4 Days in Mexico City

 

It was just after Thanksgiving, 2017, when Loren invited me once again to come down and check out Mexico City. He had worked there for two years and was really enjoying the experience. So, I decided to go for it. Loads are light the first two weeks after Thanksgiving, and the flights down were uneventful. I got a window seat out of Houston and as we flew down Texas just off the shoreline, I scanned the many bays to find Corpus Christi Bay where I used to sail while in Navy flight training. Two were possibilities. Over Mexico, the shoreline turned eastward under us and we flew over sparse desert, which grew increasingly hilly. By the time the plane started to descend, there were mountains to the west. In the distance I saw Volcan Novado de Toluca, a volcano southwest of Mexico City, smaller than the famed Popocat├ępetl Volcano, but still prominent. Mexico City lies in a basin, which was once a lake, surrounded by mountains. Soon, we were doing the famed 180 degree left turn to final approach, which takes the plane below the mountains and must be performed visually. One cannot fly an instrument approach into MEX because of the mountains. With low ceilings or fog, the airport is simply closed.

Although Mexico no longer does customs unless one has something special to declare, the immigration line was long and took about 45 minutes. I did the prepaid cab, which my guidebook suggested. Then I went to the ATM and used my debit card to change mone., I was lead by an attendant to the appropriate cab. The cab driver was friendly but spoke no English. After 20 minutes he got a call, "did your passenger leave his credit card at the airport?" He used his smart phone to translate. At first I said no, then checked my wallet. Sure enough, my debit card was not there; I'd left it in the ATM machine. I agreed we should return to the airport. At the airport, the driver flashed his lights and the same attendant came running over and handed me my card. I tipped her $20 and she was thrilled. So was I. My first experience in a city of 21 million people was pretty good.

Loren had instructed me to load WhatsApp into my phone which allowed us to text message or even use voice. I alerted him I was almost there and he met me at the bottom of his glass tower workplace, located on the elegant Paseo de la Reforma, the main boulevard of downtown. We walked two long blocks, past monuments and sculptures to his apartment and were soon ready to explore and get dinner.

 

Arriving by air

Descending into Mexico's high altitude valley, Volcan Novado de Toluca rises prominently out of the smog.

 

On final to MEX

On short final into MEX I look down at stadiums for the 1968 Summer Olympics

 

Loren's Office

Loren manages a team on the 26th floor, looking down on the Paseo de La Reforma. This beautiful boulevard has six lanes each direction and wide walkways under the trees with statues, gardens and benches for hanging out.

 
Pepe the shoe shine man

Pepe, the Shoe Shine Man was well known and greeted by many passers by. My tennis shoes didn't need a shine, but they had ridiculously long laces. Pepe had a nice collection and he fixed me up for the princely sum of $1.

Rental bikes

These rental bikes were everywhere. One used a credit card to begin the transaction. It was lifted from the digital rail. When the bike was returned to any rail in the city, the small charge was calculated and deducted.

 

skyscraper

Paseo de la Reforma has some beautiful buildings.

 

Mapfre building

Another example.

 

 

touribus

Loren had to work on Friday, so I bought a Turibus ticket which allowed me to explore about a six mile area of "Central" and Paseo de La Reforma, jumping on and off at its many stops. Cost, about $8.

 

Juarez Monument

In "Central" Park, the Juarez Monument is done in white marble. Speakers were set up and police had assembled, so I assumed it might be for music.

 

Juarez protest

There was indeed music, and dancing, and speeches, but in the form of a protest by uniformed students of Mexico's National Autonomous University (UNAM). Rather than wearing hoods and smashing windows, these students had a program that was choreographed and enthusiastic. People were actually entertained enough to listen to their message. I found it a interesting way to change a few minds.

 

Palace of Fine Art

Marking the eastern edge of Central Park is the Palace of Fine Art, reputedly holding a worthwhile collection of art.

 

Piniata

On a one-way street, traffic came to a halt for about 20 minutes as police worked through an accident. The car beside us held a couple of ornaments destined for the giant artificial Christmas tree I would soon see a block down the road. As I write this, Guiness has certified the tree as the largest Christmas tree in the world.

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Street tacos

On my layovers in Mexico I learned to love the simple, but delicious street tacos. Just don't drink the water. Sure enough, I easily found a street full of vendors and had one chicken and one beef. With a big orange drink (real cane sugar is used in Mexico, so soft drinks taste like they did in the 50's) the total cost came to $2.50.

 

The other white meat.

Next door they served, "the other white meat," a staple here that Andrew Zimmern would love.

 

A taqueria

A few streets away, one can get five tacos for 30 pesos or $1.66, so once again I way overspent. It must have been the big orange.