A Travellerspoint blog

June 2011

Girona

Girona, the capital of our province, lies a tantalising 35 kms away. Yesterday, I accompanied my niece, Seza, there and while she gave her English class, my intention was to do some food shopping to stock up the house. In fact, I ended up doing nothing of the sort.

Having left Seza to her subjunctives and phrasal verbs, I sauntered down to the river in search of the new Nespresso shop for some coffee capsules. I cannot function properly until I've had my shot of caffeine in the morning. As I stood on the Pont de Pedra, the bridge crossing the River Onyar, the beautiful white cathedral standing head and shoulders above the old town on the other side of the river beckoned me to come over. No, not today. I have to do some shopping, I murmured to myself. The houses overhanging the river below had been renovated and painted since last summer. They looked more cheerful. I continued down the pedestrianised street on the other side, my nose trying to detect the coffee shop. Slightly waylaid, I diverted my steps past the Museu del Cinema and gazed up at the tall palms in front of the nearby church, their crowns shaking in the breeze. Returning to shop-lined Carrer Santa Clara, my attention was drawn to the red Eiffel Bridge spanning the river a little further down. I climbed up the steps. There was the cathedral, peeking through the red structure, begging me to come over. I haven't got time. Another day, I said. The river looked so clean today and white and grey gulls flapped their wings and glided under the bridge.

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Looking towards the Old Town across the River Onyar

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The Eiffel Bridge

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Girona Cathedral from the Eiffel Bridge

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The Cathedral peeking through

My nose led me to the shop, I purchased my coffee capsules and de-scaler for the coffee machine and decided to take a quick look at the Plaça de la Independencia now that I was down here. The renovation work had been completed and I was frankly pleased with the result. The arcades were filled with chairs and tables and the clinking of glasses and cutlery bounced off the walls. The boldly black and white tiled flooring absorbed the intense sunlight slicing through the arches, dissipating it. It was lovely and cool. I strolled down to the riverside again and now I was right opposite the Cathedral, which looked down from its vantage point on the other river bank. It was very insistent. OK, I'll just nip across to the other side but I must hurry up and do my shopping. I'll come back and see you properly soon.

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Plaça de la Independencia

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Arcades

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Colourful houses

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Façade of house along the River Onyar

I crossed over, ducked under the archway and followed the cobbles down the narrow street into the Old Quarter. It was all delightfully familiar coming back here. Cool and dark, out of the harsh one o'clock sun. As I passed the flight of stone steps leading to El Call, one of the best-preserved Jewish Quarters in Europe, I decided to make a slight detour. Just a few steps along Carrer de la Força to see that very narrow rabbit-warren like alleyway, almost totally hidden from sight, I said to myself. A small group of tourists from a Central European country were being fed the fascinating history of this place. I squeezed past them and went up. But the Cathedral had a magnetic pull and I actually took a few steps more than I had anticipated until there I was, standing at the bottom of the flight of 90 stone steps, gazing up at its incredible façade far above me. At that point, I reasoned that it would be silly to come all this way and just look up at it. I really should just spend a few more minutes and make my way to the top. How could I miss taking in the view from up there? So that's what I did. The Cathedral seemed so pleased to see me again. As if it had been waiting a year for me to come back again. I took photos of the statues all up its façade and looked out over Sant Feliu, one of the few churches in Spain with a spire, albeit a broken one. The upper part collapsed in the 17th Century and was never replaced. Some say it was a lightning bolt.

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Looking up a street in the Old Town

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Steps and houses

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Sign post

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Narrow alleyway in the Jewish Quarter

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Steps leading up to the Cathedral

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Statues on Cathedral façade

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Sant Feliu Church in the background

