Please no panoramic views Part 2

Brenda and Ricardo came to greet me at the airport my first time meeting them in Mexico city. I was standing behind a post rearranging my bag when they arrived. They were looking up at the flight info screen when I turned around. Ricardo was way taller than I imagined and Brenda looked a little different only because she was three-dimensional instead of the flat face of a picture. Still, I knew it was them right away and I stood there smiling and waiting for them to notice me.  I think every body was a little nervous, but as I’ve said before, that’s just the way it is when you meet the unmet friend! It didn’t take much to get comfortable. Since I’ve already met them several times I can’t remember exactly when and where but I will guess the magic potion for relaxation was Mezcal. Three tall shot glasses, a plate of orange slices and a tiny bowl of  Gusano salt, made from WORMS (OMG) I loved it like a true Mexican. Okay..there may be many “true Mexicans” that do not love Mezcal, but my core group of two, do and so do I! It’s hard to describe what it is that is so special about it. It is like nothing that I typically like to drink at home. The combination of flavors between the drink, oranges and worm stuff is delightful in a hardcore way. Maybe it’s the ritual and the slow savor of the experience or quite possibly I love it because it is one of the ways I bonded with my new friends.

We did a variety of fun things in one week besides drinking Mezcal:  There was a serene break from the chaotic city  to Teotihuacan, an archaeological site/ancient city with pyramids.

Another out of city experience, tucked in the middle of it all was a colorful canal boat ride at Xochimilco. The following picture is one of a 10 piece set of vintage 3-D postcards that we all three scored at the flea market!

Cuauhtemoc weekend market was the place we found those cards and a pile of other great ones. I even found a 1952 card of Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom! They also took me to a market called Portales which on the surface looked like a bunch of garbage strewn up and down the streets but for those with the true flea market adventurous spirit, there was gold to be mined.  This is where Ricardo and Brenda proved  themselves faithful to the cause.  I didn’t find anything but I got a couple of great pictures. The first one I call “Butt crack baby doll”:

This gem is the best worst Mona Lisa ever!

Another highlight was the most giant bakery I’ve ever been to in my life! It was like the size of a football field. Well… maybe not that big but HUGE and open super late at night. I think it was around 11 PM and there was a crowd of people shopping for pastry!
 A night after one of our Mezcalfests, Brenda and I stayed home and watched a movie in her bedroom.  It was Velvet Goldmine and I think we both fell asleep. What I loved most about it was the feeling of comfort like I was hanging out with my best friend from High School. Of course, the big poster of David Bowie added to that feeling as he was my rock idol back in the day.
Another rich experience I had that week was my time spent with Brenda’s mother, Anna Bertha who was kind enough to let her daughter’s mystery pen pal stay in her home. She did not speak English, except for a few random words and my Spanish is about the same or worse. Brenda worked mornings so every day I would come down stairs and her mom would make me breakfast. BTW, the secret to the best toast in the world is a tortilla pan! We would sit at the kitchen table, stare at each other and try to have a conversation. At first it was so awkward but somehow we would dive into a dialogue accompanied by dictionary and pantomime. It was exhausting for both of us but in the end we understood each other. She was heavy into homeopathic medicine and massage therapy. Before I left, she had made me a concoction for an ailment and gave me an excellent massage! She also took me to the Frida Kahlo museum and even bought me a little tortilla pan so I could make great toast at home. I was treated like a princess.  I believe both of us might have wanted to avoid the discomfort of being total strangers without a common language but we couldn’t . Neither of us had a choice but our persistence paid off.
I have to admit that although I consider myself an experienced and semi fearless traveler I never would have gone to Mexico City alone without friends to receive me. I don’t typically buy into bad news horror stories that focus on a few events and exaggerate. It’s like worrying about a terrorist hijack when flying. I imagine I have a much better chance of getting whacked driving my car. But still, almost everyone expressed concern for my safety before leaving home. Like any big city it’s all about knowing where not to wander. The scariest thing I saw was a truck full of military men with big guns. That’s never a happy thing but otherwise I had a lucky insiders view of this giant city with it’s contrary weave of beauty and ugly.

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