Mexico City and beyond

      The plan went well.  I made the airport.  My taxi driver was married to a Mexican and we had an informative chat about travel and the Spanish language.  That cost me an above average tip on top of an above average taxi charge…30% more than the average quoted me on the internet. I had my boarding pass before departing the condo so was at the gate in 15 minutes with my bag checked through to Mexico City.
           Sweet Paris, an audio book I bought off Amazon for $1.86, about an American Pastry Chef that quit his position at Alice Water’s Chez Panez in San Francisco after 10 years and rented an apartment in Paris, explained the French language protocol . All conversations start with Bonjour Madame or whoever you are addressing.  The doorman, sales clerk, bathroom attendant, counter help at McDonald’s, whoever.  If you do not start out with that French formality, you may find yourself ignored.  This is why most Americans think the French are arrogant and rude.  I tried to ask someone “What time is it”, very casually, and received a dressing down in French to which I replied, could you repeat that slowly.  Then they walked away.  My friends explained I should say, Excuse me sir, could you be so kind as to tell me what time it is?  That, I found worked miracles.  Still Bonjour was the proper beginning.
     I was waiting for boarding time at the Gate when I had the need to visit the Men’s room.  An elderly lady sitting next to me looked trustworthy so I decided to ask if she would keep a watch over my jacket and bag for a moment.  I turned to her, looked her in the eye and said Hello .  Her eyes got large and she drew back with alarm!  I quickly followed it up with my request with, would you be so kind….to which she smiled and said absolutely.  When I returned I got more personal and introduced myself and Joan explained she was from Cranbrook B.C. and had been helping her brother in Phoenix take care of her Sister in Law who had come down with a serious illness.  I told her where I was going and inquired as to where was Cranbrook?  She explained it was in the Lake Region of British Columbia and she looked out morning at two lakes while sipping her Tea.  Her husband passed away but years ago.   They used to come to Phoenix – Mesa with their RV every year and took trips into Mexico. They traveled with a Motorcycle on the back of the RV and went all over Mexico.  Once they took the train from Texas through Copper Canyon.  Her eyes lit up as she explained that that was many years ago. Joan followed that she recently took a tour with a local group to Guadalajara to see the Annual Mariachi  Band competition that was spectacular  Cranbrook now has an International Airport 10 minutes from her house. She promptly excused herself to get in line early, even though we all had assigned seats.  A typical Canadian trait.  We bid goodbye and safe travels.
        My LA Gate for departure was two down from the arrival Gate I just exited.  This was great and I had on hour to listen to “Beware of any suspicious activity and do not leave your bags unattended”…over the loud speaker…over and over and over…like stuck on hold on the telephone…I was looking for my ear plugs I use on the plane when it dawned on me that I might miss any special announcements about my flight.

             This was an international flight so to be safe, I thought it best to check in at the desk.  The ticket agent offered me an upgrade and asked if I would like an Exit row with more leg room.  I thought maybe I misunderstood him, as it is rare that I ever get offered anything in Economy, especially more legroom.  I always try and get my seat assignment in advance but they seldom allow you to pick an Exit row over the internet.  Then he said , “I hope you don’t mind but the seat next to you is vacant”.  Mind?  I got so excited I said , “I could kiss you!” so loud that the waiting passengers in the room looked up to see who was this person that wanted to kiss the agent. He, while turning red polite responded that would not be necessary.

