#85: Ben – Surprise Trip (Mexico City!)

For years we’ve carried an Alaska Airlines credit card, and one of the benefits you get for paying the yearly fee is a $99 companion fare – buy one ticket anywhere Alaska flies, get a second one for $99 and fees. We didn’t use ours this year, so I claimed it, and told her to stop checking her Alaska account for a while so I could surprise her.

This is part of our 100 Things in 2017 challenge. Click on the photos for a closer look!

I selected Mexico City (its actual name is Cuidad de Mexico, or CDMX), because it’s warmer than home in December, Alaska flies there, neither of us has been there, and it’s a huge, interesting city. I booked airfare and an Airbnb, made reservations for a superb restaurant, ordered a guidebook, and planned on letting the rest of the adventure reveal itself to us when we got there.

I gave Becky some vague information about weather, so she could pack. It should be noted that she was complicit in the secrecy – there are at least 4 ways she could have found out our destination without even trying very hard, but she likes being surprised. We even boarded our first plane with the secret intact; it wasn’t until we found our connecting gate that she found out.

We got off our final plane and found a place for an Uber to meet us. The language barrier here is real; very few people speak English, and neither of us speaks more than a few phrases in Spanish, so Uber was our best friend, since you could plug in a destination before getting into the car. We managed to get into our Airbnb, and went for a stroll around the neighborhood to find dinner.

The second day we bought some 24-hour passes on the Turibus, which is a hop-on-hop-off tour all around the city, with audio commentary in many languages. We got the lay of the land, and ended up at the Zócalo, the main city square in the historic city center. It was Sunday, and the entire square seemed standing-room-only with holiday revelers. We dropped a tip in a basket for the concheros, people who dress in semi-authentic Aztec garb and dance with drums, and I was interviewed by a student who wanted to practice his English. We popped into the Palacio Nacional to see the Diego Rivera murals, and found it nearly deserted, which was a huge relief from the crushing crowd outside.

That evening, we managed to meet up with Anne, a distant relative of Margaret’s, who has lived in CDMX for 60 years now, and knows the lay of the land. She led us to a fantastic taco place, and took us on a food adventure.

On Monday, most of the touristy things are closed – all the museums, most of the galleries, even most of the markets. Most, that is, but not all. We decided to walk around La Ciudadela (“the citadel”) market, which specializes in local arts and crafts. We saw a lot of imported junk as well, but the variety and volume of things on sale was pretty amazing.

(If it seems like I’m skipping some of the trip, I am. There are three other Things that happened, stay tuned for further posts.)

Tuesday was a travel day, and we arrived home exhausted and happy. Now, we’d been really careful to avoid tap water while we were there, but somewhere along the line we must have had something (possibly ice in cocktails?), because Tuesday night Montezuma started exacting his revenge on us. We suffered greatly for a full night, and mildly for a few more days. It’s only now we’re starting to feel 100% again.

We think we’ll be doing this again, but I’m not sure how I’m going to top it. This trip was fantastic, even for being so short. But I do love a challenge, and I’ve got a few ideas.


3 thoughts on “#85: Ben – Surprise Trip (Mexico City!)

  1. Pingback: 100 Things in 2017 | Band of Charac­ters

  2. Pingback: #63: Torre Latinoamericana | Band of Charac­ters

  3. Pingback: #67: Pujol | Band of Charac­ters

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