‘PUTOOOOOOOOOOO!’ we scream for the last time, as the away teams’ keeper takes the last goal kick before the final whistle blows. Cue a chorus of boos from the home fans, as Veracruz hold the hot favourites America to an eye wateringly dull 0 – 0. So my second Mexican game ends goalless.. again!
I’d visited the stadium with some German lads I’d been hanging out with from my hostel and they’d also seen one game previous to this.. and yup, like my first game, theirs had also ended 0 – 0. We laughed at the coincidence before the game, and joked how funny it would be if this game also ended goalless but by half-time we were starting to seriously think we would never see a goal in Mexico.
At least we had fun shouting ‘putoooooo’ on every away team goal kick, which translates roughly as a male slag or prostitute, and seems to be some sort of tradition of shouting among football fans, which had us laughing along as we joined in. That was probably the highlight of the game, other than getting to witness the colossal Aztec Stadium.
The photos can’t really do justice to an enchanting stadium that has hosted two world cup finals, including Maradonna’s infamous hand of god and is the largest ‘football specific’ stadium in the world at over 105,000 capacity (cheers Wiki, one day I’ll donate to you, honest). Unfortunately, as America were facing bottom of the league Veracruz, it was only around a fifth full but it still had an magical feeling about the place, which is sometimes lost in big stadia.
We sat watching one of the worst games we had collectively ever seen, while fantasising about watching a top match in these great surroundings – a world cup final, Mexican derby match or even an under 19s MK Dons friendly charity match against Z list celebs, anything had to be better then this. Although there was no action on the pitch, there was plenty of chanting and still a decent atmosphere, which kept us entertained as we got progressively more floaty. After the match and a few beers, we were leaving the stadium, still chanting the America anthem of ‘Vamos, Vamos America esta noche tenemos ganar!’ as we piled in to the taxi. (lots of people piling in to Taxis, another common Mexican theme so far).
Our first stop was a hiphop bar which had been recommended to us by an American girl from the previous night. Coincidentally, or perhaps ironically.. probably neither, it resembled something straight ouf of a 50 Cent music video (yeah uh yeaaah.. something something in the clubbbbb, something something hoessss and blinggg). Even from outside, we could tell that we were all well out of place, as the queue resembled a Gucci Christmas staff party, with everyone trying to out-dress the other. As we entered we were greeted by more ridiculously well groomed and rich looking twenty something Mexicans, sitting around private tables with bottles of spirit sitting in the centre. No one talking, no one dancing, just girls taking snaps of themselves from their iPhones, while the guys sit there looking really fucking angry or bored, because I guess that’s a pretty cool look at the moment.
We walked around, all a little bemused as none of us were really expecting this, as we searched for a dancefloor to cause a bit of mayhem on, in spite of this bullshit. It didn’t exist, just neon booths and modern gangster shit-hop echoing through the club. We left the vacuous instagram-posing pricks and did a collective runner for another couple of taxis. ‘I just want to have a beer and dance like a dick’ was the general consensus, as we hailed another 2 cabs and sped away from the street. I now noticed that it was nestled amongst Louis Vuiton and Prada shops, so perhaps we should have expected it.
The time was getting on for midnight, as we sped across town to a different area. All of a sudden one of the Germans decides he wants some more beer before we head in to a club, and the time is 23:58. ‘The Oxxo stops selling alcohol at midnight, we need to find one in 2 minutes!!’ one of the Germans shouts excitedly. Almost instantly we spot one, and request the bemused Taxi driver to pull over. Two of the lads jump out and are sprinting for Oxxo like their lives depend on it. The rest of us in the taxi are cracking up, and within 5 minutes they’re back and armed with 8 cans. ‘Shit.. why did you get 8 cans?? We don’t need 8!’ I laugh, as we set about trying to finish them on the ride.
