In Mexico I see no tourist
Because people here preserves their tradition in their own action
And make you feel as if you were one of them
Even if you were passing by with just a glance

USA > Mexico

Mexico Itinerary - Ciudad de México

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I was never a big fan of Mexico and I hardly knew anything about it. The reason why I chose Mexico to learn Spanish merely because it is located in Central America, geographically it bridges the north and the south of where I came from and where I head to, supposedly makes it easier for me to adapt in terms of weather and culture and everything else. However, none of the above supposition was ever verified, everything could just be my imagination. I don't usually study too much of a place of where I am going to go, as I believe surprises will only come when I left it unknown. But my landlords and friends and even acquaintances in the US kept on brainwashing me of how chaotic and dangerous Mexico is, that actually made me felt a little bit worry occasionally. Yet at the end I realized that their fear is more or less coming from their imagination of all the unknown.

Soon after I arrived at the airport, I was warned by someone from the US again of how disastrously bad the traffic and crime situation is in Mexico City. I became pretty worry inside the fully seated bus so I hold my luggage tight enough... and felt asleep. When I opened my eyes I was already in the city, after knowing my luggage were still safe with me I quickly looked through the window to check out the traffic on the road, surprisingly it seemed so normal that I couldn't see a single sign of chaotic situation of any kind. Later on I eventually understood that being chaotic or not is depending on who the one to define the meaning. I suppose you will agree with me if you were also coming from Asia, other wise, chaos do existed here. To me, my definition of chaos came from New Delhi of India, from the classic moment when I saw not only vehicles and people but also pigs and cows and horses and goats as well smelling curry feeling dust and hearing scream all at the same time on the road.

Seriously, not a single moment I ever felt insecure during the entire month of my stay. However, the online rumor of express kidnapping do exist in reality, that we got told by our teacher from her horrible experience. When an innocent passenger carelessly boards onto an illegal taxi cab, the driver drives the victim to a remote place, together with other armed criminals they threaten and beat the victim, take his bank cards and max out the cash. Kidnappers don't usually target tourists but only locals, because it is not easy to contact the family of a foreigner to deposit more money. Hence, it is always better to take public transport when living in Mexico. Never stop a taxi cab on the street but call a licensed cab if you really need one, and make sure it is attached with a white license plate that has a colored photo of the driver as well a five digit registration number.

My school is located in an upscale area with lots of international dining and art deco architecture that felt like Europe, even if I wandered alone I felt totally comfortable. Other upscale commercial and residential areas includes Polanco, Sante Fe, Del Valle, etc. To those who love shopping you could find almost all designer brands from around the world in Polanco.

I couldn't even speak a word when I first arrived in Mexico, but then I learnt how to order my meal, purchase my ticket, introduce myself, and all the grammar of the present, future and past tense, after one month of study. My enrolled beginner course lasts for three weeks, having classes from Monday to Friday for four hours a day. The tuition costed me USD 160 per week, and the residency costed the same. Most of the students there studied very hard, not only they attended the general class in the morning but also the intensive class in the afternoon. Their impressive progress motivated me to work hard as well, that I decided to extend my class for one more week, hoping I could be able to read and write as soon as possible to get in touch with the world of Latino. However, I started to feel seriously depressed after three weeks. I felt so sick of the routine, that I had to wake up at eight study at nine and go to bed at midnight. The routine was killing me inside. Not to mention Mexico City was raining cats and dogs every afternoon and I was physically ill for the entire month, that I felt like the end of the world had come. I began to question myself on all the unknowns in my life - Why am I stuck here? How should continue this travel style? When will I live my ideal life? What if... there is no answer, of course there is no answer, because I was in total confusion not only on the unknown matters but also what I actually chasing after.

Even if I was feeling down the Mexican menu always cheered me up, because everything tasted so delicious that I felt bad for the food if I kept being upset. However, I never really had the gut to try the cheap and interesting food from the street vendors because of the serious hygiene issue, in most cases I preferred going to a proper restaurant instead. If you were also worried about your stomach, please remember to consume bottled water only, because the water in Mexico is highly contaminated, it might still make you sick even if you boiled it hot enough.

The major attractions in Mexico City are centralized around Plaza de Constitution, that you can explore most of the famous landmarks and galleries when you get out of Zócalo metro station. Even though Mexico City is one of the biggest city in the world, it is considered easy access because almost all of the activities are happening in the west, and well connected with buses and metros. However, as it is a really big city, you still have to be prepared to walk a certain distance to reach your destination, no matter what public transport you have taken.

