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Mexico City Week 1

This is going to be a VERY long post, sorry about that :/ Internet is scanty here so I want to post as much as possible when I can!

The post is divided into sections by date. I can't upload all the photos now, so will be adding more later!

Getting into Mexico (May 18)

We've been in Loredo since last night. There's no internet and barely any phone service, and we can't leave the yard.
There was a 10:30pm curfew, so we only got about an hour off the train before we all had to get back on for the night :/
This morning we had US customs, and had our passports stamped. It was very unorganized; the locations of the lines kept changing, so it was hard at first to figure out where to go.
They didn't take my plant...heck, they didn't take ANYTHING. So now I'm wondering whether stuff will be confiscated during customs on the other side of the border.
We were supposed to leave here around 3-4pm. I'm writing this at 10pm, and we've just now started to move. This is because there was a problem with the paperwork for the tigers. Siiiiiigh.

On the upside, I did have time to walk around outside the train today and see the interesting stuff in the yard.

There were dung beetles rolling little turds around, and lizards scampering over rocks, and some kind of hawk with white wingtips circling overhead.
I took pictures but many of them didn't come out because it was so bright, I couldn't see where to aim. I did find a strange white mushroom and a cactus. Someone else found a scorpion somewhere, but I didn't get to see it.

The fate of my fish is still in question, too. I've changed the water in his tank so at least if he's confiscated, he will hopefully be kept rather than killed right away.
All of the preparable food in the pie car had to be thrown out tonight. We are supposed to get a fresh supply once we're past the border. I can't wait to get to a grocery store! Canned food is ok, but fresh is wonderful.
There are already people trying to get groups together for sightseeing once we're there. I'm looking forward to that, if we can do it!

Well this was kind of a downer of a post, but things can't all run smoothly all of the time, right? I'm glad we're moving again!
Tonight we're supposed to pass over the Rio Grande, but for "security reasons" we're not allowed to take pictures.

We are in Mexico!

We crossed the border last night around midnight. It was a little scary, because there was so much security and then the train went right through a not-so-nice-looking town. We had to stop there to pick up supplies. There were a surprising number of people out, it was kind of intimidating; they were coming right up to the train and taking pictures right into our windows! Some people even climbed a telephone pole so they could be at eye level.
Despite that, most people waved and smiled and seemed excited to see us passing through.

I fell asleep around 1am, and when I woke up and rolled up my blinds there were mountains all around!
Of course I ran out onto the vestibule and started taking pictures!!

In addition to this beautiful scenery, there were so many plants I've never seen before. Different kinds of cactus and aloe or agave growing out of the rocks, the spikiest vine I've ever seen, and dark-leaved bushes that attracted flocks of butterflies.
There were some housing developments that looked shiny and new, and other 'shantytowns' that looked pulled together from whatever people could find.

I saw lots of stray or wild dogs, scrawny horses and cows, and vultures. We passed this brightly-colored cemetery:

There are so many things I have never seen before. It's beautiful!
I wonder if we'll get to do any sightseeing once we're in the city!
My shoulders are already burnt from tromping around in the sun yesterday. Serves me right for not wearing lotion!

It looks like I'll get to keep my fish and my plant, and all my frozen food. We weren't inspected again, so I guess we get to keep everything!

The rest of today passed uneventfully. Jason and I paid a trip to the pie car to see what was left after customs threw everything out. They had bologna, muffins, and various beverages. I got a muffin and watched the desert go by.
Now we're on the outskirts of Mexico City, and we should arrive at the yard by tomorrow morning at the latest. I hope we get there tonight!

An announcement was just made to keep our vestibule doors closed, because people in this area "have a tendancy to throw things at the train". Alrighty then.

We've passed through many different types of villages, developments and communities ranging from beautiful pristine ranch houses to lean-tos made of tin and scrap wood that seem unfit for habitation. It amazes me that human beings can survive in the desert with such minimal shelter. People who can scratch out a living here with just a few goats and pieces of tin deserve our respect.

The standard of living here is significantly lower than that in America. There are far more houses with no doors, electricity or running water than there are well-kept villas and ranches. I have never in my life seen so much garbage in the streets. (I'm not judging here, just telling it how it is.) There's grafitti on pretty much every surface that's not a house, and even on some houses too. In America these would be called 'slums' I'm sure. But for all of that, the people we see outside the window look like regular hard-working adults and happy children.

As a person who has admittedly taken pride in how little she needs to get by, I look around at my 8 x 7 room and see running water...electricity...a lock on the door...a sealed glass window. I have coffee at the touch of a button, and clean water to drink and shower with, and lights, and cleaning supplies. Although my groceries are depleted by my standards, there is enough food here to last another month if necessary. I even have a fish to care for in this desert. Looking at all of that, I feel guilty at how blessed I am.

