I have never had an easier time flying as I did on my trip from LAX to Mexico City. I was certain that I would have trouble and I was wrong. My friends, Chris and Amanda, picked me up at my couch surfing place in Long Beach a couple of hours before my flight (had to be there that early because of it being an international flight and all).
Luggage in hand we were off. Fun conversations mostly about my time in Southern California and we were there. Hugs goodbye and a picture or two.
I had bought my ticket on Alaskan Airlines a couple of weeks before for a crazy great price of $74.00 one way. I got to choose my seat when I bought them while still online and then checked in online within the 24 hour time period. With no luggage to check I got to walk straight through to security.
Now I thought since it was LAX and I was going to Mexico which has some pretty high security warnings right now and it would at the very least be slow going through security. I was wrong. I was on the other side of security and headed to my gate literally within 3 minutes. I was shocked.
The only official thing I had to do was show my passport at the gate once I got there so they could make a mark on the ticket that it had been seen. No one was at the gate booth but me and the attendant so that took no time either.
That gave me about an hour and a half to eat something then to call family and say goodbye. I read a bit of my book and it was time to board.
One of the things I did at the airport is change some money. I know it costs more at the airport, but I wanted to at least be able to ask some questions and understand the answers. Those of you that know me know how much I struggle with money amounts anyway, so I know dealing with money in foreign currencies is going to be one of the biggest struggles of this journey. I exchanged $100.00 which was the least I could do with my Visa. She explained that I needed to take one of the zeros off the pesos and that would give me a rough idea on how much it was in American dollars. This actually is on the high-end as the current money exchange rate between Mexican pesos and US dollar is: 13.20 to 1.
After a couple of mishaps some that actually were to my advantage I am beginning to have a grasp of it.
Once on board I was set. I was in the first row behind First Class so I didn’t have to walk down the aisle bumping into everyone. I sat on the aisle with an elderly Mexican woman who, of course, didn’t speak any English. She seemed very thankful for my help in getting her carry-on in the storage area and her comfortable in her seat.
The ride was great. Free drinks and breakfast. I have not been on a plane in almost twenty years under 12 hours that serves free food. For those of you who have read my post on my trip to Denver from Knoxville know that I was in wonder that the plane arrived 25 minutes early. Well so did this one. Cant believe that. Back in the day if it was less than 15 minutes late we thought it was early. Ha.
We all filled out our paperwork to get into Mexico while inflight. These included The Migratory Form for Foreign Tourist, people moving to Mexico, business travelers and dignitaries. After the forms are filled out and checked they are stamped by a customs officer. The officers than give it back to the person coming into the country to keep with their passport to be able to leave the country again. This form has a bar code on it and a blue stripe across the top saying “Estados Unidos Mexicanos”.
If this card is lost there is an issue! I was told that if it is lost or misplaced that I would have to go back to the airport in Mexico City (which is a problem since I am not going to be in Mexico City for most of this trip, but much further south) and beg them to let you fill out another form and pay the fine and get another card. It is up to them if they let you do this, but I’m not sure what you would do if they wont. I guess go to the Embassy?
Now for Customs. Lots of trepidation here. Not only is it a bit disconcerting to see all the military everywhere with oozies, but I have no real understanding of Spanish. So I was a bit concerned.
No need to be. Although none of the airport employees or immigration officers spoke any English there were several passengers who had been through this airport many times before and were more than willing to help me through the process.
Again, not having any checked luggage proved a huge advantage. I just walked through a small security metal detector thingy (I am pretty sure that is the technical name for it) and then into a short line for Customs. The first part of line the Customs Officer just checked the paperwork and gave me back the card mentioned above. The second part of the line I put my stuff on a conveyor belt and waited for a green light at the end.
If it is red you have to go to another place and they go through all your things. If it is green you push a large button to reset it and pick up your things and you are out of customs. My light was green and the woman behind the conveyor belt watching the camera gave me a big smile and say “Benvientuto Mexico”. Loved it.
At that point the sights and sounds kind of assaulted me.
My host in Mexico City had given me way too many different directions to get to his house so I was completely confused. I got to the street where the buses are and decided it would just be best to take a taxi. The taxi got me right there in about 20 minutes instead of the hour and half and four buses it would have taken. It only cost me $150 pesos which is about $11 and I was there.
My host’s house was in a neighborhood called, Colonia. There are many many neighborhoods, which they refer to as districts, that make up Mexico City. It was a quaint neighborhood with lots of people on the street all saying hello and asking how you are. Very nice.
It was easy to find the gate that led to the house, but it was locked. I waited and tried to ask in Spanish how to get to my host. I didn’t realize that once the gate was opened there was like a long passageway with several houses touching one another facing in ward on either side. Not just one person’s home.
Finally a lady pointed out my host’s mom coming down the street. She was with her sister-in-law and they welcomed me with open arms. They spoke very broken English, but enough between all of us that we could have spotty conversations.
My host, Carlos, lives in an apartment above his parents. It truly on the roof. So once his mom had introduced me to his dad (who speaks NO English), she took me upstairs to put my luggage away.
Once she opened up the door there was a note from Carlos saying that he had gone out for the day and would not be back till midnight because he had been invited to a party. He said he would be back at midnight and we could then go to another party. I thought it was rude.
But, his parents and aunt invited me to go to lunch with them. I thought that was very kind and I had such a good time with them. I sat next to the dad and he yelled the menu to me in Spanish. Like people in the USA apparently he thinks if he yells it loud enough I would understand. Not the case, but it was humorous.
The menu was actually written on the table and I spent the meal learning some common dishes in Spanish. The food was really good and not spicy. Although there were tons of chilies and sauces to add to everything.
Back at the house we hung out for a bit and I went to Carlos’ apartment to rest.
He did get home about midnight and I was asleep.