I thought back to the first time I came to Girona, 21 years ago. A few days after landing in this beautiful corner of the world, someone told me I really had to visit the city of Girona. It was a cold February morning when I summoned up all the Spanish I knew and took a train in the right direction. As we approached the city, there was a smell of rotten eggs as we passed Sarrià de Ter and I saw a paper factory belching out fumes which hung over Girona, impregnating the city with a distinctive odour. Getting off the train, I made my way down to the Old Town, trying to warm up in the anaemic wintry sunlight. Crossing the river, I found myself in a city with history deeply embedded in its stones... its cobblestones, stone steps, narrow streets lined by stone buildings with balconies which blocked out the sunlight, and capping it all was the Cathedral. I was awe-struck, dwarfed by Girona's history and by its architecture. But there was one thing that puzzled me. Where was everyone? I seemed to be the only person here. Just me wandering around shivering in the cold, dark streets where the sunlight hardly penetrated except up at the top, on the esplanade near the Cathedral. Gothic churches, arches, ancient Medieval walls, Arab baths, the tangle of the hidden Jewish Quarter... no-one else was enjoying this unique place. Looking for somewhere to eat or at least to have a warming cup of coffee, I noticed another thing. Everything was closed. In the end, I bought a sandwich in the new part of town and headed back home. My friends explained the mystery. "Todo está cerrado los lunes por la mañana". That's when I discovered that shops and restaurants are closed on Monday mornings in this part of the world.

Now here I was, 21 years later, and thinking how much Girona had changed during that time. The paper factory no longer belched out fumes, there was no hint of rotten eggs, the Old Town had seen many of its buildings renovated and was now a lively place, full of restaurants and shops. And tourists who once bypassed this exceptional city, making a bee-line for the Costa Brava beaches to roast themselves for 2 weeks, are now stopping off to take in a bit of culture. And are pleasantly surprised.

I suddenly realised it was almost 1.30pm. There was no more time to walk along the walls and enjoy the panoramic views over the city or explore its Arab baths or museums. I had to hurry back to meet up again with my niece. The food shopping would have to wait till later on this afternoon. I quickened my steps and after crossing over to the other side, I looked back at the Cathedral. I'll be back, I promised. And a promise is a promise.

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Catalan flag

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Catalan stickers

Posted by margaretm 14:57 Archived in Spain Tagged city cathedral jewish quarter girona Comments (1)

Not the best way to start a holiday

Headed back to Spain

Some days are best forgotten, relegated to the deepest recess of your memory or eliminated from your brain's hard disk. Yet, more likely than not, these are the memories which will continue to re-surface for years to come. Luckily for most of us, these horror stories undergo a kind of transformation with time. Somewhere along the way, they are whisked around, stirred, shaken and mellowed, emerging in the end as humorous anecdotes to fondly recall.

Our journey from Mexico to Spain last Friday was one of these days. It began with a re-scheduling of our flight from Mexico City to Paris, from 8.30 pm to 10.10 pm. Early in the afternoon, as we started to seriously pack our cases, the black storm clouds rolled over the city and started pelting rain down. It was good for the garden, disastrous for the traffic and menacing for a flight leaving the Valle de México. We set off for the airport early, despite the delay in the flight, hoping to get a head-start. Just down the road, we joined another three million cars with the same idea and began our crawl along what must have been the world's largest long-term airport car park, the Circuito Interior, also known as the Periférico. I can't ever remember seeing such a solid lump of cars moving nowhere and it had to be just the afternoon we had a flight to catch. The 20-odd kilometres to the airport took an eternal two hours as we inched forward, squeezed tightly between Tsurus, Chevrolets and VW Beetles, unable to breathe. As Josep so aptly expressed it, at least we had two hours of quality family time before being separated for a month, reading every piece of graffiti on the murky walls, commenting on the billboards, imitating the politicians on the radio commercials, and inventing possible stories for the neighbouring drivers we were sharing extended time and limited space with. The signs on the overhead bridges proclaiming "Ciudad de México, Capital en Movimiento" couldn't have been further from the truth and sounded as hollow as the politicians' unrealistic promises. Mere wishes. 80 km/h maximum said the green signs. We weren't even going 80 metres. We could have gorged ourselves on the tons of papas and cacahuetes (crisps and peanuts) being sold by enterprising boys as they sauntered between the immobile cars, sheltering under the bridges out of the rain. We finally made it to the airport with our sense of humour intact, but relishing the idea of escaping from the traffic jams for a few weeks.

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The Periférico

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As you can see, Mexico City is a Capital in Movement!

