Updated: Mar 23
We had an exciting getaway in February when we flew to Mexico City to spend time with our friends Richard and Marcela. We've known Richard for nearly 30 years and when he's in Canada he lives just an hour or so north of us in Sicamous. His girlfriend, Marcela was born and raised in Mexico City. We've been trying to meet up with them in Mexico City for the past 6 years and were thrilled we finally made it happen.
Marcela has a house in the city but they're also renting a larger house for the winter in Oaxtepec, Morelos about 1.5 hours outside of the city.
So that's where we're headed first.
Since it's an hour and a half out of the city, they gave us instructions on how to take a taxi to the bus terminal, and then the bus terminal to the terminal in the small town that they're living in. It sounded really confusing but in the end it actually turned out to be pretty straightforward and another adventure.
The traffic was just what we expected... chaos! Gary said it was like 'Hit to Pass, but only come close enough to make the other guy think you're gonna hit 'em, then pass'. Amazingly enough we never saw an accident or even a fender bender.
I was amazed at how many trees and parks there were along the main drive from the airport to the bus station, it was actually quite nice and our taxi driver was clearly proud of his city. Despite the fact that there are nearly 23 million people in the metro area it actually didn't seem all that busy. You'd think they would be shoulder to shoulder, but it wasn't really that crowded, even at the bus terminal and I always felt safe.
We had front row seats on the bus so we just sat back and enjoyed the ride. When we arrived they had chips, guacamole and margaritas ready for us and for the next three days we just hung out at Richard & Marcela's place enjoying the pool and the gorgeous view of Popocatépetl volcano.
One day we took a side trip to Tlayacapan, a little town about half hour away. It's a touristy town with lots of kitschy shops and every imaginable souvenir that you could buy. We passed on that and headed to the local market to shop for dinner.
Two things I learned
Mexcians don't waste anything! What looked like something that we would definitely throw away turned out to be a delicacy and didn't actually taste all that bad. Huitlacoche is basically rotten corn fungus. yummy huh?
Everything is made FRESH. Marcela and I made Enchiladas for dinner with a green tomatillo sauce. I said 'lets use all the tomatillos for the sauce and what we don't eat, you can freeze for later.' Her response was 'why would we do that?'
Over dinner that night we talked about the 'Best Things to See in Mexico City'. We only had Sunday & Monday as we were flying back to Cabo on Tuesday. Museo Nacional de Antropología would take a full 2 days to see and the Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan is located northeast of Mexico City and too far to go there and back so we chose to go to Xochimilco located in southern Mexico City and famous for its Venice like canals, the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs. Colorful gondola-like boats crowd the canals, I swear there must have been over a hundred boats in just the area we were in. We (Marcela) hired a boat for 1 hour for only 100 peso each! ($7.50 CDN) Our heads never stopped turning as we watched food vendors, artisans and mariachi bands float past, not to mention boats filled with family and friends enjoying the Sunday afternoon.
Then the next day we went to the famous Zócalo in downtown México City!
Marcela said we had to plan our trip into the city on the metro carefully because it can get crazy busy. So by 10:30am we walked to the closest station, took the metro (subway) one stop to another station, and then jumped on the main line to the Zócalo, which was nine stops up from her place.
Zócalo is the common name of the main square in central Mexico City. Prior to the colonial period, it was the main ceremonial center in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. The plaza used to be known simply as the "Main Square" or "Arms Square", and today its formal name is Plaza de la Constitución.
Walking out of the metro station, we came right into the Zócalo - that huge, huge plaza that you see if you've ever Googled it or have seen pictures of downtown Mexico City. It's this huge expanse of space with the biggest Mexican flag I've ever seen! It's surrounded by some of the most important buildings in Mexico, including the National Palace, the Templo Mayor (Aztec museum) and the massive Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral takes up most of the north end.
We chose not to do the open air tour bus because it was a warm day and we didn't want to be stuck on a bus for 45 minutes in the blazing sun, so we chose to just walk around the city. All in all, we clocked in about nine and a half kilometers that day of walking.
Even though some of the small museums and shops were closed on the Monday of our visit we were so thankful we didn't come the day before (Sunday). We saw a newspaper with a picture of the square on that day, there was a huge government protest and there was over 500,000 people in the square! I can't even imagine that many people in one place!!!
The cathedral was built in sections from 1573 to 1813 around the original church that was constructed soon after the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlan, eventually replacing it entirely.
The bottom left photo you can see where they are starting to uncover the ancient Aztec pyramids from the 15th century. Absolutely incredible to see the history of this very spot. Unfortunately the museum was closed that day so we were unable to learn and see more.
Marcela was carefully watching the clock to make sure we got back on the metro and back home before it got crazy busy downtown. By the time we got to the metro, it was starting to get busy, in the video you can hear Marcela saying 'get in and push!' LOL
Back to Marcela's house
What a great week! Of course I have a gazillion more photos and video, but I hope I gave you a good overview of this wonderful city. I'm so glad we had a local to show us around, for years we've avoided even driving close to the city. I still like our small town living but once in a while its fun to Go Big!
We're back at the beach now and it's good to be home, until next time 😎