A quick whizz around Mexico
Dear G and B
In November I took part in a GREAT week, which is part of the Foreign Office’s current marketing of the UK to other countries for trade purposes. It involves taking a group of companies overseas on a mission and networking across various sectors and with government, etc. This one was focused on the creative industries and was in Mexico.
It started in Mexico City which I haven’t visited for three years and is a city I really like. It is far more developed than I expected first time around and sprawls on and on, so when you are driving through the city it simply seems like an endless mass of four storey buildings. But it is alive and, edgy and great fun. Work involved a lunch in one of the city’s tallest buildings and there was a stunning 360 view right out to the surrounding mountains which really showed the scale and that it lies in an old lake. Apparently the city is sinking, actually quite fast, because of the soft ground it is built on. That evening we had a drinks reception at the British ambassador’s residence which was really rather nice – a whiskey tasting bar, a beautiful house and lots of talk with diplomats about the world’s woes.
Our tour took us to Puebla, Guadalajara and Queretaro all of which seemed quite nice (mountains of Puebla, old town of Guadalajara and beautiful old squares of Queretaro) but we didn’t have much time to stop and look around as it was a full on week of work. The organisers really got their money’s worth from us. One day I got up at 4am and was still working at 10pm that night. Coupled with travel it was an exhausting time. One evening in Guadalajara we went out to an old Cantina where elderly gents played piano and sang traditional songs whilst drinking tequila in a very rustic atmosphere. It was a genuine Mexican pub equivalent. I ordered snacks and got pickled pigs knuckle, which I wasn’t expecting. Maybe I need to work on my Spanish.
After a week of mixed success I made it back to MC on Friday evening and had a day to kill before my flight home. That evening I went to the Arena Mexico to watch the Luce Libre, or traditional wrestling. The atmosphere was amazing and the (obviously faked) matches were a hoot. The crowd got really excited by it all and seemed to take it quite seriously, standing and shouting out whatever they liked all the time. Great theatre. I had heard of the mesoamerican pyramids outside of the city before and decided to head there on Saturday instead of hanging around the city. They are collectively called Teotihuacan (meaning place where gods are born), which was established in about 100 BC and was around for about 8 centuries, at one time probably the largest city in the Americas, with about 150,000 people living there. I stopped off at a shop on the way selling carvings and souvenirs and learned about the local cactus, which natives used to get water from, brew an alcohol from and use for fibres to sew and weave with. It even has a built in needle to use – amazing. The pyramids themselves are joined up by boulevards, plazas and various other structures and I was totally blown away by it all – I wasn’t expecting it to be so well maintained and so dramatic. Lovely, clear hot weather and quite hard work walking up and down the main pyramids,especially the massive pyramid of the sun. Easy to imagine a civilisation living, working and practising their human sacrifices, lopping off heads with blood pouring down the steep sides of the structures.
There are local merchants dotted around the place selling trinkets and I picked up some clay whistles for you, shaped like a cougar and a colourful bird. I got myself some sun burn.
The flight home was a killer: 12 hours on Aeromexico in a terrible plastic seat with no movies. Thank god for iPads.