Mexico [Sinking] City

I realized during what was my fourth trip to Mexico since moving to Texas that I had not written even a word regarding my visits and adventures. That is a shame, really, as there is really quite a bit that I should have shared about my travels to Monterrey, Playa del Carmen, and Akumal. This post, however, is about my most recent trip to Mexico City, DF.

Ciudad De Mexico [Distrito Federal]

After being forced to take vacation for the entire week of Thanksgiving, I made a somewhat quick and spontaneous decision to travel to Mexico City to see what it was about. The enticing airfare from Austin to DF made the decision even easier, as AeroMexico was offering a promotional rate for their new direct flight. It actually cost less for me to fly internationally to Mexico for the week that to fly back home to Ohio. And, to seal the deal, my friend, Gaby, who I had met in Barcelona last year, is a native-born Chilango from Mexico City, and had invited me to visit.

The People

Next step was to get some friends involved. Of course I would be visiting Gaby, but it took a bit of convincing to get my Mexico travel buddy, Alex, to come along. Eventually, he, as well as his friend, Chris, agreed to come. All of us had studied in Spain and at least have some basic levels of Spanish, with (according to them) mine being the best.

Day 1 [The Arrival]

My eyes open. I am on a plane. I look out of the window for a sense of orientation, and there lies the vast expanse of seemingly infinite housing that is Mexico City. My jaw dropped- partially out of awe, and partially to equalize the pressure in my ears. We certainly didn’t have to descend as much as I am accustomed to, as Mexico City’s altitude is nearly 7350ft. After landing a bit late, the passengers were forced to sit on the plane for what felt like twenty five minutes as we waited for a bus to pick us up. Really, it felt quite unorganized and unprofessional. There is no reason they shouldn’t have expected us and had a bus there ready to go. I’m going to give them slack, though, solely because the airport was under heavy construction and the clearly new terminal was vacant of any docked airplanes. Certainly they were running low on resources until the new terminal was ready.

After going through immigration and grabbing my backpack, I waited in line to pass through customs. Over the crowd I saw a smiling face accompanied by a waving hand. Gaby. It was so good to see her smile again, and after customs was sure that I was not trafficking any illegal materials, I ran out and gave her a hug. The smell of the airport reminded me of Venezuela, the site of Gaby reminded me of Spain, and yet I was in a new place all together.

Gaby was kind enough to offer to pick me up at the airport and take her to her family’s home in northern Mexico City. I had been in cars in Mexico before. Nothing, though, had prepared me for the chaos that is driving in Mexico City. Luckily, I was not the one doing it, or I certainly would have crashed Gaby’s brand-new Renault Clio within minutes of starting it. I was amazed at how simply unorganized the driving was, yet how, beneath the surface, it all worked out and people got to their destinations anyways. It is simply a different mindset than what I am accustomed to, and even what I had seen in Venezuela, Europe, and the rest of Mexico.

We arrived at her home, where I was greeted by her mother and shown to their guest room which was in a separate building in the back of their house.

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It reminded me of the house that Emily had lived in in Venezuela, which had a completely separate house containing the guest bedroom, bathroom, etc. I left my bags and talked for a bit with my hosts, after which we left to grab dinner at a vegetarian-friendly restaurant back towards downtown, called Buena Tierra [good land]. It just so happens that this was exactly the same restaurant chain that Natalie, my cousin, had taken me to when I first arrived to Playa del Carmen. Apparently this is the best place to take vegetarians on their first day in Mexico.

We then went out to a bar/club called SkyBar, which was quite fun. They played some of the good old dance songs that she and I had danced to in Barcelona, and it brought back some fun memories. My Spanish, by this point, was nearly back up to full speed as if I had never stopped speaking it for over a year.

A ride home, a jump in the cold shower water to get the smoke smell off, and a bit of arranging of my luggage, I was asleep.

Day 2 [Exploration and Reunion]

Morning Chaos

I woke up to voices outside of my guest house, and noises on the roof of the house across from the window. What was going on? I looked out of the window and saw somebody on the roof of the house handing down a footstool from the roof to the ground, and then climbing down. The woman then gets back up on the roof a minute later, taking the stool with her, and disappears. All I can hope was that it was not a thief, and go back to sleep for another hour or so.

Groggily I got out of bed and came into the house with the key I was given the night before. Gaby’s mother had kindly prepared breakfast, and Gaby, her mother and sister were seated around the table. I asked about what had happened on the roof, and they all bursted into laughter, surprised that I had heard/seen them.

