Archive for Mexico

Mexico City Survival

If Buenos Aires is the Paris of the Latin Americas, then Mexico City would have to be the New York. Imposing Skyscrapers rub elbows with the beautifully crafted stone work of Cathedrals. Bells ring out over bustling market places, above neighborhoods adorned in peeling paint and graffiti. The sacred tones weave their way among the rattling of trucks, the hissing of opening bus doors, car horns, and footsteps. Voices call out above the din- vendors hawking their wares. Siete tacos, Seis pesos!

With everything going on around you, you might not be sure where to start. In a city spanning an impressive 651 square miles, and harboring approximately 20 million inhabitants, it is easy to become a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully you will find some reassurance in this brief guide intended to give you a hand on enjoying your stay in Mexico City.

Transportation

The following message is extremely important, and should not be ignored:

DO NOT rent a car or attempt to drive in Mexico City!

Much as Superman enjoys breaking the laws of physics, so to do the citizens of Mexico City enjoy breaking any and all laws concerning the road. In fact, you may as well operate under the assumption that Mexicans believe there are no laws, there are only suggestions (which they choose to ignore on a regular basis). The very first day of my arrival to Mexico City, I was treated to a thrill ride. Having passed the street he had intended to turn on, the Taxi Driver stopped, put the car in reverse, and drove backwards amidst traffic on a one-way street.

The city is, on the whole, very well communicated. There are plenty of choices when it comes to getting around. The most effective and the most inexpensive (2 pesos per ticket) method of transportation is probably the subway system. The local people call the subway system the “Metro”, and even if you don’t speak Spanish very well people should know what you’re looking for if you use that word. Every station should contain a wall map of the different lines you can take, and the locations those lines stop at. Be sure to find out the names of metro stations that are close to the places you need to get to.

Another great mode of transportation in this city is the bus. Almost every street has at least one bus running through it, and every bus route will make a pass by at least one Metro station. The busses typically cost between 3 or 4 pesos, and are able to be hailed from any street corner on the route. Unlike bus lines in the US, the drivers are not required to stop at specified bus stops, and can pick up and drop off passengers as necessary.

*When you enter a bus, be sure to move to the back of the bus as soon as possible, and look for a button located by the back door. This button will usually be either bright red and located on a pole by the bus door, or a small silver button located directly above it. *

Despite some of the more interesting driving techniques, taxis are also a great way to get around. The cost of this method is a bit higher, but nowhere near the amount you would spend on a taxi in the United States. Most trips will cost around 10 to 20 pesos, and longer trips around 50 pesos. From one side of the city to another you should never spend more then 20 USD. Taxis can be hailed on most major streets, you rarely have to call for one. Different cabs charge different rates, the least expensive tend to be the small green or red and gold VW Beetles.

Holiday Pepsi, Mexico Style

wiwichu a merry christmas

Remember Pepsi Ice? Well, it seems that every holiday season it gets repackaged here in Mexico as “wiwichu.” Yes, as in “Wiwichu a merry christmas”.

Viva Maruchan!

Today was grocery day, and we came back with some Instant Ramen that will put hair on your chest! Macho Macho Maruchan.

In Mexico, there are a lot of things that are different with even snack foods that look familiar to us Americans. In fact, you probably wouldn’t even recognize some of these Ramen flavors unless you live in Southern California.

As you can see above- spicy chicken, cheese, and shrimp with lime and habanero chili flavor. Not shown, you can also find shrimp or crab with lime, shrimp or crab with chili, carne asada, chicken asada, and chicken with tomatoe. Personally, it’s all about the Cheese ramen, which I’m surprised isn’t more prevalent in the States. Who doesn’t love cheese?

Some other snack foods that you might surprised about are the every day Frito Lay brands (called Sabritas here in Mexico). You’ll be hard pressed to find regular old Fritos here, as most stores sell lime and salt flavored, or lime salt and chili (peppers) flavored.

You know Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Well, they have those, but even the regular brand of cheetos contains pepper and is quite spicy. It’s the same with Doritos. Only potato chips will resemble what we’re used to, except you’ll also find chili flavored potato chips of all kinds available as well.

Ever had a pizza with beans, avocado, and chorizo? Well, you’ll find it here. People here regularly eat salsa and ketchup on their pizza, on their potato chips, on their Ramen, and even on their fruit. I’ve come to like chili powder on some fruit, but I still haven’t quite warmed up to the idea of it on any of those other things.

Soft because it's beaten!

I’ll talk about delicious Mexican snacks a bit more later, but I thought I’d show you one more funny thing you might be familiar with. Sunbeam Bread. On the side there, on this Mexican made packaging, you’ll notice it says “Soft because it’s beaten.”  If you’re familiar with their products on the English market,  the bag says “batter whipped”, if it says anything to the effect at all. On this package one might wonder if they’re referring to the bread or the poor little girl…