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Funny billboard advert for chicken and chips- Pollito con papas (papas = chips)

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Another advert for a University

At last, the massive Air France jumbo jet heaved into the air like a heavily pregnant pelican, unruffled by the weather, and off we set on our 10 and a half hour flight. Frankly, I was having problems imagining 10 minutes in this seat. Maybe it was the economic crisis, but I could have sworn they'd added another 20 rows in this plane since the last time we had flown with this airline. My nose was inches from the seat in front and I could not seem to get my legs into the teeny space without bending them the wrong way and I'm small. Marc fell asleep almost immediately as only he can. Suddenly, just 15 minutes into the flight, we hit a solid wall of turbulence. It felt as if the Aztec god Tlaloc was shaking his toy plane. Then came a sickening and terrifying free fall as the plane plummeted hundreds of metres downwards in seconds. My thought in that split-second was of the Air France plane which sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean two years ago. Everyone on the flight screamed, heads soared over the headrests as we were thrown out of our seats and given the Giant Drop Tower treatment. Marc woke up with a start. "Qué pasó?", he said sleepily. "What happened?" The turbulence continued on and off the whole way across the Atlantic and every time we were tossed around, you could hear 526 hearts beating wildly, expecting another ride on the Scream Machine or Roller Coaster. It was hard to sleep. To cap it all, on a flight where the teenagers could be counted on the fingers of two hands, Air France's selection of in-flight entertainment was thoughtless to say the least. "Justin Bieber" was the main film, followed by French rugby and a cooking programme. I untwisted my legs and neck for the two hundred and twenty-third time and tried a different position. Sleep didn't come. I should have followed Cristina's example and taken an air-sickness tablet. She promptly fell asleep in a strangely upright position, looking as if her newly-acquired blue neck pillow had its fingers prised around her neck and was throttling her.

The landing at Paris could only have been carried out by a novice or a young boy on a flight simulator. There is no way an experienced pilot would have submitted us to that rolling and lurching movement. Whatever hope I'd secretly nurtured about not feeling sick on this trip was shattered by a thousand waves of nausea. The little boy in the seat behind me was filling up a sick bag. As soon as we were back on land, despite the fact that it now seemed to be the sea for me, I swallowed one of the magic pills. We had been catapulted in 10 hours from one hemisphere to another one, from Spanish to French, from pesos to euros, from quesadillas to croissants, from life-size mariachi hats to Tour Eiffel key rings, from bottles of Tequila to Pernod. And here I was, dozing off in a groggy slumber, hardly able to hold my head up straight, the announcements over the loudspeakers echoing numbly in my head. I slept on the seat by the porte d'embarquement, hoping my kids would hear the call.

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Our Air France Jumbo Jet in Paris

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Modern Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris

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Charles de Gaulle Airport

The flight to Barcelona was delayed a further hour which I spent in a state of semi-consciousness. Cristina and Marc were hooked up to high technology gadgets so I don't suppose they missed me. When we finally boarded, the plane was half empty and I remember little of the flight. Although I should have been in a state of euphoria at arriving back on Catalan soil, my brain was too fuzzy to register any real joy. 'These pills están funcionando muy bien, I must remember to take them on the long trip next time', were my only thoughts. At the baggage claim, I slumped down on an empty seat as we waited a long time for the machine to spit out the first cases. Unfortunately, this is becoming a set pattern for us. We wait and wait and get dizzy watching all the cases go round and round on the conveyor belt but ours don't appear. 'Maybe I'm having a nightmare, that's all', I thought. 'It can't happen three times in a row!' It wasn't a somniferous nightmare, it was a real one. Our cases didn't appear. Somewhere along the line, they had been swallowed up by some monstrous machine, or by some baggage handler who had a weird penchant for silvery-grey and fuscia pink suitcases.

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Travelling light at Barcelona Airport

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Back on Catalan soil - Barça shop at Barcelona Airport

There was nothing else to be done. Even the little luggage icons had stopped moving across the sign above the belt. Our cases had disappeared again. Ten months ago, flying from Barcelona to Mexico City, they had got stuck in Paris. We waited there for a further three hours for the next flight to arrive. Only three of the cases appeared that time. We had to return the following day for the fourth one. Now it had happened again. We made our way to the Complaints Desk. After a brief search, the lady said they were in Paris, they would arrive the following day. We trudged out into the Arrivals Hall expecting to find that my brother-in-law had got fed up waiting two hours for us but there he was, smiling, clutching a yellow duty-free bag. At least he'd made good use of the time.

