Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mexico City Airport: How safe is it?

Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City is like any other major international airport — comfortable, safe, clean, lots of shopping and good food. Plus, there is friendly help everywhere — wait staff, porters to help with luggage, and even the experience of going through customs is positive.

People often ask me:  How safe is it to fly into Mexico City?  My answer would be:  Mexico City airport is as safe as flying into Chicago O’Hare, DFW or Houston Intercontinental, LAX or IAD.  Okay, pick your U.S. destination and compare the photos below to what a big airport looks like anywhere USA.

Here are photos to prove it!

People are connecting in this lounge to the U.S., Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Argentina.  I heard French, Spanish, Japanese, and English.

And laptops, iPads, Blackberries, iPhones, and Droids are ubiquitous.  Telcel even gives you limited free Wi-Fi access, and there are Samsung charging stations everywhere.

And, one more …

The man sitting next to me was a New Yorker who had just returned from San Cristobal de Casas.  He works for a boutique hotel organization and was checking out an affiliation in Chiapas.  Newark to Mexico City to San Cristobal.  Muy facile.  And, he spoke very little Spanish (muchas gracias, un poquito) and got by very well.

Most U.S. air carriers bring passengers to Benito Juarez International Airport and connect them on Aeromexico to destinations throughout Mexico and south, including Oaxaca.

Buen viaje!

Alert: Continental aka United Moves to Terminal One Mexico City Benito Juarez Airport

AyyayYayyayyah! I discovered upon landing from Oaxaca to DF Termnal Two on Aeromexico that CO/UAL is no longer in Terminal Two. They moved 4 days ago. Hary believing this (because I was schlepping 2 big suitcases) a friendly porter came to my rescue, wheeled my luggage to the now defunct CO ticket counter so I could see for myself. Then, he led the way to the AeroTren (monorail)–the only way to get to Twrminal One. This whole process took me about 30 minutes. From the train to the CO/UAL counter wAs another 30 minutes. TG I had time.

Why? Because I first booked round trip RDU to Mexico City, not direct to Oaxaca because I was going to bus from Oaxaca to Puebla. Then I changed my mind and decided to stay in Oaxaca longer. This was an expensive change. Each way from DF to Oaxaca on Aeromexico is $200. Plus they consider this a domestic flight and I had to pay $400 pesos for my second bag each way. Then I needed to retrieve my bags and recheck them passing through security again, then getting them to my carrier.

So, my advice is either stick to your plans, travel lighter than me, and book your ticket all the way through to your destination. Buen Viaje.

Hasta Luego, Oaxaca — Nos Vemos Pronto: Goodbye Oaxaca. See you soon!

One of the only pleasures about leaving Oaxaca is arriving early at the airport, checking in with few people in line, and climbing the wide stairway to the second floor for breakfast.  The cafe there is “muy rico” — very delicious and as I look out the window, connected by free Wi-Fi (for about 10 minutes), I see planes coming and going and families saying goodbye.

I can savor the perfectly prepared over-easy eggs served with a piquante salsa, guacamole and a bit of frijoles negros topped with a bit of quesillo string cheese.  I slop all of this up with steaming tortillas that I tear into pieces (in the style of my Oaxaca host family) and taste each morsel.

The fresh fruit display is second to what comes served on mixed fruit plate.  The coffee is dark and rich.  I add unprocessed (carmel colored) sugar to the coffee and it is incredible.  A perfect start to a long travel day on three airplanes to get back to RDU (Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina).

In December or January I will return for several months.  Knowing this makes me happy and I don’t have the usual sadness when I leave Oaxaca this time after a short 10-day visit.  The next time will give me the luxury of time to continue to explore my village and the city and mountain pueblos where I have not yet been.

Hasta pronto!

Scenes of Santo Domingo, Iconic Oaxaca Church

One of the first destinations for tourists visiting Oaxaca is the iconic Santo Domingo Church at the corner of Macedonio Alcala and Gurrion. Construction started here in the late 1500’s within decades after Cortes first arrived here.  Each time I visit the city (I live in the country), I am drawn to  its architectural magnificence.   I often go back and forth from Calle 5 de Mayo to Av. Garcia Virgil, passing Sto. Domingo and must pay attention that it does not become part of the wallpaper!

From the rooftop terrace at La Olla restaurant you can see the details of the two domes and get a more intimate sense of the complexity of the structure.  Note the green broken glass trim on the wall to keep people from leaping and climbing!

From the top of Cerro del Fortin where the Auditorio Guelaguetza is located you can see Santo Domingo surrounded by the city lights.  It is the most prominent building in the Oaxaca valley.  After the Lila Downs concert ended and before we picked our way down the steep concrete Escalera del Fortin this view captivated me.  Without tripod, I leaned on the rail to keep my camera steady to get the best shot I could.

Toto la Momposina Adds Caribbean-Latin Flavor to Lila Downs Concert

The hot band Toto la Momposina (click on this link to hear their great music) from Colombia, South America, opened for Lila Downs last night at the Auditorio Guelaguetza in Oaxaca. Lead singer Sonia Bazanta Vides, who has been dazzling audiences with her voice for over 50 years, announced this was her last concert (if I understood correctly).


Front row seats meant a ringside treat to the dancing, hip swaying, and throb of the bass from the speakers.  The beat was definitely cumbia, salsa, tango and with Afro-Caribbean drum accompaniments.  Totally a hand-clapping, toe tapping experience.  Exuberant and joyful.


Sonia’s voice was only equal to the energetic dancing by the performer in the bright floral blue, yellow and red dress.  Both offered visual insight into the music and dance traditions of Colombia.  Plus, the band included African and indigenous instruments — flutes, drums, and rattles — that added spice to the performance along with the electric guitars.



Nominated for a Latin Grammy, Sonia Bazanta Vides has performed for over 50 years throughout the world, representing the rich and complex music of Colombia and especially the islands where she was raised.  She studied music, voice and composition at the Universidad de Colombia and at the Sorbonne in Paris.  In 1983, she accompanied Gabriel Garcia Marquez to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature.