CRW_2501 DF cathedral at duskDateline: Starbucks, Zona Rosa, DF

I made it. I’m finally in Mexico City. Not without a few errors and lessons learned though. Since I’m ostensibly going to be on the road for a good, long time, I bought an enormous suitcase. As the savvier travelers amongst you know, the airlines don’t look kindly on any suitcase that weighs more than 50 pounds. Since I monitor my boyish svelteness via mirror, I don’t own a bathroom scale. And because I’m likely on the road for at least a few months I packed generously. And packed. And packed, thinking I’d need LOTS of stuff. What if I get invited to a luau? Better pack that Hawaiian shirt.  Fortunately I had looked up the airline rules, so I was aware of the fact that for 50 Lbs or less, I’d get a free checked bag. Go over that limit by even an ounce, though, and it’d set me back $100 USD. So I decided to also include a reusable grocery bag from Sam’s Club figuring I’d be able to offload some of the extra stuff if I went over. But I didn’t really believe my suitcase weighed more than 50 lbs. My housemate disagreed, but I wasn’t convinced.

When I got to the airport, housemate was immediately vindicated. My bag weighed 62.5 lbs. Oops! Fortunately I had arrived with uncharacteristic earliness, so I had time to offload. Out came the Sam’s bag, and I started putting heavier stuff into it. Fortunately, it all fit comfortably, and I was all set with one 50lb checked bag, a knapsack and my stylish Sam’s bag to carry on.

And I learned an interesting lesson in the process. As you know, the airlines’ business model now revolves around charging you for things that were formerly included, like checked luggage. At least when you want to check it. If they want it checked, well then it’s a different story. But of course, when this happens, they aren’t typically bags you want to check. And you aren’t ready to check them, and they usually tell you just as you’re walking down the jetway. “Oops…our overhead bins are now full. We’ll gladly check your carry-ons for free.”  This is code for “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, Bud, unless you hand over that carry-on. Pronto!”

This happened on both legs of my Mexico flight, but it turns out my grocery bag became a secret weapon, despite the fact that I was in the last boarding group on both flights. See, because it has an open top, my Sam’s bag is not really “check-able.” Right? The minute it hits a conveyor belt, it tips over and all the stuff falls out. As I went down the jetways, I could see the wheels turning in the gate agents’ minds as they looked at my bag: “Nope, we can’t really get him to check that one, and the back pack will fit under the seat.”

So I was spared the involuntary bag check. Of course this came at the price of traveling in perhaps the tackiest fashion possible, with various bits of personal goods visible to my fellow travelers. But you know what? I’ve really given up worrying about that kind of thing. This is one of the good things about getting older.

As for the other aspects of the trip, they’re all more or less good. I’m a little annoyed at Expedia, though. After hunting around for a hotel and being surprised that hotel rates don’t seem to reflect the collapse in the Peso, I decided to live dangerously and take one of their special “mystery deals,” where you don’t know the name or precise location of the hotel until you’re already committed. But the ostensible payoff is that you get “up to a 40% discount!” Immediately after I booked my hotel, I went to Google maps to find the location and right there on Google maps was a rack rate for said hotel that was about three dollars per night less than my “super special mystery deal.” Needless to say, I was not amused. Nor am I likely to ever repeat that ridiculous experience. Frankly I feel like what Expedia did was borderline fraud. And stupid to boot since I’ve been a very loyal user and travel ALL THE FRIGGIN TIME! Why piss off one of your best customers?  That said, the hotel is surprisingly nice, recently remodeled, and still a good deal, even if the selling of it was a smidgen dodgy. By the way, I only booked 2 nights as the rates seemed high. And I don’t know if it’s because the market is really different for the next few days, but now that I’m here, the posted hotel rates are *much* lower on Expedia than they were when I was checking from Boston. Hmmmm……

Buyer, Beware!!!

Buyer, Beware!!!

I’m now sitting in a Starbucks on Calle Genova in the Zona Rosa, a stone’s throw from the Glorieta Insurgentes plotting my next move. For all the bravado of my last post about the one-way ticket, I’m surprisingly unsure as to what my next move will be. But the trip has already paid off as I narrowly escaped a snowstorm, and there are surely plenty behind that one.

Things with Edgar have taken a turn for the I’m-not-sure-what. Two weeks ago, he was dying to see me, wanted me to stay with him in Tehuacán for more than a few days, and was eager for help with his business. Last week he messaged me: “we need to talk on Skype.” Via Skype, I learned that he has a budding boyfriend and for that reason it’d be weird for me to go to Tehuacán.  That was OK with me, and I repeated that we weren’t boyfriends, as he knew, and that he was too young for me anyway. (Something we had already discussed before.) So the plan became that he was going to meet me Sunday in DF. He’d stay the night with me, buy inventory the next day, and then return to Tehuacán.

Just before I left, that too changed. I messaged him Monday to confirm the plan. He replied promptly: “It turns out that Sunday is my brother’s birthday and I can’t come to DF. Besides, I’m a little short of cash anyway. I still really want to see you, but maybe before you go back to Boston.”

“Whatever,” I’m thinking. I really have a low tolerance for flakiness. And without going into the tedious details, yes, he feels a bit guilty and did apologize. But I’m still harrumphed, feeling a bit like he had effectively been trying to “keep me in reserve” as a sort of backup boyfriend, or I-don’t-know-what. And that’s the crux of it, isn’t it? If you’re going to be friends with someone, you share your life. And if you’re constantly hiding a bunch of stuff, well, to me at least, that’s not how you treat friends. I’m not getting worked up about this, but simply taking it as new information and acting accordingly.

But tonight I’m going to dinner with my friend Julio, who owns the most fabulous mid-century furniture store in Mexico City. And then over the weekend I meet up with Bill of Travels of a Retired Teacher. And hopefully get to meet the famous Alejandro. After that? I’m surprisingly undecided. As you know, I’ve fantasized long and hard about making a go of living in Zacatecas. But one side of me says, “hey, Kim. Just rent a place in DF. Spend the winter here, and then see how it goes.” The other side says, “Go to Zacatecas. You already know you could live in DF; Zacatecas would be something new, and even if you don’t settle there, a few months could be an amazing experience.” Hopefully I can make up my mind in the next week. Meanwhile I’m certainly happy to be back in Mexico City once more, surrounded by the special enchantment of this aluringly crazy, frenetic, and never-boring megalopolis.