Over the last couple of decades, my trips abroad have followed a simple theme. Some new city or country, last minute packing and a brief read up with my Lonely Planet guidebook about the destination whilst flying. My hotel/ hostel/ guesthouse for the first night might or might not be booked. Whichever is the case, upon dumping my bag on the floor of my accommodation, I’ll turn my mental notes from the guidebook into a rough itinerary on a scrap of paper.
This wasn’t entirely the case with our trip to Mexico. There was an element of last minute packing on my part, although Mrs P had sensibly fixed her bags several days in advance. P stands for Preparation. We didn’t have a Mexico guidebook. In our case, not needed. One could argue that in the six years I lived in Mexico City, my blog became a fairly hefty guidebook in its own right. And then there’s our itinerary. What to go and see? Well, I’ve pretty much seen it all before. Several times over. I didn’t really need to see anything in particular. So what was the point of the trip at all?
There are many Mexico City’s. Every visitor experiences the place in their own way and comes away with their own set of memories, their own interpretation of how things work (or don’t work) and their own version of this great metropolis. Mrs P and I have very different versions of Mexico City. We both call it home, but only one of us can say that with the true conviction of a native. The one thing we can agree on is that we just like to be there. To see old faces and old places.
It’s the same city that we left behind us, but some things have changed in the five years we’ve been away. It’s so busy. I know, it was always busy. And I’ve had a few weeks now to reflect on this observation. Was it just always that busy and I’ve forgotten? No way. There were huge queues for everything, even the Franz Mayer museum.
We were there over the Independence Day week so people were on holiday. But when we lived there, that used to mean the city would empty as the locals fled the hustle and bustle of DF and headed to Toluca, Cuernevaca and Acapulco. I’m told that these places have become a little too dangerous for the citizens of Mexico City to risk visiting, and people prefer to stay home. Plus, the inhabitants of Toluca, Cuernevaca and other nearby towns now come into the city in larger numbers.
There are other changes though. What happened to the polymer 100 and 200 peso notes, for example? And the bottom end of Reforma. Who on earth approved the design of Torre Reforma? It’s one of the most horrific looking skyscrapers I’ve seen. Food prices have gone up considerably too. You can still eat out for a reasonable price if you hunt around, but things aren’t as cheap as they used to be.
But these are all by the by. We were back. And we loved being back. Home sweet home.