There is a lot of interesting markets in Mexico City, selling different kinds of food, merchandise and handcraft. But if you wanted to shop like a local, you must squeeze yourself into the very crowed Mercado de La Lagunilla on a Sunday afternoon to bargain the cheapest stuff together with all other families from the neighborhood. This market is one of the largest in the city, with vendors and stores located on ten blocks of a main road as well numerous alleyways on the two sides. It consists of three sections main sections, one for clothing, one for furniture and one for foodstuff, offering countless choices of low priced products like shirts, pants, shoes, socks, cellphones, headphones, computers, players, tables, sofas, cars and many many more.

Apart from Tacos, it is Frida that makes Mexico truly unforgettable. Of course I did pay a visit to her residency La Casa Azul located in Coyoacán, to try understanding why this world famous feminist painter was being suffered that much, and why she always portrayed herself in surrealistic wounded fragments. Frida had a real sad life, not only she had serious car crash and illness, she got heart broken by a husband who were in love with many other women, no wonder her works constantly show the pain of herself only in one person. Her husband Diego was a renowned mural painter, with lots of paintings in Mexico as well in the US, that tells many important stories of historical events and political revolutions. After seeing his huge murals at Palacio Nacional and Palacio de Bellas Artes, I felt that his images are far more impactful than those from Frida, all because his works constantly show the pain of our world in the epic moment.

In Mexico City, not only you can enjoy the many masterpieces, ancient culture and traditional folk art from over 150 museums and galleries, also you can find many distinctive colorful street art around every corner of the city.

Mexico has a lot of archaeological sites, and the closest one to Mexico City is Teotihuacán, the bus journey is only around an hour departing from Autobuses del Norte metro station, with a cost of MXN 38 (USD 3) per single ride. Teotihuacán was an ancient india civilization existed during the same period as the Mayan, it was the largest city in America during that time, with more than 100,000 population at its zenith, not only it was built with pyramids and temples, but also large residential complexes for its people. When tourists arrived at the site, they generally walk pass the deadly long Avenue of the Dead, climb up Pyramid of the Sun, get to the top of Pyramid of the Moon, and then keep sweating and gasping while drinking bottles and bottles of water. The reason is that the two pyramids have several hundreds of staircases added together, and each of them is bigger than the one in normal life, that definitely takes you extra energy on each step you climb.

Xochimilco is also called the Venice of Mexico, it could be reached by light rail departing from Tasqueña metro station, and the price for light rail and metro are both MXN 3 (USD 0.2). Xochimilco is a very lively place that every weekend there are numerous colorful boats shuttling through the very crowded canals, carrying local families and friends celebrating their wedding or birthday. Everyone is singing out loud the latest Latin hits while having a spicy grilled corn on their lips. In Mexico, there is a lot of distinctive places like Xochimilco, but you will never feel like a tourist wherever you go, because no matter what you do there is a always a local doing the same thing with you. Look, what I admire Mexican the most is their true passion and respect to their own culture and tradition, that you can see them eating Tacos, listening to Mariachi, or purifying by Aztec anywhere anytime, that they are preserving their own culture and tradition in every moment of their life.

Not only Mexico is much more beautiful than I imagined, it had given me an unforgettable memory that I would never imagine. The story took place on the day before I left Mexico, the National Day of the country as well the Inauguration Day of the new president. Since afternoon Zócalo was packed with thousands and thousands of people celebrating in sheer happiness while waiting for the president. After being squeezed and bumped and kicked by the crammed crowds for hours, I became totally exhausted, but then when I finally saw the president coming out from Palacio Nacional, immediately I became super excited! Guess heaven up there was also too excited that it started to heavily rain with lightening and thunder! It was my first time in life that I actually felt the weight of each raindrop because I got no umbrella no coat and no where to go! All of a sudden I heard the president crying out loud VIVA! and then thousands and thousands of people responding him with MÉXICO! This most exciting symphony on earth was accompanied by the thundering from the sky and the roaring from the ground, back and forth I heard this soul-stirring VIVA! MÉXICO! for three rounds and then BANG! BANG! BANG! I saw the most beautiful firework in my life! Everyone was out of control and they started to push and push and push, and I was pushed out of the plaza even though I never lifted my foot! Thank God I couldn't believe I survived and thank God to had given me a miracle to see my lost friend again in this complete chaos! Step by step we walked towards the metro under the weighty rain, but I was actually dying so my friend fought hard to grab us a tricycle, although the driver was asking for an illogical price we handed in all our money with a big smile, because we felt like he was the savior of our life. It was a total relief when we got off at the station, but then we went crazy when we realized the light was off and the gate was closed! OMG! I need to go home! OMG! I have early flight tomorrow! OMG! I am still ill I don't want to go to a hospital! OMG! OMG! OMG!!! Enough!!! Calm down!!! The rule is to calm down when accident happens!!!

Okay. Calm down.

Okay, we found a USD 20 note. Okay, we took a cab with or without a license on the window. Okay, we were safely home.

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