Are You Kidding Me, Mexico City? Part 5.

It was the last day of Dave and Lee’s epic journey to CDMX, and they only had one thing left on their to-do list—Xochimilco, a destination recommended by more than a couple of credible US travelers and Mexican locals. The got up early, knowing that, for the first time in their entire trip, they were on a literal time crunch. They would need to leave their hotel for the airport at no later than two o’clock that afternoon to safely make their flight, so they assumed leaving the hotel by ten for Xochimilco would suffice. They should have taken it as a sign that it took them a couple of tries to find a cab driver willing to make the trip.

Life Tip #19: When you know you’ve got somewhere to be, know how long it’s going to take you to get there. Tardiness can cost you jobs, relationships, and flight change fees.

The drive was long, much longer than any other they had taken, and they were low on pesos. After close to an hour, the signs pointing to Xochimilco began to surface. Despite the signage, Lee and Dave realized that their driver had no clue as to where he was heading. Eventually, a man wearing torn jeans and a stained white t-shirt decided to lend his services to the aimless cab. Weaving through the crowded roads on an old one-speed bicycle, the man paved the way for their driver to reach the colorful boats at Xochimilco.

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It was half past eleven by the time the couple stepped out of the cab. They immediately found themselves in contemplation mode over whether they should risk missing their flight for a boat ride. But like so many others they had met on their journey, the men at Xochimilco were salesmen. They negotiated discounts and assured the couple that they would make it back in time. The driver assured the couple that he would wait for them. Counting their pesos, the pair realized that, if they were to take the ride, they would need to pay one last visit to an ATM before they could pay their cab or eat lunch. Of course, they decided to board. After all, they were there.

There were dozens of empty boats crowding the boarding area. Everything Dave and Lee had previously heard about Xochimilco emphasized noise and people, but evidently, Mondays weren’t a busy day for business in this tourist destination. The absence of people coupled with the warm, happy colors of the boats made it a beautiful and calming sight. Dave and Lee settled into one of the yellow tubs, and not long after, their pole-wielding captain was pushing them through the calm waters.

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Tropical greenery and scattered homes and restaurants framed the liquid aisle. At one point, a mariachi band approached the boat and asked the couple if they would enjoy a serenade. Dave requested something romantic for Lee, and so a romantic song was sung, loud, off-pitch, and magical. As they moved further into the water’s depths, more boats surfaced, some holding tourists, others were reserved for beer and food sales. Not nearly long enough into their ride, it was time to turn back around. They were hungry, peso-less, and still needed to grab their bags from the hotel.

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As promised, their cab driver was waiting for the couple at the curb. They let him know that their first priority was money, then food, then hotel. After a couple of blocks, the driver pulled over and handed Dave pesos for food. He didn’t know where an ATM was in this area, so they could pay him back once they reached the hotel. They wound up at a tiny hole-in-the-wall type of place, where literal buckets of meat and salsa sat on a table. Maybe they should have taken that as a sign, but trusting that the dozen happy patrons sitting around and ordering second helpings was a good thing, Lee and Dave joined in on the food fest. They ordered tacos and quesadillas from the leathery old lady patting out fresh tortillas and watched as she heated the meat on the flat-top skillet. Their spoils tasted heavenly and were well-worth the inevitable illness that plagued the Americans for the next several days.

They rejoined their faithful driver, who immediately hauled ass back toward Hotel Sevilla. They barreled down the highway, fast-approaching a set of orange barriers meant to force the road down to one lane. Lee’s eyes were wide with fear, but after several days of Mexican cab rides with creative maneuvers, she kept quiet, assuming it was just another of said creative maneuvers. It wasn’t. Too late, the cabbie realized he was about to go head on with the divider, and collide he did.

Life Tip #20: Wear a seat belt.

Fortunately for the still-living couple, the plastic barrier wasn’t filled with water, sand, or anything fatal. Very much rattled by the near-death experience, after several apologies, the driver did not say another word. Dave finally broke the painful silence to instruct the cabbie toward an ATM near their hotel. The couple still had to pay their fare. At ATM stop #1, the machine rejected both Lee’s and Dave’s cards. Dave ran up the block toward a broken ATM #2, leaving Lee with the driver, who had already picked up another passenger in his curbside wait. She was a fast-talking, overly helpful type. Dave reappeared empty-handed and confused by the car’s newest addition. The now three passengers drove further up the road in an attempt to find ATM #3. Lee hopped out this time, and of course, this ATM didn’t like her card either. Dave joined her, tried his, and success!

They were running late, but finally, they reached the airport under the care of a different driver. A quick jog through the airport led them to board the quiet of the plane. And there,  with visions of future trips dancing in their heads, they slept.

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