Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Logbook: Cinco Dias En Mexico

Cincodiasenmexico1I have a lot of great media of the five days “Los Viajeros” have spent in Mexico City which I will soon edit into a Report. Meanwhile, here is a recap: After getting a much needed good night’s sleep on Friday night -- in our cool, quiet, mosquito-free room at the fabulous Gran Hotel -- we decided to make Saturday an “overview” day. So, after breakfast and a brief walk around Zocalo we got on the “Turibus” -- the typical red, double-decker, open air bus that most major cities have for tourists -- and had a four hour tour around the major highlights of the city. The many famous buildings and monuments were interesting, of course, but what was most amazing is the city’s sheer mass of humanity... and traffic! With over 20 million people -- and a comparable number of vehicles -- Mexico City is the world’s second most populous city. One is constantly surrounded by people and suffocated by exhaust, smog and pollution. At one point, when we got off the bus to take a break, Greg had no problem doing his usual routine of getting his picture taken with local girls. With his disarming smile and infectious positive energy, he always seems to bring out the “fun” in people. My role as “straight man” involves saying, “Lo siento, mi tio es muy loco!” which always clinches the deal. The Mexican people are very warm, friendly and happy, which is somehow in stark contrast to the very difficult living conditions of the city.

After a little “recovery” time in our room, we had dinner and hit the rack. On Sunday morning we met with Miguel -- a professional tour guide with a wonderful sense of humor and excellent English -- for a full day of sightseeing. We drove south through the city, stopped at a number of interesting places where we enjoyed Miguel’s insightful “esplanations” and good humor, then went to a local professional soccer game. What an experience! The cheering, chanting and singing never stopped during the entire game, and by the time it was over we were fast friends with many of the fans. After the game we drove to the floating gardens for an enjoyable “barge ride.” This experience is impossible to describe, so you will have to wait to see it in the Report. The day pretty much wore us out, so we did our routine of rest, eat and sleep.

On Monday, I had an “inside day” to make some arrangements for the Voyage going forward and to do some “other work” which included several excellent telecons on my beloved Skype -- Have I mentioned it’s free! Greg headed out for a day of exploration, returning completely exhausted in the afternoon -- it is impossible to express how the oppressive conditions in this city will wear you out -- ready for a nap, dinner and sleep. Yesterday, we headed out together for a day of exploration that centered around experiencing the city’s subway system. We were very impressed with the Metro, and would recommend it to any visitor as a way to get around. The trains run frequently, swiftly and all over the city, carrying more than five million people a day. Greg had heard that “old” people get to ride for free, so he made a comedy routine out of getting the turnstile guards to let him through without paying. The video of this is priceless! At one point, we got off at a station where we were told there was a “Museum of Torture” -- something we just had to see -- and spent an hour trying to get directions from local folks. We finally gave up and returned to Zocalo, only to find out that the museum was within walking distance of our hotel! After touring the exhibit -- which was positively ghastly -- we returned to our hotel for -- you guessed it -- rest, dinner and sleep!

Cincodiasenmexico2This morning, we met up with Miguel and drove out of the city to see the famous pyramids at Teotehuican. We again had the benefit of Miguel’s vast knowledge, informative “esplain you everything” and wonderfully dry wit. Because we had both been feeling so badly as a result of Mexico City’s altitude, pollution, etc., we were initially unsure about our ability to climb the Sun Pyramid. Taking our time, however, we successfully scaled the structure and were rewarded with a wonderful vista. If you ever visit Mexico City, the pyramids are a “must.” Not only is it a very interesting archeological site, it is also a great escape from the oppressive conditions of the city. Upon our return to the hotel, we had a rest then went out to have our last dinner together and our last immersion into the insanity of Zocalo -- which was on overdrive due to “Day of the Dead” festivities!

Tomorrow we will pack up, check out and head our separate ways. Greg has an afternoon flight back to Seattle, and I will catch an overnight bus south to Tapachula where I will spend a few days in the state of Chiapas before embarking on my “Central America Sprints” through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua on my way to Costa Rica. In closing, I want to express my thanks to Greg for joining me on The Voyage this past week. I simply could not have had as good a time in Mexico City without him. The conditions here are so difficult that I might have left without experiencing all the good and interesting things that the city has to offer. We always have a good time together, but this time I was enriched and reinforced by his presence. Muchas gracias, Pumito!

(PS - Greg says to tell everyone what a great time he had as well. He also encourages everyone to join The Voyage of Macgellan somewhere. He says, “It’s great! Macgellan does all the scouting and logistics. All you have to do is catch a flight and be ready for spontaneous adventure! Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity!”... Macgellan agrees! See you soon?)

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