Talking nineteen to the dozen, we went off in search of the car. It took far longer than we expected. He'd forgotten where he'd parked. For almost 20 minutes we paced back and forth through the vast carpark, hoping to recognise the car. When we'd almost given up hope we tried the -1 floor and to our relief, there it was. I think it was just as well we didn't have our suitcases with us. I don't think they'd have fitted in. The next hour and a half's drive back home to the Alt Empordà seemed to last an eternity. Longer than the two hours going to Mexico City Airport. Almost 24 hours to the minute, we arrived home. Travelling very light. It was high time we started our summer holidays.

Posted by margaretm 21:46 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Mirrors, magazines and hairdos

An enlightening visit to the hairdresser's

Yesterday I paid a visit to the peluqueria, the hairdresser's. The moment I stepped through the door, I had the uncanny feeling that it was going to be a long drawn-out session so I settled down in the chair to read my magazine while the new assistant started plastering my hair with a pleasant-smelling, gooey mixture. Interestingly, there was an article titled "Qué nos dice el espejo?" about what the mirror tells us and about our image. Before we go out of the house, we look into the mirror to check our appearance. Mortified by what we see, we attempt to domesticate our unruly hair, lift our chin up high to stretch our double chin into oblivion, breathe in deeply to pull in our stomach and turn up the corners of our mouths in a smile. Then, much happier with that result, we leave the house with this image etched into our memory for the day. Ironically, somewhere down the line, anything from a few seconds or minutes to several hours later, our hair has resorted back to its original rebellious state, we've slouched and breathed out revealing unsightly doughnuts bulging around our waistline, our double chin has dropped down and the frown or worry furrows have settled into our face again. Yet in our mind we have our slim, smiling image accompanying us. Interesting.

I glanced up and looked in the mirror. There were dozens of square metres of mirrors here in the peluqueria so it was impossible to escape from them. And I was not at all flattered by what I saw looking back at me. With her hair scraped back off her face and sculpted with a mud-like paste into the comical form of a gushing fountain, sat a lady at least 10 years older than me in a white hospital gown. I didn't recognise myself. It was worse than the photo plastificada on my FM3 card for all eternity. Embarrasing. The hairdresser's, along with the hospital, must be the only place outside the intimacy of our homes and close families where we willingly (or in many cases, unwillingly) allow others to see us in the most ridiculous, humiliating pose. Our flaws and defects and wrinkles are blaringly and uncomfortably bared to all. The hidden "you" that you wouldn't think of exposing to your neighbour, unless of course she happened to be sitting in the chair next to you at the hairdresser's.

I secretly sneaked a peek at my neighbour. I could hardly see her. Two stylists were working on her hair. Dressed in black and pink, and wearing a stylish black leather apron with the pouches bulging with tools of the trade, they were deeply engrossed in their task. I half expected to see saws and hammers and monkey wrenches being wielded as they applied themselves to doing a total DIY renovation process. Her head was sagging under huge Brownie-like dollops of hair scooped up on top of it. The hairdresser on my side was coating the remaining long locks with thick black paint or what could even have been creosote, the smelly black liquid we used to splash on our wooden fences every year. She looked worse than me.

My furtive glances were interrupted by the assistant announcing that I could now go to Torture Chamber No. 1. I followed her meekly, like a lamb to the slaughter, trying to avoid looking in any of the mirrored-walls. She sat me under the roasting machine. Whenever I sit here, a picture comes into my mind of featherless and headless chickens turning on the roasting spit. It was already hot. Now I was being fired in the kiln like a piece of pottery. Not only was my hair taking on a crackly solid feel but my wrinkles were being hardened into deep petrified furrows. One of the ladies nearby was sharing her intimate phone conversation with all of us in the room with her. You don't have to shout so loud, I wanted to say. We can hear you perfectly.

Over in the other corner, another dama had obviously spent plenty of time carefully selecting her clothes for her outing to the hairdresser's. She was dressed in a shiny white top of skimpy proportions, slinky black trousers and gold shoes with 8 inch heels. Her hair floated down to below her waist and she was having Jorge attach long black wispy extensions. Judging by her comments, nothing satisfied her and Jorge was bravely trying to re-hash the mess at the back which I could see but she couldn't. She didn't seem too happy with the image in front of her either.

Normally I enjoy the hair-washing session but on this occasion, with a painful stiff neck, I braced myself for Torture Chamber No. 2. With my head creaking backwards, my legs dangling pathetically in the air, and a very bright light shining straight into my face from above, I was ready to confess everything. I just wanted them to get it done as quickly as possible. Then came the fingers kneading my skull, sending electric shivers and shocks down my spine. Not today, please! I just want to sit up normally again.

