2018, Personal, Travel

Riley Goes to Mexico Day 3 Saturday October 27, 2018

For breakfast we had carteras. At least I think that’s what they were called. A quick google produces cakes, and it was not a cake. It was doughy and contained dulce de leche. It was delicious.

After we ate, we took the subway back to the Centro Historico to find “the” market. It turns out there are lots of markets in this part of Mexico City. We had to make our way an open air “market” of various stalls and we couldn’t really tell whether we were still on the streets or in a market.

There is a really giant food market but the experience we were expecting – we were hoping it would be like the food market in Bogota – is not what we got. It was narrow and crowded – though it could have been worse – and, as Jenn observed, the locals seemed to move faster in the narrow confines of the food market than anywhere else in the city. It was kind of insane. We bought something that looked like a cross between an orange and a grapefruit and way too much watermelon (the latter for $1).

We ate a bit of the watermelon once we got outside and then went looking for another market. We eventually found it but it was just clothes. Eventually we walked back to the Centro Historico and once again found ourselves walking around the Templo Mayor. We resolved to go in the morning.

We took the subway to the race track. However, because I had not googled a map of it, we got off at the wrong stop and had to walk half way around the damn thing in order to find our entrance.

At the entrance they threw out our fruit, because heaven forbid people bring fruit into what is essentially a giant park with a road running through it. Fortunately they missed the water, which Jenn held in a bag in her hand for all to see. (I still have no idea how they missed the water today and found it tomorrow, but I’ll get to that. Temporary security guards always make everything safer for everyone.)

Once we got in we found out why they threw out our fruit: they want you to buy the food inside. The food inside is priced at so ridiculous a markup that it is almost – almost – the cost of food at a Toronto sporting event. That might seem like a deal for us Canadians until you remember that the food outside costs peanuts in terms of Canadian dollars. I couldn’t help but feel the exclusivity of this sport; it is for the Global Rich.

Imagine you are an average Mexican and you want to go to the Grand Prix with your partner the one time it comes to your country in the calendar year. You have to pay over 10,000 pesos for your General Admission seats. You have to pay an additional 650 pesos for the service fee. Then you get inside and the small sandwiches are multiple times what you would pay outside for twice as much, the beer is over 100 pesos, the water is 3.5 times what you’d pay at the store, and you can’t bring anything of your own in, including water. You are looking at a 20,000 peso weekend, bare minimum. (That assumes you live in Mexico City and can travel there by transit.)

This sport claims it’s a global sport and that the Grand Prix is the kind of addition to a city’s calendar that marks the city out as among the great cities of the world. But it is only a sport for the Global Rich, as the average person – even the above average person – in the poorer countries it is held in cannot afford to go. The people who run the sport don’t care about these people of course, and it is yet another way in which rich sports owners screw over the fans. Will you think less of me if I admit that the knowledge of this did not prevent me from having a great time, and will not prevent me from watching this sport in the future?

I am complicit. But I know that I am complicit, unlike many of the richer fans (I assume). Does that make me better or worse?

We split a small torta for “lunch” and resolved to eat later.

Though it was easy to find our gate and easier to find our grandstand – and the experience was remarkably free of lines, unlike the Montreal Grand Prix – it was not easy to find our seats. The sections were not marked, so we accidentally kicked two people out of their seats until they came back telling us we were in the wrong ones. Eventually we found the right seats.

It was not a good weekend for Haas and that began with neither car making it out of Q1. If you don’t follow F1, this means they’re basically doomed to finish “out of the points” unless they are on one of the top 3 teams, which have superior cars to the other 7 teams. The point of the race is to get points, which are distributed based upon the finish, with 1st place getting the most, and so on.

So I nobody to root for, in theory, during Q2 and Q3, but Mercedez is essentially the Yankees of F1 (at the moment, they didn’t used to be), so I could still root against them. They did not lock out the front row, which I counted as a win.

After Qualifying we took the subway to Coyoacan, famous for the home of Frida Kahlo. We had thought of staying in this neighbourhood because we figured it would be a nice place to stay. It probably is, but it’s significantly less well served by subway – you have a much longer walk to it – and then it’s a longer ride to the Centro Historico. So we made the right choice.

