Mexico City: Culture, Tacos, Demonstrations

Nancy with Taco vendors in Mexico City
Arriving in Teotihuacan a cyclist chased us down. Raymundo escorted us to the pyramids and invited us to his home and said we could leave our bikes at his place while we went into the city. Raymundo and his wife Rosa Norma hosted us for a night before and a night after we got back. More wonderful people!

We spent a week visiting incredible Mexico City, probably the world's largest city with close to 20 million inhabitants. Despite the warnings of everyone (as is common for any large city) we didn't have any trouble. No trouble in the streets, no trouble in the subway, no trouble on the buses. We felt comfortable walking and using the subway returning home the last night even though it was after 11pm.

100_0484 Police ready for May 1 march
Riot-ready Mexican Police
That said, there were two days of worker demonstrations and strikes around the May 1 "Labor Day". We saw riot-gear police lining the streets and watched the (completely peaceful) demonstrations marching toward the Zocalo (the central square).

Mexico City has an enormous number of attractions, more than you could ever come to terms with. There's the Cathedral, of course, which was built on top of the ruins of the ancient Aztec pyramid, the "Templo Mayor", which is excavated and is described elsewhere.

The Museum of Anthropology is one of the best of its kind in the world. We spent a full day there - and were surprised at our endurance. Usually we don't have that much attention span. It has exhibits of the past (Aztecs/Mexica, Toltecs, Teotihuacan, Maya, Oaxaca, and on and on). And it has exhibits about the current indigenous peoples. We tried to visit most, but didn't quite make it. You could spend all day every day for a month there and still not really have much of a grasp on the museum. However, it was pretty well done for the English speaker, with many interpretive signs in English.

We got tickets for the world-famous Ballet Folklorico de Mexico (it cost more than we'd usually spend for hotels for 4-5 days). It was great, inspiring, wonderful. For me it still doesn't affect my memories like the dancers we happened upon in Zacatecas at the Cultural Week there.

Yes, Mexico City is full of people and cars. And Nancy was quite uncomfortable with the smog the first day or so, although she seems to have adjusted. But it was amazing how safe it felt, and how reasonable things were. We didn't pay more for hotels than we're accustomed to (about $20-$30/night), and the food on the streets was priced well. The best bargain in town is the Metro (subway), for about US $0.18/ride, if you can imagine that. It's clean (no graffiti), safe, fast. It can sometimes be pretty crowded, like most major metro systems. But it's a pretty impressive system, covering much of the city with efficient service.