Apparently, at night, they turn off the water heater (which explained the cold shower), as it is noisy throughout the house for some reason (it sounds like a jet engine) and wastes energy when not in use. As everybody had to shower in the morning, they had to turn on the water heater, which happened to be outside in the guest house. The only problem is that the door in the main house can only be opened with a key, which happened to be in my locked guest quarters. Not wanting to wake me, they took the alternate route over the roof to turn it on so that we would all have hot water in the morning. Of course, I had completely foiled their kind plans by waking up and taking a shower the night before. They seemed awfully embarrassed, but we all laughed about the situation. The next night I stayed at their house, we were certain to not let this happen again.

Centro Historico

Gaby took me to do some of my first Mexico City tourism in the center of Mexico City. Traffic was absolutely terrible, and the streets were packed with cars and people. We realized that there was some kind of socialist manifistation going on in the city center, which had caused all of the main traffic arteries to be completely clogged. To top it off, the city closes down the main avenue so that bicyclists can enjoy riding on it on Sundays. It turns out, though, that bicyclists in Mexico City really don’t get to ride any other time of the week due to the very unsafe nature of the chaotic, car-packed streets and complete lack of bicycle lanes.Finally, after finding a parking spot we were able to explore the city center. I could go into detail about the Zócalo, the Plaza Templo Mayor, the Cathedral, and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, but I will spare the space here as I am neither a travel guide, historian, or encyclopedia.

What I do want to mention, though, is something I found most curious and surprising. Many parts of Mexico City are sinking at a somewhat rapid rate. According to legend, when the ancient Aztecs roaming through the current Mexico City valley found a bird perched on a cactus holding a snake in its beak, located in a swampy island in the middle of a large lake, they decided that it was a sign that they were meant to settle there. In the swamp. Apparently, since Monty Python’s Holy Grail had not been out at that time, they did not know it was daft to build a temple in the middle of a swamp. In fact, it was not daft at the time, as they had created and raised land around the island for farming purposes, and had control over the lake water levels to provide flooding. The pre-hispanic city, according to models, looked something like Venice with canals and little plots of land with houses. Quite beautiful and majestic, I imagine.

City Model

Enter the Spanish. As the Spanish thought at the time, what better thing to do than destroy a majestic city of canals in the middle of a lake, collapse a pyramid and several other significant historical structures, and plop down a nice big Catholic Cathedral to start converting the Aztecs to Christianity? It made sense, right? Those pesky canals would have to go, though. So they just filled up the canals. And brought in more land, and more material, and eventually kept filling up the lake until there was not a lake. And then it flooded. For five years straight. And yet, they decided it was a grand idea to stay there.

Years later, we see the consequences. The Mexico City valley has been nearly entirely drained of its lake to prevent flooding, and as a result has caused a micro climate change in the valley. One would never know there was a lake there, if it were not for all of the crooked buildings in the historic city center, built on top of swampy land which continues to settle. The cathedral’s spires are not parallel. Its floor is uneven and slopes downward drastically towards the center of the building. It is amazing the roof has not shattered.

Apartment buildings around the plaza are leaning at odd angles, and balconies seem crooked. This is not poor construction. This is payback. Unfortunately, the current inhabitants of Mexico City are going to have to suffer through choices that the Spanish and Mexican governments have decided to take over the last several hundred years.

Despite the sinking, the smog, and the persistent beggars and workers of the streets, it is amazing to see the rich culture and history of Mexico City. The architecture is amazingly European – a blend of Spanish and French – with of course a twist of its own. You would never, though, get to see Aztec ruins in Paris or Madrid. You can, however, see a leaning tower in Italy.

The Reunion

After killing some time eating and going to a cafe called El Pendulo,

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we finally headed over to the hostel which Alex, Chris and I would be staying at, where we found them. Waiting. For over an hour. Apparently their flight and arrival to the city was much more efficient than my own the day prior. We all headed out for dinner together and ended up at a rather simple place with pretty good food. Gaby then left us on our own to go in search of a Sunday nightlife. Of course, it was non existent despite our hopes of locals taking advantage of their holiday on Monday. It was not bad though, as we were all quite exhausted and decided it would be best to just turn in.

