Friday, March 12, 2010

Mexico City

I'm finishing up a business trip to Mexico City, my first visit to a Latin American country.  Most of the visit was spent in my hotel, my company's local office and a meeting at the Mexican "White House," called Los Pinos, with the Mexican Foreign Minister.  One of my Mexican colleagues pointed out that Los Pinos is very near the site that inspired the line the Marine Corps hymn that says, "From the halls of Montezuma..."

Mexico City is not at all what I expected.  My image was of a hot, dirty city, teaming with people.  In fact, the weather was delightful, 75 degrees, dry and crystal clear skies.  The city is very clean.  It is, however, teaming with people.  Traffic seems heavy 24/7.  I knew that was going to be a problem as we flew in.  We arrived at 10 pm and, looking out the window of the plane, every highway seemed gridlocked.

Speaking of the flight, it was among the more interesting I've had.   We flew over thunderstorms, which normally would have made me pretty nervous.  However, the flight was perfectly smooth during this period and the flashing lights from the lightening in the clouds below was spectacular.  Oddly, as we approached Mexico City, it got very bumpy under clear skies.  Go figure.

Getting back to impressions of Mexico City, I was struck by how little English is displayed around the country.  When I'm in China or Europe, I'm always surprised with the amount of English signage.  In Mexico, there's none.  Similarly, the English TV options in the hotel room are very few, far fewer than in countries much further away.  I guess I admire the Mexicans' refusal to concede their culture to the Gringos from the North.

Of course, the most fascinating part of the trip was the meeting with the foreign minister.  It was an important meeting dealing with some very significant issues.  Unfortunately for me, most of the meeting was in Spanish. Of the approximately 20 people in the room, I was the only "mono-lingual" one there.  A sad example of the failure of the American education system.  Still the meeting was very successful and my team is hopeful of a continuing business relationship.

Hope I get to come back.  If I do, I will spend more time investigating the rich history of Mexico, of which I only observed snatches traveling from one meeting to another.

1 comment:

Midwesterner in Mexico said...

Hi Bill, So glad you were pleasantly surprised by Mexico City! Hope you're able to make it back for a more extended visit to experience more of the amazing food, museums, and markets. :) It definitely takes an actual visit to DF to realize all the horror stories you hear about it in the States aren't quite the case.

I can appreciate your mono-lingual frustrations... I am still making slow progress catching up to Spanish "conversation level" with all my English-fluent MBA classmates here! Definitely wish I'd better understood the urgency of learning Spanish back in school... :)