Inca land Peru - our first layover in Mexico City

Published: August 11th 2018
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What an excitement!

To be honest, I have not met anyone so far who does not have aspiration of viewing Machu Pichu at least once in life time. I recall when I used to live in Toronto in my green days, I always wanted to see Machu Pichu. Couldn’t fulfill my dream for one reason or another, but ‘a true love doesn’t die’. So when YYC travel deal announced a US$350 return to Lima from Calgary inclusive of taxes, I almost fell from my chair in the office. Wow! No, this time I had to convince Suman to come along with me…I was determined. These kind of tickets don’t survive long…there are plenty of vultures like me who just wait for such a deal. Knowing that Suman will push back as much as she could I was desperate to convince her fast so that tickets are not vanished. But it was not easy. As usual, she was not willing to travel and I also never stopped nagging her keeping an eye on the flight availability. In a few days, there were only handful of tickets left and I send here a May-Day with an ultimatum that I am buying two tickets regardless whether she travels or not. Suman finally gave up, “Nine days including the travel dates,” she ordered…”Yes, indeed Your Highness” and nine days it was. Yeeeye…the dream comes true…time for Machu Pichu, baby!

Sure Machu Pichu is the jewel of the crown in our itinerary, but we packed some more. It is actually a seven day trip if we exclude the travel time. When I travel alone, I pack activities back to back like there is no tomorrow. With Suman I have to be considerate. Besides, I was a bit worried about the altitude sickness in Cusco. And many suggested that we spend few days in Cusco just to acclimatize with the altitude before heading to Machu Pichu. And a ‘few days’ we didn’t have. So, we budgeted two days in Cusco. And it’s not that we would sit down for two days in hotel in Cusco…there are plenty to do in and around Cusco. One more bucket-list was a trip to see the famous Nazca Lines. Sure, we couldn’t squeeze Lake Titicaca in that case; “fine, let’s do Nazca this time then.” I told Suman.

This must have been a promotional fare as Aero Mexico was starting its service from Calagry. The route is Calgary – Mexico City- Lima. I never traveled Aero Mexico and at such a low cost I was not sure what to expect. But we were taken aback. Wow! What a service! I have traveled fair bit, but I hardly saw that an agent from the check-in counter comes down to greet you and take the documents for check-in. Perhaps this was a gesture as part of the promotion, but nevertheless, we were sold! The flying time to Mexico City was around 5-6 hours and it was a red-eye flight. Like many, we are poor in sleeping during an overnight flight…we just dozed off. We woke up from the shake-up during the landing in Mexico City around 6:30 am and the journey began.

It was a pandemonium at the international arrival in Mexico City Airport. Multiple lines merging with the wave of people in a common area where definition of line disappeared long time ago and people were jostling to fit in a stream of moving mass to God knows where, apparently to the immigration counter somewhere beyond the sea of people…welcome to Mexico! Well, looking at the snail pace of the moving mass to the immigration counter, we figured it would be at least 2 hours before we could actually complete the immigration & customs, collect our luggage and book for the next flight to Lima. Our flight to Lima was in the evening, so no problem there. But my worry was “Would Alejandro wait until then?” Alejando Toledo was supposed to pick us up from the airport and take us for a city tour after we get a bit refreshed in the hotel. That was the arrangement we made with the Mariott. Well, so be it if he wouldn’t wait for us. I don’t blame him. Who was going to wait that long? My estimate was not too off-track. It took us just under two hours to complete all formalities and there we came to the arrival level, finally! I was thinking whether I should make a precious roaming call to the hotel from my cell phone with limited credit or should take a taxi. We were skeptical of the second option as we were warned by the hotel not to hop in an unknown cab, rather give them a call for pick up. Surprise surprise….a gentleman was waiting with our name card! Hey, I was touched. Perhaps, they are used to such a long delays in the airport, but nevertheless, it was beyond my expectation. “Buenos Dias,” well, I know my Spanish vocabulary is limited, but I couldn’t resist trying a bit!

Alejandro speaks perfect English. So that was really handy for us. Marriott was almost nestled with the terminal and took us only 5 minutes to reach. We had to rent the hotel for one night for using it, although we were leaving in the same afternoon. That’s fine with us, we needed a good shower and a hearty breakfast. We liked the hotel with plenty of light pouring down inside through the glass roof of the hotel.

Mexico City:

We just had a few hours in hand to get a whirlwind tour of the City before flying to Lima. I knew, we wouldn’t even scratch the surface of this huge city in a few hours. But we had to do with the time we had. As a matter of fact, Mexico City was a bonus for us due to the stop over.

“Well, you know the tight timing…where can you take us, Alejandro?” I asked

Alejandro is a practical guy with a pleasant personality “Well, Tab, I know we have roughly 4 to 6 hours. Let’s drive through the town a bit, and then we go to Basilica.” We were listening with interest. Hey whatever, we could do in such a short time, will be the treasure for us. “Go on…” I was curious.

“Well, we get out of the City and drive a bit to see the Pyramid.”

“Pyramid?” I was taken aback…”which one? Can we make it in such a short time? How far?” a barrage of questions came from us.