Day 3 [The Pyramids of Teotihuacán]

The morning

Though our hostel seemed nearly empty the night before, it was quite evident with the echoing of slamming bathroom and bedroom doors that we did not have the place to ourselves. Sleep was a luxury at this place that was, what we thought, a place of sleep. Sure, it was cheap, but I’ve stayed at much quieter and comfortable hostels.

Alex and I needed to shower. The bathroom I was going to shower in was confusingly opposite of what you would expect. In what appeared to be a shower basin was a toilet behind a shower curtain. To the right of that, in the open air next to the sink was a showerhead. I guess you shower in the main room and keep the toilet dry with the curtain. How do you keep the floor dry, then, you may ask? Ah, well that is what the giant squeegee is for. The only problem was that there was no water coming out of the shower head to make the floor wet. My following conversation with the owner of the hostel went something like this:

“Hello, um, there is no water or hot water. Is there something we have to do to turn it on?”

“Is there no water or no hot water?”

“Well, there is no water at all”

He reluctantly humphs and gets up, goes into the other room, flicks some switch and tells me there will be water in 10 seconds.

“and will there be hot water too?”

He stares at me for a good five seconds, and replies “Do you have hot water in the States?”

“yes…”

“well?” he looks angered by my question.

This was the beginning of a very bad chemistry between the owner and I for the next two days.

As Gaby had the day off on Monday, she offered to take us on a trip to see the Aztec Pyramids of Teotihuacán. We agreed to meet at 11, but as we figured that Gaby, being Mexican, would be expectedly at least 15 minutes late, we went out to breakfast. Bad idea, because she assumed that us, being Americans, would be customarily early (and thus arrived 15 minutes early). This led to some confusion and a nice charge to my cell phone bill, of which many more would pursue.

Teotihuacán was simply amazing. Again, I’m not going to get into historic relevance, but instead will simply post a photo.

Teotihuacán

Climbing the stairs was at time incredibly frightening, as at times they were only 4″ deep. When you have feet as long as mine, that isn’t much to get a balance on. At the top, many people could be found reaching towards the sky, trying to get the “energy” or something that the pyramids had to offer. I just took pictures.

Energy

We then went back to DF to find some food. We ended up in a cantina which Gaby said was fairly typical and popular. The molding in the restaurant was littered with little sayings. Our favorite being “Amor de lejos, felices los cuatro”. My best translation would be “A long-distance love pleases four”. After dining, Gaby left us on our own accord, as she was tired, as were we.

Day 4 [National Geographic Moment]

My first day without Gaby, Alex and Chris wanted to head out to see some of the more touristic sites of the city, like the museums. We walked to the Tamayo modern art museum, and walked around a bit. Sadly, none of us were impressed with the majority of his art. It tends to be rather dark and undefined, almost sloppy. Oh well. It led to us having an even greater appreciation for the artwork at the Modern Art Museum and the Diego Rivera exhibit in the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

ChrisOriginally, we had planned to see the castle which we thought was at the other end of the park from the Modern Art museum. But when we got in a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the castle, he responded “The castle? You were just there!” Doh. We misread the maps. So, we asked him to take us back to the historical city center so that Alex and Chris could see some of the sites there, including Bellas Artes.

There were some amazing murals by Diego Rivera at the Palacio. We could stare at them for ten minutes, and keep finding new elements to analyze.

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He has some pretty interesting elements of communism vs capitalism, as well as some similarities to Picasso, though not as many as Tamayo’s works.

As we were leaving the Palacio de Bellas Artes, I looked outside and saw, what I thought, to be a very bare naked woman wandering around asking for donations. This is new, I thought. Then, we looked out to our left and saw a myriad of people in the nude, in the street and plaza, stepping to a drumbeat and holding signs to speak out against… something. I guess they didn’t like their political leader in one of the less-populous states. According to Gaby’s sister, this protesting in the nude has become all of the rage to get attention, and is completely legal due to freedom of expression. Neat.

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We couldn’t help but notice that they had no tanlines, and were all exactly the same tone. Either they don’t get darker from the sun, or they spend a lot of time naked in the sun protesting.

Being Chris & Alex’s last night in Mexico city, we went out to find some food and drinks. Most bars were closed, as it was a Tuesday. We did find a cantina where we think we were sold crappy tequila at expensive prices. The next bar served an amazing tamarindo tequila margarita-like drink. The bartender was nice enough to share the recipe so we could make it back home. It was a nice relaxing night before we had to say goodbye in the morning.

