Milagros in the Big City – Part 1

When the band Greta van Fleet announced that they would be playing a concert in Mexico City in May, we immediately bought tickets. At that time, we were still on the hard in Puerto Peñasco. Didn’t matter where we had to travel to Mexico City from for the concert, there was no way in the world we would miss the event. The fact that we were able to combine the concert with a visit to Mexico City – all the better! So, we tied Milagros to a buoy in Puerto Escondido, left her all by herself and made our way to the big city. So much to see, so much to experience, so much to do. We couldn’t fit it all into one blog post, so this will be a two-parter!

If our refit plans had worked out as planned, we would have been in the area around Acapulco in May 2022. From there, we could have made the journey to Mexico City easily by rental car or bus. As is well known, for one reason or another everything turned out a little differently and we spent a few more months in Puerto Peñasco.

Back to Puerto Escondido

But at one point, our sailing journey could start anyway and we made it all the way to the south of the Sea of ​​Cortez to La Paz, where we spent a couple of nice weeks exploring, enjoying ourselves and also cursing. Then we headed back north and now we were in Puerto Escondido again. Does that place ring a bell somewhere? Exactly! We were stuck there for almost 3 weeks with a broken diesel injection pump and therefore a defective engine. What craziness our maiden voyage was! If you have missed out on that part of our journey, don’t forget to read it and then subscribe to our newsletter to never miss any stories again!

We leave Milagros alone

Because we didn’t make it far enough south in time to travel comfortably by bus to Mexico City, we decided without further ado to leave Milagros at a mooring buoy in Puerto Escondido. The mooring field is well protected against all wave and wind directions, employees of the marina make visits to the moored boats to check every day and it is also a beautiful place overall. Here we could confidently let Milagros bob around happily on her own.

Taxi service from lovely people

Chad from sailboat Velella (greetings also to his Swiss wife Katrin) picked us up at Milagros and brought us to the dock in their dinghy. And Ray, with whom we brought his Sea Note to La Paz, lives nearby in Loreto. When we met him for lunch with Cavu, he volunteered to pick us up early in the morning in Puerto Escondido and drive us to the bus stop in Loreto. From there it took almost 5 hours to the airport of La Paz, from where the plane would take us to Mexico City. One of the nicest things about our sailing trip is how many lovely people we get to know. Everyone is always so helpful. Thanks to the lovely help of Ray and Chad, everything went like clockwork and we were soon on the bus to La Paz.

Mexico City is flexing its muscles

We don’t know how many more times we’ll turn up in La Paz again, but apparently this city has a magical attraction. The bus ride was uneventful and fortunately, also the flight from La Paz to the capital went smoothly. Approaching Mexico City Airport, the full extent of the city revealed itself. Depending on the source and which parts of the city you want to include, between 9 and more than 20 million people live in Ciudad de México. The approach by plane was impressive to say the least. Shortly before our arrival two planes at the huge and completely congested Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México almost collided, which added to the experience! But we made it to the ground in one piece.

Approaching Mexico City by plane is just impressive.

Rua Hatu are following

And so, after a full day of travelling, we found ourselves at the Mexico City airport. Nick and Janine from SV Rua Hatu would complete our small tour group a little later, coming from Acapulco on a rental car, with their two cats Coco and Milka and dog Kiwi (we still have high hopes that they’ll let us adopt her one day). Unlike us, the Rua Hatus actually made it to Acapulco and carried out our original plan. The two had booked us a large Airbnb where we would all spend the few days in Mexico City together.

Evening traffic in the Uber taxi

At the airport, an Uber taxi was available and picked us up within minutes and so we were able to enjoy the dreaded rush hour traffic of Mexico City for the first time. And you know what? It’s not so bad. Although the 5-lane road from the airport to the heart of the city was packed with cars, with a little patience and stop-and-go we arrived at our home for the next few days within just under 30 minutes.

Standing outside our green and modern Airbnb

Our luxury Airbnb

The spacious apartment was centrally located and within walking distance of a few sights and the concert venue. The floor plan of the building was very narrow, so the living space stretched over 4 floors and was very modern and built with many concrete surfaces. Spread over 4 floors were the living room and kitchen, two bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and a beautiful little terrace on the roof of the building (including a cat flap for the furrier residents). Well chosen, dear Rua Hatus!

Of forests and Indian food

Pati and I had two days to enjoy a bit of togetherness (we didn’t have enough of that on the boat already, you know) and moved around the houses a bit. The “Bosque de Chapultepec” (Chapultepec Forest), a huge park, was nearby and had to be explored. Nicknamed “the lungs of Mexico City”, the park covers almost 700 hectares and welcomes up to 15 million visitors a year. The Bosque de Chapultepec is home to greenery as far as the eye can see, lakes, museums, a zoo and much more. It felt so good to finally have trees, grass and plants around us again after all those months in the desert. After we had already ordered Indian food via Uber Eats the night before, we ended the evening in an Indian restaurant again. That’s how we roll. Time to catch up on all the good stuff we can’t have on the boat!

