I made the most of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, three bowls of cereal. After checking out, I sat in the parking lot trying unsuccessfully to pump up my tyres and in the process busted the valve on the front one. I thought it would be a good opportunity to change the front tyre but after skinning my knuckles and bleeding all over myself I regretted it. I’m not normally the superstitious type but it left me with ill feelings about crossing into Mexico today.

The border crossing was a total anti-climax. There wasn’t even someone to welcome me to Mexico. I had to go searching to find someone who could stamp my passport for a six-month stay.

I headed to the bus station, forgetting street names constantly, and having to check my map almost every block. At the first counter I booked a seat to Mexico City on a luxury coach.

The lovely Hotel Buenos Aires, Mexico D.F. (Day 184)

The lovely Hotel Buenos Aires, Mexico D.F. (Day 184)

Well I’m a proud man today. I think I just did the craziest thing I’ve ever done. The bus arrived at the Mexico City bus station in the early afternoon. I asked for directions to downtown from several people and to my delight, all pointed in the same general direction (and at the same time learnt how much fun it is to get directions from someone when I have no idea at all what they’re saying). I checked my compass, loaded up my bike and hopped into traffic.

It was crazy. I think that I even hopped onto a fast moving freeway at one point. It was a lot of fun. I had a few near misses but totally kept my calm. It must have been all the carbon monoxide I was inhaling. I got plenty of surprised looks from pedestrians and a group of construction workers hailed me to stop and asked me to explain myself. The architecture is amazing and there’s plenty of great looking women everywhere. After several miles of cycling bliss, I found a tourist information booth in the large downtown Alameda park and was pointed to the lovely, cheap Hotel Buenos Aires.

The Hotel Buenos Aires seems to have stolen all its gear from other hotels. I have Holiday Inn towels and Hotel Canada coat hangers.

After a cold shower (I wrongly assumed that the red tap would be warm) I hit the streets on foot for a few hours. It was a warm, stormy evening and I was treated to a lovely lightening display over the city and a gentle on-and-off again rain.

Back at the hotel I started thinking over my options. On the bus trip, I’d decided to find the Cuban Airlines office tomorrow and get a flight to Havana with bike in tow. But now I’m considering changing the plan. I have exactly two months before I have to return to Australia for my brother’s wedding. While wandering around tonight I passed half a dozen shops devoted to selling travel bags. It gave me the idea of leaving Stef here somewhere safe, buying a backpack and heading to Cuba as a regular tourist. Backpack around a while, head over to Cancun or Cozumel for some diving, fly back to Mexico D.F., pick up my bike and then return to Oz. The other option is to ride all the way down to the Yucatan (Cancun) and catch a plane across to Cuba with Stef. Ha ha, absurd! That’s crazy talk. Must be the car fumes talking.

So last night I got to thinking about the second option more. It’s about sixteen hundred kilometres and should take over two weeks. I couldn’t find the Cuban Airlines office on my tourist map of Mexico City, so… it is decided.

I got up early and caught the Metro to Coyoacan, the oldest part of Mexico D.F. and the location of a number of free museos. I came across a large nursery where the city grows all its trees. It was popular with joggers, it was easy to see why; it offered some respite from the noise, pollution and hustle and bustle.

As I headed to the Museo Frida Kahlo an old guy sweeping his front pavement called out to greet me, so I stopped to talk to him, or rather just to spend a few minutes misunderstanding each other in a fun sort of way. The joys of international sign language. Before I knew it, he had crossed the road to his car and wanted to take me to the all of the museums. First he drove to Frida’s and pointed it out to me, then around the block to the Leon Trotsky museum. Before leaving me he invited me, or according to my translation, back to his place. I recognised the words beer and pot smoking in his Spanish somewhere. Though he may have meant that smoking pot had give him a greater understanding of Trotsky’s work.

Frida’s house was lovely. Her studio overlooked an amazing courtyard which featured half a pyramid with a bunch of cats lazing about on it. She was lucky enough, according to the Chinese saying, to be born and to die in the same house.

I stopped for a coffee in an old train carriage on a street with cobbled stones. The lady running the cafe, looked like the older version of a girlfriend I had once, she was gloriously beautiful, had an amazingly sweet smile and her belly button was showing. A friend had given me a Spanish pocket book as a Christmas gift and I thumbed through it. I wanted to say to her ”Tienes un cuerpo precioso” and “Eres muy guapa” and even “Quiero hacerte el amor” but instead I just sat shyly behind my cafe con leche e con azucar and got the occasional reciprocated eye contact from her. I felt like a happy kid.

I headed back homewards to the Zocalo, a large paved plaza next to the Cathedral. At the centre of the Zocalo is a huge Mexican flag. A single kick-arse flag like that sure beats the hell out of all the tiny, cheap, made-in-China flags and bumper stickers that you see in the States. I waited to get a photo of it, but I think gale force winds would be needed to completely unfurl it.

Big-arse Mexican flag in the Zocalo, Mexico D.F. (Day 184)

Big-arse Mexican flag in the Zocalo, Mexico D.F. (Day 184)

Zocalo, Mexico D.F. (Day 184)

Zocalo, Mexico D.F. (Day 184)

It’s Wednesday and all the most beautiful women seem to be out walking with their mothers tonight.

Does this mean they’re single or is it mother/daughter shopping night in Mexico?

View from La Torre Latinoamericano (44th Floor) looking North (Day 185)

View from La Torre Latinoamericano (44th Floor) looking North (Day 185)

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One Comment

  • Hey Leon,

    Wow what a great trip! Super jealous.

    Quick question for you though, do you have any more information on the Buenos Aires Hotel? I have tried to google it and maybe they have changed the name because I can’t find anything. Is it at the corner of cinco de mayo and motolinia as it shows on your map?

    Looking at your amazing photos it could be a great property for one of our Caravanserai locations. Any additional info you have would be super helpful (ie precise location, old website you used to book, etc.) Thanks!

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