Subject: Mexico Travelogue IX Ed and Edith Gray

I am sending our daily log for the two days in the Mexico City area. These daily logs are the longest of the trip so you know we seen, heard and learned a lot so here goes!

Today we went to northern Mexico City and could see some of the downtown tall buildings. Mexico City is built on an ancient lake so buildings settle and the big earthquake a number of years ago did a lot more damage because of this.

We went to the Shrine of Our Lady Guadalupe which is the second most visited church in the world. Tradition has it that a young Indian lad San Diego was met by the Mother of Jesus and was told to build a church and that she would intercede for them and take care of him. He was told to go to the Bishop and ask for it to be build, as the story went he had to go three times and the last time he brought a cape/robe that by a miracle had an image of our Lady Guadalupe and it had roses that are only found in Spain. The bishop because of the miracle built the church and she is considered the queen of Mexico and 2 million people come for mass on December 12th the day she appeared to San Diego. That was in 1531 and has a lot to do with the acceptance of the Catholic religion by the native people of Mexico as before it was being forced on them. The robe/cape was displayed in the first church then as the crowds got so big a second church was built and it was displayed there but the building is sinking so a new huge church that will hold 10,000 people were build and it is displayed there and we got to see it.

We then went back to Teotihaucan to see the Obsidian shop and Edith got a rock with a picture on it and it says Mexico and has our names for free but she gave him $1. I think it is the best bargain of the trip. We were shown how the Pulque is made from the cactus. It is sweet and about 6 % alcohol after is ferments but this was not fermented yet. We then had a buffet dinner which I would rate as the best of the trip.

We then toured Teotihaucan which is a huge site. The two big temples or pyramids are the Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon. They had an idol on top in a temple but that is gone due to the conquest and time. We seen a number of other things there. We certainly got our exercise. I dropped my digital camera on the rocks on top of the Pyramid of the Sun and had a small crack in the case and the view finder was pushed in and over. I had Edith camera and thought mine was around my neck and that I was holding hers so I let mine go and it was not around my neck but rather Edith's was so it crashed to the rocks. Praise the Lord, later back at the 5th with small screw drivers we were able to pry it back in place and the lens is OK so what a blessing as I though a $700 camera was gone and no more digital pictures on the trip. When we got back our guide had lined up Mariarches(Mexican band/singers) and they were good. We then walked up town with Bruce and Eunice and got some rolls and seen a lot of interesting things so we will go back on our free day on Wednesday. We got 6 rolls and it cost $1.70 so we can add that to good deals here in Mexico.

March 16, 2004 Tuesday, Day 53 of the RV Caravan with 9 days left. We are on day 70 of the trip Today we toured Mexico City for nearly 10 hours and were gone nearly 12 hours. We seen the traffic in Mexico City. They have different color stickers for the who can drive on what day for people who live here. Outsiders can drive on a certain day each week based on the last number on their license plate. The fine is about $80 if you get stopped. What has happened is that people have several cars so they can still drive more than one day a week. Everybody can drive on Saturday and Sunday. About 1/4 of the people ride the public transportation each day so figuring many work in there local area and children that is quite a high percentage About 24 million people live in the area which is about 25% of the total population of Mexico. It has really grown the last 50 years.

The Metro is French technology and runs on a flat steel track with rubber tires and there are rubber tires on the side against steel side rails so the meto(suway) has to follow the flat tracks. They are electric and start and stop fast and have I would estimate a speed of about 50 mph. There are also all kinds of buses. The buses can go everyday, no restrictions.

