Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
217Trip End Ongoing
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But now we're back armed with must-see tips from Tomas (Zacatecas) and Ubaldo (Guanajuato) plus directions to a highly recommended and award-winning hostel. We made peace with the knowledge that we had to pay the equivalent price of a private room with ensuite for just a dorm bed here
The hostel was cool though! The "buena onda" (good vibe) was apparent with laidback tunes pumping as we arrived, raising the tempos and the glass bottoms as evening came around. The bartender made the rounds regularly with his oversized bottle of tequila giving out free shots. Regular themed nights are held, such as a beach party which saw the whole lobby covered in sawdust (?). With enough margaritas, I guess sawdust can be beach sand!
Breakfast was included, but it wasn't just the usual continental stuff. There was also cut oranges and every morning a local lady prepared a different hot Mexican dish for us, like chilaquiles or quesadillas. The rooms were spacious and decorated, the beds comfy (and bed-bug free!), and the bathrooms were a pleasure! Girls only, complete with vanity mirrors!
Being creatures of habit, our first meal was back at a little taqueria we discovered first time round. The tacos were still as good, especially the gringas (marinated pork with cheese and pine on a flour tortilla). They didn't recognise us, that would've been impressive but they pointed out that they're open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
All those Mexico City activities that were left undone...time to pick up where we left off. We discovered that the Municipal Palace was free so we did that. They had "a few simple rules" enforced by armed militia - no food or pens were allowed in, and we were searched to ensure this. Not even bubblegum because apparently some vandal at some point thought that sticking it to the murals was a good idea! No hats or sunglasses to be worn because the cameras have to see our pretty mugs. Say cheese! And no photos are allowed of the indoor displays.
Truth be told, we are pretty tired of museums and question whether we EVER found them more than mildly interesting. It's simply not how we learn best! That already eliminates half of the city's attractions but the palace had cool murals by Diego Rivera on the staircase though and a dedicated section on Benito Juarez. You really should Wiki the story of this 5-term indigenous president who was illiterate until the age of 12. Easy to see why he's the darling of Mexico!
Next we visited the cathedral. It was ornate but no more impressive than others we've seen except maybe that the mass was full in the middle of the week in the middle of the day and..
Bohemian types sold their Bohemian wares in Parque Alameda as we strolled by, on the hunt for aqua fresca naranja (fresh fruit pulp mixed with water). Orange shouldn't be so hard to find!
Before Mario had too much time to nap we kept moving, this time by Metro (underground train) to Bosque de Chapultepec. This "forest" is Mexico City's answer to Hyde Park except for all the chilli popcorn and balloon vendors. It's home to many of the museums that we'd already decided to skip so it was no biggie that it we arrived near closing time.
We strolled alongside the park all the way to Zona Rosa. It lived up to its reputation of being posh, lively and over-priced. The tacos at El Trompito, a local favourite, were average at best and left us unsatisfied. But the rocking tunes and tasty margaritas at a nearby bar made up for it! It even came with unsolicited entertainment. A drunken fool dancing on the pedestrian walkway attracted a lot of attention and some tips (?!). However, he failed to deliver when Beyonce's Single Ladies song came on!
On our last day we ventured to the southern end of the Metro map and beyond to the end of the overland rail line to Xochimilco. Many people had recommended this day trip so we had to see what the fuss was about. It's the Venice of Mexico, if you like. A system of canals dotted with colourful boats that are skillful manoeuvred through artificially created land. Vendors have their own boats too selling potato chips with hot sauce, tamales, beers, and a Mariachi boat will attach itself to yours and a play songs for you at about $100 pesos a pop
We arrived back in the centre about an hour before sunset. Mario wanted to head straight to the hostel to catch a nap before the evening's activities but Dee pushed on to the Torre Latinoamericano, the highest building in Mexico City. The timing was perfect to see both the city in both daylight and an hour later to see the city lights.
The evening entertainment...?
Mexican wrestling in Mexico. It had to be done! To get the full experience, group-mentality-and-all, we opted to join the Lucha Libre hostel tour. Forty-strong we headed over to Arena Mexico in 3 mini-vans lead by Gerardo, our barman-cum-schmoozer-cum-tourguide. Not before having tequila literally thrown down our throats!
The female wrestlers were first up entering the arena to roaring applause and whistles. Each one seemed to count down to her cue to threw each other across the ring with perfect choreography. "Why do the ugly ones always win?" one of our drunken 20-something crew shouted, as if it were a real sport. It seems most of the crowd were also supporting the pretty ones - the ridiculously skinny, scantily-clad, misfit-for-purpose "wrestlers". But anyone who has ever watched WWF or the like knows it's all about the entertainment. They were following a very specific formula. In the end the natural order of things was restored. The pretty girls won!
The real posturing came when the males swaggered into the arena beating their chests, gesturing obscenities and antagonising each other. But it was the midgets who stole the show, especially one in a blue gorilla costume. The poor sod got carried off near the end when one of the over-eager beavers stomped on him. We hoped the little guys ok as we saw them carry his limp body off. Was it all just pretend?
I wish I could show you photos so you could decide but alas, cameras weren't allowed. Something about the flashes distracting the sportsmen and women...ppffffttt!!