Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Getting the hell out of dodge x2
It was still dark when we got up and left for the airport, once again made much easier by the awesome Sarah who drove us there. Check in was easy but finding a bank machine to get some breakfast proved impossible. So we spent our last few Canadian dollars on Tim Hortons coffee and bagels. I’d like to think it was a final homage to the home country before we took off and not desperation.
Thanks to the wonders of Air Canada’s upgraded entertainment system there was no fighting over the remotes as Adrian watched Max Payne and I watched Defiance. And 5 hours, 2 breakfast sandwiches, and 4 coffees later, we felt the plane begin to make its descent.
Looking out the window I could see the dusty mountains that surround the city, before the plane went low, really, low over the city. Since I couldn’t see the airport, I did panic just a little bit and with the addition of some turbulence, the woman behind me made use of 2 vomit bags. Didn't help calm my nerves. You see, in Toronto, the airport is way out in the middle of almost nowhere, surrounded by acres of fields, highway and other buffer. But here the airport was looked like it was in the middle of a bustling neighbourhood. And being so low and bumpy made us – okay, just me – sweat a tiny bit. Or maybe it was the lack of sleep.
But that was nothing compared to the next leg of our our journey. After finding a Scotiabank machine in the terminal (yay, no service charges), we decided to skip a $20 taxi ride in favour of a 20¢ subway ride. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Little did we know that there are no escalators in the metro stations but there are a lot of stairs, even more when you take the wrong train and have to double back. Not a welcome site with 40 lb packs on your back. Oh well, it was all part of the adventure. And it did save us a whack of cash.
We arrived at Hotel Virreyes and had to wait 20 minutes while they finished cleaning our room. The hotel is a relic from the 40s and 50s but the bathrooms are immaculate and the bed is comfy so we’re happy.
Once unpacked, we headed out to explore the Centro Historico area our hotel is located in. We saw a dog walker struggling with at least 6 big dogs and cats walking outside windows 6 floors up but that was less stressful than navigating the sidewalks (uneven and dangerous) and street crossings (chaotic and deadly). But within 10 minutes we arrived at the Zocalo, the big square that’s synonymous with Mexico City. And it’s as big as it looks in photos. And the flag flying in the middle is even bigger. It was memorizing to watch it flapping in the wind.
We snapped out of it and headed into the Catedral Metropolitan to sit down for a moment and read our map (there’s no place to sit in the Zocalo). According to wiki, it’s the largest cathedral in the American continent. Designed by Claudio de Arcinieaga, construction started in 1573 and lasted for more than 300 years (sounds like they needed a producer and a better workback). Just as we were about to take a quick look around, an old man approached me.
He asked in Spanish if we wanted a tour.
I replied with a smile, "No gracias"
And then he got snarky and in English asked.
“Did you say no because you didn’t understand or because you don’t want one?”
“I understood. But we’re coming back tomorrow.” I still said with a smile.
That angered him further.
“Tomorrow!?! Sure you are. Why don’t you just say no if you don’t want it? Tomorrow! Maybe I won’t be here tomorrow maybe you won’t be here tomorrow!!!”
Wow, I think someone needs to make a confession because that was definitely wrath we experienced. And thanks to him, we decided not to go back to the church again. So for the second time that day, we got the hell out of dodge.
But when we stepped outside, we were surrounded by truckloads of soldiers. For a moment I wondered if we were about to witness a riot but when the soldiers pulled out musical instruments instead of guns (although I saw some of those too) I figured we were safe.
We’d stumbled upon the daily flag ceremony. So we stuck around to watch the marching band and the 12 soldiers required to gather up the flag and take it in for the night.
We walked back to the hotel now starving and exhausted thanks to the early morning and time difference, stopping for tortas (buns, filled with delicious yummy meat, cilantro, tomatoes and onions) at a street vendor. With full tummies we collapsed in bed this time escaping sore feet, and exhaustion.
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