Peter and I went to Mexico City two years ago. It happened to be the week before Easter, when the city runs at half-speed because everyone’s on vacation. We were too, so we just didn’t wind up doing very much sightseeing.
Oh, why am I making excuses? We never do much sightseeing. It’s just too tedious to make big plans and maps and timetables, and get your heart set on any one thing. (Precise opposite: friend of a friend who planned her family’s trip to Disney World with a spreadsheet, down to the minute.)
The other problem with planning too much is it’s basically admitting you’re never going back to a place. If you have a big checklist, and you check off all the sights, well, then why would you come back?
I know, the world is a big place and we have a limited amount of time here, so I see why people are strategic (especially with only two weeks of vacation a year; the American workplace is savage). But let me dream, OK? I would much rather leave a place with a pang of regret–which may be strong enough to make me go back–than some kind of bucket-list satisfaction.
This is all a very roundabout justification for my own laziness and the fact that, on our first visit, we didn’t even manage to see the Diego Rivera murals in the Palacio Nacional. They were, what, five blocks from our hotel?
This time, we were three blocks closer. No excuse.
I could load you up with photos, but I’d seen the photos before, and I didn’t understand how powerful the murals are. While we were in Puebla, Peter and I were in awe of the buildings–like, how was it the Spanish were building such amazing things just 40 years after they discovered the place, and the English couldn’t even keep a colony of settlers alive?
The answer is in the last of the murals.
After that, we cheered ourselves up with ice cream.
And some tacos–grilled beef and cactus.
That were grilled in this contraption:
Not sightseeing rewarded us with those tacos, and several other neat things.
Wait, you’re saying, that’s just not interesting at all. No–look closer!
The most trivial thing we did in our post-Palacio walk was stop for many long minutes to watch a street vendor make a perfectly round pancake, without the aid of a mold. While we were sitting, playing it cool, waiting for him to pour the batter, I realized why you can’t always travel like this, planless.
People! Other people! What a pain they are.
No, seriously, we love our friends we went to Mexico City with, and we would have happily spent all of our time with them. But they’d gone off to Trotsky’s house, which is amazing, but we weren’t sure we needed to see again.
Practically speaking, you can’t stop a group of four or six people and say, “Hey, guys, check out that pancake maker. Let’s watch him for a while.” At least not if you want to make it through the day alive.
Hell, you can’t even do this with one other person, if that other person isn’t totally on your travel wavelength.
I feel incredibly lucky that Peter is. Sure, sometimes I wish he’d wake up maybe a little earlier, but he’s totally open to the ‘Wait, stop, let’s…’ and ‘Take a pic of that weird thing’ (most of the photos here are his, at my prodding) and ‘[Chortling at some incredibly immature thing]‘.
The fundamental similarity that makes it all possible, though, is that we don’t care if we miss some big sights. We get so many little ones instead.