A Travellerspoint blog

June 2010

Down Mexico Way... Pt. 1 - Mexico City

Down Mexico Way...

Pt 1: Mexico City 29th June – 1st July

This is it – have finally made it to Mexico. Moving from the relative familiarity of San Fran right out of my comfort zone, was a bit scary at first, but I guess it`ll take a bit of adjusting. I really wished I spent more time (or had more time) before I left to learn a little more Spanish. I`m struggling a bit here, and they don`t seem to understand my Italian which is a bit frustrating! If only the Italians had invaded before the Spanish, I`d be alright!

Arriving at my first hostal in Mexico city was a bit worrying as it looked a bit like a garage on the outside, but was clean and comfortable and was opposite a police post, so I felt fairly safe! Tried out their underground system, which is about as hot as ours, but much more reliable and the tickets only cost….wait for it….15p! Boris could learn a few lessons from Mexico. And no buskers, just blokes with huge boom boxes in their backpacks trying to flog CDs. Who buys CDs anymore! Haven`t they heard of illegal downloading here??

Mexico City is very different place from San Francisco! You can cross the road whenever and wherever you like for a start! Although you do run the risk of being mown down, there are no homeless people and it`s HOT!

They had closed off the Zocolo (the main square) and all the surrounding roads to show the football. This is a nation that takes the sport seriously! And I`ve never seen as many coppers in my entire life in one place – they`re everywhere! I soon found out why – there seems to be a bit of a "protest" culture here.

Since I was feeling a bit tired and hot, I decided to get one of those hop-on-hop-off bus tours. Well, after waiting about an hour to hop on it, I didn`t feel much like hopping off, and just stayed on it while it did a 2 hour tour of the what looked like the back streets and industrial estates of downtown Mexico City. They did have commentary in English for the first half hour, but then that packed up, so I had no idea what we were looking at. I kept nodding off, only to be woken up by branches from the low hanging trees bashing into my head.

The following day I went on a tour to Teotihuacan (which I still can`t pronounce) which the Aztecs regarded as the place where the universe was created – it didn`t look like a black hole but was pretty impressive nonetheless. We had stopped for lunch at the obligatory craft workshop, which was better than most as they showed us how they made mescal (with several free wormless samples) and also 101 things you can do with a cactus! The soundtrack on the bus was circa 1966- 70 (Santana, Hendrix and The Doors) which certainly added to the hippy experience.

That evening proved quite a surreal experience. I went to find Garibaldi Square where all the mariachi bands play. It was hilarious – I felt like I`d walked into a Monty Python sketch. I imagine a pretty square full of cafes, where the mariachis would wander over and play a song for a few pesos. I got within half a mile of the square and they were hanging around like hookers on the street corners dressed in their full costumes, touting for business and brandishing their instruments quite menacingly!

I expected Michael Palin to come lunging up to me with his trumpet shouting "Tune missus???". The square itself was quite scary, and I got offered my first joint of the trip – at that moment, I didn`t feel I needed one!

The next morning, despite my complaining feet, I set off for the renowned Museum of Anthropology, which was indeed a fascinating and comprehensive insight into the history of the Mexican people from the Stone ages onwards. Looking forward to my first bus journey (only 2 hours, so breaking myself in slowly).

Spain vs Portugal

Spain vs Portugal


Where`s My Mule???

Where`s My Mule???


The Mariachis Take on a Gang of Local Youths

The Mariachis Take on a Gang of Local Youths


Museo de Antropoligia

Museo de Antropoligia


Museo De Antropologie 2

Museo De Antropologie 2


Mexico City Cake Shop (Especially for Dave)

Mexico City Cake Shop (Especially for Dave)


Eros`s Girlfriend

Eros`s Girlfriend


The Biggest Organ in the World!

The Biggest Organ in the World!


Teotihuacan 1

Teotihuacan 1


Teotihuacan 2

Teotihuacan 2


Teotihuacan 3

Teotihuacan 3


Bride over-does her pre-wedding Diet

Bride over-does her pre-wedding Diet


The Mexican Team

The Mexican Team


The Gang Leaders Have a Face-off

The Gang Leaders Have a Face-off


They Bring In the Big Guns...

They Bring In the Big Guns...

Posted by kathystravels 16:00 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

I Left My Job In San Francisco

OMG, you know you`ve been in this city too long when you start chatting to random strangers on buses....and Glaswegians at that!!