“Teotihuacan.” Alejandro seems confident and has chalked out the plan well. We were overjoyed. “Well, let’s rock and roll,” I was bubbling with excitement. The car rolled out from the hotel and we were absorbing everything around us. Well, not that all neighborhood gave me the warm and fuzzy feeling and I wouldn’t take an unknown taxi there or stroll alone, but it is the same story in any big city. We had the same feeling even in LA and Chicago, so why blame Mexcio City? Soon we arrived at the famous Basilica. Hey, neither of us are religious, and our main interest was to see the place just like a tourist. From the parking lot to the Basilica, there are shops everywhere…selling everything needed for the mass inside the Basilica. Many locals were carrying their new born to the Basilica for the blessing. “It is a big thing here,” Alejandro declared. We entered the place right in time when the Church service was about to start. We looked around, and wow! We were awed with the architecture of the Basilica, paintings on the wall and the grandeur of the building. Just loved it. We attended the service, joined the parade with the clerics and the mass, and ended the tour after an hour or so.


We drove outside the city limit. Brick houses by the roadsides, shanty towns, much colourful houses on top of the hills were passing by the slideshow; they all reminded me, this is heartland Mexico. Wow…I liked the skytram as a mode of public transportation. This was the first time I saw such a novel use of technology for the public use. Viva Mexico! It was noon time when we arrived at the Pyramid. I never saw a Pyramid in life, and it was difficult for me to compare the size and the total area of the pyramid with other famous pyramids in the world. But definitely it was a marvel of architecture. We climbed up and down, went to different parts of the pyramid and we were thrilled to witness such a marvel, especially the first time in life. “You know something,” Alejandro was telling us on the way back to the airport, “there are other small ones, there is one, take a look at that,” he pointed out to a small pyramid at a distance. “Archeologists are still finding out the small ones. That’s why this area is reserved and no constructions are allowed.” I didn’t know the history of the place, but it was a take-away for me to dig in later. It was about forty minutes drive back to the airport. Given the congestion of the airport, we thought this would be a good idea to reach early in the airport. Our flight was at 5:00 pm and we arrived in the airport around 2:30 pm – just in time to check in for an international flight. We said Good Bye to Alejandro. It was a short acquaintance, but we loved Alejandro. Really, each time I go and visit the so-called developing nations, the people always amazes me. So, simple, so down to earth! In the name of civilization, I think we are trapping ourselves in a more and more complex bubble in North America where the term “common sense prevails” is now a distant memory.

The departure procedure was smooth, not like the experience we had on arrival. Once all formalities were done, we realized that we were hungry. Our flight was due to arrive at Lima after 9pm; well, we supposed not a bad idea to grab some lunch. We ventured into some Mexican dish and Nachos, it was great; Suman thought it was the best Nachos she ever had! We were still finishing the nachos when the boarding announced. Oops, let’s not miss it…the dreamland Peru! Yes we were tired for the lack of sleep in the plane last night. But the excitement of visiting Peru wiped away our tiredness. The flight took off in time. A sprawling Mexico City was fading away in a sunny afternoon as we climbed up. Slowly the city disappeared as the plane climbed above the cloud and the seat belt sign turned off. We leaned our seats backwards and relaxed. Next is Lima.

Additional photos below
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16th August 2018

Mexico City
We haven't made it to Mexico City yet but hope to sooner than later. Looks like you got a taste of culture in your short visit.
16th August 2018

Mexico City
We just had a touch and go, MJ.....I'm sure there are plenty to see. Plan to do sometimes, not sure when I can...there are so many in the bucket list. You must be getting ready for your Africa trip in October....will follow your footstep soon in November.
18th August 2018

Just a taste
When heading to a dream destination it is always great to get a taste of pivotal destinations on the way. Nice you could spend some time to leave the airport and get a hint of what Mexico City has to offer. Enjoy Peru, Tab. There are heaps of interesting places and things to do. I'll be interested to see what delights you have included in your itinerary.
19th August 2018

Just a taste!
You are so right Dave! It is always great to taste a different place and culture en-route. It is indeed a bonus for me. I recall once I stopped San Salvador on my way to Costa Rica. Simply loved it! Regarding Peru, I know I will be preaching to converted - our Dancing Dave. Regardless, please read will be interesting to have your insight. That's what it motivates me to write - people's comments and their views!
4th November 2018

Mexico City Whistlestop Tour
Wow! What a great idea to do some sightseeing during your long layover in Mexico City. I believe Alejandro chose the two most important sights there for you. I really like your comment on how complicated we are making life in our "western world bubble". I too learn lots from the comparative simplicity of life in developing countries. A good blog read indeed, thank you 😊
4th November 2018

Mexico City Whistlestop Tour
Yeah, I always try to squeeze a local sightseeing when I have a relatively long layover. And the timing for the Mexico City was perfect. I wished to cover a bit more but Alejandro was much wiser than me than me and thank God for that. Oh yes, thank you for appreciating about my sentiment about the western bubble. I feel it over and over again whenever I do travel. Leaving for Tanzania on 12th. Please stay tuned for the future blogs. Thanks for reading, Alex!

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