Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What Will They Think?

Regular readers of my blog know that I have frequently played "tour guide" to friends and relatives in Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán. 

I have always thought of the charming, laid-back city as the perfect introduction for first time visitors to Mexico.  My traveling companions have heard me talk about Mexico and have seen pictures of my trips, so they knew enough to not believe the media image that Mexico is a dreadful place where danger lurks at every corner.  Still some have admitted that prior to the trip they were a bit apprehensive.  However, without exception they came home thoroughly delighted with Mérida.

Now that I am going to spend an even greater amount of time in Mexico City, a number of  people who went with me to Mérida have expressed an interest in seeing the Mexican capital. 

Now don't get me wrong.  I think that Mexico City is one of the great cities of the world, a place filled with incredible art, architecture and museums.  But I can't help but wonder, "How will they react to this monster of more than 20 million people?"  It's not that they have never traveled to big cities before, but Mexico City is more than big.  Will they be overwhelmed, intimidated or exhausted?

In my mind I am already planning an itinerary for prospective visitors.  Of course we would have to spend a day walking around the historic center of the city, visiting places such as the National Palace with its Diego Rivera murals and the Metropolitan Cathedral.  The National Museum of Anthropology, one of the great museums of the world, is a must.  On my last visit to the museum I actually did a quick run-through, trying to pick out the highlights that I would show them.  (Trying to see the entire museum is just too much.)  I would want to get tickets for a performance of the wonderful Ballet Folklórico.  Hopefully their stay would include a weekend, so that my friend Alejandro could drive us out to the impressive ruins of Teotihuacan, with its pyramids that rival those of Egypt.  Out of the myriad of restaurants, which ones would I choose to give them a taste of the city's culinary wealth?

The one aspect of Mexico City which I hate is the horrendous traffic.  Will my guests be traumatized?  Even when I am in the car with Alejandro I often let out a silent gasp... not because of his driving, but because of the crazy people on the road.  Other times I want to jump out of my skin because of the snarled traffic traveling at a snail's pace. Public transportation, the Metrobus and the subway, are very efficient and inexpensive, but can be very crowded. 

Maybe I should just stop worrying, and remember the phone conversation I overheard as I was waiting for my luggage at Houston airport at the end of my last trip.  There was a businessman talking on his cell phone.  He obviously had been very frightened about the prospect of traveling to Mexico City.  He said, " I just wanted to let you know that I was totally wrong about Mexico City.  It was great!"



  1. I have a zillion, off the beaten track,places that I like to take people. Most have never been written about by travel writers. So going to the usual places it is always more fun to go to the off the beaten track places. Those are the ones the people I have taken to CDMX have liked the most!

    1. Very true. The lesser known places are fascinating, and I have written about many places that are off the typical tourist track. Still, if anyone comes to visit me in Mexico City, I cannot imagine skipping "must-see" sights like the Anthro Museum or the Pyramids.

  2. Good thoughts. I've spent some time traveling around by car this time (a friend drove, not me), and what I noticed is that the traffic is even worse than I remember it to be. Osh!

    But the weather has been fantastic, and as always, the number of museums and exhibitions continues to increase.

    I visited the Museo de la Mujer this time, in Lagunilla, and walked from there past Plaza Santo Domingo. On the callejon behind Santo Domingo Church, there was a small building housing a temporary exhibition of art, including some small lithographs by Rivera that I had never seen before. I couldn't tell you the name of the place, as it was basically unmarked.

    Also, what about the Basilica de Guadalupe? I suppose that a lot of non-Catholic travelers might not sound too enthused by a description of the place, but for me it's an essential stop.

    1. Yes, I certainly agree that the Basilica of Guadalupe is an integral part of Mexican culture. I would offer a visit there as an option, depending on their interest and whether or not they had overdosed on religious architecture.

      Yes, every time I visit Mexico City I find more museums and art exhibits to see. Although I am not always into contemporary art, I would have to rank Mexico City as one of the "art capitals" of the world.

      Glad you enjoyed your visit to Mexico City, and thanks for your comment.