Exploration maniac in Mexico City
After finishing some paper work at my company in the morning, I met a bunch of expats in my company that came from different parts of the world. Since the day is still early, I approached one of the expats to see if he wants to hang out and explore around Mexico City. The expat is from Thailand and let's call him by his nickname Boss. Boss graciouslly accepted my offer and we became travel buddies for the day.
There is a lot to see in Mexico City (remember there are 1,200 museums in the city according to my hotel driver). As such, we really have to pick and choose the important ones. Since many people suggested to visit the Museo de Anthropologia, that becomes our first destination.
In order to travel around Mexico City, our coordinator from my company suggested me to maneuver around using Uber. All of a sudden, Uber becomes my best friend. Not only it is reliable and safe, but also convenient with just a click of a button. Public buses in Mexico City is very cheap and only costs 4 mexican pesos to take you around the city. However, due to language barrier, I don't think I will have much success taking public buses in the city.
Without waiting for too long, our Uber cab has arrived and took us to the museum.
The Museo de Anthropologia is a large museum that houses 12 different exhibition halls. Each hall features the different ages of history and culture: the Aztecs, the Mayans, the Spanish conquest etc.
In the middle of the museum is an interesting architecture design which a large single pillar creates artificial cascade of water.
In the museum, I was able to learn some history about the Aztecs and the Mayans. At the end of my visit, my conclusion is that Aztecs were barbaric and the Mayans were commercial geniuses.
Some ruins of the Mayan culture were brought inside the museum.
This is a model of a great ancient city Teotihuacan which I am hoping to visit tomorrow.
After our visit, we had lunch at a nearby restaurant called Agua y Sal. At this point, our selection of restaurant is depended on whether they have wifi or not. Wifi is important because we need wifi to make Uber cab requests.
Nonetheless, the food at this restaurant is very good. We were treated with great nacho and three dipping sauce, all free and from the house. A customary tradition in Mexico is that 10% tip is pretty much always expected. I really don't want to find out the consequence by not leaving at least 10% tip on the bill. However, according to my friend Boss, tip is even expected when you go to a supermarket. The staff who stuffs your purchased items on the bag will expect a tip.
Our second destination is at the Coyoacan. Coyoacan is a Federal District and a historic center of Mexico City. The district has a large park and church in the centre, and surrounded by little shops, restaurants, and many many museums. (the hotel driver was not lying, I'm starting to believe that there are indeed 1,200 museums in this city).
While we were at the visitor centre, a policeman approached us and welcomed us to the city. Through him, we were able to learn that the name Coyoacan means the place of Coyotes. Back in the Aztec times, there were many Coyotes in this area. When the policeman left, we greeted him politely by saying "Gusto En Conocerte".
With my limited and kindergarten level Spanish, it was difficult to communicate with the locals. In particular, we had trouble even buying icecream and beer. Anyway, hopefully I'll be better at Spanish in the next 3 months.
At the outskirt of Coyoacan is another famous museum called Museo Fridakahlo. Frida Kahlo is a Mexican painter and her work encompases influences from the Mexican and indigineous culture. She is definitely one of the important figures in Mexico because I see her face/picture being featured in many merchandise: shirts, cups, books etc.
I learned about Frida Kahlo that she is an inspiring painter in Mexico because her artwork pushes the traditional boundary and expresses her inner feelings. Back in the day, it was difficult for female to express their true emotion and feelings. Frida Kahlo had a terrible car accident which made her immobile in the hospital for 3 months. At that time, Frida painted many art work, which mostly represent her agony, pain and despair. She married another famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera but the marriage was not steady because both had affairs with other people, and in particular Frida's bisexual orientation with women. Frida's fame arose when her artwork was featured in the Louvre and made friends with around the world. She was also an communist activists whom she has helped political refugees escape from government's arrest.
Unfortunately, I didn't go inside the museum because the line was ridiculously long. Instead, I took a picture of the entrance as my token of appreciation.
Towards the end of the day, we took another Uber cab to Avenida Presidente Masayrk. This street is probably Mexico City's most high end fashion urban shopping street. At this street, we saw all possible kind of luxury brands: Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Aston Martin, Porsche etc. Speaking about cars, my Thai friend Boss explained to me that car prices in Thailand is double the price of cars in USA. This is partially due to high import tax and that cars are designed differently because drivers in Thailand drive on the right hand side. Maybe cars in Mexico are cheaper?
After walking for a while, I realize that I was out of breath. Why is that? I thought to myself for a while before realizing the reason. Mexico City's altitude is 2,250 metres and it is relatively high compared to Toronto. I probably need a few more days to adjust before I get used to the altitude here. Not to worry, I have had experience with altitudes before in my trip to Bolivia.
At the end of the night, we went to a high end steak house restaurant for dinner. Again, we were treated with nachos and multiple dipping sauce, all free from the house. Even at the most high end restaurant, my bill turned out to be 230 mexican pesos, which translates to $18 CDN. I guess the cost of living here is lower afterall.
While I arrived back to the hotel, I was notified by a tour guide online that I can go to Teotihuacan tomorrow for a private tour! This is exciting news and I need to rest well for tomorrow's trek.