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Mexico, Travel

¡Adios Mexico City!

Despite the poor introduction we’ve had with Mexico City, I still love it and would seriously consider moving here someday (semester abroad?).

So, what were the highlights of the city? And, more importantly, how much did I spend?

#1 The Food (La Comida)

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Travel. Is. Affordable (if you just suck at saving, I feel you. Check out my mind-tricks here). As Americans, it can seem expensive because it is so hard for our brains to comprehend a $1 meal that didn’t come from a dollar menu. Coupled with the expensive flights to make it over the pond to the rest of the world, I know it seems like you’re off to an expensive start. But seriously, once you get there, SO affordable!

Thanks to said affordability, we got a little crazy and ate our faces off in CDMX. Most meals were about $1-$2. Even the sushi dinner wasn’t that bad, coming in at about $20. We ordered things we recognized to see the authentic take on them (tacos, quesadillas etc.) and they are nothing like back home. In short, Taco Bell is ruined for me and I can’t wait to come back here someday and have even more time to try all the food – we barely scratched the surface.

#2 The Locals (Los Locales)

Its obvious by our dress, attitude and accent that we are American. Haunted by the terrible policies of the Trump administration and the issues going on at the border right now, I wasn’t sure we would be overly welcomed in Mexico city. Aside from being teased once about being here to “visit or invade”, everyone has been very nice. While we interacted with a lot of locals, there are three interactions that I won’t be able to forget.

Interaction #1

In the US, Mexico City seems to be surrounded by a negative stigma that its this super dangerous place. Just like any major city (P.S Mexico City is the biggest city in the world), there is crime – theft, murder, rape – but Mexico City is doing a great job at taking steps to combat that. Upon one of our first train rides, a Metro employee approached us and offered his assistance. He led us to the train platform that we needed to be on, explaining that at the end of every train platform is a designated safe area for women and girls where they can board train cars specifically for ladies.

While I was in Japan I noticed a similar system. While it’s sad to acknowledge a need for this, Japan and Mexico are setting wonderful examples that America could follow.

Interaction #2

Standing in line at the McDonald’s ice cream window, a kid comes up and begins speaking to us in Spanish. Between the three of us, we decipher that he is asking for money. We chatted with him for a bit, learning that he was 7 years old and that his mom was at home. He was a nice and funny kid who looked well fed and was just hoping to get some spending money. We didn’t want to support the begging habit, but ended up buying him a twisted ice cream cone which totally made his night! What a random thing.

Interaction #3

While visiting the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan, the sound of jaguar noises echoed across the plain. It turns out they are made from a tiny toy being sold by the local merchants. I wasn’t confident I’d be able to make the same sound, but after a little lesson and a purchased toy, I’m a pro! Check out the video below.

Jaguar Noises

 

#3 The sights (Las Vistas)

Mexico is famous for its ancient Aztec history. So naturally, Mexico is chock full of interesting sites. It was hard to choose which attractions to see, so we opted to do a blend of touristy and non-touristy.

Pyramid of the Sun

Guys, I’ve always wanted to see a pyramid.

Pyramid of the Sun
My first pyramid, Pyramid of the Sun, outside Mexico City.

Before planning this trip, I didn’t even realize that there was any outside of the infamous Egyptian pyramids. Doh! Counting “ceremonial structures”, Mexico is home to hundreds. My tribe visited one of the most popular, The Pyramid of the Sun, located in the old Aztec city of Teotihuacan (pronounced “teo ti hu can”).

Group selfie in front of Pyramid of the Sun Mexico
Ashley, Hayden and me in front of the Pyramid of the Sun

The Pyramid of the Sun is one of the largest pyramids in Mesoamerica and the third largest in the world. During its life (200 BC – 750 BC), it was used for ‘religious, administrative and community tasks’. At a height of 65m (195 ft), it takes about 250 freaking-steep stairs to reach the top. If your kneecaps and lungs can take it, its an incredible view from the top.

Museo del Juguete Antiguo

This is one of those “non-touristy” things. I often reference Atlas Obscura to find unusual things to do.  Here in Mexico City, they did not disappoint. Hayden and I visited Museo del Juguete Antiguo – a “freak toy” museum….and freaky it was! First, it looks like its just in some random guys’ house that is nowhere near the touristy part of town (sorry mom). Second, its filled to the brim with thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of obscure, weirdly positioned, and [sometimes] freakishly common, toys.

In the tech industry, we have a motto. DRY: “Don’t repeat yourself”. Basically, don’t do work twice. In the spirit of DRY, if you’d like to read more about Museo del Juguete Antiguo and support Atlas Obscura for helping me find it, you can read their wonderful article with all the history here.

¡Adios (but not to my budget)!

