Wednesday, March 18, 2009
These shoes aren’t made for walking
Since giving up our mattress almost a month ago, I’ve not been having the best of luck with sleep. Combined with the time difference in Mexico City, I woke up just after 5am local time. I took advantage of the quiet to try and figure out computer and internet stuff – the key word being tried. Looks like I’ve forgotten a camera cable (just means an extra annoying step in uploading photos) and google reader isn’t updating the rss feed. I’ll try to clear up the rss feed issue but until then may I suggest the email subscription which is working just fine.
Adrian eventually woke and dragged me downstairs for breakfast which was being served in the hotel. It wasn’t bacon and eggs or cereal or even coffee and a donut. Instead it was plate of fruit, a toasted bun topped with refried beans, cheese and salsa and huge sugar cookie shortbread thing that we saved for later. I had to tell Adrian that it was merely beans on toast but he wasn’t totally sold until he realized it was quite tasty.
After breakfast, I tried again to upload photos and frustrated by flickr I gave up and we headed out to really explore the city. The first thing we noticed was that sidewalks don’t appear to be for walking, instead they are chockablock with stalls where you can buy anything. The second thing was that each street appeared to sell one type of thing. So we walked down Musical Instrument Boulevard to Hardware Street and then took a right onto Optician Avenue to get back to the City Museum which was free today. It was small and had a handful of exhibits – one full of maps of the city, another on some architect and finally one with award-winning photojournalism which much like the local papers featured a lot of dead people (oh yeah, in Mexico, the front page of most newspapers make Faces of Death look like Disney. I’ll try to get some photos to show you).
So we left and headed towards the Zocalo via Nail File Street. That’s when we made observation number three about street life in Mexico City: the traffic lights are merely a suggestion. Pedestrians have the right of way on green but that doesn’t stop drivers from running reds.
We arrived at the Palacio Nacional, the home of the Mexican president and government ready to check out the huge grounds. But compared to getting into the Palacio, traffic was a piece of cake. Unfortunately, you need picture ID to go in through the metal detectors and dutiful tourists that we are, we had left it all locked up in the hotel. So Adrian tried the time tested method, he pouted and whined to the security guard. And it worked.
The first thing we saw inside were the Diego Rivera murals that covered the walls and the history of Mexico from the Aztecs to Cortez to Trotsky. Our personal favourite was the Cortez mural, in which Rivera painted him as the love child of Shrek and Sloth from the Goonies: sloping forehead, green skin, bad teeth, bulbous knees and cross-eyed – be still my beating heart.
The rest of the complex contained the original legislature, a museum dedicated to beloved president Benito Juarez, a garden full of indigenous plants and just all around pretty stuff that kept us occupied for at least an hour. And that’s when I realized that my new sandals, really sucked – the sweaty plastic soles had created the perfect environment for blisters. But I limped on as we explored the area northeast of the Zocalo, stopping for lunch in the Teatro Pueblo, before continuing on to see the home of the Spanish Inquisition (now home to the museum of medicine) and even more churches which Adrian and I stopped looking at after number 50. But we did go into one which had barely survived the 1985 earthquake. It was now the leaning church of Mexico City and walking through it was like that funhouse at the CNE where you can’t keep your balance. Sadly the inside was in poor shape thanks to looters. But that kinda made it interesting, or at least photogenic.
As we turned the corner we were back at the Catedral where we saw yesterday’s cranky man standing at the door. I had to stop Adrian from giving him two fingers. So I distracted him with the Templo Mayor – the ruins of the original site of the Aztec Temple which marked the centre of the universe. It was truly amazing – and not just because so much of the ruins involved skulls, human sacrifice and other fun stuff (although that’s really cool). You see, every new ruler had to outdo the last one. So he would build up the existing temple until it was huge. Which meant more walking with sore feet.
By the time we got to the Temple Museum we were running out of time, but stupidly rented audio guides (that cost more than our admission). Unfortunately, we had to run through the three floors of stuff they dug up when they discovered the ruins 30 years ago. Although Adrian made me stop and take a picture of him in front of the model because it reminded him of Raiders of the Lost Ark. How my poor feet managed to get through that all I’m not sure. But it was almost like they held on until we were done before throwing up the white flag. And once we were done so were they, I sat down and took off the offending sandals to give my feet a break. It was then that I noticed that despite the overcast skies and cooler (21ºC) temp that Adrian were both a little sunkissed. Well, Adrian was kissed. The sun had definitely gotten to second base with me. Yes, blisters and a sun burn. I was feeling as good looking as Cortez.
Soon Adrian’s stomach dictated when I had to put the evil sandals back on to hobble through the streets in search of dinner. This time we went to a sit down café and paid considerably more than our street food the night before. Oh well, lesson learned. Tomorrow is another day. And thankfully for my feet, that day won’t involve the evil sandals.