If you had 2 scotch, fell asleep, as you walk out of the terminal, you will be sure, that you landed in India 50 years ahead, say in 2063. Mexico is one hundred percent India but 1000 times cleaner, beautiful, much civil, much greener, much organized, similar food, similar chutneys ( 17 in all counted at one restaurant including dhania wali, cilantrillo), similar height gentry, but different language.
5 days in Mexico is a short trip but will make you relax a lot. Really astonishing- India, Indians, our society, our habits are so similar to Mexicans than any county in the world barring few south Asian people. We eat chapati- their tortia, they eat beans-our rajmah. They produce many children- we too. Mexican range in the heights around 5 ½ inches or so- we Indians too. They are socially very attached with each other-we too. Their Dos (10) is our dus, their Sayte (7) is our saat, and their Peso is our paisa. Mexicans are very religious-we too. But their religion is much more in-home.
Sadly, comparison ends here-Mexicans are much more cleaner, cities much more orderly, enjoy higher level of city life, much greener, much artistic, socially much more responsible and respectful to neighbors, less English speaking, much hard working, enjoy a lot, drink a lot, eat lot of beef, pork and chicken, divorce a lot, remarry a lot, some are very aggressive.
Instead of going next to India again, 5th time, make trip to Mexico. The country is safer too barring US border towns Juarez near our El Paso or Loredo..
Take a direct flight to Mexico city, we took one from Newark for $501 round trip US Airways, 5 ½ hrs. Get into a taxi from airport kiosk, exchange your Dollars there, not much difference in rates, go to your hotel. We went to an Airbnb.com, B&B place in Condessa, $62 a night plus free breakfast for two, a kind of Greater Kailash suburban of Delhi. Last and 3rd night our host though behaved like our cousin Vinny, all attitude.
Mexico City is a 25 million people capital, Bombay 20 million, offer its visitors with endless options. One of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with 16 boroughs and more than 300 neighborhoods, it is very friendly to the first-time visitor, who feels at home. Many of the most visited tourist attractions in Mexico City are concentrated in the historic center, including the Plaza de la Constitucion or Zocalo (word for town square), the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor, Palace of Fine Arts and Alameda Park. We could not go to Zocalo as there was teacher’s on going sleep-in strike. But we walked through, great walk. A few blocks north of the Palace of Fine Arts, Plaza Garibaldi is one of the best places in Mexico City to hear live mariachi music. It was day time when we went there, and heard few uniformed dressed Mariachis. Everybody warned us not to go there in night time as heavy drinking goes on there with few out of control.
(We could not go there, but they say - located west of the historic center, the Plaza de la Republica is home to the newly refurbished Revolution Monument and National Museum. Chapultepec Park, the largest in Mexico City, is divided into three sections and home to several of capital’s top tourist attractions, including Chapultepec Castle, the Modern Art Museum and the National Museum of Anthropology.)
We however went to Frida Kahlos, great painter, sadly lived as disabled but never showed up, and friend and host of famous runaway Russian Trotsky. Married to Diego Rivera the person behind Rockefeller center murals in NY, worth visiting. Sr Citizen pay only 15 Mex Peso while regular ticket is 85 Peso.(Exchange rate was $1= 12.30 Peso)
These artsy neighborhoods, SOHO like, are especially popular among visitors - Zona Rosa (a very nice area. Some people compare it to Greenwich Village, but it is much prettier and cleaner) Roma, Condesa (SOHO of NY), Coyoacan and San Angel. Home to London /Italy style bars, lovely parks, plazas, shops, markets, cafes nearby, in the trendy posh neighborhood of Polanco you’ll find some of Mexico City’s top nightspots and chic restaurants.