Our first stop was the Mexico Museum of Archeology which you could spend a long day there easily. We looked mainly at the Aztec culture. I did not know that the Aztec had their headquarters on an island in the lake and added to the island with fill and floating gardens. This is right where the Zocolo is in Mexico City. The climate has changed and the Spaniards drained the lake so all that remains is some at the south end. The Aztec influence spread all over Meso-america and they became very war-like. The were actually defeated by the Spaniards so more of their history is known than earlier Indian cultures. I did find the reproduction of the paintings from Bomampak which were by far the best painting I have seen of the Mayan culture and it is in the Mayan hall. The Museum has many different halls each with a different culture in them. It is huge and fairly crowed but you can go to a different hall where it is not so crowed. I wish we could of spent more time in the Mayan Hall since we seen so many Mayan sites and some of the best artifacts have come here but we did not have time to look at them. As every place there is no flash allowed so one needs a camera that can really take picture in low light.

Our next stop was a river ride on what is left of the canals of Mexico City toward the south end. It is a big week end get away for people in Mexico City. We had a meal on the boat but they tried to sell us stuff so that took away from it. From there we went to the Zocolo and seen Diego Rivaras painting in the national palace. His companion was Frida who also is a famous artist in Mexico. Diego was a communist, an atheist and was in trouble with nearly everyone. He also was a womenizer. However his art is well known. Probably not because the pictures are so real but the messages they sent. These are in the National Palace . We also seen the church and the Aztec Pyramid and the lowering of the flag. We then seen probably our last pyramid which was an Aztec one, the Spanish Cathedral and the modern buildings so it called the center of three cultures. There was not enough signed up for the late afternoon and night out in Mexico City so we have our last free day tomorrow so we will walk downtown to San Juan Teotihuacan and look around.

About three times we have seen people with the garbage trucks going through the garbage and finally figured out they are getting out glass and other things for recycling. Our guide discussed the trash you see laying around and says it is a cultural thing. In times past before about 50 years ago things were perishable so when people dropped or threw something on the ground it was soon gone and it is going to take education as many of the things thrown today are not perishable. I will say in central Mexico the situation it much better than any place else we have been in Mexico.

We seen some demonstrations and groups that were anti-american of US policy and the Mexican political situation is always one of great turmoil it seems and right now a lot of corruption is being shown on televison and in the press. Major elections are in 2006 but things are already heating up.

We seen some shanty towns but over all we seen good housing for Mexico and lots of signs of prosperity. The government does subsidize the transportation and does some things with the property to try and even out things. A lot of the problems in Mexico go back many years when the government gave all the business to 300 rich families in Mexico and it is still true today that a few control most of the wealth in Mexico. I would say we seen the most middle class of anyplace we have been. The pollution from smog is bad but not as bad as I pictured it There are many modern building and it is a nice looking town for Mexico. The roads are quite decent and pretty well set up. Certainly the best we have seen in Mexico but with 25% of the vote here you can be sure the politicians are going to do there best to provide things for the public.

Now in regards to crime in Mexico City. I am absolutely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is much, much safer than I understood it to be. Like any town there are places you don't want to go, especially at night but I seen people walking around, women by themselves, young kids and there were no bars on the windows, etc. In some tourist places and on the public transportation there are pick pockets so you have to be sure to put your money, etc. where it can not be gotten at. There are some taxi schemes, etc. again in the tourist areas but over all I am positive it is not bad. We walked freely around the Zocolo and there actually were not a lot of police and military around which indicates quite clearly there really is not much of a problem. If there was you would see lots of police and military as there is no shortage in Mexico of either! Obviously you need to use good common sense and ask where not to go(key point) but by and large it is much, much safer than it is painted to be!

Most of central Mexico is at 6000 to 8000 feet with higher mountains. Many of the mountains are rocky and a few have jagged peaks. There are trees but mainly leaved trees but in a few of the higher areas where it is wetter and cooler we seen quite a few conifers. None of them are real tall and a lot of it short trees and brush. As this is the dry season things look brown in most places. We have seen a number of real fertile valleys with irrigation ditches and flood irrigation where all sorts of crops are grown but not much corn but quite a bit of alfalfa and small grain and of course a lot of vegetables and some fruit and nut trees. Things are more prosperous here on average it seems.