Monday, May 01, 2006

Totally Different

Well, I made it to Mexico City fine. It's interesting, however, the stark difference between my expectations and the reality of the city. At every turn, since stepping off of my plane, things have been almost exactly the opposite of how I had been led to expect them to be.

When people have talked about Mexico City one of the key points has been how dirty and grimy of a city it is and how crime ridden it is. I know that part of it may have to do with the part of the city that I'm in, but from everything I've seen, this city appears to be a decently modern, first world type city.

As I disembarked from my plane I wholeheartedly expected to enter a ramshackle, cobbled together airport but instead I was amazed at the shiny newness of the terminal. Apparently the airport had been renovated within the last year or two and it definitely shows. The shops, the waiting area, and even the terminal were all leaps and bounds nicer than what I would have expected and, I am not joking, this airport felt more modern than the Minneapolis airport.

After going through customs I met up with my manager and driver to head out to the hotel. The driver drove us to our hotel in a car that's much nicer than mine (a newer Stratus) and on the way I didn't feel like I was in a foreign country at all. Sure the road names had a definite Spanish flair to them, but the majority of the billboards and ads were in English. Most of what was being advertised was also US based products.

The apartment buildings and factories and office buildings all looked, for a lack of a better word, normal. Only a couple of times during our half hour trip to the hotel did I see areas that looked run down or garbage ridden. This was so much different than expected.

Arriving at the hotel I was again amazed. This place is great! It has an art gallery, fancy restaurant, a stylish bar, broadband (and wireless) internet, spa, and some pretty pimp rooms. It might not quite be the Marriott Marquee, but it beats the hell out of your local Motel Six.

As I sit here in the bar drinking some cheap (yet classy) beer listening to the thunderstorm outside, my thoughts wander over all the pre-conceived notions I had going into this trip and how most of them have turned out to be wrong. The only ones that seem to be panning out are the ones dealing with security--there are definitely a lot of security guards around, but I am assuming it is because I am in a very nice part of town, and the language barrier, which really hasn't been a barrier at all. Most of the people I've dealt with so far speak English, at least to a degree, and for the few that don't my Spanish is passable enough that I can get the point across.

Knowing all of this and knowing how I generally feel about planes (I hate them), I find myself torn. I'm slowly starting to get bit by the travel bug. Seeing new places and new things is becoming more and more fascinating every trip I take. In Chicago I went out to some really high class restaurants. In New York I'm visiting famous clubs and going to Broadway shows and seeing celebrities. In Mexico City I'm seeing new parts of the world. The descent down of my flight was jaw-droppingly beautiful. Never have I seen such an urban sprawl. It is city as far as the eye can see.

Even more odd, I find myself wanting to be confronted with more international tasks so that I can see more of the world. I know that I have at least one more scheduled international trip this year, and that is to Australia, as well as a few more trips within the US so I can see even more of the world. And next year I think there is a very good chance that I can see even more of the world because of the nature of my job and the company I work for. Who would have thought that I'd actually like my job and learn to like to travel? Not me, that's for sure.

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