December 29 – January 11, 2018.
México City is the ultimate Pueblo Mágico. Take all the churches, plazas, parks, fountains, museums, mercados, colors, street performers, monuments, historic buildings, ancient ruins, art, and food from all the other Pueblo Magicos and multiple them multiple times and you have México City. I can’t even imagine how many weeks, months, years it would take to see it all. During the two weeks we spent in the city we hardly made a dent.
We might have skipped Mexico City entirely except that our friend, Wayne, wanted to meet us there. It was quite a search to find an Airbnb that had off street parking that could accommodate the van but I managed it. And although it wasn’t in one of the trendier neighborhoods it was in walking distance from a couple of them and right around the corner from a Subway station that took us everywhere else.
Mexico City life, as is most of Mexico that we have seen, is a life lived outdoors. People eat, shop, and relax along the busy thoroughfares and in the city’s many neighborhood parks. Shops with roll-up garage doors line the sidewalks, there seem to be food stands on almost every corner, in every park, and lining every street especially as you exit the subway. Even many of the museums we visited had an outdoor courtyard of some sort or an area where natural light streamed in from rooftop windows. We probably could have spent our whole two weeks without ever entering a museum or a restaurant and still have had an amazing México City experience.
And underneath all of this outdoor life is a web of tunnels with a life of its own that connects all the many parts of this huge city. The Mexico City Metro is amazingly easy to figure out, amazingly cheap (5 pesos, about .25¢ a ride), and amazingly efficient. I don’t know if the trains run on time, but they run often. And in the underground, like everywhere else in the city, somebody is always selling something. You don’t need a grocery store checkout line for your impulse buys here. Every car of the subway has a hawker who walks the length of the car for one stop, singing out in a repeating rhythmic cadence about what they are selling and the price, before getting off and hopping on another car. Need a charger for your cell phone, some candy, a straight razor? – it’s for sale on the subway. The subway is always busy, but even more so at rush hour. After you squeeze yourself into a packed train and think not another soul more will fit, five more press in at the next stop. And although the subway is primarily a means of getting from one place to another there is also art, displays about the universe, a museum about the subway, pizza stands (Miss that Dominos Pizza from the US – it’s here in the Metro), donuts, and sometimes a clothing store.
This is the first of our Mexico City posts. We are going to break out of our usual linear flow and instead break up our stay in the city into Themes – Ancient Ruins, Art, Food, Other Fun, and a Wrap-up post and special edition of The Cost of Being a Nomad in Mexico City.