April 17th, 2018

krazy koati

I'll buy the peanuts and popcorn

Back to La Feria, which we'd just left. With the park closed we had the question how to get home. Well, find an Authorized Taxi stand, naturally. I asked at the information booth near the front of La Feria and the person apologized and went back into the office to consult with, I trust, someone. She came back and said that there were taxis out on the street. ... All right, but we had gotten a lot of warnings against picking up street taxis. Well, if we could get to a pay phone we could call the hotel and they would arrange a taxi, at least.

Someone else overheard me asking about taxis, and ran up to volunteer that we just needed to get an Uber ride. I thanked him for the advice, trusting that there was no point explaining that we couldn't use it (no smart phones, and even if we had smart phones, no Mexico-network smart phones) or that even if we could we wouldn't (as Uber is an evil company which exists to inflict misery on the public). bunny_hugger heard only part of this, and mistook it for advice from the park employee, and that didn't really make things better.

Anyway. Last stop in the park: the gift shop, which we had poked into earlier in the afternoon. They had some fairly nice t-shirts. I picked up one that's actually got a collar, making it look that little bit extra classier. No ride shirts, unfortunately, but at least they had stuff with the name of the park, which puts the merchandise a fair bit ahead of Six Flags Mexico's.

And then ... out, into the night. Some taxis outside the park entrance, waiting for pickups. We were wary of them. No pay phones, to my surprise. But I had a thought. The amusement park is in the midst of a large city park; there'd surely be an Authorized Taxi stand somewhere nearby. And if there weren't, there was a metro station nearby. That would have one. There were a handful of signs pointing to the subway. By the time the signs thinned out there was a good-sized crowd of people moving in the same direction. I trusted this would be leading to the subway. I was right, but it took a while: several blocks one way, then a turn, then down past a hospital(?) and some more minor roads and then down an overpass over the highway that looked familiar from driving in and then down another narrow street and further along but then, what do you know, but there was the Metro entrance.

With ... no sign of an Authorized Taxi stand. But they did have pay phones. I got the number for the hotel and over a very noisy, crackly line, and got someone at our hotel. I explained quickly where we were and that we needed a taxi. The person said all right and put me on hold, saying I needed the concierge. After several unnerving minutes of quiet and my thinking about how much change I had in my pockets the phone picked up again, to a person who had no idea who I was or why I was calling. So I explained the situation again and was put on hold again, with the assurance that the concierge would be able to help me. And then more waiting while I worried about how long a pay phone call will last and whether I would understand an operator's instructions to deposit more money. Most of what I had managed to do in Mexico City had been borne out by contextual clues. A new voice in a confusing situation? Could be anything.

Ah, but finally, someone picked up who had no idea who I was or why I was calling. I explained it quickly and they said that we were pretty far from the hotel. Yes, that was why we wanted a taxi, thank you. They spent some time doing ... something ... and then explained there wasn't one to be had. I said, well, we're at the subway, can we at least get closer to the hotel by it? They didn't think so. I cursed myself again for not at least looking up the nearest subway stop to our hotel, but when we got home I didn't look it up. (It looks like we could have gotten to the university by subway, although it would've taken a couple transfers.)

So I led us into the subway station, to see what the station attendant recommended. They had nothing, but the language barrier probably worked against us.

What to do, lost somewhere in Mexico City late at night on a Sunday? ... My only plan was retreat. Go back to La Feria and trust that maybe we could find something there. The way back was almost all uphill, which felt really good after all this trudging around. But, to my amazement, we were not lost. I remembered enough major landmarks that it was easy navigating what had been a twisty path getting there. I often surprise myself managing something like that. (bunny_hugger, meanwhile, has the ability to actually remember the names of streets. I'm coming up on six years in Lansing and still could not tell you the name of the street one block west of ours, nor two blocks east, and I know there's a Prospect Road somewhere nearby.)

As we trudged back towards the park we found a few straggling groups of people walking back and forth. The last food stalls that were on the sides of the street outside the amusement park closing up. And, mercifully, a couple of taxis still taking pick-ups. For all that we'd been warned about the hazards of street taxis going on extravagant rides, we also didn't have a choice. So we took the taxi we could find. The driver, this time, chatted a bit about the park, but we didn't have the same kind of rapport as with the morning driver. Still, he drove us straight (as best we can tell) back to the hotel, safe and sound and for about what we had paid in the morning.

Back at the hotel, besides getting some large water bottles and some candy, we established that the paid Wi-fi codes didn't lapse at exactly 24 hours after you started using them. That is, if, say, Saturday you started using a new code at 10 pm, and Sunday you connected to the Internet at 9:30 pm, you were good up until the time you disconnected. So if we were thoughtful about closing our laptops we could drag one day's connection code out for two days' decent Internet. In practice, we'd use this to switch off, buying a code for me one day and bunny_hugger the next, but either way we could feel like we were getting away with something.

Trivia: At the end of World War I, the United Kingdom averaged a production of 3,500 aircraft and 4,000 engines per month. Source: Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity through the First World War, Richard P Hallion.

Currently Reading: The Mismapping of America, Seymour I Schwartz.

PS: And some more at the Columbus Zoo.


Reverse-angle shot of the Columbus Zoo carousel animal I was riding. I don't think the ride was moving when I took this --- I don't do that --- but I'm not sure how to explain the blurry motion look in the background with the sharp look of the foreground animal otherwise.


Reverse of the Columbus Zoo's band organ, which had a portrait of what the zoo might have looked like back in the day. Well, in a very stylized fashion since while I know zoos used to, like, keep an elephant in an enclosure nearly large enough for them to turn around I'm pretty sure they were never kept behind a barrier short enough for the elephants to step over anytime they wanted.


And we continue to fail to completely ignore real actual animals in the zoo. There was a little and impromptu-looking exhibit of flamingos as we walked back to the amusement rides.