The real adventure
It was mid-November, I was due to head back to Australia in about a month, and my cash reserves were running low. The answer came to me immediately: Mexico!
Next thing I know I have booked myself a two week trip to Mexico, not a single plan in place. All I knew was I land in Mexico City and fly back out of Cancun. What would happen in between was anyone’s guess.
I’m usually a pretty confident solo traveller, but something made me a little nervous about Mexico. I guess it started when I read on wikitravel that taxi robberies were fairly common, and to make sure to get an airport authorised taxi only. I managed to do that without hitch after landing at abut 1am), but I’ll fully admit the nerves started up when he made turns down a few dark, deserted alleys. As it turned out everything went down without a hitch and I made it to the hostel just fine.
The next morning I did the usual aimless walk in all directions, and somehow I feel like I didn’t see a whole lot. The hostel was close by the Mexico City Cathedral and the Zocalo Plaza (political centre), and some old Mayan ruins, but with the sheer size of the enormous city it is one of the few I’ve come across that makes it hard to see much by foot.
That afternoon I went back to the hostel to jump on my laptop and do some research into what to do, so I went down to the common room as it was the only place that go reliable wifi. Suddenly I hear “WHAT THE F#$*!” yelled and I look up to see my good mate Ryan staring at me in disbelief. Neither of us knew each other was even in the area, let alone staying in the same hostel. We chatted a bit and decided to head off for a feed.
Fast forward 4 hours, back at the hostel and I notice my bag is strangely lighter and seemingly less full. It took me a minute or two before the reality kicked in; my laptop and iPod had been stolen out of my locked bag. The whole situation was rather suss, but to sum up the ordeal I’ll just say that when I was allowed to look through security footage chunks of footage had mysteriously not recorded (read: deleted).
Thankfully my passport was still in my bag and when I got around to it travel insurance compensated me (lesson to all you kids – GET TRAVEL INSURANCE!). After that incident there was nothing really left worth stealing, so any nerves I previously had now disappeared.
Getting back to what Mexico City was really all about for me, I made it out for a day trip with Ryan and his girlfriend Bec out to the Teotihuacan pyramids and the Avenue of the Dead. This place is awe inspiring. It’s about 45-60 minutes out of Mexico City, and strange to suddenly be seemingly in the middle of nowhere with nothing around. There was lots to explore, paintings still visible, lots of wildlife (especially lizards), and what I found cool is that the archaeologists there are still uncovering things. It’s the kind of place that I think I’d be happy to visit again in the coming years because there will be lots more to see as they unearth it all.
Bec had mentioned wanting to see the floating gardens, kind of like a market on water with long, colourful boats pushed along with a long pole (think of a massive, inelegant gondola with a roof and table). We went along and rented one for just the three of us. We bought a bucket of beers, hand cut chips and soaked up the atmosphere. As we drifted along, mariachi bands would come by on their boats offering to play for you, and there were a few party boats packed with 20-somethings getting rowdy and having a great old time.
On the recommendation of Ryan, I later hit up the Museum of Anthropology. It’s a gargantuan museum, it took me a good couple hours to make my way through, and as a normally non museum going kinda guy, I wasn’t exactly stopping at every exhibit to read everything. It was particularly interesting for the exhibits of the Aztec and Mayan civilisations and gave a better understanding of the ruins that I had seen. It also housed this giant stone tablet which pretty much everyone will recognise instantly.
The Mexico experience ended on one of the weirder ‘attractions,’ down at the Sonora Witchcraft Market. Apparently there is still a strong belief in witchcraft, and so this is the place you go to for all your witchcraft-y needs. Voodoo dolls, giant skeleton statues, potions, weird incense. Whatever you want, these markets will probably have it. I really wanted one of those giant skeletons, that’d make for some pretty badass home decor, luggage limits are a bitch though.