This is part one of three parts about a trip to Mexico. It was pieced together from my usual notes on my laptop and email sent home to family and friends. When I say "The Company" I don't mean the CIA, I mean the company I work for.

Mexico - Part One     (Sun. 11/01/98 - Tues. 11/03/98)
Arrival in a new place is always hectic and confusing. After hours of being cramped into a metal tube hurtling through the air five miles high at hundreds of mile per hour, breathing thin, dry, stale, recycled air, you land, taxi to the gate, gather belongings from the overhead bins, then slowly shuffle along the aisle, finally into the terminal. Sometimes you are near where you need to be and sometimes you have to hike along seemingly endless corridors. Imigration. Wait in line, have your passport and other documents in hand. Finally reach an immigration official at a counter. "Welcome to [whatever country]" Stamp Stamp "Enjoy your stay." Find the baggage carousel. So much luggage, so many people. Ah, there's my bag. Next stop is customs. It is usually quick and simple: do you have anything to declare? Everyplace X-rays baggage going onto airplanes. Here in Mexico City they also X-ray luggage at customs on the way into the country. Then you pass through some doors and are faced with a mob of people waiting to greet family and friends who have just arrived and drivers holding up signs with the names of the people they are there to pick up. The Mexico City airport was very busy, very crowded on the Sunday afternoon that I landed.

My first task was to get some Mexican money. I found an ATM machine that belonged to the Cirrus network so I could use my Peoples Credit Union debit card, but apparently the money I had withdrawn at Shaws on Saturday made come close to the maximum for a weekend. It would not let me withdraw 1500 pesos (about $150+ U.S.) nor 1000 pesos, but finally let me have 100 pesos (a little over nine dollars). So I went to one of the money changing companies and changed $100 U.S. into 930 pesos. Then I needed a taxi to my hotel. You have to be careful about cabs in Mexico City; there are thieves who drive around in fake taxis so they can rob their passengers. At the airport you can buy a ticket for a taxi: tell the person at the counter where you want to go and they sell you a ticket for that distance, then you go outside to the official taxi stop and pick a taxi. These taxis are what they call Sitios, radio dispatched cabs. If you aren't buying a ticket for them at the airport, you can telephone for one or ask your hotel to get you one.

Traffic is very heavy in Mexico City and they drive like they are in a race.... it was an interesting trip from airport to hotel... zip from lane to lane... weaving in and out of traffic... a very good driver but I was very happy to have shoulder belt and seat belt.... The Sheraton Suites Hotel is very new in a new upscale business suburb, lots of office buildings for major companies (like IBM and EDS, etc.), a very expensive private university, luxury apartment buildings, a very upscale shopping mall, etc... My "room" is a suite with a living room with a kitchenette area at one end (sink, coffee maker, microwave, etc.), a table with four chairs (where I am writing this now), a large sofa, and a television set... a large bathroom... and a bedroom with a king size bed, a table and two chairs, and a television set.

I've been eating dinner and breakfast in the restaurant here in the hotel. The food is pretty good. The prices are not bad for a restaurant in this kind of hotel, but it is still going to be costing The Company a lot for me to eat here. Of course, if I were to go in search of some place else to eat The Company would have to pay for taxi fare both ways, so this is not that bad... I've been buying bottled water to drink. (I always drink lots of water.)

Monday was a holiday here -- Mexicans observe Halloween and All Saints Day and then the Day of the Dead where they visit family graves, bringing drinks and food and favorite treats for the dead and they spend the day there, having a party and telling stories about their dead relatives, singing songs, etc. So there were not very many people at The Company on Monday. I don't know how my students felt about working on a holiday... I think they just felt that they had to come on Monday because they want to learn about this stuff... Because it was a holiday, the cafeteria in the The Company building was closed, so Enriquez and I went to the big shopping mall in this area... Very big, reminded me very much of the Eaton's Place Mall in Toronto (Enriquez had been there and he agreed with me that there were a number of similarities)... Sears is an anchor store on one end... three or four levels of stores ( this is a very hilly area) stretching for a long distance, on and on... very upscale... had a DiscoveryZone type place for kids, lots of the climbing and sliding tubes, etc., also had an indoor bumper boats pond... A restaurant with a jungle theme, live parrots, etc.... usual mall stuff, lots of shoe stores, clothing stores, electronics, etc... a big food court with all kinds of fast food places (including Burger King, KFC, and Pizza Hut)... Enriquez had told me that shoe prices were very cheap in Mexico... he was right... I looked in one shoe store and saw a whole display of Vans shoes for $199.00... yes, but that is the peso price (they use the dollar sign) and so that would be about $21.00 in U.S. dollars! These shoes (and their prices) really caught my attention since my kids like to wear them.

To previous entry

To Mexico Part Two

To Mexico Part Three

To 1996-99 archives

Back to Jim's home page

Note: Entry copied from original Geocities jimsjournal site, internal links changed to jimsjournal domain, text placed in table to avoid full screen line length. No change made to content.