The Mexican hospitality

The hum and buzz of a city as huge as Mexico City has even more tonalities than one can imagine. The spread of the city, the core and the suburbs, historical sights, modern shopping, nature closing in while culture is ruling. The City has the highest density of museums in the world, I managed to rummage through two of them, the Frida Kahlo museum which used to be her home the Blue Villa, and the huge Museum of Anthropology which includes Maya, Aztec and Teotihuacán historical objects, among many many tens of thousands. I was of course the nerd having the audio guide as my only companion! Too late I realised there was a Louise Bourgeoise exhibition in the Bellas Artes museum, which is such a strange coincidence since there was one in Edinburgh too, which I missed out on, though. This one, I’ll visit when I get back in a few weeks. Anyhow.
During my days I stayed with a host, Omar, who had been to Sweden last year. After a few fumbling words, trying to chose which language to speak, since he is seemingly well to do in Swedish, he spoiled me with breakfast and proper Columbian coffee. As a swede I have felt privileged the last years, cause the possibilities of travelling are many more. We have a strong currency: almost anywhere I go I feel the living costs are below the Swedish and henceforth I can relax and travel almost anywhere I’d like. Quite the opposite experience for many of my couchsurfers in Sweden who is repelled by our outrageous prizing! Omar, though, had managed to travel through Scandinavia and large parts of Europe for several months last year on a minimum budget of 6000 kronor. Hitch hiking and couch surfing is a combination that’s not for the control freak, but it will guarantee to take you to places and faces you wouldn’t meet otherwise. And around the breakfast table my first morning in Mexico City, we sat enjoying breakfast quesadillas, talking about the coincidences that’s put us there. I have never had a bad experience either hosting or surfing, au contraire, it has always been a pleasure and a joy to meet these people. Also this time faith did not fail me; my host taught me how to navigate the subway, to order food explaining politely in Spanish that I don’t eat meat, woke me up with coffee made the Swedish way each morning, let me join in at his university and encouraged me to explore the city be myself. Map in hand I went from south to north, managed to find my points-of-interest and did not need to go hungry.

It is not, I must say, a particular beautiful city, but it is in many ways more pleasant than the more aesthetically pleasing European cities. You don’t need to feel as one of a million tourists, and there is no particular interest for tourists either. My host told me that there really is no immigrants or tourists in Mexico, mostly there is just Mexicans and maybe some of them travel the country. Even though, there was a very few people paying me any extra interest, only one actually tried to sell me something. The city is easily navigated though, the streets are built in long stretches, and are clearly marked by name. The traffic is hectic on the highway passing through, but is in the centre overseen by fierce traffic police. Travelling the metro or buses between cities you have to go through several security checks and visitations – I’ve hardly felt safer than in the Mexican metro, and since Sweden are heading towards “big brother sees you”-state, I guess I might as well get used to it! The people that on occasions speak English, or the ones I managed to communicate with in shamefully poor Spanish are laid-back, helpful and polite with a glimpse of humour and a laughter close at hand. I am in so many ways surprised by the atmosphere and easy living-philosophy in such a big city – even the times you’re packed in the train at the metro people smile at the situation. Without stereotyping too much: Mexicans seem to be happy, happier than most people in most countries I’ve had the fortune to travel.

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