      We boarded the plane and I took my seat.  It reminded me of my recliner at home in front of the TV.  The gentleman in the aisle seat didn’t have to move when I visited the bathroom.  We both felt like we were riding in first class.  What a treat.
        It was nothing like the 11 hour flight from LAX to Seoul on China Air where I was seated , crouched with knees up ,  in the last row in the middle of five seats that didn’t recline in a full aircraft next to the bathroom which always had a line of people.
       The flight went well.  They only served food if you paid some crazy price.  I had my peanut butter and lavosh sandwiches which served me well.
   My tinnitus was the worst I’ve ever had.  A seat by the wings didn’t help with the engines noise so close.  I kept looking at Jerry in the aisle seat to see if the sound was external but he was calmly reading while in my right ear was WOO woo Woo woo Woo woo over and over again like my annoying clock alarm at home.  I put my hearing aides in but no change just louder.  I put my ear plugs in and it got a little softer. If I pushed the foam plug into the ear drum it stopped but it wouldn’t stay there and I had a hell of a time to extract it without tweezers.  I put my finger all the way in and it stopped but I would look a little odd with my finger in my ear.  I’ve heard of people committing suicide because of severe tinnitus and now I know why.  I’ve had this condition for over a decade but it subsided when I started wearing hearing aides.  Then about 6 months ago I changed the Meds I took and it came back.  I leaned forward and it stopped…back and it started…finally I found a position where it almost stopped and I could pretend I didn’t hear it.  I even managed a cat nap.
     I awoke and I could feel the pressure building in my ears and the ringing disappeared…we were approaching Mexico City.  The plane was descending.
       Jerry was a High School counselor on his way to a family wedding in Mexico City.  He must have a fun job dealing with today’s students. The book he was reading was about Therapy…for him or his students?   I didn’t ask. He took a few days off as this was a big wedding with relatives from Guatemala and around Mexico City coming to celebrate.
     The plane, an Airbus, was only about 60% full so we exited with no problem.
I went to the money exchange and cashed in dollars for pesos, claimed my baggage, exited customs, bought a taxi fare for my hostel and followed the directions to outside where an authorized cab was waiting.  20 minutes later I arrived at the Downtown Hotel.  The downtownbeds Hostel was in the rear.  This whole building had been renovated and though the Hostel was expensive because a private room was for two and that is what I was charged..around $45.  The Hotel part was beautiful and very expensive…$9 just for a bottle of water.  The Hostel rooms were sparse!  No table or chairs, shelves or hangers, TV or internet access, bath and showers shared down the hall…but the location was great.

http://www.designhotels.com/downtown

     I paid Octavio on my Credit Card and spent the next hour trying to figure out how I could organize this to be comfortable.  I don’t know what time it is but I’m tired…see you tomorrow.
     I retired almost 10 years ago to pursue my love of travel.  This last year, after going overboard on my trip to North Korea,  I realized my funds are getting lower so took up Poker.  That proved to be counter productive.  My savings are invested in Bond funds and some stocks.  One of those stocks I purchase last year was Netflix. I’ve been a long time customer of theirs and after they screwed up with pricing policies, a lot of members dropped from them along with the stock price.  It plunged from around 300 to 100 so that is when I bought 100 shares.  The stock then plunged to 60-70 of course.  I believed the company and the stock would rebound in time so purchased two options to buy Netflix at 100 until Dec 2013.  I thought it would be way over 100 by then.  A crucial earnings report was due out Jan 23, the day I left for Mexico City.  I was monitoring the stock for indications of positive or negative news.  Motley Fool, financial advisers I respect came out that week with four reasons not to buy Netflix…. basically that they had borrowed a lot in order to expand overseas and now needed more to set up offices and where-houses to handle a business that wouldn’t pay off those loans for a long long time.  I panicked, sold the stock at a small loss along with the options.  They were “In the Money” until the report came out.  Then , believing the earnings report would prove negative, I purchased a Put option that the stock would drop back down to the 60’s again.  Today the earnings report proved way more than expected along with the company report that subscribers grew by 38%.  The nest egg I had hoped to replenish would have increased over $15000 if I had waited one week and sold today.  If I kept the options and stock until Dec 2013…god knows I would have had all my retirement money back that I spent over the last 10 years.
     I am depressed today.  Then while in the National Palace taking hundreds of incredible pictures, my SD Memory card went out and I lost all the photos of the trip, even the one of me relaxing in my seat on the plane with my legs stretched out reading my book.  All the welcome to Mexico photos, the lights of LA from the plane, etc. I asked a policemen (there are a million of them) for directions to a photo supply shop.  I arrived to find the card was $50…$20 in the states.  I reloaded the new card in the camera and started taking photos all over again.  I decided to return for a nap.

      I am in the Center of the city.  Today I took photos of a big parade…now gone…as well as a huge event in the Square…all gone….Dancing Indians…all gone.  I need sleep and then I will return to the National Palace and do another 2 hour tour to photograph all the murals and paintings that are all gone.  

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