November 26th 1981

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
Beetles as taxis

A day that began with real problems, + ended happily… as you shall see.  It had been our intention to stop off at Queretaro, about 150 miles before Mexico City, + had been told the train got there at 3 am.  We woke ourselves several times during the night, + finally got ourselves together at 2.45, only to discover Queretaro had passed.  Ho hum.  So we slept again, being awoken later by the conductor who wanted to see our tickets.  It didn’t seem to bother him that we’d missed our stop, but he was a bit upset when Val couldn’t find part of her ticket, but he gave up in the end.

When we all disembarked in Mexico City, the first stop was coffee – it was breakfast time.  Turned out to be an expensive coffee + bread rolls.  Then the 2 other Germans set off for Puerto Escondido – supposedly a really nice town on the coast – while we remaining 5 set about trying to find a hotel that Franz had heard was good – the Hotel Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, he didn’t have an address – just vague directions.  We started to walk + after a while asked directions, tho’ without very much success – people either didn’t know, or their directions were vague, or inaccurate, so that we wandered hither + thither for ages before finally discovering the phone no., getting better directions, + asking again (of course!)  The hotel was OK, tho’ overpriced – $250 for a double room.  And especially considering they were in the middle of totally refurbishing the place, so there were builders + builders’ muck everywhere.  Franz managed to get cement dropped on his jumper straight away.  But at least the rooms were comfortable.

The Hotel Pennsylvania

A short rest, then we all headed into town, first to the information office, where we grabbed maps, + then to the markets.  First stop was a panaderia.  Our guide book says that they are a delight – they’re better, they’re paradise.  They work on a self-serve basis – you grab a tray + some tongs, + get going.  We all loaded ourselves with various breads + pastries, then took them out to a small courtyard down the road to eat them.

Next stop the food market – terrific, colourful + fairly cheap.  It was good fun just to wander round + browse – much better than Sainsbury’s.  In comparison, the craft market that we visited next was disappointing – trashy commercialised rubbish, + housed in an uninteresting modern building – more like a multi-storey car park – at that. 

We left the others at this point to visit the Australian embassy, but to our annoyance it closed at 3, so we were quarter of an hour late.  Still, the walk enabled us to drink up a little more of the Mexico City atmosphere.  Like most cities in the world now, I suppose, it’s busy bustling, + packed with traffic.  And like most latin cities it’s noisy.  I liked the aura it gave off – the combination of big city buzz, with the street traders + sellers of… different… foods.  For some reason (are they still made in Mexico?) the roads were awash with VW Beetles – this would, of course, attract my attention.

Anyway… returned to the hotel, + spent some hours simply lying around recovering.  All sorts of fun + games with the shower – first it worked, then it didn’t, then there was no cold water, then no hot.  Despite these little problems, I managed to get myself showered, but Val was left hot + sticky.  So I, being a noble spirit at heart, popped down + managed to convey the information that all was not well, shower-wise.  And amazingly, the senora fixed it straight away.  Meaning that Val got the last laugh, since she got the best shower.

We arranged to go out sometime after 8 – how frightfully civilised, eh?  We were off to the Plaza Garibaldi, which our guide books recommended, both as an eating place + place of entertainment.  A fair walk, but by no means an unpleasant one.  And the Plaza was really excellent – lots of mariachi bands in friendly competition, ranging from very good to pretty poor, as well as other entertainers.  And then the food hall – incredible.  Just row upon row of eating houses all virtually identical, yet all trying hard to persuade you to choose them.  Eventually picked one at random, + had a fine meal.  Then, after coffee, more music + laughter, home.

Usual problems with time – you would have thought that we would have sorted something out by now – meaning that we found ourselves unexpectedly in the city.  Quite clear too, however, that we were enjoying having the company of others.

The Beetle reference is to the fact that that had been our car – the one we had left with Pete when leaving – back in England.  I would not have thought it would have made the best of taxis, being pretty compact, and with only two doors, but what do I know?  And it does seem that we are starting to enjoy the night-time life and vigour.

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