Getting to Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Oaxaca state, Mexico
Before I tell you about Oaxaca, some perspective! Getting here is the first challenge. That very challenge is the first part of this story: flying, border controls, customs, etc.

Here? Oaxaca. Sun is out, I’m just back from the gym, followed by a swim at the place I’m staying. More after this. You get the hard with the good in this blog! 

Leaving Sydney 26 August 2015

‘No further charge against the lad, just the charge of contempt and it will be heard in the District Court on ….’ A loud phone conversation on the airport train this morning! From the same person who’d earlier explained which (named) politician would be backtracking on which issue despite having known this risk and being supported by the premier and various (named) senior ministers. Much more interesting than I hear when walking the dog at this hour. Hmm, perhaps someone should explain to a certain political adviser how and when to use sotto voce effectively. 😘

You have to change trains in Sydney to get to the airport. Guess who raced for platform 16 when we arrived, forgetting that the airport one is 23 and the other, to stations in the city. I beat a hasty retreat and missed a train. 

Mexico, here I come

I will arrive in Mexico barely an hour or two after I’ve left, such is travelling back in time to the Americas. Sigh. I love the concept. 

First, my first visit to the Qantas first class international lounge in Sydney. No, I’m not flying first class! I wish. A wonderful wall of green vegetation assails you as you walk into the area with flowering plants scattered throughout it. In the lounge the chairs are big. (Not obviously true today of the many men and few women that bottoms are bigger in this lounge.) 

The business class Emirates lounge at Sydney is heaps better – power points are universals, food is great and available all the time, staff are quiet and don’t intrude with their noise as in Qantas. The buffet in Qantas – not good although it has a short but interesting lunch menu, very foodie. Nice nuts, but no chocolates. Next overseas trip: oh for an Emirates flight and lounge. 

This is my third trip to Mexico: many years ago I carried V’s bags, metaphorically, to Guadalajara and Lake Chapala in Mexico, as she attended a rather select conference. I loved it and it triggered my itch to learn Spanish.

My second visit, a few years later, followed 3 weeks of Spanish school in Antigua, Guatemala. Ajr and I travelled around the Yucatan, ending up in a beautiful beach area with a room on the edge of the beach. Our leaving was memorable. The prepaid taxi driver didn’t turn up at the agreed pickup time. Getting to the airport was a linguistic challenge for two impatient people. Yes, we made it and the flight was delayed anyhow. Wouldn’t you know it!

We loved the Yucatan. Places like Uxmal and Merida, and the cenotes, pink flamingos, ceviches etc. Eventually even the issues we had with the very (very) cheap room I insisted on, before we knew it had the world’s largest and most fecund cockroaches and a non-functioning toilet and was near the world’s noisiest party spot for drunks. And, in a different hotel, explaining that we hadn’t stolen a towel, also became funny. Eventually. 

Why Mexico 

To improve my Spanish. Spain didn’t want me so soon again. Sigh. Schengen visa limits of 90 days in 180 means I couldn’t stay for long enough. I’d enjoyed Mexico before so, Mexico it is again.  

After a night in Mexico City, off to Oaxaca. Booked a week of school but am planning on doing 4, I’ve just not committed to the one school for that duration, keeping my options open. 


Fine. Except for the images I kept getting of the possible aftermath of a plane breaking up mid air. An unproductive stream of thought best left for post flying years. Then I can research some related little puzzles I don’t want to think about now 😊

While still over Australia we were advised that the USA requires us not to congregate in groups during the flight. It’s quite funny if you imagine the security consequences of an outbreak of gastro with all the consequent congregating near the loos…. Otherwise, weird! Honestly. Security? Really? How? 

Qantas food: not memorable. The named chef who ‘designs’ the food or menu on Qantas should be condemned to eat it. Take the cheese plate: two small wedges of equally bland cheese with stale biscuits. Over to you Mr chef, you eat it. Food is better on Emirates than on Qantas!


Well, just the Dallas Fort Worth airport part of Texas. The best USA immigration procedures I’ve ever experienced coming in today. Having only carry on luggage meant I was ahead of a few hundred better provisioned flyers from 3 airlines. Yes, they may be better dressed in the days to come but I got through the border faster. 😙

Eye openers: fellow travellers defying physics by attempting to place two bags in the same space. Big bags that is. Doesn’t work and pack owners like me get narky if our stuff is victimised by failed physics students. It’s true and I did object.

American toilets: I love them. Hard to explain! 

The coffee was dreadful. Matter of a few weeks of getting used to it again.

How much space the equivalent of USD$500 in pesos takes: it’s over MP$7,000, a fat wad. 

Taking off to Mexico City, currently at 23C😀 and its after 5pm. 😀😀😀😀😀 

Border control Mexico City Wednesday 26 August: yes, little later than when I left

Rational system and easy to complete. Customs wasn’t, just for balance. The border control guy had kept my customs form. So, customs sent me to E2 gate from E1. E2 sent me back to E1 and then I got sent to complete another form. Once checked, you press a button. A red light means your gear goes through customs, green, you leave uninspected. Yes, I got a red light. Admittedly, the checks were cursory. 

On hotel prices for Mexico were quoted in USD but you can only pay in $M, designed to help control Mexican drug barons. If I figure out how, I’ll let you know. 

Hotels of course use a rate more favourable to them and so your quote becomes a guesstimate. Actual cost was only about 5% more than I’d expected but paying cash was a problem. I have many secure pockets and knew I had a stash of $M500 notes for this event. Well, I searched and poked and checked all I could in public and in desperation had to go to a loo to finalise the search. The loo was being cleaned and both the infernal yellow care/danger notice and the cleaner blocked my ingress. Desperation won and I got in and found the $M500 notes I wanted and paid the hotel. Yes, I tipped the cleaner for my having taken advantage of her with my Spanglish.


Looks fine. Ask me tomorrow. I have to catch a bus to a different terminal where, I hope, I can buy a local nano SIM card. None here. 

Next post: flight to Oaxaca and the city. In the meantime, two views of the  wonderful snow covered mountains we flew near on the way down. 


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