Day 5 [Departures, Taxco]

I woke up early in the morning to hear Chris getting ready for his flight. He said a quick goodbye to let me go back to sleep, and then snuck out of the room. Alex and I woke up later and got ready, as he had a flight to catch of his own, and I had to decide which little town I wanted to escape to for the next two days.

Speaking with the owner of the hostel again, we finally figured out why the guy gave me such an attitude. Apparently, he was bothered by the fact that I always seemed concerned that they didn’t “provide services that they say they do”. This was brought out because I asked, to confirm, that they had called a taxi for Alex to take him to the airport. He looked at me almost angered by my insinuating that he may not have, and just told me that I seemed too concerned. I explained that I was just making sure things would be ok, not that I didn’t think they were doing their jobs, and from that point things were fine. This was the most complex dealings I’ve ever had with a hostel owner. Except, maybe, that crazy old guy in Japan who thought we were new guests every time we walked in the place. We had to explain, repeatedly, that we already had a room.

After bidding farewell to Alex, I headed down to the bus station on the metro with my backpack. Destination: Taxco. No, it is not a company like HR Block which profits in doing your income taxes. It is a small town in the mountains, about two and a half hours south of Mexico City. It is well known for its silver mines, and thus, silver craftsmanship, jewelry vendors, and tranquility.

The bus ride was amazing. Heading up to Teotihuacán was kind of mountainous, but the mountains were covered in slums. This ride was just beautiful and natural. The only unnatural thing was that they played, as part of the luxury service of the bus, I suppose, a video about Taxco that was so horribly composed and edited that I had to put my earplugs in. I guess somebody thought that an echo-effect on the female narrator’s voice would be well taken by the audience. Imagine hearing a woman talk about a small colonial town in a voice that should be saying “Space, the final frontier, where no man has gone before ore or r”.

I woke up a bit later, and saw this cute town in the mountains. All of the buildings were white with orange clay tiled roofs. I hoped it was Taxco, and I was granted my wish. This would be a nice escape from the polluted hustle bustle of Mexico City.

After failing to book my return ticket due to a very broken computer reservation system, I started hiking up the hill to find a hotel. Not having much luck, I had to pull out my guidebook and walk with it, in hand, large backpack over my shoulders, and camera around my neck. I couldn’t have possibly looked more touristy. But, I made it up the huge hill, and after asking several people where the hotel was, finally found it. It was worth the hike for the view alone.

Hotel View

I dropped my bag off, grabbed some food at a vegetarian cafe right down the street. After talking with the owner of the cafe for about 5 minutes in Spanish, we finally realized that the other was American and that we could speak in English. I assumed that he was Mexican (his Spanish was good), and he assumed that I was Swedish or something (the blonde hair and Castillian accent from Spain). Funny. I came back to that cafe 2 more times because it was so good and had an amazing view from a little balcony that looked up the hill at the town.

Taxco is a rather strange place. All buildings are made of the same white stucco, and have the same style roof. It reminded me a lot of Granada, Spain. The streets are quite narrow, and being in the mountainside often have hair-pin turns that taxis and cars have to do three-point turns to get around. Oh, yes, and I doubt that anybody in Taxco asks “what kind of car do you drive?”, because the response is probably, 95% of the time “A VW Bug”. I’ve never seen such a high concentration of bugs in my life. They actually do look like beetles, crawling up hills and swarming around, avoiding obstacles in a giant maze. It is surreal. That is, until you want to go to sleep at night and that terrible engine can be heard in multiple instances all over the town.

Bugs

As the night came, I sat next to a church talking to several children around 10 years of age. They were really inquisitive, and asked a lot of fun questions like “what is it like to fly? Do you get motionsick from it?” I hoped to convince them a bit to work hard at their education. One of them invited me to his house, but I declined saying that their parents probably wouldn’t be too happy with him if he brought at 24 year old American stranger home with him. The view of the city from that church was quite magnificent.

Taxco at Night

I walked back down to the main plaza, where I found many people sitting around and talking. Just sitting and talking on park benches. It seemed like half of the town had gathered there just to be there and enjoy the night. Traffic was crazy with Bugs driving around everywhere in traffic jams. All to get nowhere, I suppose. There was no special event, but I’d have sworn it was Friday night and people were heading out to the clubs. I hoped to go to a bar, myself, but the one which was so recommended in my guidebook, Bar Berta had a closing time of 8pm. Not exactly bar hours. I decided to head to bed early so I could catch the sun rise in the morning and get some good photos.

