There’s no air here

How high is Mexico City?  Take a guess.

The answer is about 7500 feet–and it sure surprised me.  I thought about 6000, and I wasn’t even close.  Almost half again the elevation of Denver.

We’re on the third floor of a truly spectacular house–but it is killing me to get up and down the stairs.  Last night I had to do it will all of our luggage–and we don’t travel light.  Maybe this will convince me to start.

Enough whining.  I’m pretty amazed by everything I’ve seen today.  25 million people live on this high plain, and that makes a lot of pollution.  There are some really strict laws about how often and where you can drive your car–our hosts brought a car in from Miami when they moved, and are only allowed to drive after 11 am, not at all on Saturdays.  Every car seems to have some restriction, to hold down both traffic and pollution.

Traffic is light for us, happily.  This is Holy Week, Semana Santa, and some huge percentage of the citizens have taken off the hills or beach or country, so the roads are, in relative terms, empty.  Which is not empty like Havana is, but like Fresno on a busy rush hour.  Even if half the people left, there would still be 12.5 million of them here, more than in New York.

Here’s another quiz:  who is the biggest employer in Mexico?  Didn’t guess Wal-Mart?  Me neither, but that’s the answer. Between huge stores and distribution centers, and factories to supply their system, Wal-Mart is the number one employer in this nation. (and pretty big in our country, too)

US companies are doing quite a bit of business here–I saw McDonalds, Burger King, Domino’s, Radio Shack, 7-11, and Apple today, and who knows how many I missed.

My iPhone works like a charm–it boots right up on Cel Tel, texting is just as fast as at home and when Micky calls to see if I’m playing cards tomorrow (not), it even plays the Warren Zevon song that I set as his personal ringer.  “Poor, poor, pitiful me” is just perfect for him, don’t you think?

Needing cash, I stepped right up to an ATM and popped in my card.  Just like at home, in 45 seconds I was on my way with 2000 pesos.  It even works in English when it senses an American card.

Here’s the big difference:  security.  Our hostess insists that Gail leave her rings and jewelry in the house–she says they are  too dangerous to wear in public. Every nice house is behind a large wall with a gate.  This house is even on a private street, guarded 24 hours by a man who only open the barrier to those he knows.  Still behind a wall and gate, though.  There are guards everywhere, in every store.  I don’t know if all this security lowers the crime rate, but it sure lowers the unemployment rate.

Barbecue tonight, then up early in the morning to see a Frida Kahlo museum and Good Friday pagentry.  Stay tuned.

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