Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Logbook: Zocalo Mexico City

Zocalo1The overnight bus from Monterrey to Mexico City last Sunday night was pretty good. Imagine a first class flight and you will pretty much have the picture. Add in some hefty turbulence to account for the road conditions and you will really have it. Also, since I am at least a few inches taller than the average Mexican, the fully reclining seat was a bit short for me. No matter, getting the very best bus you can -- and there are many, many classes of bus in Mexico -- is certainly worth the small added cost. Of course, 12 hours on any vehicle is a pain, so I was happy when we arrived in this immense city. As usual, I got on the taxi ticket line and paid my fare to Zocalo -- the center of the historic area where I had made arrangements at the local Holiday Inn -- and got a memorable taxi ride through what is some of the worst traffic I have ever experienced.

After a smooth check in, I will confess that I took a nap. Not a long one, but a good and much needed hour or so. Then, since I’d only arranged two nights at the Holiday Inn -- and, frankly, since it was overpriced and not very friendly -- I hit the streets to find another hotel. The Hotel Majestic, right around the corner, has a very nice “authentic” ambiance for less money, so I booked a room for the duration of my stay here in Mexico City. After that, I wandered around the area for a while, taking in the sights and sounds of this very busy area and found a Starbucks where I treated myself to a “familiar” cup of coffee. By early evening, sensory overload had set in so I had a simple dinner at a decent local restaurant, went back to my room and crashed.

Zocalo2Yesterday was an olio of activity. I spent some quality time having on-line conversations with friends and family, did some research on what to do in Mexico city, did a little preliminary scouting of my options for continuing south toward Costa Rica and wandered the neighborhood. All in all, I am growing fond of the area. It is way more congested, busy, noisy and dirty than I would like, but it is a vibrant place. Again, by the end of the day I was “full” and appreciated the joy of going to my room, bolting the door and hanging out in my peaceful little cocoon. I spent some time online this morning, then packed up my gear, checked out of the Holiday Inn and walked around the block to the Majestic where I am now happier to be. Taking advantage of my increasing city stamina, I packed up my laundry and tried to find a laundromat. There may be one in the area, but I couldn’t find it. What I did find was a little shop where I was able to figure out that a nice young woman would do my laundry for me. The price she quoted is about a buck more than if I did it myself someplace, so I handed her the bag and was rewarded with a receipt and the assurance that it would be ready tomorrow after ten. I was a bit disappointed that I would not have the experience of doing my own laundry in Mexico, but I was also happy not to have to deal with it.

You have probably noticed that in 48 hours in Mexico City I have done exactly zero sightseeing or exploration. There is a good reason for this: On Friday, my good friend Greg -- the Hi-Line Road Trip Greg -- will be arriving to join me for a week on The Voyage. With this in mind, I am holding off on doing any real exploration so that we will be discovering the area together. Also, knowing that we will be going non-stop once he gets here, I am making sure that all my “stuff” -- gear, correspondence, accounts, etc. -- is in order so that there will be nothing to get in the way of our adventures! I am really looking forward to having his company -- and enjoying his wild, crazy energy! Ole!

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