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Mexico

Another hour to kill at the airport in Mexico City

Another hour to kill at the airport in Mexico City

— After nearly four weeks in Mexico City, I checked out of my room at 3 am in anticipation of my 6 am flight. I figured I’d need about 15 minutes to wait for an Uber, a half-hour for the ride to the airport, and another half-hour for check-in and security, putting me at the gate an hour before the 5:15 am boarding time — a comfortable cushion. Instead, it took two minutes for the Uber, 20 minutes for the ride, and less than ten minutes for check-in and security, putting me at the gate about 45 minutes earlier than planned.

Embracing the suck

— For the past four weeks, every Monday at 10 am, I’ve started a new level of Spanish classes here in Mexico City. Monday has typically been, for me, the hardest lesson of the week as my brain struggles to adjust. This Monday was the first week of lessons at the intermediate level, which was an even bigger jump than previous weeks. There were eight students in my class. Instead of starting the day with a grammar lesson, we dug right into a reading comprehension and discussion exercise.
First time for lucha libre in Mexico City

First time for lucha libre in Mexico City

— Seeing a lucha libre event was high on my to-do list for this trip to Mexico City. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it was because I was fascinated by American-style professional wrestling when I was boy, leading to a desire to see how it’s done in Mexico. Maybe it was because I’d enjoyed the movie Nacho Libre more than I care to admit. Whatever the reason, by the end of my second week in Mexico City, I still hadn’t dragged myself over to the arena yet, even though the events are three times a week and less than a half-hour walk from where I’m staying.
Street food in Mexico City

Street food in Mexico City

— The first time I was in Mexico City, back in 2018, I had some pretty amazing food. However, I never got a chance to experience the street food for which Mexico City is so rightly famous. On this trip, I may have overcorrected. Lunchtime torta. I forget which meat I ordered. The chipotle Fritos were a personal touch I added when I got back to the house. Almost everywhere I’ve been in Mexico City, I’ve been intoxicated by the delightful smell of food cooking.
Two weeks of Spanish classes down, two weeks left in Mexico City

Two weeks of Spanish classes down, two weeks left in Mexico City

— I’m halfway through my four-week Spanish course in Mexico City, so I feel I’m in a position to review the first two weeks somewhat objectively. Honestly, I didn’t have a whole lot of information about the school before I signed up to come here. I’d seen the school’s website — which I wouldn’t expect to be entirely objective — and had seen a few positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook — neither of which I trust much.
First day of Spanish classes in Mexico City

First day of Spanish classes in Mexico City

— I’m going to skip ahead a bit and give an update on my Spanish class. It is, after all, the main reason I’m here. My commute to class was simply to walk down four flights of stairs, so I left at 8:58 am and arrived a minute early to the 9 am registration. I had deferred taking a placement exam until day of arrival, so that was my first step. I looked at the exam questions with a blank stare for several minutes before realizing I was never going to write down anything if I kept trying to think of answers in English and then write them down in Spanish.
The old and new basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City

The old and new basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City

— While looking through my photos from last year, I noticed one from our Mexico City pilgrimage that never ended up on the blog. There are two basilicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe shown here. The old basilica, on the left with the golden dome, while still beautiful outside and inside, has suffered such extensive damage from earthquakes and an unstable foundation that it can no longer handle the throngs of pilgrims who visit this important holy site.
It pays to have a backup plan or three when travel plans fall through

It pays to have a backup plan or three when travel plans fall through

— Kathryn and I have two weeks of vacation coming up next month. How we’re planning to spend those two weeks has changed three times in the past two months. Plan A: Learning Spanish in Mexico City Our original plan was to return to Mexico City for two weeks of Spanish classes. We had picked out a school and had reserved fifteen nights in a two-bedroom Airbnb with a rooftop patio in the hip Roma Norte neighborhood.
Last photos of the border wall at Calexico near Gran Plaza Outlets

Last photos of the border wall at Calexico near Gran Plaza Outlets

— During last month’s aborted trip to Mexicali for Chinese food, Kathryn, Dan, and I made a stop at the Gran Plaza Outlets in Calexico, California, for a bathroom break and, for Kathryn, a quick, successful bit of shopping. While we were there, we also took a number of photographs of the nearby border wall between the United States and Mexico. Today, while scanning headlines from the past several days, I learned that this very same stretch of border wall behind the outlet mall will be the first to be replaced during the Trump administration.
Puerto Vallarta: Running the gauntlet at the airport

Puerto Vallarta: Running the gauntlet at the airport

— Prior to our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, I hadn’t arrived in Mexico by air since a 1989 vacation to Ixtapa with my parents. So, in stark contrast to my previous experience, I was pleasantly surprised to see Puerto Vallarta has a clean, modern international airport terminal. Complete with air-conditioned jetways, no less. Although the walk from the plane to the immigration hall was a bit long, the checkpoint was efficient, with passport scanners and barcode readers for the tourist cards.
Puerto Vallarta: Day trip to Sayulita

Puerto Vallarta: Day trip to Sayulita

— An update from Puerto Vallarta on Friday, morning in Mexico. Kathryn and I decided to take a day trip yesterday to Sayulita, a village on a small bay some distance north of Puerto Vallarta. We traveled there by bus, one of the ones the locals use. I’m not sure how long the ride was, maybe a bit over an hour. The trip there and back only set us back 100 pesos for the two of us, so it was a cheap excursion, at least for the transportation.
Puerto Vallarta: Much ado about nothing

Puerto Vallarta: Much ado about nothing

— An update from Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, dinner time in Mexico. Well, after all the preparations, Hurricane Juvo was a bust. Kathryn got some internet time today to track the storm. It has already passed us and has been downgraded to a tropical depression. The employees of the resort, who just this morning were bracing for the worst, have already brought back the chairs and umbrellas around the pool area, and it looks like dinner service will take place by the ocean as normal.
Puerto Vallarta: Still awaiting Juvo

Puerto Vallarta: Still awaiting Juvo

— An update from Puerto Vallarta, Wednesday morning in Mexico. We’ve been gearing up for Hurricane Juvo since Monday, but it’s taking its sweet time getting here. When we left the U.S. on Saturday, it was forecast to hit Puerto Vallarta directly Monday evening. Hurricanes are unpredictable though. The latest report is it’ll come ashore as a category-three hurricane much further south in the state of Jalisco, then follow the coast north toward us, probably having weakened to a tropical storm by then.