Mexico 47, 17th June 2002

I worried about driving to Mexico City so decided to take the bus and leave my van in it's expensive (!) parking. I found the bus stop no problem, and a bus arrived. I found out later they are every 15 minutes. It's about 50 km, took an hour, and cost 18 pesos. I took a taxi from the bus station to the museum, about 20 minutes, 65 pesos. They have a neat taxi system in Mexico City. At the major terminals you buy tickets for the taxis, they have a big map showing the different zones, everywhere in the same zone is the same price. Means you can't get ripped off. Well, from the terminals that is, if you wave a taxi down on the street you take your chance just like many other places. I asked my taxi driver was it his taxi, no he said, he worked for a group that owned 1,800 taxis in Mexico city.

The museum was OK, lots of stuff, a bit confusing to me, possibly not as interesting as it could have been because I've been to a lot of similar, but smaller, museums. They had a reproduction of a temple with all the paintings that I had seen as an original at Bonampak and showed a photo in message 26.

As I was leaving the museum the Olympic torch arrived outside, for a relay change.

I have no idea where it arrived from, or where it was going to after the changeover, but it was the Olympic torch right enough, there were 100's of press, TV, etc. I didn't expect to see that. Actually, I don't even know where the Olympics are being held this year, I guess I've missed that information due to my travelling.

I had plenty of time to return to the bus terminus so I walked down the road a couple of blocks and caught the metro. 3 changes. That cost the princely sum of 2 pesos. I think I'll come back tomorrow by bus again and look at some of the sights. There's an electric trolley bus running from the bus terminus to near the zocalia, the main plaza, and it should be easy to return to the bus terminus the same way since there is only one trolley route and it is easy to spot due to the overhead cables! Once there I'll take the tourist bus around the city, about a 3 hour tour. Then my plan is just to hang around the centre unless I find time to read about the things to see. This is always my problem, I don't like reading guide books, it's like work, I just like visiting the places, it's why I rarely have a plan!

It has crossed my mind to leave the van here, it is after all a secure parking, and stay in Mexico city in a hotel, but it's not a problem to come back, it was less than an hour tonight, less traffic, and I have all my stuff here.

I caught the same bus in the morning, 8 am, and found my way to the Alameda without problem. (The Alameda is the central park, the Zocalia is the central square, about 3 blocks away, and so named because they intended to build a statue there but only got as far as the plinth. Zocalia means plinth. Now many central town squares in Mexico are called the zocalia after this, the first one. I don't know why, but there you are.)

However, I divert. I jumped on the tourist bus, happy to discover that being 65, I qualify for 50% reduction on the fare. The 3 hour trip on the bus was superb, it is certainly the way to see Mexico City, from the open top of a double decker bus, with someone else driving. Seen this way Mexico City is great. Lots of nice streets and avenues, super houses and shops, lots of green park area, beautiful statues and fountains and buildings. I didn't take many pictures, and those I did take didn't come out well because they were taken from a moving bus.

Notice the Union Jack flag on a building to the left...............

I visited the Templo Mayor, the ceremonial centre of Tenochtitlan, ruins discovered in the centre of the city by accident a few years ago, there were some nice frogs.

Really, these ruins are much too new to take my strong interest, the first of the 7 or so stages was built around 1375, I have been looking at stuff more than 1000 years older. The pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan where I was a couple of days ago, for example, was built around the 1st century AD. Now that's old. There's around 3 million tons of stone and rubble in that pyramid, built without metal tools, pack animals, or the wheel. Now that's impressive. I can carry 25 Kg. I can almost stagger a few steps carrying 50Kg. I started dividing it out, 3 million tons divided by 50 Kg and gave up. It is an awful lot of men and an awful lot of journeys to move 3 million tons..........

I walked around the streets of Mexico City.

I visited the palace, super murals, and the cathedral, big but a touch bare, and walked around the zocalia, and visited street vendors, they are everywhere, selling everything you can imagine, usually at really low prices, then decided it was time to get back home - home of course being my van on the 5 pesos per day car park. However I found myself in the jewelry quarter, with jewelry repair shops around. I asked if they could repair my camera. About a month ago I had broken one of the two tiny hinges holding the cover to the area including the memory chip and socket to connect the PC lead. After a few enquiries I was directed to a camera repair shop, along a dingy passage, up some tattered stairs to the first floor,

then outside, then here was the workshop, on the right.

We can repair it the man said. Come back in an hour, it will be 60 pesos. I went back, it was fixed. It looked fine. Did you glue it I asked? No the man said. Did you weld, or solder, it? No he said. Well what I asked? Turns out that he had inserted some tiny pieces of metal in both sides of the hinge to remake the joint. It is probably stronger than it was before. Even with my most powerful glasses I can barely make out the work. I continue to be amazed by the almost innate ability of Mexicans to fix things. Next I'll have to think about the hinges on my lap top computer, they have been bust about 6 months. I've been a bit doubtful, there are not many lap top computers in Mexico, so there are not many repair shops.

I wasted another 2 pesos on the trolley trip back to the bus station and caught my bus. The trip back was a bit slow, due to my wait for the camera repair I was in the rush hour, but really, considering the number of people in Mexico City, around 20 million, I was relieved it was not any slower. Mexico is now arguably the biggest city in the world.

After I got back I realised I had forgotten to ascend the Tour Latino, a 1950's skyscraper, and until fairly recently the tallest building in Mexico, with, I read, spectacular views from the 33rd floor. Fancy just forgetting. Duh!

Best regards

David Barker

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