We hardly finish one each as we pull up to the club we were destined for, and the others who have arrived in their taxi ahead of us, spot us pulling up and walk over. We ask the taxi driver to give us a minute, as we don’t want to be caught in the street, or not allowed in the club, as we set about trying to finish the rest. We all have a case of the giggles which isn´t helping, as the other lads ‘tag in’ and jump in to the taxi to help us finish the drink. It is all pretty chaotic with people getting in and out of the taxi, and eventually the previously patient taxi driver politely tells us we have to leave, so we tip him for his troubles and run over to a backalley to finish the rest. The night goes well and ends as it began, with us piling in to a taxi, singing ‘Vamos, Vamos America esta noche….’ as we make our way back to the hostel.
When my bus arrived in to to Mexico City (also referred to as D.F – District Federal), it was about 7am and I was a little bleary eyed as I made my way to the Metro station. For the equivalent of about 25p, you can go anywhere on the decently sized underground metro, including switching lines. Pretty ridiculous, but even at 7am it was pretty packed, and by the time I reached my stop I had to put both my bags above my head and push as hard as I could, narrowly getting out the door in time.
D.F is a city of life, noise, museums and police, lots and lots of police. It really does take some witnessing to see just how many there are in the central area. It’s not even that it feels like a dangerous place – it doesn’t – probably thanks to half the population being police, but it is quite a surprise to witness just so many.
It is not uncommon to find, on busy street corners, a gathering of a dozen or so police standing around – some may be directing traffic (which always looks a little needless) and generally looking a little bored. I have practically become immune to hearing sirens, and it seems the standard protocol for a police car or van is to have their lights flashing, even if they are just stationary and parked up. You can’t help but guess they may be better utilised in the suburbs, or neighbouring cities, but it certainly seems to have made the centre feel startingly safe.
One of the places the police gather in their largest is in Constitution Square, which really is quite an amazing sight. A huge square, dominated by the biggest flagpole and flag I have ever seen (and believe me I`ve been keeping my eye out for big flags throughout my life, this really is huge) is surrounded by some exquisite buildings and cathedrals. A couple of nights there were open air gigs, and thousands of people gathered in the square. I managed to find a rooftop bar on one night, and tried to get a few snaps from above, which I´ll attach below.
After a beer on the rooptop bar I left and went to check the action out on ground level. I found a perfect spot to sit, and as I was about to set myself down as Mexican man started speaking to me. My cynical side kicked in, and immediately I assumed he was trying to pickpocket me, or such like, and kept my arms firmly in my pockets, feeling my camera and wallet, as we talked politely. He seemed friendly, to me it was overfriendly martins (football pun, Trevor Keppel 2013). Things then started to get a little strange, as he asked if I was staying in a hotel and also started to touching my arm briefly on a couple of occasions.
It then dawned on me that unless he was just an extremely bad and yet friendly pickpocket, he was trying to pick me up, which was creepy and yet a little flattering. I can only really remember one time when a guy has openly tried this before, and coincidentally it involved a Mexican and it was in Berlin. Again, he started off being really friendly to me and a friend (Hi Jack) two hours later and we running away from him, trying to lose him as we hide in a bush.
Luckily no bush hiding was needed, though it become clear that I wasn’t going to be able to just sit and watch the gig, as he showed no sign of leaving, as the arm touching grew more frequent. In hindsight I should have dropped some ‘I’m straight hints’, such as ‘ wow, the girls are really hot here’, but the strangeness of the conversation, and his apparently friendliness had thrown me off guard.
‘I`m tired, I need some sleep´I told him in Spanish, and he agreed and said yes, he will come with me. Ok that is the last straw I thought, I need to get away and I don’t want him knowing where I live. It was hard to be rude, as we he was being so friendly but I had to firmly tell him no, it was nice to meet you but goodbye. He shook my hand, still smiling, as I raced off in the opposite direction. It did get me thinking though, perhaps a little insight in to women and the annoyance of trying to be picked up when they aren’t interested. Perhaps I’ll keep any arm touching to girls at a minimum from now.
