Final days in Mexico: Chapultepec, roller coasters and pyramids!

I’m finally catching-up on writing about my last few days in Mexico.

On Day 7, we went to Chapultepec Park. It’s huge! (Slightly larger than San Diego’s Balboa Park, according to Wikipedia.) Our mission was to enter "La Feria" amusement park to ride the famous "Montaña Rusa" wooden roller coaster, which was built in 1964.

La Feria is also home to a few other coasters, a walk-through haunted house, a freefall ride, bumper cars and other amusements. There was hardly anyone in the park, so we walked right onto everything.

First stop: we rode "Cascabel," a steel shuttle loop just like the old "Tidal Wave" coaster at Great America in Santa Clara, California. Way fun! We also took a ride on "Ratón Loco," which literally translates to "Crazy Mouse." It was definitely the "spinniest" spinny coaster I’ve been on, ever. WOAH, it was out of control!

Throughout the day, we kept looking at Montaña Rusa; we never saw it running. We figured it might just be opening late, so we kept moving. The freefall ride was rather tame, but afforded a nice view of the city. The haunted house was kick-ass. (Chris remembered it from when he visited Mexico as a kid, though they’ve most certainly updated some of the scenes and effects since then.)

By the time we’d seen the entire park, Montaña Rusa still wasn’t running, and I began to worry. We’d seen mechanics near the tracks, and the loading platform was absolutely empty. We wandered into the queue to see what would happen; an employee stopped us and said "we don’t run the ride unless we have at least 20 riders in the train." WOAH! It seemed as if there weren’t even 20 people in the entire park! But this was an important ride for me, so we decided to wait and see if any more riders showed-up.

Nothing.

So we got creative.

I walked-out to the midway and approached absolutely anyone that walked-by, even if they didn’t look like the roller-coaster-riding type. In god-awful Spanish I tried to explain that we needed at least 20 riders, and would they be willing to help us out? (Dan commented that the scenario felt very "Amazing Race-like…") Within a few minutes, we’d managed to scrounge-up 12 riders. (I can’t take all the credit… some of them seemed interested in riding anyhow.) But we still needed more. I kept at it… and I even bought a ride ticket for an otherwise-not-so-sure bystander! Within about 10 minutes we managed to reach 20 riders… so we filled the train and got our ride! Woot!

By the way… over the summer I rode 13 roller coasters, giving me a total of 228 in my lifetime repertoire, yay!

So after a few other afternoon side-trips we began to head home. We shuffled into the subway so we could get back to the apartment. It was very hot and humid in the train. I think each of us found a stray empty seat, so we sat.

And sat…

And sat.

After perhaps 20 minutes, we decided to get out of the subway and take a taxi home. Once we were in a taxi, we learned why the subway hadn’t moved: there had been a shooting in another station.

If you’ve been following my travel journal, you already know about the shooting. Here’s a more recent news story about the incident:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112987536

There’s also a wrenching video of the episode, caught on security camera:

(If we’d arrived just 20 minutes earlier, we would’ve been on a train that entered into the same station where the shooting took place.)

Apparently this guy acted alone, responding to a policewoman who caught him making graffiti.

We headed home to relax, change, shower, then get ready for a concert: we were to see jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz perform live with Murcof, a talented (and woofy) electronica artist from Tijuana. It was quite the pairing, and we really enjoyed the show:

For our last full day in Mexico, we ventured out to Teotihuacan, about 25 miles from Mexico City. What a treat! Tlaloc (the Aztec god of rain) must’ve been in a generous mood that day, because we had absolutely gorgeous weather for the trip. There we saw a number of archeological sites, including the mighty Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. They were gigantic… bigger than I expected! And yep, we climbed them:

So, that was my trip. The return flight home was super easy and comfortable; we hit no traffic between LAX and San Diego, and I have many memories and photos (and stories!) that will last a lifetime.

I’d like to send a special shout-out to my travel buddies for the Mexico leg of my "world tour:" Chris, Dan and Temo… I really enjoyed the adventures with them!

I’ll probably add one more wrap-up post here, just to catch-up on some loose-ends and share some tips I learned from my summer travels… (sometimes you learn the hard way!)

Posted via Posterous.

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~ by Mike Y on September 28, 2009.

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