After a night in LA, MC felt immediately safe! We stayed on a hostel in the historic centre so on day 1 walked the entire length and breadth of the city. Clearly a lie - 20m people live here, it's huge. But we did cover all the interesting bits to a tourists eye. MC is a strange place. The new bits that are giving it pride of place in the emerging markets look like any North American City - all skyscrapers and shiny banks. The old bits are shabby, filthy, have masses of grafitti everywhere and are confusing. The city's been built on several times by several civilizations so the accumulation of Teotihuacan and Aztec on Native American and Spanish building and cultures is diverse and a bit hard to get to grips with.
On top of that the anti-gov protests that happen daily make it feel like it's on the edge of another social revolution. We found their version of Occupy which was the size of a village in the financial district. A huge area of tarpaulin but unlike occupy the state have recognise them, bought it a load of porta-loos and the place had a feeling of carnival about it.
Police presence in the city is massive - groups of 10+ on every corner, in full riot gear doing absolutely nothing apart from hassling the odd street performer into posing for a free picture. We saw them being unloaded in one square - about 50 of them all coming off open back vehicles like a military operation- assuming it was all about to kick off we stayed to watch, cameras at the ready. When the trucks drove off they all lit up, chose a corner and set about their day of leaning and glowering. That and the hundreds of street cleaners in charge of a 10m patch each make us think that 40% of employed people must be on gov payroll.
The air isn't as noticably polluted as expected (prob much worse in summer) but we had panda eyes of filth when we took our sunglasses off at the end of the day.
Food is ok - bit boring for me so far but some of that is down to my Spanish. Once I get better and can understand what's in things I'm hoping the choice will grow. In the meantime having jalapeño for breakfast is going down well, as are the massive corn snacks squirted with spicy salsa and sour cream. Bargain at 40p.
Day 2 we tackled public transport and got 3 tubes & a bus to see some pyramids about 40 miles north of the city. Transport surprisingly easy. Tube made entertaining by the stream of hawkers selling their wares. Favourite was the man selling disco backpacks, complete with flashing lights, demonstrated by an ear splitting rendition of Haddaway's 'what is love'. Who wouldn't one with sales techniques like that
The city is getting ready for the Dia de Muertos festival which unlike Halloween focuses on remembering dead relatives rather than dressing like a slut for the night. The main square has a big display of skeletons around and prety much everyone joins in with horror make-up.
I'm not a huge fan of cities and didn't find much appealing about MC - nothing to dislike either, bit apathetic about it really. Chris loves a city but conceded he couldn't find much to stand out as impressive. So, having washed the smog out of our clothes we've moved on to Oaxaca in Southern Mexico (about 5 o'clock from Mexico City Mom!).
Getting us and backpacks across MC was fun in rush hour, followed by an easy 6 hour journey - feels like we've come to a different country let alone State.
Oaxaca (pronounced Wahaka. Unless you're Chris in which case it's pronounced Hawaka?!) is great. Lovely old colonial city with space, trees, air, very chilled people & a cafe culture that immediately lends itself to sitting in the shade and catching up on a blog with a limon frappe.
Dia de Muertos started properly here last night with a parade of dogs in costumes, followed by a few hundred costumed dancers/bands, then the kids in costumes giving out and collecting sweets- like a zombie Mardi Gras.
Tonight is the adults turn when whole families dress up as ghouls, take a feast to the graveyard and invite their deceased loved ones to join them in a massive piss up. Respectfully of course.
The plan is now to stay here for a week and do a language course for 5 days then we'll decide where to head next.