The Pyramids!

We didn't have any shows today. I was planning on going to the Mexican Wal-Mart to restock on fresh produce and meat, but as soon as I stepped off the train Aaron and Jason roped me into a trip to the pyramids de Teotihuacan!

I admit I was aprehensive about going, because I'm not a very impulsive person and the language barrier is very intimidating. It meant I'd have to rely on other people to get around safely. But it was worth it to step outside my comfort zone today, and I'm so glad the guys made me come along :)

We got a cab to the bus station, and took a bus to the pyramids. It took about 45 minutes, but it was an enjoyable ride.
The best thing about this trip was getting to know Toga, Julio, Natasha, and Aaron better. Anyone who knows me knows that I can be shy and/or awkward socially, and it's sometimes difficult to drag me out. But it was wonderful watching Natasha and Julio switch between several languages, and remain so patient with all of us gringos :D And Aaron's enthusiasm was infectious!

This was a really fun day of exploring. I hope we get to do more stuff next week! We won't have many days off from here on out, so I'll appreciate any free time for sure!

Today is another free day :)

I went to Mexican Wal-Mart...it was CRAZY. Not a single thing is in English. I begin to understand how the Chinese and Russians must have felt when they first came to America for this job. It's very intimidating to try to get what you need with a language barrier between you and a cashier.

Electronics and appliances here seem to be at the same prices as they'd be at an American store. Produce on the other hand is VERY cheap, because it's not imported. And liquor is INSANELY cheap...a bottle of medium/high quality tequila goes for about 100 pesos; that's only $8!!!!!!!! Less than a bag of coffee!!! And yes, they had a liquor section in Wal-Mart!! I practiced extraordinary self-control and only picked up two 8oz pre-mixed vodka drinks that I'd never seen before, one was SKYY and the other Finlandia.

For produce, I stuck with my basics because we had limited time to shop. Grapefruit, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, apples. I found frozen mango and got that, and also strawberries and blackberries. Before we leave, I'm definitely getting a papaya! Have never had one!

I got eggs (they aren't refrigerated here) and yogurt (there were TONS of kinds to choose from!) and frozen fish. There was a whole aisle of canned tuna...I didn't get any this time. They had a very limited selection of nuts, and peanut butter seems to be less popular here as well. In place of that, there was an entire shelf devoted to Nutella and another for Leche de Cabra, a type of caramel made with goat milk. I skipped the nutella but got the caramel :) I also got a small jar of Mexican honey.

Now for the 'lost in translation' part. I wanted to get some chicken breast, but meat is handled differently here. There where whole chicken quarters, thighs, etc. on display, and you were supposed to pick up what you wanted and ask to have it cut a certain way. But not knowing how to ask or even explain via body language what I wanted, I chickened out (pun intended) and got a whole cooked rotiserrie chicken instead. There was lots of red meat on display too and I wanted roast beef for sandwiches, but again, didn't know how to even begin to ask :/ Don't worry, I will suck it up and speak up next time!

Then I went to the bakery section. There were so many types of bread, it was VERY hard to choose just a few! Nothing was packaged, everything was displayed openly and it looked like you were supposed to just pick stuff up, but there were no bags, paper or tongs. I was baffled and had to wait around until finally someone else went up to the counter and got a metal plate and tongs from a nearby shelf. I did the same, picking up a plain 'torta' roll, a roll with what looked like sugar paste on top, a pineapple tart, and a slice of something with a chocolate coating. I also got a puff pastry with a picture of a fish baked onto it, and later found out that it was full of meat and potatoes. Then I got a prepackaged 'black bread' loaf, and took everything to the counter where they wrapped the rolls in wax paper, put them in a paper bag, and stamped the price on it.

In addittion to all that, I got dark chocolate chips (took me forever to find them, they're packaged so differently), coffee, lime water, crackers, and some toiletries. It all came out to about 1,000 pesos/$80. It would have been cheaper had I bought the meat over-the-counter instead of pre-frozen/cooked.

There were many, many other things I wanted to try, especially in the candy, cereal and juice aisles. We're here for two weeks, so there will be time to try more things! And you KNOW I am bringing back souvenirs!!

Another interesting thing: there were armed guards at the entrances. And when I say armed, I mean with machine guns and rifles.

Now I am back at the train, and have just finished tearing my chicken apart and doing a load of laundry. Several people have gone to find the main square in Mexico City...I missed out, but am certain there will be another chance as it's supposedly less than 1/2 hour away. I will spend the rest of today preparing food for the week and walking around this yard if I'm allowed.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2014 11:51 pm (UTC)
Hi:) I see your show 31/may enjoy :)
May. 28th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
Re: holi!!!!
Thank you very much for reading!!
Mexico is beautiful. Hard to breathe though!

Enjoy the show :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )