Mexico 2003

In June 2003, I boarded a flight in London on my way to Mexico. I knew nothing about Mexico. Nothing. But I had a plan. Bored of life in the UK I set off to seek my fortune in Guadalajara as an English teacher. I’d booked a four week TEFL course of some sort in Mexico’s second city, due to start mid-July. That left a couple of weeks for some sightseeing. The flight was pretty horrific. First stop was Miami, which we circled for an hour due to an electrical storm. Second stop was Merida. The plane  on to our destination,  Mexico City, was virtually empty. Yet a swarthy chap who was the spitting image of Pablo Escobar decided to sit next to me. Across the aisle a fragile old man looked close to tears and kept crossing himself. We arrived safely at midnight.

Mexico City had (has?) a terrible reputation for crime. I poked my nose outside the airport doors. I had a cigarette. I looked at the taxis. And then I paid the most I have ever paid for a hotel room – the Marriot at the airport. I hadn’t booked a hostel – I didn’t do planning in those days –  and I didn’t fancy looking for one at gone midnight. I checked out next morning, dared to grab a taxi and set off for the Zocalo, where according to my Lonely Planet Guide, a decent place called Hostel Cathedral could be found.

Before checking out, I booked my onward flight to Merida. I gave myself four days in Distrito Federal, and considered myself brave/foolhardly for doing so. Four fantastic days later I had already made my mind up – I would return. A week wouldn’t have been enough. Heck, with the hindsight that I’m blessed with, six years wasn’t enough! But on to Merida I went. Then Playa del Carmen, and on to Tulum – it was here that I did the TEFL place the courtesy of letting them know I wouldn’t be attending their course. I was having way too much fun in this fantastic country. Next stop was Palenque. San Cristobal de las Casas. Villahermosa – worth missing in my opinion. Veracruz.

I kept my promise, and then returned to the capital city, and this time spent a full week there. Even then, even with a coach ticket out of there booked and paid for, I kinda knew I’d found home, and I’d be back. Next stop was Guanajuato, followed by an extended stay at San Blas. I met up with chilled out backpackers at the Stoners Cafe and Hostel, and somehow everything just…you know. None of us left on time. I nearly got eaten by a croc. But made it to Mazatlan for an afternoon.

Los Mochis – my most miserable stop on the trip. But it was the starting point of the Copper Canyon rail trip, which was one of the most memorable. And exhausting. Chihuahua was next, followed by Ciudad Juarez, where I crossed into El Paso, USA. My Mexican trip was over. My Mexican love affair had barely begun. One day soon, I hope it will be resumed. In those days I packed a Nikon Coolpix 880. A cutting edge digital compact with 3.3 megapixels.

Memory cards were prohibitively expensive. So I didn’t have an awful lot of room for photos, especially the sort of quantity you expect from a three month trip. As a result I came back with a scandalous shortage of snaps. Some of them are below in the gallery. I do feel, however, that I have somewhat made up for the shortage of photos from that trip since then…:)

18 thoughts on “Mexico 2003

  1. I have yet to have that wonderful Mexico City adventure as I do not wonder too far from my home in Patzcuaro. Great pictures and great story. I was born in El Paso and worked in Juarez so I can somewhat relate to the last part of your story.

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  2. My first trip to DF was accompanied by similar trepidation. I think I had booked a week, and when I arrived, I wondered how long it would be before I was either kidnapped or murdered. LOL….

    Needless to say, I had A FANTASTIC TIME!!!! And have been coming back ever since.

    I hope you end up back there soon.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    In an undisclosed location in New Hampshire

    Where we haven’t made any phone calls for them to trace.

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    1. It’s reputation works in its favour as far as visitors go. Basically, if you have a few days there and don’t get murdered, then it has already exceeded your expectation!

      Tracing phone calls?? That’s so 2012. It’s 2013, and now they’re reading your mind…whaddaya think Google Glass is really for?!

      🙂

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      1. It’s also made it possible to book some amazing hotels VERY cheaply. Especially if you know how to play the game between Expedia and Priceline.

        Kim G

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  3. Wow, the copper canyon!! I’ve been wanting to go for ages now. Just a small problem with the Mexican holidays though. My 10 days a year are taken up going home for christmas! Sounds like you did tons while you were here. Were you one of the people that said “one more year then we’ll see”? I feel like that’s what it’s become for me now. I am loving it but have absolutely no plan!

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    1. You only get 10 days holiday a year?!? What do you do?!

      To be fair, I did the Copper Canyon on a three month-ish backpacking trip. So there was no work to interfere with my exploration. I never did get back there when I lived in the country, it’s just too far and oo awkward to get to.

      I never had a plan. I always assumed that I’d be there a couple of years more. Then six years had passed. I miss Mexico a lot. I’m going to be going back, and next time it will be for good.

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      1. I’m a book editor. Mexican law only states 6 days of holiday a year. So my 10 is “generous”. For me it’s one of the worst things about being here but it’s one of the sacrifices we have to make if we want sun, beaches, great food, and happy people that don’t moan about what’s happening on the x-factor all the time.
        What will you do when you come back?

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        1. I used to teach English to business men and women around DF. Self employed, rather than for schools. It’s better paid that way, and I can take as many holidays as I want. Typically 3 weeks over Xmas, two weeks over Easter and a week or two here and there as I see fit!

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  4. Its much harder for foreigners living in Mexico to define how many vacation days unless you are retired like I am. Very different from the local who close up there shops or don’t show up for work at a whim (or for a death in the family!. They seem to have a lot of freedom and I would envy them!

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