Back from the chaotic capital

WE RETURNED Wednesday via bus from Mexico City.

After spending four nights in our condo.

There is good news, ecstatic news for me. We rented the place to a nephew who started this week at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, a prestigious university that’s difficult to get into.

Our condo is walking distance from the school.

The not-so-good news is that his family views rent as money wasted, so they will be looking for somewhere to buy.  How soon we do not know. We may sell them our place. I hope so. I have left that decision to my child bride.

I vote a resounding yes. She, on the other hand, holds the typical Mexican view that one should never sell property under any circumstances whatsoever.

But she does see the inconvenience of its being in Mexico City.

It seems every visit to the nation’s capital is worse than the previous, traffic-wise. A friend who lives there says that each time a new thoroughfare is constructed, a new subway line opens or a Metrobús route is inaugurated, congestion just gets worse instead of better.

The young tenant and his mother arrived by bus on Wednesday, dumped a ton of baggage in the condo, and spent the night in a nearby hotel. The following morning, we left town, and they moved in.

She won’t be staying. Just him.

So, as things stand, our twice-yearly visit to air out the condo, chase the bugs away, and mop up dust is now canceled. May it ever be so.

I shot the video on our way back. There were only six other people in the two-decker ETN bus. It looks empty because it mostly was.

A few months back, I decided to never visit San Miguel de Allende again. I hope to make the same vow for Mexico City. Other destinations call and, of course, it’s ever spectacular here on my Mexican mountaintop where we live in peace.

* * * *

(Note: In the middle of the return trip, the bus was stopped by immigration agents, and the passengers were asked for identification. They were looking for illegal aliens, of course. It was a first for me and, strangely, we were in the middle of Mexico. It was akin to being in Kansas. I flashed my official, laminated, full-color, photo-included voter ID.)

Home sweet home

One
On the highway in central Mexico, passing humble homes.

HOGAR DULCE HOGAR, if you prefer. In any event, we returned Sunday after a week in Mexico City.

It was a good week. I wasn’t in a rush to return, as has been the case in recent years, an inexplicable change of heart.

For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up, we have a condo in the capital, a unit in a government housing development built specifically for employees of the Mexican highway department where my wife worked 14 years as a civil engineer.

She purchased the place in 1997, and was living there when we met here on the mountaintop in 2001 while she was visiting her sister who has a business on the plaza.

When we married in 2002, and she moved here, we rented the condo to a coworker. He stayed until 2007 when he bought his own home. Instead of renting it to an unknown, a dicey proposition even when you live nearby, we decided to keep it for ourselves for the occasional visit to the Big Tortilla.

We arrived at the condo in January 2007, painted everything and bought new furniture and appliances.

For the first four or five years, we were in Mexico City about two months each year.

Then I grew weary of it. Traffic is horrendous, and we drove from the mountaintop in our car. After about six years, I abandoned the car idea, and we switched to buses.

There are basically three ways to get about Mexico City. The subway (the Metrobus is just a ground-level subway), which is almost always jammed, microbuses, which are almost always jammed, and taxis. It’s taxis all the way for us now.

They are metered and quite cheap.

two
Driving by a “lagoon” the size of a small ocean.

For some reason, I was in no rush to leave during this last trip, so we did a few things other than the usual cleaning of the condo and paying a few bills.

There was time to visit the Pastelería Ideal, one of the most incredible bakeries you’ll ever see. And we even caught a play at the Gran Teatro Molière where we saw Peter Pan, the Musical, a Saturday matinee.

The theater is located in one of Mexico City’s most-chichi neighborhoods, Polanco. We got there by taxi, of course.

Were I wealthy and required to live in Mexico City, I would purchase a nice home in Polanco.

The most momentous aspect of the trip is that it appears that we’re on the verge of getting the deed to the condo, something we’ve been trying to wrest from the grip of the government since we paid it off about seven years ago.

We visited our notario — a type of lawyer who does deeds — and he says he may be notifying us in a week or two that my wife must return to sign the final papers. Let us pray so.

What brought this about was that we were able to provide a final piece of paperwork to him, something we could have done a year ago had he been a bit more forthcoming instead of indulging in typical Mexican vagueness.

My wife paid 100,000 pesos for the government-underwritten condo in 1997, about $5,500 U.S. at today’s exchange rate. It is now appraised at 600,000 pesos, about $33,000.

An identical unit nearby, however, was sold last year for more than 1 million pesos, about $55,000 U.S.  For years, we had planned on selling when we received the deed, but we’ve changed our minds. We’re keeping it.

The surrounding area grows more upscale by the day, and the condo value is rising at the same rate.

We got the place tidied up, purchased and installed a new, instantaneous, water heater and headed home to the mountaintop via the snazzy ETN bus line.

The photos were taken from my seat.