Bienvenidos a Mexico City

¿Buenos Noches o Buenos Dias?

What do you say when you arrive and meet someone for the first time at 1.30am? Is it more appropriate to say good morning, because it is, or good night, because you’ve not been to bed yet?

These are the thoughts that run through my head when I’ve been awake this long. I got a few minutes snooze on the second leg of our flight, but essentially I’ve been up for 25.5 hours, and boy does it show!

I enjoyed our second take-off; as we leapt joyfully into the air, the sun rose majestically in the west.

We’re staying at Ticalli, a Guide centre in Mexico City, for the night. They sent a car to get us from the airport, and gave us a little tourist spiel on the way through the centre to Ticalli.

20130812-180244.jpgThe stairs at Ticalli

First impressions: everyone is friendly, the accommodation is lovely, and my bed is calling me. More in the morning!

Sunday 11th

Ticalli is lovely. Our dorm has four bunk beds, and lockable cupboards for our bags so we can leave them here while we go out exploring today. There’s a lounge, with lots of badges and gifts from previous groups all lining the walls. All very pretty.

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We went down for breakfast (far too) early in the morning. The tables were laid in fours, and since there are five in our group we split ourselves up, sharing with random people from one of the other groups staying here. They’re also going to Our Cabaña, so we’ll be seeing a lot of them for the next couple of weeks. Unlike our group of leaders, their group is mostly Senior Section members.

After breakfast we went out. The original plan involved the open topped bus tour, but in the end we just went for a walk. I’m quite glad, because I was really feeling the need to stretch my legs after yesterday’s marathon session of sitting down. We took a stroll down the Paseo de la Reforma, where we found that most of the road had been closed off and was being used by cyclists, runners, roller bladers, and people doing salsa. I’m told this happens every Sunday. I think it’s a brilliant idea. There was even a section of the road given over to massage.

Near Ticalli there is a long covered book market, and a large statue of an angel on a plinth. One of the few things I remember from the spiel on the way from the airport is that the angel is the symbol of Mexico City. They’re big on statues and street art here – most of the junctions and lots of straight bits of road have something pretty to look at.

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Jo, Janet, Helen and Sara

Down the other end of the Reforma we went into a park and sat for a while watching a fountain and talking. There was a lady in a green lacy dress, with an enormous bustle, having her photo taken by the fountain, and the streams of water kept moving around. Very pretty. We thought at first she was a bride, but there didn’t seem to be any evidence of a groom or and bridesmaids, so we eventually decided she might be doing some sort of fashion shoot.

We’ve spent a lot of time sitting and chatting today – first by the fountain, then later over coffee, and then lunch, and then in various doorways while waiting for the rain to stop. In true guiding fashion we have spent most of that time talking about past adventures and plotting new ones!

In among all the chatting we did manage to see quite a lot of culture. We went into the main cathedral of the city, where they are currently in the midst of restoring the pipe organ. We also noticed they had open confessionals, so you could see who was in there. The priest had an iPad mini, which startled me slightly! We met a Mexican Scout in the cathedral courtyard, which was nice, if a little random. He was very friendly.

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We’ve also been to a sculpture garden.

A lesson we learnt quite early on in the day was that traffic lights are more of a guideline than a rule. They try to have policemen out enforcing them on main streets, but it’s not at all unusual to see people ignore them completely.

We found an enormous bakery. From the outside the shop looks fairly ordinary. They had some pretty impressive cakes in the windows, and Brown Owl Sara likes looking at impressive cake, so we went in. Well, around the corner from the window was this:

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People were going around collecting huge trays of cakes and bread and pastries and biscuits and did I mention the cakes? Upstairs was a very impressive exhibition of cakes.

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We went to the Monumento a la Revolución, where you can take a glass lift to the top and see the views. The Revolución is very important in Mexico, being an important stage in their cultural history. There are a few streets with names like Avenida 16a de Septiembre, which in 1810 was the date that Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave the first cry of independence in Dolores.

Mexicanos ¡viva México!

The monument is very tall, and my companions didn’t enjoy the glass lift very much. The views from the top were interesting, although in common with a lot of cities, one direction looks much like another.

Slightly disappointed at the lack of camp blanket badges in their shop, though.

I mentioned rain. It started about mid afternoon, and we used various tactics to avoid it, including pretending to be interested in a bookshop (oh, such a hardship…), and hiding in doorways and under awnings. It came and went, so it didn’t cause us too much of a problem.

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Janet and Helen model the finest in Guiding wear.

Our original plan had involved a siesta in the afternoon to help us recover from the plane, but we skipped that and decided on an early night instead. It’s good that we did, since it being Sunday the cantina we chose for dinner was closing at 8. We had fajitas and tacos, and it was very tasty!

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There were some interesting choices for the artwork in the cantina – one wall was graced by what I can only describe as a giant toilet roll.

It’s now about half past ten, and we’ve all been tucked up in bed for half an hour or more. I think I’m the only one still awake, which I should probably do something about!

Monday 12th

We had a little impromptu party in the middle of the night, when we discovered it was 3am and we were all awake. To be fair, that’s 9am in the UK, so it was a perfectly sensible time to wake up…

At the slightly more sensible time of after-breakfast, we went out with the intention of finding the TuriBus and having a ride. However, it turned out that it takes three hours to do the whole loop, and by the time we found the bus stop (which isn’t signposted in any way) we didn’t have that long, so we went walking again.

This time we went in the other direction, towards the Bosque de Chapultepec, a huge park. Alas, it’s closed on Mondays! Not only that, but there were a large number of police in riot gear wandering around near there. We’re reasonably certain they weren’t there for us…

A little more wandering and it was time to buy some lunch from a seven-eleven and make our way back to Ticalli to make sure we were packed.

We’re off to Our Cabaña this afternoon!

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