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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Mexico-Mexico. Here we come.



Key words: travel, tourism, food, sightseeing, places to see, hotel accommodation, places to stay, Mexico City.

In October 2008 I travelled to Mexico with my son Alexander. Now I found the diary where I had written down about this trip and I reproduce the same now, five years later. I hope it is of some interest to readers.

29/09/2008. We travelled to Mexico City on KLM flight No. 0685 from Amsterdam (Holland) in the early morning. The flight was 15 minutes late in starting and once we were on the tarmac, waiting our turn to be airborne, the captain informed the passengers that there was a problem with the system of refrigeration and he was taking the plane back to the terminal.

The flight was delayed for another 1hr 48mins (total 2hrs.03 min). The plane was full of Mexicans returning home, I saw less than fifteen passengers who looked like tourists going to Mexico. During this long delay, no further communication was made, we sat in the heat of the plane, without any refreshments or water. When I asked one of the cabin attendants for a glass of water, he told me that the water was sufficient only for the flight and I could not have any. The flight time to Mexico City was 13hrs, with a time difference of 7hrs. We reached Mexico city totally caput.

 While the plane was descending to land, I could see the shimmering  city lights, stretched to such a vast area,  that it was very difficult to imagine where it ended, how its teeming millions lived. But I have seen it in India and in Thailand, in Hong Kong and  in Singapore too. The vibrant societies, the hustle and bustle, business activities and the simple joy of living. And I thought, why should  Mexico city be different?


On landing at the airport, when the doors of the plane were opened (only front exit), the passport and customs officials blocked the exist and I saw Policia Federal  totting rifles, surrounding the entrance. I was asked to show my passport, how long I was planning to stay in the country. When we came out of the place, our hand luggage was searched. We found ourselves in a large lane full of people, full of shops, money exchange bureaus, restaurants etc.

The airport at Mexico city (DF) is modern, and very busy. Most of the Mexicans were coming from or going to the USA. We strolled along this long passage, following other arriving passengers and at last going down the flight of steps, found ourselves in the passport control and immigration area. A vast hall, full of arriving passengers, forming long lines. It took us two and half hours to clear the passport and customs. It was totally dark outside and very late.

In the terminal building, again a huge hall, there were many offices of bus and taxi rentals and although sitting next to each other, their tariffs were different. In one of the booths, offering accommodation, we booked ours at Hostel Isabel, calle Isabel la Catolica, No.63, in the Historic Centre of the city.

This hostel was the residence of Señor Lucas Ignacio Alamán y Escalada, the Mexican scientist, politician, historian and writer (born October 18, 1792-died June 2, 1853). He was born in Guanajuato and died in this house, which was converted into a hostel in 1920.

The interior of the hostel, as we entered, was wide, the reception desk at the very end and various doors on the sides and behind the counter. This wide empty space  gave me  the impression of being in a warehouse or a cargo terminal on a wharf. My immediate thought was that at any moment, the wall on my left would suddenly open up, revealing  Spanish Galleons, berthed and surrounded by sailors, merchants, and I will see porters loading or unloading cargo. And the smell of tobacco and rum and sweaty bodies will engulf the warehouse. Nothing however, happened.  


After the delay of a few minutes, a man in his sixties appeared from the door behind the counter, followed by a young man of about 25years. We registered as guests and paid 350 Pesos for the night, for a double room and followed the young man up the stairs on the first landing. The room had a high ceiling, was carpeted and with two single beds in it. The beds were clean and comfortable. We were so tired that without a thought of washing or showering, we peeled off our clothes and jumped in the bed.
Sleep was however, difficult to come. The heat in the room was making us sweat, outside the window, there a constant movement of people passing to and fro, there was no grill on the window and any body could have climbed in the room as the window was at waist length.

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