I had heard Mexico City was dangerous, so was a little apprehensive about visiting. When I found out my husband had booked for us to stay in a rough neighborhood, this did nothing to allay my fears. When we got to the hotel, we were informed that the following day was a public holiday and there would be political protesters everywhere. Despite all this, I have never felt safer in any large city than I did on that Labour Day Monday in Mexico City.
Our hotel had a lovely roof top pool, which we never managed to utilise due to killer jet lag. In an effort to get back in the right time zone we walked to the Torre Latino Americano for a great view of Mexico City- it is huge. I had no idea how big until I got the birds eye view of the endless sprawl. My favorite building I could spot was the close by Palacio de Belles Artes with its beautiful multi-coloured roof.
We continued down Calle 5 de Mayo, which had many old mosaiced buildings, to the Zocalo main square, flanked by the Palacio National and the Catedral Metropolitana. The square had a political protest group in the middle and Aztec Indian dancers on a side street. Behind the Palacio National we found a skeleton statue as a shrine for Santa Maria outside the Templo de la Santisima Trinidad.
The next day was Labour Day and as soon as we stepped outside, we found that there were protestors everywhere and 4 different types of police. Despite the sheer numbers of people, it all seemed relatively peaceful.
One of the main streets- Paseo de la Reforma- was closed for the public holiday and there were families with kids walking, biking and roller blading along the wide road. I saw the biggest stone seat I have ever seen, along with many monuments and statues, including the Budapest-like Monumento a la Independencia with a gold angel at the top.
The Monumento a la Revolucion- a Paris-like arch- was a hub of riot police and protestors who had marched there along the flag lined Plaza de la Republica. Alameda Central park also seemed to be a hive of activity for the locals.
We decided to seek out the Mercado de la Merced, which we later found out is located in an actual dangerous part of the city. I did wonder why the streets were lined with prostitutes. The market itself was an explosion of colour in flowers, piñata’s and chillies.
Our next stop was the Arena Coliseo to see a genuine Luche Lubre wrestling show. It was very entertaining, and I am sure the extra spicy Doritos and cheap beer helped. After the show, my husband bought a blue wrestling mask and posed for a photo with a policeman. I suppose after the long day of protesters, a couple of tourists were no hassle.
The main thing I wanted to see in Mexico City was the Teotihuacan ruins. However, we discovered that it was the one day of the week that the ruins were closed, A lesson in always read the guide book carefully was well learnt, thankfully at the start of our trip.
That night, we were cheered up by dinner with Eugenio, who my husband had met through his rotary exchange program, and his wife Cynthia. They were lovely warm people, even though I had never met them before. We went to a fancy restaurant and they introduced us to fine sipping tequila and cactus salad- which was actually very yummy.
If this was only the beginning, we were in for a hell of an awesome trip in Mexico!