Tuesday, 29 de marzo
Today was a transition day. We planned to wake up in a leisurely fashion, eat breakfast, explore a little and then head to the bus station around noon to make our trip to Cuernavaca. That happened for two of us. And by two of us, I mean Anna and Kevin. For someone who gets up at 4:30am every day, imagine how much harder it is to sleep in when there is a two hour time difference. Needless to say, I watched 4 episodes of Mad Men on my iPad from 3:00-7:00 when I finally woke the kids up to start our day. They were thrilled. I always feel so alive on vacation, especially when I’m in a city. I can truly get up at dawn and go all day. However, by 8pm, I’m toast. Transtioning back to a school schedule next week will be rough!
Breakfast today was chicken and/or cheese enchiladas. I just wasn’t feeling it. Kevin had two portions again plus fruit, juice, churros and bread. I had fruit and cereal and lots of coffee. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to leave the hotel early or not because they still had our laundry. For $10.00 they will wash, dry and fold your laundry. Knowing that doing laundry in Cuernavaca is challenging (takes up to three days to get back), I wanted to make sure we had enough clean clothes to last the rest of the trip. Moms always have to think about these things.
I really wanted to make sure that the kids had a chance to see at least one of Diego Rivera’s murals in Mexico City before leaving town. The best ones are at the National Palace which was packed when we walked by on Easter Sunday. Today, I ordered a car through Cabify and after leaving all of our luggage with the concierge at the Red Tree House, we made our way back to the Zocalo. Victor, our concierge, told us that we should consider going to the Ministry of Education building rather than the National Palace because there are several Rivera works there and there are never any crowds. Great advice Victor!!! We walked right in and spent about an hour looking at some of his amazing art. Kevin and Anna have developed a bit of an interest in the history and politics of Mexico. Yeah!
After the murals, we walked through the Zocalo. The baseball diamond from Sunday was completely gone. The huge Mexican flag was back in its place (it really bothered me not to see it there on Sunday). We took some panoramic shots and then made our way to the Torre Latinoamerica.
On the way, we stopped at the famous bakery, La Ideal. This is huge, crazy busy place where you just walk around and pick up whatever you want, put it on a metal platter and take it to the cashier to pay. I think we got 7 different pastries and our total was $2.00. Sadly, we carried them around in the bag too long and they melted. We had to throw them away. This might have been the saddest moment of our trip thus far. Kevin may never get over it.
While not nearly the height of some skyscrapers in the US, this is the building to visit if you want views of all of the Mexico City area. For 90 pesos ($5.00), you can go to the outdoor observatory for a 360 degree view. It was a very clear day and seeing the entire city like that really helped Kevin and Anna to gain perspective on how massive this place really is!
We Ubered back to the hotel. We were getting hungry so we went to a cafe called Ojo de Agua. Known for their fresh juices, salads and sandwiches, we figured we could grab something to go and then eat on the bus to Cuernavaca. When we got to the cafe, we decided to go ahead and eat there. What a place! For about $15, Kevin and I each had a freshly squeezed juice. Mine was carrot and apple, his was yogurt with fresh pineapple. I had a chicken with chipotle mango chutney sandwich. Kevin had a four cheese with guanabana spread (jam) sandwich. Both sandwiches came with fresh salad greens topped with half an avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers and prailine sesame seeds. Amazing!
Anna had a salmon salad that she said was her second favorite meal here. There is a location for this restaurant close to Chapultepec Park, so we are thinking of grabbing a picnic on Saturday before exploring the outdoors. SO much fun!
After lunch, we Ubered to the Mexico Bus station south aka Taxquena. It was quite a seedy place. Another teachable moment. This was where I told the kids to be very aware of their surroundings and to stay close to me at all times. Our Uber driver pulled up to the curb and was immediately approached by security. He was told to move the car. Within seconds, we were surrounded by at least 6 security guards who were yelling at our driver. The driver told me that he was going to pull over to the other side of the road to drop off us, but I told the kids to get out of the car immediately and wait on the opposite side of the street. We ran across the street only to turn and see the security guards yelling at our driver (using expletives that I won’t say in English or in Spanish). Then, to our amazement, one of the guards kicked the back of the Uber vehicle really hard. Our driver still had all of our suitcases in his trunk so he quickly pulled over to where we were standing and we grabbed our things, ran across the street into the station and waved goodbye. The kids were a little unnerved by the experience. I explained to them that there is a lot of tension in Mexico City between the taxi driver’s union and Uber (and now Uber’s competitor Cabify). When I was here last summer, the tension was so high that tourists were warned not to use either Uber or Cabify for fear of being in the middle of a retaliation attack like we saw today. However, in late July last year, the city came to an agreement with both Uber and the taxi union that made it permissible and encouraged for app-cabs like Uber and Cabify to continue growing their businesses here in Mexico City. I researched the topic quite a bit before coming here and spoke to many people who were very happy using Uber in the city. I love the convenience of not needing cash and being able to track cab expenses via credit card. We didn’t have any trouble using either service in the city. Today, however, was different. For future reference, I would say that using Uber is a great idea in Mexico City, but to be a little cautious when using it to/from major ports of entry such as the airport or large bus terminals. After all, these areas are the bread and butter for most taxi drivers. I’m sure they resent the heck out of Uber. Now that we can look back on this experience, I’m glad the kids got to see it. I never felt we were in danger, but I did want to get out of there quickly!