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I was trying to put my finger on why I thought that Mexico City would look like this:

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A smog-laden valley of rampant pollution.

I think it was my Japanese high school in Tokyo that made me think it was a den of ick. There were a lot of photos, you see, in my Japanese school textbooks that compared Mexico City to Tokyo – they were roughly the same size when I was in high school (1988-89) and Japanese love comparing themselves with others.

So I was shocked – utterly and completely stunned – to a find a clean, well-designed, beautiful city. Make no mistake about it, Mexico City is a city; it’s humming with something like 26 million people and has all the energy anyone could ever want in a massive metropolis with a multi-cultural, multi-lingual population.

It’s busting art out of its seams, globalization and all the resulting Starbucks have reached it, but it holds on tight to some serious charm.

I don’t doubt that are slums in Mexico City. And I don’t doubt that poverty is real and heartbreaking there. I also don’t doubt that Mexico (as locals seem to call it, much like the “city” part of “New York” is dropped by most) has worked hard to clean up its air, image and make itself safe.

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But what we saw there on the whole, made us really like it. A really cool, really fun city with a fabulous vibe. Brilliant city streetscapes (all the statues! trees! roundabouts!) and functionality. The metro was simply outstanding. Fast, cheap, easy.

We were only there for about 5 days but I have nothing but good to say about it.

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Getting to Mexico City:

We drove through Mexico City to Teotihuacan. We left our rig and teardrop in the campground in Teotihuacan and bused in to the city. We caught a cab from the central bus station to the hotel.

The bus to Mexico City was a breeze with Kianna; the bus back had Mikey frothing and ready to explode. Everyone was saying ‘no’ at the last minute until the bus driver finally stepped in and said it wasn’t a problem.

Kianna on the busThe cabs were also an issue – the cab drivers did NOT want to take Kianna.

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 Our hotel:

We stayed at a nice place, in a nice district. Mikey really wants me to make that clear. Nice, it was nice – and safe. You even needed a key to leave the hotel!

The hotel was the only one out of some 20 that would accept Kianna. This hotel also has wheelchair accessible rooms! And it won’t break the bank. Our suite (2 rooms, separate bathroom, balcony, foyer) was $60/night and was a couple of blocks from the metro station.

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Hotel Casa Gonzalez: Rio Sena #69 Col. Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, DF CP 06500 * www.hotelcasagonzalez.com

– when I asked them about access, they said that they put in the wheelchair ramps because a guest who uses a wheelchair called ahead and asked for them a few months ago. And they just kept the ramps in. It’s obviously that type of place – accommodating. So call ahead and ask for what you need; I have no doubt they’d do it if they can.

 Disability Access in Mexico City

Mexico City is better than a lot of the smaller towns we have been in for access. But it’s still no joyride. Certain things are great for certain disabilities (- the green man crossing is fantastic for the deaf but the lack of sounds must be hard for the blind) but it’s not equal access.

The metro was similar to BART in SF/Bay Area. Some stations didn’t have anything, in other stations, the elevator was broken and in still others, everything worked fine. How would you know ahead of time? I have no idea.

I saw a lot of blind people with their canes and gps talking devices. It made me miss Berkeley.

I saw a deaf couple and got all excited and was ready to approach them until  I realized they were having a lover’s spat over another guy. I didn’t think it was the best time to be all, “heeyyyy!

I saw more people using chairs (- and not begging); still no powerchair users though.

 

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