Travel Date: August 26th 2016

It has been a while since I’ve traveled to another non-English speaking country. While evaluating places to go, I decide to try Mexico. It is Spanish speaking, it borders the United States so cheaper flights, and I could travel there with a Green Card.

I layout all my travel gear on the bed.

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I fit everything into my Yellow Backpack, which is the same size as my small business carry on. When I travel for pleasure, I prefer the backpack. It is easier to load, carry, and unload from my back. I can even run with it, if necessary, identify it quickly from a line up or long line of bags.

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My roommate Justin gives me a ride to the Richmond International Airport.

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The first stop is Orlando International Airport.

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I meet up with my friend Kruti. We are going to travel together. She has been busy traveling the world, and decided to join me in Mexico.

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Since we have sometime to spend before our flight, we decide to see if we can get to one of the Priority Pass Lounges at the airport. I just received my Priority Pass from my American Express card, and want to use it. We get on one of the airport trains, and the ride is pretty cool.

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Unfortunately, we discover that we would have to leave one secure zone and enter another. We don’t want to potentially get delayed and miss our flight, so instead we head over to the food court at the airport for some dinner.

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I guess I should start eating healthy, before I start eating some really delicious Mexican food.

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Time to head back to our gate via the airport train, while watching the sun set behind the clouds, as other planes fly by.

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This is my first time flying with JetBlue, and my second flight with them today. So far, it has been a very positive experience.

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Goodbye ‘Merica. See you after 10 days!

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Kruti got the aisle seat, and I got the window. She intentionally kept the middle seat empty. Fortunately, no one booked the middle seat. It is time to celebrate the extra space, and going to Mexico with some in flight beverages which we never got charged for.

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The beautiful lights of Mexico City as we fly over before landing.

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We have arrived. Welcome to Mexico!!!

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After clearing Mexican Immigration and Customs, we catch our Uber at Gate 7. Initially, it was a little difficult figuring out which gate to meet our Uber ride. Since I nor Kruti speak Mexicana Spanish fluently, we walked around for a bit until we found the correct gate.

Note: I was also able to upgrade my U.S. AT&T data plan to get data, messaging, and call at the same rate as my U.S. service to use the Uber service. Definitely a must do, before going to Mexico.

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The Uber service in Mexico works just like in the United States. Our driver does not speak English, so we try to communicate with our broken and limited Spanish, occasionally using Google Translate for assistance. However, it was not necessary. Uber managed all the driving communication we needed. Technology has definitely made traveling easier. And yes, in Mexico City they (Uber) usually serves bottled water for free in the car too.

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As we were being driven we thought we heard gunshots. I looked at Kruti and said “Was that what I think it was?” At that point, I knew it could be an interesting adventure. But there was no sign of people. We will always wonder… what really happened?

Our Uber driver takes us to the home of a couchsurfer: Anna. While I was looking up places to stay in Mexico City on couchsurfing.com, I came across Anna’s profile. I noticed we had a mutual friend in common: Sabrina. So I contacted Sabrina. I found out that Anna couchsurfed with Sabrina when she visited the United States. I reached out to Anna, and Sabrina reach out to Anna, and the rest was history.

This was going to be Anna’s and her family’s first time hosting couchsurfers. Kruti has never couchsurfed before, so this was her first time as well. If you are not familiar with couchsurfing check out their website: couchsurfing.com.

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I meet their family. From left to right: it’s Anna, her friend Hugo, her mom: Pilar,  and Kruti. They live in the Puente Blanco district which is on the outskirts of Mexico City. We celebrate our meeting with some Tecate. Hugo speaks English fluently, so he helps to translate whenever necessary… which is often. 🙂

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And then I am taught the traditional way of having Tecate with lime and salt.

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We begin to get goofy. It is very early in the morning. Anna’s niece: Valentina demonstrates her lime skills and tricks.

Valentina practicing her balancing and clown skills.

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We decide to run to the local gas station to grab some more Tecate. It was closed for selling beer, but the locals always know how to get some.

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We get more Tecate to celebrate.

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The very short drive back exploring the streets of outer Mexico City.

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We arrive back at their beautiful home.

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Time to get busy celebrating. This is premium kind of Tecate.

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Later in the early morning, Kruti pulls up her Pokemon Go app. She is excited to try it in Mexico. It is at this moment, Hugo, and Anna realize they all love Pokemon. So they whip out their smart phones and bond over Pokemon Go.

I am going to have to deal with this for this trip… walking with Pokemon people!!! 🙂

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Valentina plays on my touch screen tablet with Microsoft Paint. It has always been a hit with the kids.

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Anna’s nieces have to fly back to the United States, so the family is going to head to the airport. I am exhausted. And it is time to retire. I have stayed up as long as I can to enjoy the moment. Hello bed. 🙂 Zzzzz.

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Reflections:

Things and moments to appreciate:

  • Having a friend in Sabrina to connect us with Anna.
  • Anna and her family hosting us during our stay in Mexico City
  • Having a travel buddy in Kruti to share the experience with
  • The ride to the airport with Justin
  • The empty middle seat. Yes, it makes a difference.
  • Free in-flight drinks.
  • Having data, voice, and text plan in Mexico. Thank you AT&T.
  • The safe uber ride to Anna’s place.
  • Hugo and his ability to translate for us. It definitely helped connect us closer together.
  • Cute entertainment by Valentina.
  • The kindness of strangers, who will become friends.
  • Couchsurfing, and how it can connect a world of open-minded people.
  • Celebrating over Tecate.
  • Friendship, food, shelter, safety, electricity, all the small things I sometimes take for granted.

Expenses in US$: $292.50

$196.38: JetBlue Flight (One-way from Richmond to Mexico City)
$80.50: Travel Insurance (10 day trip to Mexico. Full cost was $161.00 for 10 days in Mexico and 9 days in Costa Rica)
$9.57: Nature’s Table (Dinner at the Airport)
$6.05: Uber (From Airport to Anna’s home – MX$ 114.23)