Mexico City and Guadalajara
Between 2009 and 2018 I made 4 work-related trips to Mexico.
The first in 2009 was just to Mexico City itself. A year later I returned to Mexico City (CDMX) but also visited Guadalajara and Colima. I went back to the capital again in 2016 and 2018.
These were not my first trips to the country. I had spent a few hours in Ciudad Juarez back in 1986 and, on the basis of those few hours, I had, somewhat childishly, persuaded myself I didn’t really like Mexico that much.
The four trips for work completely changed my mind. I now think the place is fabulous and Mexico is high on my list of places to explore more soon.
A lot of the work was actually related to the city Metro and Metro Bus (guided busway) systems and that gave me the opportunity to ride about on those impressive systems quite a bit.
On all four trips I was accompanied by Spanish-speaking American colleagues. We met Mexican customers and took them to dinner and visited their factories. In between we drove around the cities in taxis and did a few walks in the evenings.
On the 4th trip in 2018 I managed to spend a weekend in the city and met up with an old friend there who did an excellent job of guiding me around.
On the trip to Guadalajara a Mexican colleague introduced me to his friends and family. We made the scenic drive to see customers in Colima with his friends and then partied with them afterwards.
Mexico City can be dangerous but as long as you take the usual precautions and stick to the right areas it needn’t be too much of a problem. Our hotels were in the central Zona Rosa and it felt perfectly okay to walk around at night.
We spent a lot of time driving around the city and I just loved the atmosphere of the place. It feels almost like a cross between Madrid and Tokyo. It certainly has the scale of Tokyo and obviously the language and some of the culture of Madrid.
Mexico City is also high in altitude terms. I always found it interesting that any trip to see our customers in the suburbs involved a steep descent down from the high plateau that the metropolis is built on.
Guadalajara was a lot more laid back and had a totally different feel to it. The outskirts looked like the same urban sprawl as anywhere else, but the centre was much easier to walk around. The main sights, centered on the cathedral, were all linked by pedestrian streets.
The architecture was very colonial in places and walking around you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Spain. The place comes across as very liveable, and that is something that the family and friends of my colleague confirmed.
The people we dealt with were pretty much all great; friendly but business-like. It was actually interesting to see how much formal, both in dress sense and manners, they were than the Americans who accompanied me.
The food we had was all absolutely wonderful too. I had been already advised by the Mexicans I had met in the USA that real Mexican food had little in common with much of the stuff they eat north of the border.
That wasn’t exactly 100% true but it made some sense. I became a big fan of Guadalajara’s signature sandwich; the Torta Ahogada. It is basically just pork placed in a roll and then dunked in chilli juice but it is delicious.
I have been glad of the opportunity that the business trips provided to see more of Mexico.
I know I have only really scratched the surface though. I am hoping to get back to Mexico again soon and delve deeper.