Mexico - Part II - Mexico City Sight Seeing

Mexico - Part II - Mexico City

Mick and I at the Navy Pier Beer Garden

***I am sitting here in Chicago, Sunday, August 1st at the Beer Garden here at Navy Pier enjoying the beautiful August weather here and listening to Mick play with his band, Lynne Jordan and the Shivers. I got back from tour on Monday but I am determined to finish my blog…not just for those of you who are asking “how did it end?” but for my recollection as well! So I will pick up where I left off which is the second half of Mexico…***

Lynne Jordan and the Shivers playing the Beer Garden

Early Thursday morning all the SWIC members gathered and headed back to the Monterrey airport. We were in some lines yet again but it went a little more smoothly than trying to get into the country. Odd enough we had several members held for security items…things that are allowed on US flights were not allowed on inter-Mexico flights. For instance we could bring opened liquids but not nail clippers. Chris was even stopped because he was carrying his triangle beaters…he had to actually give them to another member to stow in their checked bags…The flight itself was actually really quick. We were given these weird lemon flavored peanuts as a snack…it was sort of like eating Lysol covered nuts. When we arrived in Mexico City we were showed to our buses and gathered on. Mexico City is HUGE! I mean HUGE! We were flying over the city a good 10-15 minutes before we ever landed. To give you an idea. I believe Chicago has about 7 million people…Mexico City has 75 million…at least that is what I was told. If the poverty shocked me in Monterrey it was nothing like I saw in MC. There were buildings half fallen down with whole shanty towns erected on top. Under passes were like little villages. Right as we left the airport we were driving next to a hummer with about 10 soldiers on the back with their M-16’s at the ready. This is scary because Mick later found out on the Mexican visitors site that often the cartels will dress up like the Police and Military to stage their various take overs. We were about a 20-30 minute drive from the airport. Evidently the area of MC that we were staying is the nicest and most prestigious but again we were advised to be very well aware of our surroundings. We arrived at the hotel in the afternoon and after a quick shower and regrouping a bunch of us headed out with Elizandro as our guide to find some food and fun. The streets near the hotel at least reminded me of Boston, nothing was straight, lots of side streets paved with bricks…parks hidden among buildings…and eateries on every corner. We ended up settling on a Book Store CafĂ©…by this time in the trip I realized that I loved not Mexican food but American Mexican food…I had to ask for cheese for my fajitas and at that they brought me melted queso that congealed into a blob before I could get it onto my meal. We skipped desert though it looked amazing and hit up instead a local 7-11...I should also mention that the city was absolutely abuzz with talk about the world cup…I am not a soccer fan but you couldn’t help but know that Mexico was playing the opening game against South Africa and that these people are PASSIONATE about soccer (futbol) there were street vendors on every corner selling jerseys, soccer balls, etc. The hotel had this weird art work on the walls that showed people playing instruments (I can only assume for us) and people playing soccer (for the cup) I am curious if this is their normal art work or what but it all added to the heightened vibe there. It was interesting for us as well because a friend on the tour, Marc, is from South Africa and it was funny to hear him talk smack as he was the only one routing for South Africa where we were at. 

Off of the plane and this is the first thing we see.

This is an example of what you saw everywhere there...

Cafe we had dinner at

 Music mixed with Futbol

A few weeks before we got to Mexico, Neil our fearless Union rep and percussionist, had arranged for us to take a tour of the magnificent Tenochtitlan pyramids. It was to be an all day adventure on our only day off in Mexico City visiting an area of town, lunch, and then hiking the pyramids. Originally I was a little apprehensive about going given the security issues but in talking with Mick a week earlier he was all for me seeing them…so that night as we got home from dinner I was a scared to receive a cautionary email from a colleague who had some friends of friends murdered in Vera Cruz only a few days before we arrived in Mexico. I started to gather the items I would need for the hot long day in the sun but the next morning I was woke up by an early call from Mick…he too had seen the email and un be known to me had been up all night researching on both the US government and Mexican government sites regarding travel in Mexico and needless to say the information was frightening…both sites advised to not even go to Mexico much less travel out and about. After a long talk with Mick he asked me to not go. Those of you who know Mick know he doesn’t ask much of anything of me. I pretty much do what I want and am quite frankly pretty spoiled so when he showed that concern I had to oblige. I have to admit as well that at that point there was so much bad ju ju around it that I didn’t know if I did go if I would be able to relax and enjoy myself. I went downstairs and broke the news to my friends and some others on the trip. Fortunately there were enough people going that I didn’t lose and money on it. The tour I guess went off with out a hitch and in some ways I regret not going and letting fear get the best of me but I also know that the odds sometimes aren’t in my favor... I mean my sister was killed in a car accident under 20mph and my uncle died from cancer mere days after being diagnosed…the thing that bothered me the most about not going was the lack of respect for my decision from many of my colleagues. I suffered jokes and jabs...people saying I was chicken, that if you use common sense nothing could happen…well in my opinion it had nothing to do with common sense…it’s not the same thing as walking on the south or west sides of Chicago...we are talking about people dressed as military boarding buses under the pretense of road checks and then taking them all hostage…and the scary part is that the Mexican government has no control over it…the violence is escalating…it made me sad that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to go but it made me sadder to have to deal with people I like and respect who felt the need to rub it in and not respect that I had to make a decision for myself. Life’s about choices and I certainly made mine…did it really make you feel that much better to make fun of me for mine?

