6. Mexico City (Day Two)
Day two saw us braving the underground train network. In Australia we love to complain about the public transport system, but until you have experienced (and survived) Mexico City, you don't know how good you have it. As a massive understatement, the trains were busy. Extremely busy. They came every few minutes but in peak hour, they nowhere near meet the demand. The first train arrived and I was glad we didn't attempt to get on. Just watching from the sidelines was enough to make us question whether a taxi might have been a better option. As the doors opened a tidal wave of people spilled out onto the platform, pushing and shoving their way through the crowd. Once thousands of people had exited, thousands more pushed and shoved their way onto the train. The men at the back were doing their best to physically force everyone in, although in the end many missed out. It was like trying to squeeze sheep into a pen that clearly wasn't large enough, but not everyone understood that.
Now that we knew what we had to do, we joined the masses on the edge of the platform and waited for the next train. Sure enough, another tidal wave swept past us and before we knew it, we were being crammed into the metal tube. When you think they couldn't possibly fit any more people in, another dozen or so were thrust inside. We were packed in so tightly that there were times when my feet weren't even touching the floor. I kept wondering if there was enough oxygen for everyone on board. I was glad it wasn't a long trip.
Out of hell and into heaven: the bus. Heaps of space, assigned seats, leg rests, movies playing, free nuts and water. This is how we like it. We caught the bus to Toluca, west of the city, then a taxi out to Nevado de Toluca, the country's fourth highest peak. To show how ignorant we were, we never realised that Mexico has SNOW! The mountain was covered in it! When we pictured a Central American holiday, we thought of sun, sea and sand, not snow and ice. The taxi could only take us so far, but we wrangled a lift in the back of a truck to the main gate and started hiking. Luckily it was a beautiful day, not too cold for our thin clothing and the snow was perfect for walking on. Everywhere we looked there were postcard-worthy views. I wish we could have stayed all day, but the taxi was waiting so we grudgingly made our way back down the mountain and returned to Mexico City.
In the afternoon we visited Mercado San Camilito, aka ghost town. The market was lined with restaurants that were all empty, and everyone we passed begged for our business. We stopped at a juice bar to pick up a drink each, and somehow they ended up being about a litre in volume. Seriously, who drinks a litre of juice in one go? We couldn't finish them. The absence of other patrons made us feel a little guilty, so we sat down at one restaurant and ordered some food: fondue and tostados filled with some miscellaneous jelly-like stuffing. Weird. Thankfully there were heaps of free side dishes on the table (think tortillas, chili sauce, salsa, guacomole) and we devoured these. I love Mexican food. Free Mexican food is even better.