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The Last Flight Out

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What an enjoyable trip! We went to Mexico City for the Independence Day festivities. Most Gringos think of Cinco de Mayo as Mexican Independence, but it is not. May 5th celebrates the Mexican army defeating the French attempts to take over the country back in the 1800's. Independence Day is September 16th when Mexico declared its independence from mother-country Spain back in 1810.

The rate of money exchange is 17 pesos to the U.S. dollar. It blows one's mind to see the price of something as 300 pesos – until dividing by 17 – then the price becomes more sane.

The Mexican colors of green, white, and red are everywhere in very bold displays. Street vendors set-up small portable booths called "ambulantes" along the sidewalks, selling everything imaginable – cheaply. Check 'em out.

At home, so many people with "homeless" signs are standing at signal corners where cars have to stop and on the bottom of freeway off-ramps. There are many in Mexico, too. But the difference is that they are not just standing there. They are doing something. They may be an organ grinder playing music with the old machine (no monkey), a magician doing tricks, a gymnast doing flips, someone playing a saxophone, one guy had a microphone singing arias from the opera "Carmen". There are street musicians everywhere. A guy may get on a subway car playing a violin. A little girl walks the aisle getting coins and they get off the next stop. Here at home, those in need just stand with a sign.

Mexican shoeshine men (boleros) that have the little stand on the corner give you the best shoeshine in the world...for only two bucks.

Many open-air cafés are such a pleasure. Try the La Cerveceria bar on the sidewalk across from Parque Alameda. Be sure you get a seat at one of the big windows overlooking the sidewalk. Excellent margaritas and try the quesadillas loaded with shrimp. Wow!

The city permits same sex marriage, so it is not unusual to see two men walking, holding hands. We saw this in the many areas of the city that we visited, not just the tourist areas of the Zona Rosa. When we first saw it, we would point it out to each other, but after a while it was no big deal. We noticed several quite pretty male to female transsexuals every now and then in the Zona Rosa, walking the streets right along with all of the crowds going and coming from the huge Insurgentes metro subway station.

Our plans were to fly home on Tuesday, September 19th using Delta via Atlanta. Returning to the hotel Monday evening, inserted under all the hotel room doors was an announcement that at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday (next day), a city-wide earthquake drill would take place with a need to vacate the building. There would be no electricity nor elevator. This drill would commemorate the anniversary of the 8.5 earthquake that caused so much destruction on September 19, 1985, thirty-two years ago. The next morning, we needed to get to the airport for our mid-morning flight. In flight, sitting in our seats, watching the little TV in the back of the seat in front of us, we saw "Breaking news! A 7.1 quake had struck Mexico City. The airport and runways are closed. In-air flights have been diverted." We sat there stunned. The exact date, 32 years later! By now, on TV we've seen the destruction in some areas of the city. Such a good place to visit. Here's hopes that "normal" returns as soon as it can.

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