Back in my chair, with my magazine creased from clutching it so tightly in the previous room, I contemplated the person staring back at me. She was a definite improvement on the one I had been looking at earlier although she'd obviously just been dragged out from the bottom of a lake. Her hair dripped and hung lankly around her face. I settled back as the final leg of the process began. Towel-drying, combing, head pushed down, snip, snip, snip, head to the side, snip, snip, snip.... blow-dry...snip, snip. I glanced over at my neighbour again. She was comatose, showing no sign of life. Now the two peluqueras were brandishing devices which looked like hungry crocodiles, snapping at her hair. Vast columns of steam were hissing up towards the ceiling. It looked like a scene from Indiana Jones, not the hairdresser's. I wondered if she knew what was happening. Maybe they had drugged her. Over the other side, a young mother who I had noticed earlier feeding a bottle to a small baby on the sofa, was now sitting in a chair, her hair in a mucilaginous tangle, stabbing at a laptop keyboard with her fingers, her right foot rocking the baby in a car seat on the floor. I thought back to the days when I too had to multi-task like her with a young child and toddler. I'd never tried taking them to the hairdresser's with me like that though.

Finally, it was all over. Jorge was putting the finishing touches to his work of art and as I looked long and hard at the person in the mirror in front of me, I was happy. I was happy to face the world with that image etched into my mind. A transformation had taken place. It didn't matter that in a few minutes, the polluted air rushing through the car window would begin to reduce my hair to its original state. I walked out of the hairdresser's, chin lifted high, breathing in, a smile on my face... It had been quite fun after all.

Posted by margaretm 11:33 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

The day my car vanished

Parking

Driving in Mexico City is, more often than not, a harrowing experience. When you're not being chopped up like minced meat by aggressive drivers, you find yourself glued to the neighbouring cars as the thick traffic solidifies around you like cooling lava. And if you do manage to get to your destination in one piece and you're still sane, there's still one more hurdle to get over. You have to find somewhere to park.

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No parking. Your car will be towed away.

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Solid traffic

There are millions of vehicles in DF and sometimes it seems as if they all got the parking spaces before you. Parking in this city is a matter of timing more than anything else. Depending on the time of day and, of course, the area you happen to be in, your chances of finding somewhere to estacionar your vehicle can vary from easy to downright impossible. More than once, I've made my way to the supermarket, sat in the queue waiting to get into the supermarket car park (which is synonymous for blocking the road) for 15 minutes and then decided to go home empty-handed or try somewhere else.

However, there are a number of parking options available to you, some of them a bit unusual:

1. If you go to a modern shopping centre, there is usually a modern car park alongside, as in Europe, often with European prices. The only difference is that you can get your car washed by the boys there while you're away. It will cost about 40 pesos. A case of killing two birds with one stone.

2. Small parking lots abound in many places on empty building sites, some of them terribly scruffy looking, with a small hut at the entrance next to a gate and usually a hand-painted notice proclaiming Pension 24-horas or 22 pesos 1 hora. Some of them look like the last sort of place you'd ever want to leave your car but they are usually OK. You can park there for a fee and have your car taken care of, washed, cleaned inside etc.

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A small car park with delusions of grandeur

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Waving a red flag to catch your attention

3. If you go to some shops, they may have a few parking spaces controlled by a "waver and whistler". He'll help you find the space (there are usually less than 10 spaces so it isn't actually very difficult), watches over your car while you're in the shop and then whistles you out. A few pesos will bring a smile to his face and a cheerful "Que tenga una excelente tarde, señorita" which more or less translates as "Have a wonderful afternoon, miss!"

4. You may find a street taken over by franaleros or car watchers. Although stationed on a public way, they act as if they own that particular stretch of street, putting buckets or other items in the road to prevent anyone stopping there by mistake. They then stand in the road and flag you down and offer you a parking space. You are expected to give them a tip for watching your car and making sure nothing happens to it. Some can be aggressive and you may find that if you omit the tip or don't pay enough, they will do something to your car. I sometimes make use of a franalero's service if I just need to pop in to the bread shop to get a couple of baguettes. He watches over my car while it's double parked and keeps the tow truck away for a few minutes.