I’ll stop off my soap box now…Back in my room I was waiting to explore Mexico City with Tim when the World Cup started…I didn’t even have to turn on the TV…you could hear the scream 25+ floors up when something happened. The energy in the air was insane! The game ended in a tie, which I am sort of glad that it did because there were no happy or sad riots…after the game Tim and I headed out to do some shopping. Since we were in the nicest part of Mexico City we decided to check out their malls. There were two…the first one we walked to was nice…except for the men surrounding with M-16’s loaded and out in the open. We joked around about if seeing those made us feel safer or less safe…Tim (who never wants his picture taken) asked if I would snap a photo of him next to one of the men.. “hell no” I said “let’s get the hell outta here!” and we did…right after we bought some Chocolate truffles from the high end department store ;)

On our way to the other mall we got hungry and stopped in what looked like a nice little place…it was clean and the logo for the place was pretty cute so I thought okay…It was Chilaquilla…some sort of casserole mixed up Mexican dish…it… was… awesome! There’s like a layer of chips, bean, rice, meat, cheese, and sauce…delicious! And to top it off the guys working there spoke English…so win win for us! We did joke around about how long we had before one of us would have to use the bathroom but we were surprisingly okay. The next mall we went to was SUPER nice, like Louis Vitton, Ferragamo, Kenneth Cole…it was nice to walk thru such nice stores but we were in the mood to buy but couldn't afford most of what we were seeing so it was sort of a let down. We meandered back to the hotel and met up with the rest of the group just coming back from the Pyramids and headed to one of several restraunts in our hotel, an Italian place…I forgot the name but it was pretty delicious…we started with just Tim and I and slowly added people as the night went on. People kept wandering in and we’d wave ‘em over…I think the wait staff got a little flustered but…it was great to keep cramming people around the little table. After our pasta we all picked dessert and I got the best dessert I’ve had…it was like shortbread over a pistachio cream and ice cream…I ate is as slowly as possible and I regret not ordering it one last time before we headed out. was delicious...

all mixed up just the way I like it!

Star Wars in Concierto!!!

Saturday and Sunday were concert days…. We played the most shows of the tour in Mexico City, 4 total in an arena that holds I was told 10,000. Before the first concert on Saturday me and my usual suspects of ladies went in search of the “Saturday Market”… We had heard there was an amazing outdoor market right next to the hotel but when we asked the concierge he said the only market was a craft one that was a 20 minute cab ride away…well…we didn’t want to venture that far from the hotel so we came up with a new plan to find some breakfast. We found this cute little place a short walk from the hotel and had such a lovely time! We were presented with fresh fruit and bakery items and we all appreciated the cool purse stands that were at every table! After breakfast we did some shopping and ended up in a Nespresso espresso store where we were treated to an amazing espresso. Shay loved the machines and I think she is seriously thinking about treating herself to one post tour…it was pretty awesome espresso. On our way back to the hotel to get ready for the show we ran into … what do you know… an outdoor market right across the street from the hotel! I had about 15 minutes to shop and shop I did…I got a leather belt, a bracelet, and some earrings…we all wish we had seen this on our way out but at least we got a little time to shop there. I had to leave the group a little early because as a brass player I need to get a good warm up in…it’s a good thing I did…I was going to need my chops in good shape for the rest of the weekend…

Me and Shawna at breakfast...see the bread?

Purse stand...keeps your bag off of the ground!

Shay and Colleen


Mexico Part III ...coming…4 shows with 3 and ½ horns…

Shows to date: 22
Number of hotels stayed to date: 17
Best hotel to date: Omni Hotel, Ft. Worth TX (though the Intercontinetal Hotel in Monterrey had the best view!)
Miles traveled to date: 7,677


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