I Was So Wrong About Mexico City

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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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is a deaf artist, tech-junkie, Counselor (and sometime teacher), mom (one with Down syndrome), cat-lover, Trekkie, yurt-dwelling off-the-grid farmer's wife. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done.

24 Comments

  • Wow- so much media goes to kidnappings and the drug trade corruption. It is so beautiful there. Hope to see and learn more about the journey-keep sharing!

  • Thanks for the info and for the name of the hotel. We’re headed to the pyramids, mainly due to your blog and now, also because of the blog, Mexico City (or Mexico, DF) seems like a likely stop. Muchas gracias.

    • *big smile*
      I think you will really enjoy them both. There is some more stuff coming (- the subway system, the Museum of Frida Kahlo, Museum of Anthropology and food), but honestly, it was just such a fun place. Even with 3 little kids, even with Kianna 🙂

  • Very much enjoyed reading this and looking at the fabulous pictures.

    I admire you and your family for getting out there and seeking the fun and adventure despite some challenges.

    My family and I live in San Miguel de Allende, about 3 hours north of Mexico city, and we are looking forward to making our way there to explore ourselves.

    Cheers,

    Katie O’Grady
    Los O’Gradys in Mexico

  • Loved your post. I’m heading to Mexico City in a few weeks and now look forward to it more than ever. So far on my trip (I’ve been a month in Baja) I keep shocking myself with my preconceived ideas and thrilled at how wrong I keep finding myself. Safe travels!

  • I lived in Mexico City for several years, too, and I miss it incredibly! I lived there as a single woman and traveled on the metro/cabs/etc. all the time. I never once was assaulted, robbed, or any of the million things people happen to anyone venturing out on their own would experience. I love this city!

  • OOPs…meant to say the things people THINK HAPPEN TO ANYONE. ARGH! Don’t want to fuel the incorrect fire! Sorry!

  • As a person who was born and raised in Mexico City, it is always wonderful to hear/read these kind of stories coming from tourists. It totally gives a positive perspective of the city and makes it, for some reason, much more credible… I am currently living in Montreal and I constantly find myself explaining how wonderful and amazing the city is, always trying to erase that negative image that it unfortunately has…
    I really think Mexico City has a lot to offer and it is a wonderful traveling place with many extremely fun and cultural things to do…. Visit Mexico City, believe me, you won’t regret it…It is still my favorite place in this world…

  • My 23 yr old daughter and I stayed in a similar safe, friendly, not fancy place in Condesa Last June. Hosts were great helpful and warm. Lots of well informed stylish and well educated people talked to.us wherever we went. having never stayed in DF we were there only 4 nights and would love to go back to experience more and make friends. It is a fascinating place. Enjoy reading your blog!

    Julie in Oakland California

  • Hello, I am mexican and live at Mexico City. You made me smile with your article; thanks. I am proud of my city… I know there are many things to do to get it better, although it is not a mess like some people say. I liked your pics, you have 3 lovely childs. Came to this article after reading the “9 reasons not to travel in Mexico with your kids”. Hope other foreign people knew this is a great place to visit and we love to share our hospitality.

  • Meriah: Your family and you, of course are lovely & inspirational! I watch news but the media has half of the truth. There are always two sides of the story!
    Mexico is again on his way back to the top Places to Travel and Retire!
    Thanks for Sharing!

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