The subway drops you off on the wrong side of the road, in a neighbourhood that’s a little poorer and rougher around the edges. You have to walk for a ways to get to her house. We were hungry and so jumped at the first food we saw, a bistro or something. It was a family run place, and it was a struggle to order for us with our horrible Spanish and the mother with her non-existent English (though her children spoke a little). We ended up ordering sandwiches (off their half English menu, which was amusing) and it was clear the kids didn’t know much about the menu, as we saw one of them reading what he had ordered to make sure he made the right things. Our sandwiches were two to three times the size of our torta at the track and half the price. This place looked pretty pricey. I had the pleasure of consuming a hilariously large “Frozen chai,” essentially a chai milkshake. It was insane but good.

Eventually we made our way to Frida Kahlo’s house. Jenn had wisely purchased tickets online, as it turns out the line for tickets is down the block. The house is a museum with a bit of her art, a bit of Rivera’s and a lot of her personal affects. It is a gorgeous house.

By Anagoria [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

That is Frida’s tomb in her garden. The garden is bigger than the house, basically. But it’s a gorgeous house and worth the trip if you buy the tickets online.

We left the house and it started to drizzle. Jenn found a beer bar nearby and we went to find it. Unfortunately it had closed permanently, so we decided to walk to the subway.

For most of the walk it just drizzled. Then, as we crossed the main street on which we’d find the subway it began to poor. As we ran down the sidewalk to the subway I mentioned I was soaked and me made a fateful decision: to wait it out under the awning.

It rained and rained and every time we thought it would stop, it got heavier. The road began to flood in the lane closest to us. The sidewalk began to wash out. The nice Mexican man next to us kept trying to talk to us about the amount of rain but we weren’t very helpful. At some point we began to worry about the subway shutting down due to this rain and we weren’t sure how we got home. I thought there was a road between us and the subway and figured it would be going up hill a titch so we could cross. So we decided to chance it once the rain abated a bit.

It slowed a bit. We ran up the sidewalk around a slight bend only to find that the entire sidewalk was gone, buried under an unknown amount of water. We could see the subway, it was probably 150 feet away from the awning we had stopped under and we could have easily made it had we just realized it was around the corner. We ran through the puddle. It was deep. Our shoes and our pants got completely drenched. The Mexicans around us stared at us as if we were crazy.

The subway was dry. They have drains everywhere, I guess. But it was crowded. We went down to the platform to find the most people waiting for a train we had yet seen. We had to wait a train, not an uncommon occurrence during rush our but this was a Saturday afternoon/evening. We figured it was because it was raining.

This trip, the most crowded, hectic subway trip I have ever taken in my life, is now a bit of a blur. At one point I had to push a determined old lady out of my way in order to get off at my transfer stop. Then Jenn’s glasses were almost knocked off her face. On the next train I was physically pushed off the train by a horde of people smaller than me and I had to force my way back on. If you see a recent picture of me, you can see I’ve gained some wait in the last few years. I am a large human. It did not matter. Finally I had to push my way past a child in order to get off. I’ve heard this about Tokyo, but didn’t quite get that it happens in Mexico City.

The subway ride was so crazy that whatever bad mood I was in because of my wet feet (with no replacement shoes) dissipated due to the chemicals that appeared from having to fight on, off, on and back on and then off two trains. It was weirdly energizing, in addition to being awful.

We emerged from the subway to see no sign of the rain in our neighbourhood. I don’t know why – whether they didn’t get it or whether they have better drains – but it was really weird to be trudging down the street in soaking shoes and pants while there was basically no sign of water anywhere around. On the way home, we figured out why the subway was so busy: it was the Saturday before the Day of the Dead. They were all heading out to the festivities.

When we got home, Jenn found the blow dryer and I got to work:

Blow drying my shoes

I dried my shoes and pants while we watched the World Series. Eventually they were dry enough to wear out to dinner.

We went to the nearest major circle – there are a number of traffic circles in Mexico City which function like squares – and went looking for food. We found an “expensive” taco place with an English-speaking waiter (sort of) and got the tiniest beers. The tacos were more traditional – meat on two tortillas and you add the toppings yourself – and were quite tasty. We also got tostadas because these traditional tacos are kind of small. Thought he meal was expensive for the city, it was still dirt cheap.

There’s a Thai place near where we stayed, where some tourists had suggested we eat the first night. Jenn wanted a drink, but we couldn’t find a bar that wasn’t blasting music so we ended up at the Thai restaurant, to have a drink and some Thai rice pudding. It was surprisingly good. (And the restaurant smelled great. Had we stayed there a few more days, and got sick of Mexican food, I imagine we would have ended up there.)

When we got home the World Series was still on.

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