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Chapter 8. Shop and Sprint; Future Work

Dismissing shopping for local artifacts as too touristy, we'd kept it off for the last moment. This was something we came to regret; honestly, if I were to do it again, I'd substitute the Xochimilco canals not by soaking up anthropology at the National Museum, but picking up ponchos at the craft markets.

As things stood, we had only a few hours to spend at La Ciudadela market. The variety of goods overwhelmed us - rough, thick cardigans that make you feel like a sheep, colourful rugs and spreads, clay dolls, wooden ballpens, ..., ponchos. Ah! Ponchos! Ponchos are things I'd dreamed of possessing for a long time: struggling with the formless Indian shawl, I've always wanted something better structured - ponchos in South American documentaries were the objects of my desire. At ten dollars a piece, I picked up several.

And this was only one market. Who knows how many other interesting ones there were? And how many interesting, but probably less popular, things we'd missed, things tucked away in corners of less prosperous shops... There was no time to ponder - I ran across the street to the bank to draw money, we bought whatever we could without giving the impression of being tourists in a hurry, jumped into a taxi for the airport.

Where only confusion prevailed. The boarding gate was abruptly changed to one that still seemed under construction, the Aero Mexico crew behaved like they'd never operated a flight before: passengers were boarded into the plane in no particular order; given the standard cramped Economy class aisles, people were employing elbows and knees to reach their seats while others were struggling to fit baggage in the overhead racks.

Spoilt by the warm tropical temperature for the past five days, we didnt quite enjoy standing in the open at midnight waiting for the Long Term Parking shuttle to arrive. At that hour, there was only one bus for every thirty minutes and we seemed to have just missed one. A rude surprise awaited us at the Parking Lot. The battery was dead. Fortunately, we had Amerian efficiency at its best. The security patrol arranged for a jump start in minutes and we were on our way home, coasting along Van Wyck expressway.

When are we going back to Mexico? As soon as we can. Where are we going? As I said earlier, one trip would include Baja California and Copper Canyon. Another one that I'm fantasizing about would be the Mayan ruins in Yucatan, Guatemala, Belize, with some yuppie snorkelling at Cancun.

Air travel prices have dropped dramatically in recent years, so that tickets to foreign countries have become affordable for the middle class even in third world countries like India. What Indians then wring their hands about is the absolutely unaffordable board and lodging expenses in the countries of their dreams: France, the US, England. To them I say - consider more affordable, no less interesting places, like Mexico.

Zocalo As for the software engineers from Mountain View, Calif., taking vacations in Florida - philistines!

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