Touristy days

The next day we decided to let ourselves be chauffeured to the sights and booked a ticket on one of the open roof tour buses. We cruised all across town, where the branches of the trees along the streets were sometimes a little too low for the roofless double deckers. So, we had to be careful not to lose one of our eyes. At the “Plaza de la Constitutión” we marveled at the world-famous cathedral and the surrounding buildings. The president of Mexico also has his office there somewhere. However, we didn’t stay too long. Too many people, too much noise, too many street vendors. Not our thing. So, we hopped back on a bus, marveled at the busy streets of the city and then stopped off in a beer garden in pleasantly mild temperatures. Good times!

Full house

And suddenly, our beautiful apartment got way busy! Nic, Janine and their gang had made it to Mexico City. Since the entrance to the apartment was also the garage, they could practically drive into the apartment. While a few of the arrivals immediately hid under a chest of drawers (not Janine, but Coco) or explored the apartment (not Nic, but Milka), we were greeted exuberantly and showered with love (Kiwi) or greeted quite normally (not Kiwi, but Nick and Janine).

Indian and Indian and Indian!

Apart from an uncomfortable and expensive run-in with Mexican police (they apparently ran over traffic lights, which wasn’t entirely true, of course they still had to “pay a fine”), they had a quite pleasant journey. And what did we have for dinner? You guessed it – Indian. We’re so freaking creative! When the sun hid and the moon poked out his funny face, we got to experience something truly special. Having a roof terrace was the perfect choice. A complete lunar eclipse was imminent. The terrace was perfectly aligned and we were able to enjoy the whole spectacle on a cloudless sky. The Aztecs must have gone completely crazy back then when suddenly a black disc appeared in front of their face in the sky. Thank you, Coyolxauhqui. Google knows in this case. 😉

Is Mexico City dangerous?

The next day it was time for the concert! Finally! Greta van Fleet live! And that in Mexico City! Whoooo! But since the concert was only in the evening, we had one more day to fill with Mexico City activities. In the run-up to the trip, I had researched a bit about the city. Of course, safety also comes up quickly. One reads of trick theft, fraud, rip-off, murder, manslaughter and kidnapping. Very frightening and dangerous! In the end, it’s the same for all cities and regions of the world – it’s all a matter of common sense. In all of Mexico, unless you’re head over heels drunk in a huge shiny sombrero and throwing yourself into the red light and drug districts, you’re usually fine and will have the greatest of experiences. Mexico City may have an image problem, but it’s just as safe as any other big city.

Iztapalapa

One of the more “dangerous” areas of Mexico City is a district called Iztapalapa. Iztapalapa is on everyone’s list of neighborhoods to avoid. On the other hand, Iztapalapa boasts over 7000 murals, markets, art and craft, is colorful, lively and far from expensive, fancy downtown Mexico City. In addition, the government has built a 10km long cable car (the «Cablebus») there, from which you can admire the whole district cruising over its rooftops. Far from tourist crowds, made to explore, made for Milagros and Rua Hatu.

Mural craziness à la Iztapalapa

Helpfulness à la Mexico

And what can we say? Luckily one is advised not to visit! Because we were the only touristy faces far and wide when we arrived at the station of the cable car. And we weren’t robbed, instead a nice elderly lady immediately helped out with her cable car pass when she noticed that we had bought the wrong tickets. Also, we were never pushed into buying a half-value plastic souvenir! If you change your mindset just a little, leave your comfort zone and don’t believe everything you read and hear, completely new possibilities and adventures open up. Iztapalapa showed off his best side in the form of the helpful within a few minutes. We probably won’t soon forget what followed. Luckily, we visited Iztapalpa! The view from the gondolas was nothing less than breath-taking, we had not only had Iztapalapa, but the whole city at our feet. The fact that the many murals had also turned into “roofals” was probably due to the “Cablebus”. The 45-minute ride was a treat.

A highlight

We also took the opportunity to stroll through the streets a little, where we visited a small street market and immersed ourselves in all kinds of culinary experiences. Thanks to our Spanish, which was getting better and better, we were also able to talk to the “Iztapalapians”. Without exception, they were all very pleased with our visit to their home district. Many people here live at the subsistence level, but we still had to do a lot of convincing when refusing we wanted to pay more for all the delicacies than we had to. This is Mexico for you, ladies and gentlemen! It’s not all drug wars, cartels and petty theft.

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