Day 6 [Taxco, Fiasco]

I woke up at 6:30am to start heading up the city mountainside before the sun rose. The streets were much quieter from the night before. I would occasionally pass a parent and child walking to school, or somebody opening up a stand or small convenient shop. The view was well worth waiting for the sun. Plus, I got a chance to explore the city.

Whenever I travel to a city or town that has a high place, I naturally seem to try to get to the highest altitude that I can. I guess I have a thing for views. It also brings a sense of accomplishment. Overlooking Taxco is a very large statue of Jesus. About midway up the mountain, I decided that was my target destination.

Wandering through some small streets, clicking photos along the way

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and asking locals for directions, I came to the foot of an elementary school, where there were several children looking over a wall at me about 40 feet up from where I was standing. They yelled down at me to come up the stone pathway to the school, that it was the way to the statue (they knew I was heading there, somehow). One kid ran down to guide me, introduce me to his friends, and point me in the right direction. They were all so curious about me, it was cute. I guess not many tourists head up that far.

At the Jesus statue, I kind of laughed because it reminded me a bit of the “Buddy Christ” from a film. Not really, but he just seemed to be way too happy to be the Catholic Jesus that has been painted seemingly infinite times in Renaissance art. Naturally, at the foot of the statue were 3 kids skipping school and hanging out..

Buddy Christ overlooking Taxco

I got back to the hotel just in time for the continental breakfast, where I met a nice Austrian couple and an Australian woman. We chatted a bit about our journeys, and then the Australian girl, Kelly, and I decided we would wander around the main parts of Taxco in search of some jewelry and food. She apparently had come to Taxco almost solely to increase her Jewelry collection, as silver is so ridiculously cheap there and she loved the Aztec-style designs. We had a good time wandering the city, and even went to Bar Berta to grab the local mixed drink (a Berta). There was an obnoxious loudspeaker in the main plaza blasting music and some dj’s voice, though, which was kind of ruining the tranquil atmosphere of the town.

Time had passed quickly, and I realized that I had to rush to catch my bus. I ran to the hotel, grabbed my bag and hailed a bug to take me down the hill to the bus station. Farewell, Taxco.

I should have taken the bus that left an hour earlier. I was supposed to meet up with Gaby’s sister, Andrea, when she got out of work. However, the bus ran late due to heavy rush hour traffic, and I made her wait 30 minutes after work for me. Then, I walked too far and passed her building, and she had to come find me. AT&T is going to love me for all of my international roaming fees that were made in this little fiasco. Luckily, we found each other, and I got to experience one of the longest and stressful commutes I think anybody must have to go home. We spent over an hour in traffic. I doubt their home is more than 10 miles from where Andrea works.

This was now Thanksgiving Day. Gaby’s mother let me use their calling card to call home and talk to my family. It felt cheap, making just a brief phone call on a holiday instead of being with them. But, I will see them all again in less than a month, so all is good.

Andrea, her mother and I sat around and talked while we waited for Gaby to come home so we could come to dinner. It was beginning to get pretty late (around 10:30pm), and her mother was beginning to worry. Finally, they called her, and found that she had been stuck in traffic, and then as she was coming home from her job she got pulled over by the police, or rather Guardia Civil (I think), for speeding. I felt pretty bad for having caused her so much stress and hurry, but she was pretty calm about the whole ordeal.

Everything was fixed by a fun dinner in a crazy cantina/bar/club at a mall close to her home. Apparently, malls are not just for shopping in Mexico City, but also for good restaurants and dance clubs. Quite a different mindset. We had some food, got some drinks, and then danced until we were tired. I could see making this a new Thanksgiving tradition, perhaps.

Day 7 [The Remainder]

When I said that Andrea had a long, stressful commute home in the evenings, I wasn’t lying. However, it didn’t come close to her commute to work in the morning, which I shared with her. All of the main avenues were nearly jam-packed with stopped traffic. She doesn’t even attempt to take them, or her commute would be over two hours. Instead, she takes many back roads and evasive paths to get to work. I’d guess that she probably made about 50 turns to get to work. I have no idea how she can figure her way around there, or have a productive day at work after such a stressful driving experience.

