Grant McWilliams

Mexico 2006 - Day 3

Third day on our trip and we still don’t have access to money. Our paid days at our hotel are up so we’re moving whether we want to or not. I dug through my hidden money belt where I keep photocopies of passports etc. and found $33 U.S. So I changed it into 300 pesos at a money exchanger. That and the money I had left got us one night stay at the Hotel Catedral right behind the Zocolo. In addition to being out of money our old hotel decided to raise our room rate to 1100 pesos a night. This hotel is worth 100 dollars in other parts of the world but not in Mexico City where cheap hotels are a plenty. The Hotel Catedral is just as nice and costs half as much (about $50). We are also one block north of the Zocolo and we can see the back of the Cathedral from our terrace. Our street out front turns into a market street from 9:00am to 7:00pm so it’s like living in Turkey with all the music and venders shouting their deals. It’s quite a neat experience to say the least. We are on the 6th floor (5th in Europe/Mexico) and we have a balcony overlooking the street. The balcony is a bit scary as it doesn’t seem like it’s held on real well and we’re a long ways up. Yesterday I took a nap on the bed and listened to the street vendors advertise at the top of their lungs. I wish I knew more Spanish as I don’t know what they’re selling. The Mexican people love their markets or so it seems. Everywhere you go you run into another market not like any you would ever see in the States outside of yearly craft markets. The difference is these markets run every day just like they were a big department store.

Anyway my Mom sent some money via Western Union so we would have something to eat but found the bank to late because it closed at 4:00pm. We had about 120 pesos left so we went to KFC to get anything we could afford since it had been a good deal the last two nights. We were able to get combo meals for $2.50 each. I can’t believe the prices here even at international stores like KFC. It’s just plain cheaper to live here. After eating we set out to find a Chureria (makes Churos, a wonderful Mexican dessert) and wandered upon an Electra store and I remembered that name being mentioned on the Western Union website. Sure enough they had a Western Union sign up so we wandered in. It looked like an old fashioned hardware store with appliances, bicycles and such. At the back of the store was a little window with a teller behind it. I gave the teller my written down Western Union number and my drivers license and she looked it up. She spoke no English at all but we managed to get the 2000 pesos my Mom had wired me.

At this point we had some money so we ventured on in search of the Chureria and wandered upon yet another market that went for about 10 blocks. The markets are really strange because you find all kinds of weird stuff there. At one the vendor was just selling sticky notes! Another USB cables, another has clothing and yet another tools. They must get closeouts or something and take them to the streets to sell. Natalya found a lot of clothes she wants as soon as I can start using my bank card again. Jade found model cars.

We never did find the Chureria but we’ll come back when it’s daylight and look for it again. The Lets Go guide says you get four Churros and a cup of hot chocolate. We did however find the coolest bakery I’ve ever seen. It’s called Pasteleria Ideal and was huge. All the deserts are out on tables and you pick up this huge round platter and tongs and load up your platter with whatever you want. When you’re done you take it to the packaging counter where someone is waiting to package it up. They give you a ticket which you take to the cashier. The cashier gives you a receipt after you’ve paid and you return to the packager and exchange the receipt for the goods. We loaded up on several pounds of muffins, breads, croissants and other goodies and got out for about $5. This will be our breakfast for about two days.

Since we were on a new street we just wandered and found Chinatown, a construction zone and surprisingly the Zocolo. We could see bright lights at the end of the street and of course like flys we’re drawn by bright lights so we headed toward them. It was the Zocolo and there where 4 story Christmas pictures made out of lights adorning the buildings. The Cathedral also looked really nice at night.

By now our feet were tired and we just wanted to eat our desserts so we headed home but not before stopping to watch the street performers perform acts of daring bravery and stupendous skill. They noticed us in the crowd and brought the microphone over to me and asked me questions in English about where I was from etc. I told Natalya that we’ll probably end up in the performance like we did in Paris but that was as close as we came.

Exhausted we drug ourselves home, ate some desserts and spent some time on the rooftop terrace taking pictures of the Zocolo before turning in.
I hope tomorrow we have money as the sands of time is sifting through the hourglass and we still haven’t seen Chapultec park, Xochimilco, or the pyramids of Teotehauican yet.