Heading south of the border today. Was there a song with that phrase in it?? I have been to Mexico several times, but only to touristy places like Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, and Tijuana. Friends in the know say Mexico City is a hidden gem, though it is hardly small. What do we really know about it? In my case, very little. So, I embark with little expectation, but as always, great anticipation.
These may or may not be some things you know or even car about in Mexico City. I certainly would not, unless I planned on visiting this huge and interesting city.
1. The World’s Richest Man
Carlos Slim of Telcel, Mexico’s largest phone provider with 70% of the market, was the richest man in the world for four years. Bill Gates overtook him this past year. He also owns Sanborn’s, a chain of pharmacies, restaurants and retail goods. His net worth is estimated at $71.4 billion. He is worth 7% of their GDP. Maybe I will meet him at the tequila bar?
2. Help! I’m sinking!!
Yes, Mexico City is sinking at the rate of 10 centimeters (4 inches) per year! Over the past 60 years, the city has dropped about 10 meters (32.8 feet) according to a recent government report. I guess the guy who owns the street paving company is the second richest man in Mexico.
Most people know what tequila and mescal are. Do you know pulque? It is a 2000 year old drink of the Aztecs, made from fermented but undistilled agave juice. But you are correct, all three drinks are made from the agave plant. And I hear there is a severe shortage of the blue agave!
4. Don’t drink the water.
Drink bottled water. Brush your teeth with bottled water. What about showers, pools, and spas?? Be warned as well about crushed ice, ice cubes, and tap water washed produce. They say Mexico has a “gastro god” that will punish you for gluttony and over indulgence.
5. Some Like It HOT!!!
Mexicans love their chilies, so do not under estimate their power. Cooks wear gloves to handle the capsicum contained in the chilies. The general rule is the smaller the chile, the hotter the burn!
6. Retail is for suckers!
Yes, that is true, do not take the first price offered in the market. Shop around, and even then, offer below what you think the item is worth. A good starting point is half of the first price!
7. Carry small bills.
And do not reach into your wallet in busy places. Beware of the various peso scams out there. If you hand the cabbie a 2,000 peso note, he will hand you back a 200 peso note, telling you that the fare is more!
8. This is BIG!!!
Do not expect toilet seats outside of the tourist area! Enough said. Bring your own ass gasket, or learn to squat without falling over!
9. Big city.
Can you believe Mexico City is the fourth largest city in the world, behind Tokyo, Delhi, and Shanghai? Populated by 22 million people, it has the same population as the entirety of Central America. But it is the 7th wealthiest city in the world.
10. Getting high.
We are a mere 2.2 kilometers above sea level. Some people get altitude sickness on their first day or two here. I have this evening to get acclimated.
11. Four UNESCO sites.
Four places here in Mexico City have been declared World Heritage sites: the historic center, Xochimilco, UNAM’s campus, and Luis Barragan’s (a prominent Mexican architect) home and studio.
12. The Caesar salad was invented here.
Despite the fact that Julius Caesar never visited Mexico, the famous Caesar salad was invented here by Caesar Cardini, an Italian chef in Tijuana. But an employee of his, Livio Santini, claims to have brought the recipe to Mexico form his mother in Italy. Believe what you want! I am still waiting word on who invented the garlic crusted croutons.
13. A Mexican hipster?
What do you call a Mexican hipster? A Cholombian. They wear wacky, asymmetrical hair, spikey on top, with a rat tail. BTW, I do not have enough hair to do this!
14. Toy Time!
A Japanese-Mexican, or is it a Mexican-Japanese named Roberto Shimizu claims to have the world’s largest collection of antique toys. He owns more than one million items, with 60,000 on display at his Museo del Juguete Antiguo Mexico.
15. Big Place!
Mexico City is 600 square miles large, and covers roughly the size of Houston. I hope I don’t get lost!
16. Lunch can last until 7pm!
The work day begins at 10am, lunch begins around 3pm. Many restaurants are only open for the mid day meal. They are not interested in turning tables. I may already be asleep when dinner time arrives.
17. The Mexican Starbucks
The place to meet is Conejo Blanco!
I think that is enough history, geography, and useless facts for one day. Let’s go have a cold beer!!!!
Addendum: ATT must know their customers. I was able to add Mexico to my regular plan at no extra charge. This includes unlimited text, and voice, and a gig of data. They must know the border between us exists only in the mind of people like Jan Brewer or the Trumpster Dumpster.