From Andrea’s workplace on Reformas, I headed off to the Castle, which we had missed before. This, again, was quite a hike, though I didn’t mind it so much. The castle was swamped with tourists, and in reality felt much more like a country manor than a castle. The decorations inside did, however, remind me slightly of Versailles. The surrounding landscape of smoggy Mexico City, however, was not at all like Versailles. It was quite a view, though. At one point you could see straight down Paseo de las Reformas, which is, I supposed, akin to Champs-Élysées in Paris. Parisians would certainly spit at me for saying that, though.

Reformas

After the Castle, I went to see what was left of some of the original lakes in the area, and then headed to have lunch with Andrea at a vegetarian restaurant which her co-workers had recommended her. It was pretty good. I realized two interesting things. One, that it was exactly the 4th year anniversary of me being vegetarian. Second, that I had unfortunately tried very little Mexican cuisine in Mexico due to my dietary restrictions. It was a bummer, really, but a trade-off that I often have to make when traveling. Even if I wasn’t sampling traditional dishes, the food I was eating was good, and that’s fine with me.

After lunch, I headed to a neighborhood of Mexico City called Coyoacán. This was the area of Mexico City that Alex had so hoped to find. The indie-hipster scene, with a plaza full of musicians and punks playing hackey-sack, and a few artisans selling crafts around the square and on the side streets. The houses here were brightly colored and eccentric, img_0606.jpg

and the people seemingly a bit more attractive. The air clearer. And wonderful smells of churros, chocolate, ice creams, and other treats filled the streets from the sidewalk vendors. No wonder this place was home to Frida Kahlo, most likely before it became engulfed by Mexico City’s suburbs. I sat listening to a bossa-nova style band play for about 45 minutes, before returning to meet up with Gaby in Polanco.

Again, we had a bit of a fiasco trying to meet up. My wonderful AT&T cell phone decided it wasn’t going to receive calls, which of course I had no idea until I tried to call Gaby and see where she was. I had to reboot my phone, and saw she had left messages. Luckily, she was not far from where I had decided to wait for her, and we met up easily. We walked around Polanco a bit, grabbed some dinner, and then walked over to a bar in the W hotel for a drink. Now, that was the swankiest bar I have been in by far. It was full of disgusting beer-bellied and balding middle-aged businessmen accompanied by their gold-digging female escorts. Ick. The bar itself was amazingly nice, but having seen enough fake breasts and obnoxiously drunk rich CEO’s or whatever, we decided to head back for the car to go to another bar.

Crossing a street, a tow-truck quickly pulled up in front of us, stopped, and blocked our path. Behind us were two men in a parked car. All of a sudden, the car door swung open, nearly hitting Gaby. The tow truck door opened at nearly the same time, and two large men got out of both vehicles, both walking towards Gaby. We both freaked, thinking that they were going to abduct or mug us. She ran out from between the cars, and I quickly followed, as we realized that they were in fact just going to tow the car, and were not at all interested in us. Regardless, our hearts were pounding in our throats, and our adrenaline was pumping. The only way to work it out would be to dance our final night away at an amazing mansion-converted-dance club.

Day 8 [Farewell]

My final day in Mexico City was brief. Slightly hungover and congested from the smoke of the bars, I packed my things and ate a small breakfast which Gaby’s mother had prepared for me. We said farewell and headed to the airport, set to arrive the just short of the recommended 3 hour pre-departure time. I have no idea why they recommend that much spare time, but they do. We used some of it to eat a real breakfast together and talk. It was a nice way to end the trip.

Coming back to the US is almost always a difficult thing to do. Not just because it means vacation is over, but because it means I’m going to have to deal with average Americans again. Not all of us are bad, but there are some strikingly rash differences in the masses that takes a bit to re-adjust to.

On the plane, I sat across the aisle from a Texan woman who seemingly had no idea where she was coming from. I suspect she had a connecting flight from some beach resort where she never left the hotel. The conversation between her and her husband was at times comically absurd and inane. Often she would let out some very strange grunts, hacks, or who knows what impolite and rude noises. Immediately before landing, she decided it would be a good time to take out her leftover food from some restaurant and start eating. The stewardess came by and asked if she needed the garbage to throw away the styrofoam container (insinuating that that moment was not a good time to be eating), and the woman just replied “oh no I’m fine”. Clueless.

Austin greeted me with a rainy, cloudy, and cold landscape. The weather had broken. But nevertheless, it was good to be home.

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