The last 2 days have been a little less eventful, mainly due to a bit of illness. Having survived absolutely fine for a month in Mexico so far, eating Tacos (usually from the street vendors) on a nearly every day basis, I figured it was building up my defences nicely. I thought by the end of my time here, I could practically eat a living Horse with no adverse side affects (apart from perhaps the Horses’ owner and maybe some animal activists if they got wind of it). Cue the awkward moment when you get food poisoning in Mexico… from a Chinese buffet.
In the defence of the Chinese buffet, it was pretty delicious, had a huge variety of dishes, and cost about 3 quid. I knew there was some minor peril involved, but thought I could sidestep most of this by eating lots of dishes, but small amounts of each. Alas, if there was anything dodgy I’d only have eaten a bit of it. Perhaps I’d have been better just gambling on one dish, as I woke up the next day feeling worse than Dean Shipp after a pizza hut buffet.
To spare the details, if there was a type of ‘bar watch’ but for toilets, I’d have been kicked out of the hostel and my photo would be up in all of the toilets in Mexico. It got worse as the day progressed, and I began sweating profusely, feeling dizzy and faint, and starting to seriously worry if this was only food poisoning. It came to a head when I was in the toilet cubicle. I got up to leave, and all of a sudden I could hardly walk, a huge wave of nausea came over me, and my sight and hearing all started to capitulate at once. I knew that I just had to get ouf of the toilet, if I was going to faint I wanted to be somewhere public.
I felt like I was going to be sick or pass out at any moment, and for maybe 3 or 4 seconds, my mind managed to dart between the thoughts of ‘thank fuck I decided to get travel insurance’ to ‘I should probably be shouting for help’, but I managed to stumble out of the toilet to the corridor outside, where I perched over the basin, dripping with sweat. Luckily, the nausea, faintness and weird sound and vision receded almost as rapidly as it came on, and although the stomach pains and fever continued I felt the worst was probably over. For the rest of the day I spent my time between lying in bed covered in my own sweat and visiting one of the many wonderful toilets in the vicinity – I’ve given both of them nice reviews on tripadvisor.
Since then I have walked past a number of Chinese buffet restaurants, and each time I shudder a little. I don’t want to Bei-jinx it, but I am praysuming (cross between praying and assuming) that with time this will all blow over, like the great wall of China (hold on, that one didnt work..), and I will be able to enjoy plentiful Chinese buffets in the future.
Fortunately today I was better and able to wander around the city again, for what would be my last full day in the capital. I visited a couple of museums and stumbled upon the ‘Monumento a la Revolucion’, which has some amazing 360 views of the city from its viewing platform. Just as I was approaching the monument, the sky opened and the rain started to pour. Perfect timing, as I made my way over to the monument for shelter in my t-shirt, shorts and flip flops. Side topic, I also seem to be the only person in the whole of Mexico City to be wearing flip flops.
The benefits of wearing flip flops:
1 – Every time it rains, your feet AND your flip flops get clean.
2 – Less sock washing required.
Flip flops aside, I have been doing a bit of a humourous blag recently, attempting to get student prices at museums etc by showing them my 18+ New Zealand ID card, in the hope that they either can’t read English, or don’t pay it too much attention (current success rate 66%).
The girl studied my ID card curiously, flipping it over a few times while looking a little confused, but in this case it worked, and I was on my way up to the top of the monument with an extra 20 pesos in my pocket, as flashes of lightening and thunder began to strike. The hairs on my neck were starting to raise, I love thunder! and the rain was absolutely pouring, perfect! I wandered around, taking in the 360 views of the city, as the lightning flashed overhead. I wasn’t quick enough to get any of the snaps with lightning in, but it felt like a special moment.
As I sat looking out over Mexico city, the thunder began to curtail and the clouds became lighter. It seemed like an apt way to describe Mexico City I mused; exciting, loud, vibrant and the possibility that in the wrong place, danger may not be too far away.
A final day in Mexico City tomorrow, then off to Oaxaca on a night bus. Wow over 2,500 words.. I need to cut these down, this was a bit of an exception!