Mexico City is an overwhelming place. From the air it goes for miles and miles.
I'd read so much about the crime, how they targetted tourists, how you should always leave your bank and credit cards in the safe, never take the metro alone, etc etc, that i found it hard to relax. I just wandered round the 'Centro Historico' on day one, visited the Templo Mayor (Aztec temple that they only uncovered in 1978 doing gas works) and the excellent associated museum.
I brought my camera bag with me, but wished i hadn't - there's nothing especially photogenic in the city centre, and it became just another thing to worry about, not to mention a heavy and sweat inducing load on what was the hottest March day in 50 years - above 35, and this is still winter. Next time just the digital camera and a bottle of water, and I'll leave the rest at the hotel - if i dare ! Anyway, here's a photo of the temple to justify the effort:
After my crap second night's sleep i decided i'd had enough of Mexico City and took the first bus out to Oaxaca, 6 hours west. Great bus, very comfy, and luckily the sound on the tele above my head wasn't too loud. On the bus I finished an excellent history of mexico I had been reading with a much better understanding of the place, and some questions about our own history !
My book contained an interesting paragraph about the American government, and how the Republicans in charge at the time were the party of big business in general, and the oil industry in particular; and most of their foreign policy resulted from that ! This in the 1920s.
Anyway, it was a great move leaving Mexico city. Oaxaca is a very cool place, full of colonial architecture and loads of Indian culture (16 different tribes, the most varied in all Mexico). It's also known as the home of finest mexican cuisine (although it evaded me last night), mescal and modern art. I took a shit load of photos today (more to come when the light gets better later) and did a fascinating tour of the botanic gardens - it lasted 2.5 hours which went in no time. They are in the gardens of the old domincan monastery (my next stop - now a cultural museum) which was a military base for 150 years. Gretat cactii, and did you know the frangipani was a native mexican plant ?
My hotel is newly opened so clean, an old convent (what a great move stripping the church of all its property in the 1860s) with all the rooms around a sheltered courtyard. I found it by accident, a sign already that things were on the up ! Next stop San Cristobal, but i have two more days here first, so i'll fill you all in in the next installment.