Monthly Archives: February 2010

Mexico City Airport: Getting from International Terminal 2 to Domestic Terminal 1

When Erica and I bought these tickets to Oaxaca last November 2009 for this February 2010 trip, the RT cost direct to Oaxaca was over $800 USD.   So we decided to buy at RT to Mexico City for $344 USD and then a domestic flight on Mexicana as a separate ticket for $200 USD.  That meant when we got through immigration (imigracion) and customs (aduana) in Mexico City, we needed to get from the new international terminal on the far side of the airport to the domestic terminal.  Here’s how we did it!

When you arrive in Mexico City you’ll go through immigration (imigracion), then you’ll be led to the baggage claim area where you’ll get your baggage in order to go through customs (aduana).  First, get a rolling cart $1USD) to put your bags on.  Much easier.  You’ll have to give the woman there your baggage claim ticket in order to proceed through aduana and then exit the area.

After you get your bags, do NOT go towards “connecting flights.” (Erica almost did that, and I said, that’s if you have booked a connecting flight and you just go right into the terminal without going through aduana.) You are going to exit out the glass doors into the terminal, where a crowd of people are waiting for arriving passengers behind a roped area.  Turn right in front of them and go down the end of the hallway (you can stop and get pesos at one of the many ATMs lining the opposite side of the hall).  Your destination is the set of elevators at the far end of the hall near the bus terminal to Puebla. Take the elevator to the second floor where there is the AeroTren (air train) to Terminal One.

Follow the signs to the Aero Tren.  You will have to have a document that says you have a ticket for a flight leaving from Terminal One (or so I understood from the security guards at the entrance to the train).  The train is sleek, new, with compartments for ample people and lots of luggage.  It’s a slow ride, so make sure you have plenty of time to make this connection.  By the time we exited our flight, got through customs and immigration, and got on the train, it was 35 minutes.  Another ten minutes to get to Terminal One.  When you exit the train you will come to a bridge.  Turn left to the terminal.  If you have a lot of luggage, hire a porter for 50 pesos (I pay 10 pesos a bag) to help you.  It is a LONG walk to the Mexicana counter at Terminal One.

The Mexicana counter is on the ground floor, so you have to go down a flight of stairs to the check-in counter.  Because we order and paid for our tickets online, we were directed to a special check-in area on the right for prepaid tickets.  There is a longer counter area and that is for people who need to buy their tickets.

You’ll check your bags there and get a boarding pass. Then go through security and then upstairs to the gate– there are lots of restaurants if you want to eat or drink something. Phew! It’s not as hard as it sounds — but an adventure!  Walk to the far end of the concourse across from McDonalds and you’ll find a great restaurant.  I heartily recommend the Agua de Sandia y Jamaica, 47 pesos.

Among the Zapotecs of Mexico, National Geographic 1927

We bought National Geographic DVDs from the 1920’s to the 1960’s at a garage sale a couple of years ago and just got around to looking at the table of contents, to discover there was an article written by Herbert Covey in 1927 with photos of Teotitlan del Valle, our village.  I was eager to read it.

Herbert Covey’s view of Mexico was not unlike many of his adventurous contemporaries who were exploring indigenous Africa, Asia, and Central and South America at the same time.  In April 1927, National Geographic magazine published a rather lengthy first person account of his train trip from Puebla to Oaxaca and his travels around the villages, accompanied by black and white photos.

The travelogue, viewed through today’s lens, is appalling.  Covey reflects that era of colonial arrogance that we have associated more with Great Britain, France and other paternalistic colonizers who are determined to either remake the indigenous culture in its own image or to stereotype it into the “noble savage” ideation that sells exotic armchair travel.  It is a foretelling of the neocolonial relationship that the U.S. has had with Mexico since WWII, and is a retrospective of U.S-Mexican political relationship of dominance and weakness.  Moreover, it emphasizes the social, cultural and political superiority held by “more advanced” societies who look down upon the poor “other.”

The first paragraphs reveal the tone of the article.  Covey writes that there were only two eras in Mexican history that were civilized, the three hundred year period of Spanish colonization and the seventy year presidency of Porfirio Diaz (“affectionately” known as the Porfiriata)!  The Spanish conquest is only spoken about in the most glowing terms, and the populist Benito Juarez is referred to as the little brown Zapotec.  Other stereotypes abound and the language includes racist innuendos that made my stomach turn.

I read the entire article because these images are ingrained in our world view as a nation, and it is important to know how we are acculturated to accept (or reject) our Mexican neighbors.  These writings of almost one hundred years ago influence how we treat the immigration issue today and our economic relationship with Mexico around oil and other natural resources.

Wikipedia:  Paternalistic neocolonialism

The term paternalistic neocolonialism involves the belief held by a neo-colonial power that their colonial subjects benefit from their occupation. Critics of neocolonialism, arguing that this is both exploitive and racist, contend this is merely a justification for continued political hegemony and economic exploitation of past colonies, and that such justifications are the modern reformulation of the Civilizing mission concepts of the 19th century.

Learning Spanish: Online Language Lessons

The New York Times just published a story about three of the most popular online Spanish tutorial sites:  Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More, and Live Mocha.  I decided to investigate in order to practice before I hit the ground running in Oaxaca two weeks from now.

Here is the link:

Here is my assessment of the three sites:

Live Mocha is FREE. Can’t beat that, or so it seems.  I spent a few hours on the site after easy registration.  The lessons are like using a textbook.  After my language skills were measured, I was directed to the level that was most appropriate for my learning.  I used the mouse to select my answers to the questions in Spanish and English that popped up on to the screen.  After each module, I received a score.  The lessons were clear, visual, simple to understand, and I could easily see my progress.  However, there was no verbal pronunciation exercises or feedback given for articulating words.  A huge shortcoming, in my opinion.  But, what do you expect for nothing!

Tell Me More COSTS $$, but not as much as Rosetta Stone.  The list of universities, colleges and businesses that use this online program is huge.  You can sign up for two modules for $171 (before February 5, 2010), a 25% discount.  The program is interactive and provides pronunciation practice using a graph that measures voice tone and accent accuracy, in addition to the type of learning endorsed by the U.S. State Department.  You can buy in to this program without a huge financial commitment.

Rosetta Stone = a BIG INVESTMENT.  Thousands.  My husband Stephen, who taught ESL in the Peace Corps, says that the way the lessons are structured are not conducive to easy language learning.  He is not a Rosetta Stone fan, and I trust his judgment.  After looking at the Rosetta Stone site, I could see immediately that the way the lessons are taught would not work for me, and I didn’t want to make that $$ huge commitment up front.

My best advice:  navigate these three sites and determine what feels most comfortable to you.  I’m signing up for Tell Me More.