mexico city - any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by francisco_arcaute, Mar 31, 2003.

  1. I'll be in Mexico City, specifically "el centro" next week. Any
    comments, suggestions, photos, etc. you'd like to share?

    I'll take my M6, 35, 90, and a Voigtlander w/25, 15 lenses, shooting
    Kodaz B/W - C-41 and Kodax 800 color print.

    I'll be careful, I know it can get hairy.

    Should I bring my HOLGA?
  2. Keep your equipment to a minimum. I like to use fanny packs with the
    business end in front of me. Be familiar with your equipment also; the less
    stuff you have to think about, the more aware you can be about your
    surroundings. Also, mornings have nice light and less bad guys.
    Buena suerte.
  3. Francisco, I´ve been to Mexico City a couple of times for several days each. Never got into a 'hairy' situation. As in any other city, there are some areas you should avoid at dark; any taxi driver should be able to tell you where they are. The city center is very interesting; especially on the weekend there are lots of people on the Zócalo. Also, Bosque de Chapultepec has an atmosphere like NYC´s Central Park. You can see some more of my Mexico pics on my website. Carsten
  4. For three years I was visiting and working in Mexico City. I cannot tell you enough of how much you have to be careful. I was taught by my local friends that nobody is immuned and nothing is safe. So being "ultra low key" is the "key" to survival. Be very weary of the unregistered taxi - you'll never know where you'll end up. Use a lot of common sense, and I repeat, don't flash any of your wealth, which includes your gears. One time I had an Italian friend with me, and we were with some high ranking government officials. One of the officers was suddenly screaming his head off because he noticed my Italian friend was wearing a steel Rolex watch. He said,"Do you want your arm chopped off?" It was plastic Timex for me ever since.... If they don't feel safe themselves, what chance do we have if we are not prudent. You take it from there. Take care.

    Oh yes, one more thing : DON'T DRINK THE LOCAL WATER!!!!
  5. Ditto All the caveats about being careful. Go to the Museum of Antropology; and also north of the city is Teotihuacan, the Mexica
    Temples of the Sun and Moon.
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I went to Mexico City in December, wary because of everything I had read. On wandering around, it didn't seem to be any different than any other big city - good neighborhoods, bad neighborhoods, watch your back. I carried a Mamiya 7 out in the open and nobody even looked at it.
    If you can get out of the city for a few days, take a bus to Peubla, it's a lot smaller and easier to get around, has wonderful museums (although nothing like the Anthropology and Art museums in Mexico City), and it's near the site of the world's largest pyramid.
    Teeth, Mexico City, Copyright 2003 Jeff Spirer
  7. Ditto the recommendation for Puebla, and for caution in Mexico City. The company that a relative works for sends along a personal bodyguard whenever they send her to Mexico City. Puebla is pretty laid-back, friendly, and safe.

    Don't drink the water. Bottled water is plentiful: "aqua purificado." Make sure the seal is unbroken!

    One camera, a zoom lens, a wide-angle lens, and a fast normal did it for me.
  8. Francisco, another thing I wish to remind you is, and I hope you speak Spanish --- NO ICE !!!! Almost always, we tend to forget about that. Ice is "water in solid form". If you don't speak Spanish, then say something like "cin yello" or something to that effect, otherwise, Montezuma may have his revenge on you. Again, take care, be safe.
  9. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I've never been anywhere in Mexico where they didn't use purified ice if it was going in a drink. Even in remote villages, I've seen the ice truck drive up to the restaurants. However, if bottles of water are kept in tubs of ice, it's likely that the ice is not purified. But in the bars and restaurants, it's not a problem to have ice. I say this after ten years of going to Mexico regularly, often to rural locations, sometimes with quite primitive facilities.

    Also, it's "sin hielo."
  10. francisco,i have been living in mexico city for the last 41 years
    and all i can tell you is that sandy is right on the money...!
    do not bring your rolex or anything fancy. if you really want to
    bring your leica be extra-careful and NEVER trust a taxi driver
    specially the green beetles. maybe this is a good time to use all
    your old clothing that you were planning to throw away, and the
    holga is a very good idea.
    if i were you i would fly to oaxaca ( 35 minute flight), that is the
    place to go with your leica!!.
    where are you coming from,by the way...??
  11. David,

    as I said, I never had a problem with a Leica in MexCity. IMHO a Nikon or Canon SLR would be much more conspicuous.

    This is not to downplay the dangers of the city, but there is no need to panic, either.