So this is it...my last day in the Windy City (Chicago can`t possibly hold (or blow out) a candle to San Fran for gale force winds). Walking home from work the other night, struggling to walk upright (battling the wind, not the tequila for a change!), I came to the conclusion that as much as I loved this city, the weather would have defeated me in the end. This is a place where there is no necessity for a winter or summer wardrobe – you just need one big wardrobe (preferably one that you can walk through into a land where it is Summer the whole time). You`re getting the picture.

The other thing I won`t miss about the place is the tragic number of homeless and scarily crazy people here. At times it feels like you`re walking through the set of a zombie movie. I`ve never felt unsafe of threatened – just a bit depressed that a county like the US can allow so many people to end up on the streets.

What I will miss... the "hoods", the people (crazy and otherwise) who have made me, as a stranger, feel so welcome. The culture and the music, the diversity and the food, the freedom and the tolerance. People seem happy or content to be here whatever their circumstances or lifestyle. This is a place where they feel at home, in every sense of the word.

The last few weeks have flown by. After a great couple of weeks with Karen and Ronelle, Dan arrived and it was lovely to see him again. He obviously felt at home, turning my lovely apartment into the set of “The Young Ones “ within a few hours. Obviously having mum around makes you suddenly incapable of making a bed or doing the washing up. That aside, he was great company – he was out exploring during the week while I was at work, but we had two brilliant weekends together.

We drove up to Yosemite with my friend Tash on the first, and I began to understand why many Americans don`t travel abroad much. The range of scenery here is absolutely breathtaking, like something out of a painting – especially as the winter had seen a lot of snow this year and some of it was still lying around. It did feel really odd throwing snowballs when the temperatures were in the 90`s. The snow melt had made the waterfalls and rivers even more torrential than usual, and the highlight of the trip was climbing up this mountain for what felt like miles and getting absolutely soaked, only to be rewarded with the unforgettable sight of a rainbow framing the top of the waterfall like something out of a fairy tale! It really warranted a longer stay than our two days allowed. Next time it would be great to actually stay in the woods (instead of a cabin which turned out to be a mobile home – and turned us into “trailer trash” for the weekend!).

The following weekend, after watch England scrape a draw against the US, we headed down the coast along Pacific Highway One to Monterey. As we drove along by Big Sur, we had the Beach Boys on the radio (this fulfilled one of my all time fantasies!) and would spontaneously burst into tune every time we passed a town or place that was in an Eagles/Springstein/Monkees/Eminem etc. song. This area must be featured in more hits than anywhere else I know!

My favourite places along the drive – Monterey, Carmel (where they were setting up for the US Open), Hearst Castle (such a stunning house and grounds on top of a hill overlooking the coast), the stunning coastline, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and finally San Diego where we ended up. We also found the Californian equivalent to Southend-on-Sea (Pismo Beach – what a dump!) closely followed in the “Tackiest Seaside Resort” stakes by Venice Beach. Scary as it was (you try trying to change lanes on an 11 lane highway!), I really enjoyed the drive despite the fog which seemed to follow us along the coast, and we ended up safely back at LA, where I tearfully saw Dan off, and flew back to San Fran.

This weekend was Pride weekend, and we watched the Parade on Sunday, when the weather was hot and sunny (for a change!). Although a little more political than the London event, it was a great tribute to the city to see so many people of all denominations enjoying the spectacle and supporting the gay community (which in turn seems to embrace and involve itself in every good cause from pet adoption to vegetarianism to housing for the elderly). It was a fitting finale to my stay here.

So it`s adios San Francisco.....Hola Mexico.

Me, Kaz and Dan - Lounging in Dolores Park

Me, Kaz and Dan - Lounging in Dolores Park


Somewhere over the Rainbow

Somewhere over the Rainbow


Highway One

Highway One


Pride!

Pride!


Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle


Me and Tash - Yosemite

Me and Tash - Yosemite


Alcatraz

Alcatraz


San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo


Highway One - Half Moon Bay

Highway One - Half Moon Bay


Yosemite

Yosemite


Yosemite

Yosemite


Yosemite

Yosemite


Yosemite

Yosemite


Giant Redwoods - Mariposa Grove

Giant Redwoods - Mariposa Grove


Yosemite

Yosemite


Yosemite

Yosemite


Gay Astronaut (Pt 2)

Gay Astronaut (Pt 2)


Gay Astronaut (Pt 1)

Gay Astronaut (Pt 1)


Pride!

Pride!


Pride!

Pride!


Pride!

Pride!


Pride!

Pride!

Posted by kathystravels 16:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)