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Plastic bottles guarding the parking space

5. Valet-parking is an upscale luxury in Europe but in Mexico, nearly every establishment of a certain size or importance offers this service. You may see a small stand outside the shop, restaurant or office with an umbrella over it accompanied by a group of boys or men, some of them smartly-dressed. First-time visitors to Mexico City usually hyperventilate when they have to hand over their car and the keys to some stranger for the first time and watch them drive their vehicle out of sight down the road. Will they ever see it again, is the thought that hammers away worryingly in their brain for the next hour or so as they have their meal, go shopping or do some other errand. It seems incongruous that, in a city where an average of 62 cars are stolen every day, you can willingly hand over one of your most expensive possessions to a man you know absolutely nothing about and hope to ever see it again. It certainly isn't in keeping with all the stories of corruption, violence, armed robbery or kidnapping. And yet Valet-parking is a safe option... or at least we have always been given our car back. The men either take your car away and park it for you, or they may even drive around looking for a space along the crowded streets and then swap it for an outgoing car. It saves you time and energy although you may have to wait quite a while for them to reappear with it. I sometimes wonder if they forgot where they parked it, like I do.

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Valet parking

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Taking care of the cars

6. Some restaurants and offices in well-sought after areas with reduced parking facilities have come up with a novel idea. They use a system of double-decker parking racks. You leave your car and keys with them and they park and un-park the guests' cars as and when they need them, shuffling them around, and moving them up and down.

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Double-decker parking

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Which one is your car?

7. Of course, there is always the possibility that you may actually find a space to park along a street. Just make sure there is no E sign crossed out (E = Estacionar) and that you are allowed to park there or you may come back and find you have a flat tyre or your car has disappeared without the slightest trace. Like I did. Or depending on the area you are in, there may be clear evidence when you return that someone tried to nick your wheel trims. Like they did to mine. Or even that they have tried to force their way in and your key no longer works. This has happened to me. The electronic key has never worked since.

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No parking. Flat tyres free of charge!

One piece of advice: I have learnt in the almost two years I've been living here not to underestimate the grua or the tow-truck. It is not a pleasant experience to have your car towed away.

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Someone's lost their car to the grua....

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Immobilised car

The first time it happened to me (unfortunately 3 times to date), I had accidentally left my debit card in a cashpoint machine. I drove round the block, remembered, and returned to the bank. Parking along the side of the road like all the other car drivers, I nipped into the cashpoint. To my dismay, the card had disappeared and hadn't been returned to the bank. I checked my car outside and then went in the bank to report and cancel the card. Surprisingly, just 10 minutes later, I emerged triumphantly with a totally new card (it takes a week back in Spain) feeling in awe of the banking system which had just zoomed up a few notches in my consideration. My feeling of amazement immediately turned to horror. My car, along with the ice-cream, butter, yoghurts and the rest of the weekly shopping, had vanished into thin air.

I checked the pavement to see if there was any sticker left by the tow truck saying where they had taken it to. Nothing. My heart began to beat faster as I then realised it must have been stolen. Obviously one of the 62 cars that day. And I'd only had it a couple of months. A man was standing by a car nearby so I decided to approach him. Had he seen what had happened to a small black car parked here? Sí, señorita, la grua se lo llevó", he said. "It was towed away". But why only my car? What about all the other cars? He proceeded to point out a beefy-looking bouncer standing on the other side of the street. "Tiene que darle pesos. Sino, llama la grua." If I didn't grease his palm, he was in collusion with the tow truck people and called them. I was learning the hard way. The man added, "That's why I'm standing here by the car while I wait for someone in that office. Otherwise they would tow it away."

I was unsure as to what to do next. Where do you find a towed-away car in the middle of Mexico City? After consulting a fair number of people, it seemed most likely that it would have been taken to one of two corrales. Josep was incomunicado in a meeting, and I rang Cristina and Marc at home to let them know why I was taking so long. "Mum, say it again. What have you lost? Your card or your car?" "Both!", I managed to blurt out before the cell phone died on me. A policeman told me where to go but said I should take a taxi. It was too far to walk. I'm glad I listened to him. He hailed one for me, explained my dilemma and off we went. The taxi driver said he would wait outside the corral until I was sure my car was there. It wasn't a nice area for me to be left stranded in. He went on to give me a grisly account of the 9 times he had been atracado, asaltado, herido (assaulted with injuries). He showed me the scar left on his head from one of the incidents. A gun had been put to his head twice and his taxi stolen twice. I was getting more nervous by his stories than by the thought of never finding my car again.

