholics.

The shrine was a bit too crowded for our liking, and it was nearly impossible to even enter the church due to the sheer number of people already inside and clogging the entrances. We shuffled a few steps in as part of the entering horde, enough to see the famous cloak of the dark-skinned Virgin Mary behind the altar.

One of the best parts of our visit to the shrine was watching the traditional dancers outside the church in the grand plaza. There was a sort of religious dance of men in cowboy hats holding crosses and wearing sequinned capes depicting the Virgin Mary. A few steps away was a traditional Aztec group dancing to thunderous drumming.

We left by noon as the shrine got increasingly crowded and shopped a little for souvenirs on the way back to the metro stop. We stopped at a bustling restaurant for an excellent lunch where the kitchen consisted of a couple of ladies cooking just inside the front window.

On the return to the Sheraton Sophia fell asleep in the stroller and I carried her up and down several flights of steps inside the metro stations. Although I had many positive feelings for Mexico City and its extensive, efficient, and economical metro system, the lack of escalators and elevators made it difficult with a stroller. Additionally, the gates for strollers at the turnstiles were always locked and the policeman on duty rarely had the key to open it, so that necessitated a lot more lifting of the stroller. And finally, I was a little disappointed that never once did any of the fellow passengers (e.g., single men) ever offer to help us carry the stroller up or down the steps, something seen so often in European metros.

Sophia slept in our room while we got our things packed for a late check-out, then dropped off our things with the bellman at 3:30 as we walked across the street for one last visit to Parque Alameda. Sophie was still fussy from an insufficient nap, and only the promise of face-painting was able to buoy her spirits. The park was as active as a weekend afternoon, and I realized how much I enjoyed the simple pleasure of walking in the park with Sophia and Suzan. There were plenty of shopping opportunities (got some nice t-shirts for about $2.50 each), I got a much needed shoe shine for a little over a dollar, and we did indeed find a face-painter who did a fine job for 10 pesos (75 cents). Sophia loved it, and the parental joy I felt watching her happiness was probably impossible for non-parents to fully understand.

We caught a taxi to the airport, a quick ride thanks to the New Year's holiday with 95% of all businesses closed. Unfortunately we were unable to get seats on the flight to LA. It was disappointing, and even Sophia burst out in tears when I told her we couldn't go on the airplane, that we couldn't go home yet.

"I want to go on airplane! I want to go home!" she wailed, and this was after she had told us "I like Mexico" on the way to the airport.

We eventually consoled her with the help of the video camera, collected our bags and dispiritedly exited into the arrivals section. We had mentally finished our Mexico trip, but now we were here for at least one more day. We went back to the Sheraton, got our same room on the 22nd floor, and used the internet in our room to check the flights for the next day. I ran over to KFC to get some dinner for us, and I felt pretty guilty to buy such food when I love Mexican food so much. Sophia, though, just wasn't into the local cuisine.

We went to bed around 10 pm, uncertain whether we would try to stand by for the early morning flight to San Francisco, or wait until the 6:20 pm flight to LA. I really wanted to get home in time to go to Annie's 5K race on Saturday, mainly as a show of support for her great efforts in organizing such a big event. At least we weren't desperate to get home yet, as I didn't have to start teaching for 5 more days.
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simyoe on

Beautiful Pictures
Matt, Thanks for sharing your family trip to Mexico
After reading your journal, I really want to go there too
Your pictures are absolutely marvelous!!
Happy New Year!

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