Mexico Travel: The Cast of Characters

I wrote a post Mexico City? Why Not? about my thoughts on my upcoming travel to Mexico and it is but fitting that I write (a series of) post-visit review(s).

Several people have made a difference on my trip and I would like you to meet the cast…

Ismael, the “Kidnapper”

He was the driver who picked me up from the airport. I engaged the service of a local travel agency and provided them my flight details prior to my arrival. Yet my driver was not there when I arrived. That got me paranoid for a bit.

When he showed up with the placard bearing my name, I quickly followed him to the parking lot and we left. 5 minutes later I realized I paid for a shared service in a van, yet I was in a car, ALONE. I panicked! Was this the “authorized” driver or was I just kidnapped??? I remember the driver was wearing a plain white polo shirt bearing no company logo neither does the car. He might be contacting my family for ransom any moment now. So I started to engage Ismael in a conversation in hopes that if he was what I thought he was, he’d change his mind. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the gigantic Mexican flag in Zocalo. That means my hotel is close by and he is not a kidnapper after all! Peace, Ismael! 

I felt embarassed with my initial impression of him so I have to make up for my initial thoughts and give him a positive testimonial 🙂

He was my driver again for the Folkloric Ballet show. I was in the same white car and I was alone again, but this time I did not freak out. I asked Ismael if he could bring me to Hard Rock Cafe after the show to buy some souvenirs. I was a bit scared being out late at night but I may not have another chance to go. I have promised friends Hard Rock shirts and I am collecting Hard Rock magnets myself… I dismissed my fear because Ismael has gained my trust. He agreed to drive me there and we agreed on the price. Problem was I had limited Mexican pesos with me. If I paid him then, I won’t have enough cash with me on my day tour the following day. He agreed for me to just pay him when I see him at the hostel. That was not after 2 days…

Lourdes, the ATM Machine

Lourdes and Rodolfo, our tour driver, having lunch




In my post Hampton’s Inn and Suites Centro Historico I mentioned not having ample time to prepare in my hotel room before the van picked me up for the Cholula and Puebla tour. An hour later, I discovered that I did not have my Mexican pesos. I forgot to take the pesos from my pants when I changed! Hahaha… I was worried but I wanted to laugh at myself for being such a mess. I was unsure whether there were money changers in our destination. Certainly, I could not use my US Dollars and my credit card in small shops and for small purchases. My vacation has just begun and I made several boo-boos already 🙂

I talked to our tour guide, Lourdes, about my problem. I asked her if she could loan me pesos and pay her back in the hotel. She agreed so I was relieved. Lourdes had been my walking ATM, thoughtfully checking on me if I needed more pesos. I was not able to shop for souvenirs as much as I wanted to, but I survived the day. I have to say she was also a fantastic guide, very knowledgeable with our itinerary.   

The Puebla Gang

On my first Mexico tour to Cholula and Puebla, I was with 4 other tourmates composed of a mother and her teen-aged daughter, Jimena, and couple Yesenia and Ramon. They are Mexicans from different parts of Mexico. I must say this is the best group in all the tours I joined.

At the start, we were all in our own little groups (I had my own little world), the van was quiet. Lourdes informed the group that I just arrived from the airport and that I was visiting their country alone. I could feel a sense of admiration for my courage and their sense of pride for choosing their country. Jimena has been my primary photographer 🙂 Her mom likes buying local delicacies and she liked to get me into trying Mexican street food and local Bailey’s.

It was during lunch in Puebla that the group bonded. They became enthusiastic introducing me to Mexican cuisine, especially when I liked the totopos (chips), our appetizer. We talked commonalities between Mexico and Philippines like how some of our words were similar and they were trying to teach me how to habla Espanol. Conversing has been a little difficult though because they spoke little English.

Food had been our universal language and it is what bonded the group. I must say our group loved to eat! I observed that in many ways Mexicans are similar to Filipinos in terms of hospitality. Our different languages did not become a barrier. We were 5 people who came to have a good time and we all did.

Jenni, La Maestra

She is an American teacher who was on my Xochimilco tour (my second day). We were seatmates at the back of the van. She spoke Spanish so well that I thought everybody in the van were Mexicans, I found out otherwise. I envied Jenni in that aspect. It struck that old chord within me that dreamed of learning a third language way back in college.
Jenni told me she went on a 3-month homestay Spanish class in Guatemala and she thought I would enjoy the place. She was a great companion, accompanied me shopping for souvenirs and was amazed with my haggling skill 🙂 She said she did not have that!   

Patricia, La Colombiana

The timid and sweet lady from Colombia. She’s Spanish but was travelling alone like myself and that’s how we got along.

She was shy taking pictures at first but I guess my “disease” was contagious 🙂 She loved shopping for silver accessories though, a “virus” that did not bite me successfully. 


El Padre en Catedral Metropolitana

I almost missed his mass, arriving during the blessing of the massgoers. I ran to El Padre immediately to be blessed with his holy water too. I reached the front of the altar like in the movies, where all other massgoers (the extras) moved to the sides and I was alone face-to-face with El Padre. I requested him to say a little prayer for me, which he did, after teasing me “No, you are Team Pacquiao :D” His prayers were in Spanish, I did not understand a bit, but I know they were all good 🙂

I was a little disappointed at myself for being late for the mass. But I didn’t know there was a treat waiting for me “up there”.

After the mass, I lingered a bit in the church, wrote my petition in the “Petition Book”. I decided to visit the religious item shop by the church door and have a look. El Padre saw me and called me. He asked me if I wanted to go up to the church bell towers, there’s a tour leaving in a few minutes. Of course, why not?

That experience was very personal experience to me. I can feel goose bumps as the treat was unraveling itself. I was teary-eyed.

It was a disappointment that turned into a magnificent treat. You know how they say that “God moves in mysterious ways”? I felt it then, it was so surreal. Everything fell into place and it seemed that I was in the right place at the right time, but I know I was meant to be there 🙂

Different personalities with different nationalities have made my trip colorful and meaningful. There are more of them I met on the trip. I had a walking tour-mate that is now my friend on Facebook 🙂

As time passes, memories of the euphoria of climbing tops of pyramids, or eating the best tacos, or staying at the most expensive hotel, wanes. I believe it is the people that makes THE difference. It is that smile or that grunt, that little boy who showed you all the way to the shop you were looking for, your seatmate in the bus who shared her sandwich with you… These are the things that leave an impression. These are the things that last. 

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”
Roman Payne, Cities & Countries

4 thoughts on “Mexico Travel: The Cast of Characters

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