Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mexico City #1

Today's Mexico post is about Mexico City, but first, one more photo from Veracruz. Next to our hotel there was an excellent reptile and amphibian zoo. I was a little leery about going in at first, because sometimes these small collections aren't so well cared-for, but this place was great. All the animals were in immaculate, appropriate enclosures, and our guide Fernando was enthused and knowledgeable. He is studying to become a reptile/amphibian veterinarian and his English was also really good, a true bonus given the state of our Spanish! Best of all, I finally got to see a real live Western Diamondback rattlesnake, like the one I spent so long illustrating in the kids' book Katie of the Sonoran Desert.

Fernando's co-worker took a photo of the three of us holding an albino boa constrictor. It was one fabulous snake!

And back in Puebla, I finally got to meet my long-time email buddy, Dr. Sloth, aka Nancy. We have been email friends for about 12 years, but this was the first time we met face-to-face, and it was wonderful! She is a transplanted American who loves her life in beautiful Puebla.

It was very nice of her to give me permission to post this without putting a black bar across her eyes, hahaha! She's very photogenic and an asset to the blog.

Right, so back to Mexico City. Flying in was fascinating. At an elevation of 2,240 metres, it is surrounded by interesting geography. I presume the circle is some sort of volcanic crater:

According to Wikipedia, the population of of the metropolitan Mexico City area now exceeds 21.2 million people, which is mind-boggling when you consider that the entire population of Canada, second largest country (total area) in the world, is around 34 million!

The city just sprawls and sprawls...

And yes, there's smog, but it wasn't as bad as the stories make out, and as I understand it, they have made efforts to improve the pollution problem in recent years. The city sits in a valley surrounded by volcanoes and mountains, perfect for keeping in the smog!

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about Mexico City. There are a lot of dubious stories about its crime and pollution, and on top of that, I'm not the city slicker I used to be. But in fact it's quite wonderful, rich in history and atmosphere, and I liked the people a lot. I didn't feel any less safe than I have in certain large US cities I have visited. In fact, I felt safer, because there is a huge police presence, particularly around the Centro Historico. Plus I've been to Guatemala, which is lovely but a whole lot more dangerous than Mexico, in my opinion!

I will post more photos tomorrow, but for now, here's a shot of the cathedral at night:

The National Palace, where the Mexican government sits:

And Gordon's favourite part of the whole trip (I am only partly joking), the amazing bakery across from our hotel. He soon learned to keep his eyes peeled for the word "pasteleria"!

It seems that self-serve bakeries are a common thing in Mexico. We went in the night we arrived and immediately wished we had a place like this near our farm!

Beautiful cakes.

Colourful gelatins!

Pretty things with absolutely no nutritional value!

My favourite section, as my tooth is less sweet than Gordon's and I'm fond of bread-y goodies.

He added a few more items to the platter after this photo was taken! When you are done, you take your platter of goodies to the cashier, who bags them for you and takes your money. People were walking around with absolutely heaping mounds of goodies on their trays. We ate very well and fatteningly in Mexico, with ample baked goods and sweets and cheese and cream and other culinary delights!

More tomorrow....


  1. Loved the food shots, natch!

  2. I had no idea Mexico City was that expansive! Brave lady for holding a snake. That bakery looks huge and oh so delicious.

  3. Am I now of the hook for baking?

    Looks a lot better than the stuff I used to make.

  4. Anonymous10:27 am

    ahem... i think i DID request the black bar. hahah kidding ...actually i wanted some in the form of sunglasses. all right never mind. and thank you for putting up the least objectionable sure there were some really hideous ones!! hahaha.

    The pictures have been GREAT!!! i was showing them to my friends during the conference..hahah. the food ones are especially excellent.

    and yeah, i have to agree with you about mexico city. it has a very european flavor with it's large avenues (paris-ish) and many parks...and little distinctive neighborhoods.

    and the bakeries. die for. there are a couple in my neighborhood. one that i can smell in the morning on dog walks. fortunately i have learned to resist. Love the pic of Mr. C with his tray :)))

    I'm really REALLY happy that youse guys had such a great time here. I mean really happy. and i appreciate all the great press you're giving to my adopted country. as a former US person, i can say that there is a certain amount of prejudice and preconceived notions about this country ... particularly promoted by the media who of course need a sensational story .. but also by people's general lack of international experience. I'm happy you're doing your part to set the story straight!! :)

    (having said that, however, it is entirely possible that someone could come here and have a disasterous time, but that can happen anywhere)

  5. WIllie, you are not off the hook!!!!!!

  6. Oh Dr. Sloth, there are no hideous photos of you!!! Totally agree about the "European-ness" of Mexico City.

    And I think it's too bad people smear Mexico. Crime happens everywhere! We just always use common sense when travelling and try not to make ourselves easy targets, and to know what areas to avoid. I don't feel any less safe in Mexico than I do in Washington or Chicago!

  7. Dr Sloth, Congratulations on being officially inducted into Knatolee's World! I, also, live far away from our dear mutual friend.

    Was it not lovely to meet her in person?

  8. Thanks, Brian!!! :))))

  9. Anonymous5:54 pm

    Hey THANKS Brian ... and yes it was GREAT to meet them both. The funny thing was that i've been following her blog and before that in our email group for so many years that i knew their whole story and knew what they looked like etc, so when they exited the customs, I knew immediately who they were! "there they are"! and we talked like old friends all the way back to puebla. very seamless. :)

  10. I felt the same about Dr. Sloth (and NK, I was a little whacked out that day with quasi-jetlag, so I hope I wasn't too quiet, ha ha!) It's good that we both present ourselves accurately in emails. Hahaha!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!