Bake It and They Will Flock Like Starving Pigeons

Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 302We took a relaxing walk around the city to look at stores, particularly camera stores. Ron suggested I should get a new camera for my birthday, so we were going to shop around. It seemed it could potentially be a major savings bought here. The sales tax in Hungary is 27%, but here is it 18%.

Mobbed with people all the time, the sidewalks are difficult to navigate. It is like salmon trying to swim upstream when a wave of people are coming at you. There are entire blocks that seem to concentrate on specific goods. For two blocks, each business offered paper products and other stationery goods. If you needed paper decorations, a notebook or marking Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 303pens, this area had your needs covered.

Turn a corner and there are dozens of stores selling party goods. Piñatas hang in many doorways, but the smart stores have the entire front open to the walk-in shopper without the barrier of windows and doors. Some of these stores have so many blinking lights; there should be a warning sign for epileptics.

After doing hours of research, reading reviews, comparing cameras, I had decided there was a need to look at three different Panasonic models and one Olympus. With all the specs in hand, we went to one main street that has a concentration of camera stores. With the list on my phone, we went from store to store. Each place all I received was a negative head nod. There were no phones at the inn, meeting my specs.

Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 312Then we went to one of the major department stores that Eli had suggested. He said they generally have good sales, so this may be my best option. Again, the shelves were jammed with Canon and Nikon products, but Panasonic and Olympus were there. When I asked a salesman who spoke English, he said both companies have pulled out of Mexico. Neither Olympus nor Panasonic could make it in the Mexican market, so they packed up their toys and left the country. So much for that idea, what is plan B?

Of all the businesses that have grabbed our attention for differing reasons, one is the all-time favorite. It is the Ideal Bakery. Entering this establishment is like watching the Amazing Race or some shopping game show. As bakeries go, this one is huge, like the size of a professional football field. As you enter, all the traditionally decorated cakes and those baked goods that require refrigeration sit in cases to the left. Showcased to the right you will find a wide variety of cookies. Beyond this, mounds of baked goods tower on individual tables waiting to be fought over.

First, you take a tray and a tong. Then you proceed from table to table to place what you want on your tray. This sounds simple enough, but the competition is as strenuous as a 50% discount day at Walmart. People push and shove others out-of-the-way to get to a table. When the baker comes out with trays of freshly baked goods, he or she never makes it to their destination before their tray empties. It really is hysterical to watch.

We thought this may be stockpiling for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12, but we witnessed it before and after that date. According to legend, Mary appeared to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531. A church was built in her honor on that spot and today thousands still make a pilgrimage here to see the ‘authentic’ Mary.

While we were in the bakery, we joined the skirmish to get some dessert for later in the evening. Actually, it was nothing special after all.

On our way back to the apartment, we passed a building with Hemeroteca Nacional de Mexico. Mexico - Mexico City December 2015 317We had no idea what it was, but it was free and there was a half-hour before they closed. Nothing was in English, so we just browsed the displays of documents on temporary walls. Most were political stories and many shed light on the constitution created when Mexico attained independence. Aside from these, the mural on the back wall was beautiful as was the design on the walls.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.