When my parents first told me that we were going to take a family vacation to Mexico City, I got a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. All I had heard from the media, other family members and my boss was how dangerous Mexico City was and how a different American was getting kidnapped and held for ransom every other week.
Co-workers were telling me to be careful and giving me tips on how not to get robbed.
“Don’t wear jewelry. Don’t speak English. Don’t carry a purse around,” is all I would hear.
My aunt, whom we were going to visit, told us the city had its rough parts, but she assured us we would be safe and nothing would happen. She has lived in Mexico City for more than 20 years, so her reassurance eased my anxiety.
She talked about all the different places we were going to go visit, I began to feel some excitement, but I was still nervous. The day before we left my boss jokingly told me, “Well if I don’t see you again, it was nice knowing you.”
When we landed my aunt picked us up and took us to her house and it is safe to say that she does not live in the nicest area of the city, and as soon as I saw my surroundings, the anxiety came back. I remember thinking I would be lucky if I made it out alive.
However, all of that changed when my aunt took us on Mexico City’s version of public transportation, “el metro,” or the subway. I had never been on a subway or any sort of train, so I was apprehensive.
With a cost of less than 30 cents, it is possible to travel the entire city, so naturally hundreds of thousands of people use “el metro” everyday. Riding “el metro” is an experience I will never forget.
It was crowded and everyone was pushed up against each other, and at this moment it dawned on me that not one of these people was paying any attention to me. They did not care that, against my father’s wishes, my sister and I were speaking English and taking pictures.
Everyone was minding their own business and I even saw someone falling asleep with their iPod on. Of course you have to watch your belongings, but you should take care of your belongings wherever you go.
The rest of the trip was filled with culture and history, and without one kidnapping or robbery attempt. We visited Mexico’s version of the Capitol Building, “El Palacio Nacionál,” the National Art Museum, where we saw original paintings and murals by Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, and toured the castle where presidents used to live.
Everything people told me about Mexico City was wrong, or at least I never saw any of it. It was the best vacation I have ever been on, and I plan on going back very soon. And I will be speaking English and carrying a purse.
Elsie Ramos, a sophomore journalism major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.