Just like our time in Mexico City, its time to wrap. But before I go, I’d like to share with you just how affordable this trip could be for you:

Expenses (in $USD)

Now, these numbers are representative of my share of things. If dinner for 2 was $20, I’m logging it as $10 because that is what I paid. These numbers are totals for the entirety of my time in Mexico City.

Food$78 You can tell where my priorities are. This is for all my meals, snacks, drinks, treats and “oh I just have to try one bite”‘s. It also includes a sushi dinner which was $20 and boozy Olive Garden (hey, I was homesick). 

Lodging: $53.25 My share of 6 nights at our hostel in a private room, including a free breakfast that I ate every day.

Entertainment & Souvenirs$16.20  This includes the Pyramid of the Sun (includes round-trip bus fare), a festival, several museums and a few hands of blackjack at the casino.

Transportation$10 With an amazing infrastructure, trains were the transport of choice coming in at $1 per ride. Uber is also insanely cheap and a great alternative after I got pickpocketed on the train.

Misc (tips, donations etc): $5. Unlike Asia, tips are welcome in Mexico. Honestly, I like it better this way – its more like home. Tips are appropriate for cab drivers, waiters, or warrioresses who choose to pose with you or bless you. Total I spent $10 in tips (I know, I know, it sounds so cheap but I promise it was the appropriate amount).

Total Spent: $162.45 for one week.

Not too shabby, right?

I hope you’re enjoying the information so far – what do you think? Would you ever visit here, why or why not? Please leave any opinions, questions or comments in the comment section below. 🙂

Mexico, Travel

A rough start in Mexico City

Mexico City Wins

Guys, this is not how I envisioned my getaway starting!

Originally, my travel tribe planned to stay in Mexico City about 3 nights. It’s now been 6 nights, and we are missing several travel tools we originally came with:

  • Our group member, Ashley
  • My iPhone X
  • Hayden’s Debit Card

I’m grateful our month-ish timetable gives us the luxurious flexibility to move as we please – or in this case, as needed. But WTF happened?!

Let’s go down the list.

Missing Member

First, this type of travel is not for everyone. There is a reason it’s called “roughing it” – its rough! Ashley gave it a great go coming with us – I’m so proud of her for prepping, planning and trying. The unknown is scary and its a lot of work. Ultimately, it wasn’t for her. As proud of her as I am for trying, I’m equally as proud of her for doing what she needed to do for herself (we should all follow her example) – even if it meant she wouldn’t be continuing on with us. She’s now at home hugging kitties and, after the week we’ve had here, I could seriously go for some kitty hugs too.

Because……

Pickpocketed

Mexico City has a connotation of being dangerous. While it isn’t very outwardly violent, there is a lot of crime. Not sure how since never before in my life have I seen so many police in one city. Even though there are always at least 3 officers in eyesight, to fight crime here you must catch it in the act.

My iPhone X was taken from my pocket on a crowded train. I’m talking crowwwwwwwded. I didn’t feel it happen but I realized it as soon as I got out of the train car. Thanks to the quick catch, Hayden and I were able to track my phone location to a nearby market filled with people selling [what look to be stolen] phones. We have returned the past 3 days waiting for it to crop up in hopes of buying it back. Being our last day in Mexico City, today I broke down and bought a cheap throw away smartphone.

I’m angry. Not about the phone or the money it will cost to replace it, but rather, because I feel all the planning I put into this trip has been snatched away – along with my perception of personal space. To compound it, I’m now dependant on Hayden (who has been LOVELY about this whole disaster). Though Hayden could not be more gracious, my inner control freak and radical-self-reliant burner soul is very uncomfortable in this position.

Being pickpocketed isn’t as jarring as nearly being kidnapped, but I still felt shaken. I even considered coming home. But, after a pep talk from my mom (I can’t believe I’m typing that almost as much as my mom couldn’t believe she was saying it), Hayden and I are going to continue on….even though Hayden is down a debit card.

ATM Fiasco

ATMs work here just like they do back home. Insert card, enter pin, take cash, blow money. Notice a missing step? Take card from machine – very important and time sensitive! If you don’t do it, it eats it. Unfortunately for Hayden, his debit card became an ATM midnight snack. Luckily, he was smart and divided his dollars across several accounts with different debit cards. Hmmm…wonder who gave him that idea? 😉

The Adventure Continues

Tomorrow, we’re off to Guatemala City! From there, we’ll be heading to Lake Antitlan for some scuba diving and volcano climbing. We specifically chose a remote area where we won’t have much connection. Even though I’m just regaining my connectivity, I’m looking forward to voluntarily losing it again.

I’ve been great about keeping track of expenses this trip, so look forward to a post with a cost breakdown for the Mexico City leg of the trip (hopefully your budget won’t have to include a new phone).