Mexico City greeted us with warm air and the smell of a complex, burgeoning city. A smell familiar to all big cities the past 100 years, gasoline and asphalt. It’s a welcomed smell to many travelers, like a beacon signaling you’re surrounded by the energy and adventure of a major, metropolitan area. The smell is unlike the unmistakable smell of Gardenia at Burbank airport in California and Maui, which initiate relaxation and a slower pace. This damp heat here, combined with acrid air, kick starts my heart and sweetens my already heightened enthusiasm for this place.
Through Mexico City We Go
Settling into the taxi, specifically selected at the airport cab line for assurance of safety, we prepare ourselves. My travelling companions and I, fully aware of traffic and driving conditions in the city, grapple for our seat belts and fasten them securely.
This is a city of radicalism, intense change, and extreme elements. Extreme poverty and extreme wealth separated only by distance and social strata.
I arrived during a difficult time for the country. A group of young college students in a school bus went missing. With little accountability and an overworked police force, families and friends were in an outright panic. As the time continued to pass, panic turned to doubt, and doubt turned to conspiracy. A significant number of Mexicans, and a notable bounty of international citizens, believed the government knew more than they disclosed. Not only was knowledge withheld, but the general belief that spread was the government of Mexico itself was directly involved.
The car drives along as I practice my sub-par Spanish, not able to resist asking questions and engaging in an information-gut session with our driver. Feeling slightly embarrassed by my curiosity but unable to avoid it, I bumble through the essentials.
What’s your name, where are you from, and how long have you been here?
The girls, my travelling companions, pitch in with slightly better Spanish and the dialogue grew as we rocketed our way through the bustling city on our way to San Miguel de Allende.