Three and a half hours later, after I'd had to call Joseo to get papers I hadn't even known existed and paid the fine, I peeled off numerous sticky white papers from the doors and petrol tank cover and drove my car home. The ice-cream had melted in the hot midday sun, the youghurts had curdled and the butter was dripping all over the contents of the shopping bag. But I had my car back.

Posted by margaretm 11:05 Archived in Mexico Tagged traffic parking mexico city trucks tow Comments (0)

20 Reflections

Here are a series of photos featuring reflections, taken in Mexico City:

1. Reflection of church in window

The Spanish colonial legacy is evident in thousands of buildings here in Mexico City, such as the Templo de La Profesa

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(Calle F. Madero, DF)

2. El Lago Restaurant

A wonderful place to go for an early morning walk is to this lake, where the Restaurant El Lago is located.

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(Lago Mayor de Chapultepec)

3. Mexico City taxis

The famous green and white taxis were replaced just over two years ago with the burgundy red and gold colours. Changes in colour are an attempt to get rid of "pirate" taxicabs.

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(Polanco)

4. Inside Reforma 222 Shopping Centre

One of the modern shopping centres with lots of eating places, which fills up especially at lunchtime.

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(Paseo de la Reforma 222)

5. Early morning walkers

A lot of people get up early and walk, jog or run around the lake

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(Lago Mayor de Chapultepec)

6. Monumento a la Revolución reflected in nearby building

This Monument was renovated and the square given a complete face-lift, ready for the celebrations of the Bicentennial of Mexican Independence in September 2010. Below the monument is the Museo Nacional de la Revolución.

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(Plaza de la Republica)

7. Jacaranda tree reflected in mirror-like façade

The jacarandas start to bloom at the end of March, turning the city purple.

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(Zona Rosa)

8. Girl lost in thought

A nice quiet place to sit on Sunday morning, away from the crowds in the nearby Alameda Park

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(Plaza Juarez, DF)

9. Reflections in the lake

This is the largest lake in Chapultepec Park and a popular place to go boating.

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(Lago de Chapultepec)

10. Silvery reflections

Plaza Carso is becoming a new area in Polanco with modern offices, up-market residential blocks and the new Soumaya Museum

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(Plaza Carso, Polanco)

11. Palm trees reflected

On Sundays, people sail model boats on the pond.

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(Lincoln Park, Polanco)

12. Ducks in the early morning sun

Some of the many ducks on the lake

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(Lago Mayor, Chapultepec)

13. El Altar a la Patria

This monument has six marble columns representing the six military cadets who defended the Antiguo Colegio Militar (now the Castle) with their lives.

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(Chapultepec Park)

14. Reflection of the Iglesia de San Juan de Dios in window of the Franz Mayer Museum

This small church, not very well known, has a very unusual façade.

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(Plaza de la Santa Veracruz, DF)

15. Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia

The Museum in the background is dedicated to genocides, tolerance and diversity and was opened at the end of 2010.

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(Plaza Juarez, DF)

16. Palacio de Bellas Artes reflected in the window of El Palacio de Correos
The Fine Arts Palace is the most important cultural centre in Mexico City, hosting music, dance, theatre, opera and literature events as well as containing murals painted by the most famous names of Mexican muralism.

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(Historic Centre, DF)

17. Reflection of part of the Fuente de Tláloc

This Diego Rivera mosaic/sculpture represents Tláloc, the Aztec rain god.

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(Museo de Cárcamo de Chapultepec)

18.Reflection of church belltower in a puddle

The Templo y Convento de la Concepción leans at all angles due to the soft ground it was built on.

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(Historic Centre, DF)

19. Reflection of trees in car window

Chapultepec Park is the "lungs" of Mexico City and the largest city park in Latin America.

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(Chapultepec Park, Section 2)

20. Lago de Chapultepec

The distinctive silhouette of the "Twin Towers" in Polanco can be seen behind the lake.

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(Chapultepec Park)

Posted by margaretm 08:36 Archived in Mexico Tagged reflections mexico city Comments (0)

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