  12. Francisco:
    I have lived in Mexico city all my life, it is like any other big city in
    the world, as said before low key is the best.
    - Never drink other than bottled water, I do this even in European
    countries, it is very simple, there are bacteria in the water system
    in EVERY country , and your body should be adapted to be able
    to drink tap water. even Mexicans can get sick with US or
    Europe's water, so keep it to bottle water, soft drinks and beer.
    - When arriving to the airport, get a taxi ticket from the official taxi
    site. it would be around $150 pesos, about $14 USD. and then
    go out to the street and look for the official taxi line. they are
    100% safe.
    - When taking a green taxi on the city, make sure the taxi driver is
    the same guy as his photo ID that should be hanging
    somewhere near the driver.
    - Ignore people asking for money, asking what time is it or any
    other questions, just pretend you are in a hurry and don't have
    time for strangers.
    - While taking pictures, shoot your photos and take your camera
    back to your bag. If possible avoid camera bags, with BIG
    camera names . I use a simple and old backpack.
    - Interesting places to go:
    Museo de Antropologia
    Zocalo ( the very nice photo above)
    Francisco I madero street near zocalo
    5 de mayo st. near zocalo
    Palacio de Bellas Artes
    Paseo de la Reforma ( avenue )
    Poliforum Cultural Siqueiros ( check the murals inside the
    building, up a pair of spiral stairs. )
    Insurgentes avenue ( from viaducto to the south )
    centro de coyoacan ( best in weekend )
    Bazaar sabado ( saturdays, in the nice san angel district )
    polanco ( masaryk st. & musset st. , nice commercial district )
    Colonia Condesa ( very nice restaurant area, the young and the
    yuppies gather there, av. tamaulipas & av. michoacan )

    -my family is from Puebla, it is nice, but I like better the city of
    Queretaro 220KM from Mexico City , 3 hours by bus. very very
    -Guanajuato is even better but requires a little more time
    -Oaxaca is fine too, but I rather go to Guanajuato

    AREA. from zocalo to the west is OK.

    If you need anything else just send me an e-mail
  13. Francisco I madero st. and Eje central, photogpraphed from Palacio de Bellas Artes.
  14. Dangerous city. Bw very careful and carry the minimum.. Make
    sure you have insurance.
  15. i have been to A LOT of big cities all over europe,
    america,canada, and latin america,believe,mexico city is very
    unsafe. if you really have to come,bring only the minimum. i
    agree that most burglars will prefer a nikon or a canon, or
    something with a lot of rings and bells, but they will try to get
    anything they can from you, so i would choose the holga ( with
    cheap film,of course...) instead of the leica.
    good luck.
  16. I'm giving up. Only going to use my Leica in the back yard. No, wait. There's deer back there; that means ticks; that means Lyme disease. So, I'll just sit by the window and wait for the deer to come to me to use my Leica. Wow. Just when I can afford to own a Leica, the rest of the world gets so poor they'll steal even a cheap disposable camera if they see you using it. How about cutting a hole in your coat and sneaking photographs without showing the camera?

    I recommend you try the Zona Rosa in Mexico City...for the best places to eat at night, great night street photography as well.
  17. Lay back and live!
    I was warned profusely about Mexico City from many points of view. After being very cautious I realized it was just like being anywhere, just new to me. My only regret is that I did not own a Leica when I was there. I carried ostentatious Nikon gear and could get no one to steal it! I was approached by a local 'Countess' who surprised me from behind and whispered in my ear while I was trying to surrepstitiously photograph in the Cathedral. She conned me into taking her to dinner, she took me to the Opera and on a shopping spree where stores opened up specially for her. She was obviously well known. We got priority service at the restaurant and bypassed queues at various places. I have no idea who she really was, but I had a fairytale experience with her! I enquired how the 'Count' was at one point, just to cover myself, and was informed that he was 'asleep'! A wonderful experience, that would have been missed if I had 'been cautious'.
    I still dream of it, years later.
  18. ...come on john!!! finish the story,don`t leave us like that...!!!
    ( this could be a new category on "sex and the
    leica-m " ).
    i get the message, but i still rather go somewhere else, maybe
    because i live here....
  19. I have a solution for going around in Mexico City safely. Go over to Plaza Garibaldi and hire a Mariachi band to go around with you. Should keep you entertained and perfectly safe. Seriously it has been way too long since I was in Mexico City with my Leicas to offer any opinions. I've heard and read that it has gotten a lot rougher there than it used to be. When I was there it seemed safer than the average US city and my wife and I walked and cabbed all over town day and night with no problems and a lot of fun. I think it is truly one of the great cities in the world where you can see many interesting things and eat and drink lavishly at fairly reasonable prices. Maybe since they have hired Rudy Giuliani and his company for big bucks to help clean up the crime things will get better (yeah right). Hemingway used to say 'meet me in the bar at the hotel Ritz in Mexico City!' Be safe.
  20. Francisco,

    I live in Mexico (country) and travel often to the capital on business. Just excercise common sense; it's not more dangerous than NY or LA. The M6 is all right, I take mine usually. The plastic watch is unfortunately a *must*, tho. Be wary of the green VW beetle taxis, lots of "irregulars" and among them, many thieves. However, it's nearly impossible to tell them apart because they're very well disguised as legit, so it's better not to flag them. Other brands and colors are all right. Your hotel can also arrange "tourism" taxis for you that will be at your disposal for a flat hourly or daily rate and most drivers are certified tourist guides who speak some degree of English.

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