(History book say, once the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City was originally constructed in the Valley of Mexico over the ancient Lake Texcoco. The Aztecs built an intricate network of canals to navigate the city. After the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, most of the Aztec structures and canals were destroyed and replaced with modern roads and buildings. History lovers will find the best remaining examples of ancient Aztec city planning in the southern Xochimilco borough of Mexico City and north of the city at the Teotihuacán archaeological site. In Xochimilco you can hire a colorful trajinera (wooden boat) to tour the canals and gardens.( we did not do this)
Next day, early morning, after grabbing a coffee and a sweet doughnut type from a vendor (in the evenings all over Mexico, you will find these vendors on the streets selling freshly baked pastries from their jhaba) parked at street corner near our stay at Condesa, we hailed a taxi for a day trip to the ancient Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacán, located 50km (31 miles) northeast of the city. What a luxury bus with airline type of boarding with free water bottle and a guy makes your video inside bus, security reason. Passing thru Northern Mexico city, you see thousands of houses constructed on mountains with their 80 degree streets, god forbid if your parked car gets into neutral at the top street. Every 3rd tree around city is a black pepper tree, as tall as a mango tree, did not enquire but black pepper must be cheap there. Agriculture is mostly corns. Another surprise the pyramids can only be found in Egypt or in Mexico, the Teotihuacán is the second highest in the world. We could only go up to first step of the pyramid, walked thru the Palace, site of human sacrifice plate form, and returned back. Entrance fee 57 for one.
Street food in all non-western country nobody recommends, but, you are very safe in Mexico, everybody loves them, cheap, best in quality, very hygienic. ‘Mercada’ or market, small crowded shopping area are another place, you must visit for gifts or for single bench sharing hot food.
Very interesting, how people want to have the "real Mexican experience". That's really a very difficult question to answer with objectivity. We asked many to suggest some village where we can go and see the real old life of Mexicans with big hat, working in the fields, as I used to look at pictures in my childhood. Nothing is found nearby Mexico city in about less than 3 hrs bus ride.
Ultimately we settled for Taxco town, an old silver mining town. Bus round trip 173 only. Sharing roof top restaurant shadowed by famous Church, a Mexican visitor said, about Taxco as an admired colonial jewel. So true. The city of Taxco distinguishes by its stone-paved lanes, crowded small Zocalo and old houses from which balconies colorful flowers peep down. Taxco is like an Italian town on mountains with climbing streets. Old beetle VW taxis, 2 seaters white painted with seat next to driver pulled out are beauty
Among the skirts of Cerro Atachi, one of the most beautiful examples of Mexican baroque stands out: the Santa Prisca and San Sebastian Parish. Its pink column and sculpture facades outstand, framed by two stylized towers. Don Jose de la Borda, a Spaniard who resurrected the mining in the last days, lived in Taxco, ordered the construction of one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire city: Casa Borda built in 1759. We stayed at Hotel de la Borda at $90 (manager did act smart with us and charged $110) for the top suite where once Kennedy slept, just at the entrance of the main town, total colonial Spanish beauty with great artifacts and old charm building overlooking town below. The property is not properly managed, including their beautiful restaurant. Free breakfast starts at 7.30A but lady cook reaches at 8 to light the fire.
Lot of other things to see like Ancient Town Hall (Antiguo Ayuntamiento) a building from the end of 18th Century, which we could not go as next day we left of 1 hr journey to Caves where Mexican government once held conference inside the hole. 2 ½ hrs walking inside but worth it. Cacahuamilpa is one of the largest cave systems in the world, a "live" cave system, groundwater still filters down into it, One of the drier salons has been dubbed the “Auditorium”. It has been outfitted with seats. It is rented out for events, and has been the site for a number of concerts including one in 2007 by Miguel Bosé and one by the Acapulco Philharmonic Orchestra in 2009.
In Taxco, you can taste typical dishes such as broths, tamales and beef tacos, such as exotic jumil-based dishes, made with local insects… Do you dare to try them? I did not try. We experienced few roof top and first floor eating places-Antica Gourmet (President of Mexico ate dinner here) Good dinner, at El Atrio Santa Prisca sitting at balcony watching zocalo crowd, for 2 with wine costs about 670 pesos with tips.
We also could not make to Ixcateopan de Cuauhtemoc, also known as “The National Altar, reputed to be the final resting place of Cuauhtemoc, the last Azteca emperor. 20 miles from Taxco, nestled among the mountains
Last night we went to an active vegetable selling store –Ojo de Agua also works as a restaurant at Amsterdam road in Condessa, great food, bill 230 Peso. At Mexico airport, it took us about 1 ½ hrs to check in, so much crowd, and few attendants. United in this international flight does serve food for purchase, a small sandwich for $8.99, in the market about $2. We cursed them, slept, and, they took us to Cleveland, declaring good as bad weather at Newark, which lot of fellow declared, they ran out of fuel. 5 hrs late arrival.
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