Travel Don’ts

I’ve talked a lot in this blog, and shared many a photo, of places I have enjoyed visiting over the years, like Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome, London, Prague, Brugge, Oslo, Kenya, and of course Amsterdam (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). But I haven’t spoken so much about places I have not enjoyed.

Thankfully the list is short:

Mexico City
Milan
Athens
Tampa
Manila
Cancun
Mestre

Let’s talk about Mexico City. MC, one of the world’s 24 “megacities” (I just learned this term, and I like it), comes second in population only to Tokyo at an astounding 22,350,000 inhabitants in the MC metro area. Compare that to Boston’s paltry 5.8 million! The city is HUGE. And DIRTY. MC is situated in a little valley between mountain ranges and volcanoes which trap polution over the city. You can actually feel yourself breathing in all the carbon monoxide and poluted crap.

But what bothers me most about MC is that I don’t feel safe there. When I travel, I usualy am on my own. If I am traveling with a companion or group of friends, I still value time on my own pounding the pavement getting to know my destination. But Mexico City just isn’t safe enough to do this, especially if you are a woman. Wikipedia confirms this:

Violent crime is also a major concern; in 2003 Mexico had the second-highest number of kidnappings in the world, with some 3,000 reported cases. In taxis, a particular problem has arisen; individuals are sometimes kidnapped by unauthorized taxi drivers, in order to empty their bank accounts at ATMs. Victims are sometimes kept overnight in order to bypass daily withdrawal limits. Inside other transportation, mostly microbuses, pickpocketing is still a common activity, and Mexico City inhabitants take various levels of precaution to avoid being victims of this.

Now I am no Nervous-Nellie when it comes to rough-and-tumble places, but my Mexican friends and colleagues have warned me enough times for me to take their cautionary advice seriously. If anyone knows the real deal, they would. The don’ts they have laid out for me:

  • Don’t walk by yourself
  • Don’t take the metro by yourself
  • Don’t take the bus by yourself
  • Don’t hail a cab by the street (make the hotel call one for you)
  • Don’t leave your hotel room unlocked

The above list in combination with the rampant polution makes me feel completely stifled there. In my last job, I used to have to go two or three times a year for work. Thankfully I am off that project now.

But the worst experience I ever had there was this…

Since I am too afraid to go off on my own while in MC, often I feel tethered to the hotel in which I am staying. On one particular trip my company had put me up in a sub-standard business class hotel. On the outside it looks OK enough, and the service and food were pretty good. But what I didn’t realize until I checked into my room was how thin the walls were. You could hear everything going on next door.

Two business men were sharing the room next to mine (I saw them in the hallway earlier that day). They stayed up very late watching TV and talking loudly, which in turn kept me awake since I am a pretty light sleeper. I passed the time quietly reading my book. Finally around 2am they turned off the TV. I decided to stay awake just a little bit longer to finish the chapter I was reading. And then I heard a very strange noise.

Now, get your mind out of the gutter. I recognized the noise immediately, but was incredulous. No, it can’t be. I thought to myself. But then I heard it again! What was it? What could this noise be? Farting. Huge loud blubbering farts. I seriously gagged. Not that this is the fault of Mexico City, but whenever I think of Mexico City I think of those business men farting.

Eww.

Well, to be fair, Mexico City does have a few merits. The city contains 160 musumes and tons of galleries and concert halls. I particularly did enjoy their Museum of Modern Art and Sculpture Garden (you know I love a good sculpture garden) which is in the Chapultepec Park. I even took a few nice photos which I will share with you now…

She doesn’t look too happy being serenaded

The house of Dolers Olmeda
(one of Diego Rivera’s lovers and an artist in her own right)

Center Square

Sculpture Park

Sculpture Garden…Life imitates art

Inside the Museum of Modern Art

2 thoughts on “Travel Don’ts

  1. i wasn’t so fond of mexico city either. after driving around for a little while, my throat literally burned from the pollution. and i never saw such poverty…until i got to manila.

  2. I love Athens! LOVE IT! LOVE IT! I would move there tomorrow if someone offered! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!I really must have had some sort of alternate experience in Mexico City as well, because I remember really liking it a lot. That was, however, about 15 years ago, and my memory, it isn’t so good.But those street tacos I ate were the yummiest!

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