Monday night, October 9
Major pre-trip anxiety as usual. Couldn't figure out what to pack. The weather forecast showed exactly the same temperatures as Ajijic with highs in the low 70s, lows in the mid-50s. So I packed clothes just like I wear here mostly--skorts (I know-very uncool--but much better for old ladies in public than shorts and just as comfortable) and T-shirts.I did throw in a couple of pairs of jeans and black leggings, but no long sleeved tops. I included a black cardigan and a white one because I thought it might get cool at night and a couple of non-wrinkle dresses to wear out to dinner.
Actuality: Turns out that temperatures don't take into consideration the wind tunnel effect on streets with high buildings, canyon-like. And the other breezes, especially on cloudy days at nearly 7500 ft. So, as usual, I had packed way too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right things. We ended up wearing jeans, long pants almost every day, and I layered t-shirts with the cardigans and a scarf or two--just like everybody else in the city. Bob hadn't packed even a light jacket, so the day after we arrived, we went in search of a sweater for him. We often seem to do that for him: a sweater in San Francisco on July 4, 1976, a lightweight green jacket in Germany in July 1997, etc.
(Note: hardly anybody calls Mexico City by that name. Most Mexicans call it DF (pronounced "de efe") for Distrito Federal--kind of like DC for District of Columbia. But we kept seeing signs all over the city like this
So it turns out that last year, el presidente (no not THAT one) changed the status of the city somehow. The explanation is here but not important enough for me to explain...or care about. My point here is that from here on I'll be referring to the city as CDMX rather spelling out the whole thing. (It stands for Ciudad Mexico, in case you didn't figure it out.)
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017
Our flight wasn't until 1:30 so we were in no rush to get out, and Francisco was picking us up plenty early at 11:00 in one of his fleet of cars, a sedan this time. 500 pesos to the airport, a mere 30 minutes in the middle of the day, and Francisco seems to have this uncanny ability to avoid all the potholes between here and the airport. Not surprising since he makes the trips so often.
Easy flight--less than 90 minutes, just enough time for the drink cart to run down the aisle once and we were there. In the terminal, you buy a ticket for a taxi at stands that look like car rental counters. Outside, we were greeted by a man in a dark suit who escorted us to a taxi and delivered us to the back seat while the driver put our luggage in the bag. It was a sunny day, very bright, lots of traffic, of course, and we were rubber necking out both sides of the taxi. Such high buildings! Such country bumpkins!
Arriving at our apartment building, Juarez 52, we discovered a multi-story building (16 floors, with wrap-around corner glass on the east and north. This is a very good picture from the internet, much better than we could have gotten. Count up 14 floors and you can see our apartment. Or count down three from the top.
I think I may have said it before but from the moment you walk into the apartment, it's absolutely breathtaking. To the right as you walk in, is the kitchen--bright, white, ultra-modern, brand new appliances. The oven still had the cardboard packing inside it. (And, we didn't remove it because all we used the kitchen for was to make coffee and keep a few things in the fridge--refrigerador--a Spanish word that just will not come tripping easily off my tongue, despite practice. All along the east wall (to the right) and the north (straight ahead) are windows. And they glide open to the freshest breeze, but it did make Bob nervous when I leaned out to take pictures. I just can't describe how mesmerizing the view was.
Directly below us, looking through the north window is Parque Alameda, the oldest park in Mexico, begun by the colonial government in 1529. (Keep in mind that the Spanish conquered the city in 1521, two years after their arrival. They wasted no time in putting their mark on everything Aztecan.) I have pictures from the apartment but haven't downloaded them from my phone yet. I believe this picture shows the park with our building on the left a little bit more than halfway down.
Looking out the windows just below us, we could see the memorial to Benito Juarez, father of the first Mexican revolution that finally succeeded in kicking out the Spanish. His memorial is a half-circle, or hemicyle, gleaming in white marble.
Looking half a block farther, we could see the Palacio de Bellas Artes, incredibly gorgeous with a huge gold dome.
Beyond the palacio and farther down Juarez to the east, we could make out the tops of some of the official government buildings on the Zocalo, or Constitution Square. And I almost forgot to include the Torre Latinoamerica directly east, only half a block away. Always lit up, no matter what time of day we could glance out and see exactly what time it was from the lights at the top. This picture shows the proximity of so many famous buildings right outside our windows.
So far, we've only made it to the apartment! So we explored the apartment, took some pictures, soaked up the views, but then had to go out to find some stuff for breakfast--coffee,fruit, cereal and milk for Bob, bottles of water, etc. With our handy Google map, we walked a few blocks to a supermarket, but once we were through shopping, we realized we had wandered too far to retrace our steps with our heavy bags. So, we decided to try out Uber in CDMX, despite my misgivings about the morality of putting taxi drivers out of work, thus starving their families. :(
But within minutes, we had a ride back to the apartment--so easy. (More about Uber in a later post)
Back at the apartment, we unloaded our meager groceries and went straight back out to investigate a couple of restaurants we'd passed on our walk to the supermercado. We chose Gino's (Italian, obviously), surprisingly good. We sat right under one of the ubiquitous TV's that are all over the city in almost every restaurant, listening and occasionally looking up to see which team had prompted the cry of GOOOOAAAALLLL!!!!! I think it was Costa Rica and Panama, but I'm not sure I'm remembering well.
Anyway, good food, good wine, a short walk back to the apartment. End of Day One in CDMX. More tomorrow.