I arrived more or less on time into Mexico City after a long 11 1/2 hour flight from Heathrow. It then took 90 minutes to clear immigration and customs. Our flight coincided with a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt. Aargh! At customs there is a system where if you have nothing to declare you have to press a button whereupon a green or a red light displays. If it is green then you are good to go. If red, your bags are screened. This is supposed to be random. So when the person before me triggered a red light I thought I would be on my way. But you’ve guessed it… After the screening I was required to open up my bags. My ice axe and crampons aroused interest. Perhaps they thought they were about to admit an axe murderer! So after I explained what I was here to do and showing them some of my other kit I was waved through. They were very nice about it but I must confess to having been a little grumpy about the whole entry process and the red light was the icing on the cake.
Emerging from the customs hall I was met with a sea of faces and lots of hand held signs. I scanned them but could not see my name nor that of my guide company. So I milled around for a while and soon this guy accosted me. He is Ricardo and will be one of our guides. Yes we get two, Ricardo and Miriam, at least for the moment. Miriam is the only professional female guide in Mexico apparently. The guide originally allocated to us broke his ankle a few weeks back.
I was asked why I had taken so long (echoed later when Derek phoned me from Miriam’s phone as we were driving from the airport). So I duly explained. He had been in the city already for around 5 hours and had sailed through the entry formalities.
Mexico City is a huge urban sprawl. We flew for many minutes over it on our approach to the airport. It was dark by then and it looked as if you were landing at any American city – neon lights displaying The Home Depot and the Golden Arches. There were dark islands of nothingness which were wooded hills rising from the generally flat land, at their tops flashing communications masts.
The traffic was heavy but kept moving. There was none of the blaring of horns that you can get. It was all surprisingly civilised really. Ricardo’s English is quite good. Just as well as my Spanish is limited.
After 35 minutes we arrived at the hotel where Derek and Miriam were waiting in reception. Quickly dumping the bags we went out for a meal. I am not sure I really felt up to it. Derek had already been in this time zone for three days seeing friends in Texas so only I felt it was 2am.
Off we walked to a nearby restaurant. The temperature was around 20C – chilly for the locals. Menus in English were available. I didn’t have much, a chicken based tortilla thingy. The local beer was good! And the all important Wi-Fi was available!
Back to the hotel for a quick kit check and then bed.