Travel Musings

Pages from the Past. My “First Travel Blog Post” – Mexico City 1977

When I was 11, my family traveled to Mexico City.  It was a last-minute trip, and I had to miss some school.  To make up for that, my 6th-grade teacher Mrs. Gilbert, decided that I should write a report about my trip.  My mom was recently going through some boxes in her garage, and found this report.  I had a feeling there was gold in them thar pages, so asked her to quickly send them. And as I suspected, this 43 year old school report on Mexico City, was in fact, my first travel blog post!  The Thorough Tripper wasn’t born in Costa Rica after all.  The Thorough Tripper was born in Mexico City!

This trip to Mexico City was my first international trip.  It was my initial awakening to a different culture and different food. On this trip,  I rode on my first airplane, stayed in my first hotel, rode in my first taxi and first subway, went to my first traditional market, visited my first ancient ruins. And I documented it all!  I still have vague memories of the trip itself, but I very clearly remember the thrill of the experience.  A thrill that I still experience every time I discover a new place.

Here I am at 11 years old standing in front of one of the pyramids near Mexico City
The 11 year old Thorough Tripper

The report is very thorough and there are several sections.   I will spare you from reading the whole thing.  It’s still a 6th grader’s report after all.  But, it’s fun to read some of it.  For various reasons that I won’t detail, we drove to El Paso, crossed the border, and flew from Juarez – that’s where the story will pick up.  The pictures I have included are obviously from the family album.  So here it is – excerpts from my first travel blog post circa 1977.  (The titles and occasional comments are circa 2020).

Getting to Mexico City  (my first airplane ride)

The Juarez Airport isn’t very big, but big enough for an AeroMexico DC-9.  That’s what we flew in.  When we got to the airport, they checked our baggage and took it to put on the plane.  Then we went upstairs, where they stamped our visas and gave us our boarding passes.  Our plane was supposed to leave at 8:30pm.  While we were waiting to board we had some 7-Up  (I love that I included this detail, and definitely might consider adding a drink log to future blog posts)

After a while they told us the plane was there.  We lined up while the people from the plane came in off the plane.  Then it was our turn to board the plane.  We boarded at about 9:45pm.  We walked down a hall, went down some stairs, and out a door.  We were outside.  We went up some that led to the door of the plane.  Before we went inside a stewardess took our tickets.  Then we went inside and went down an aisle.  On the sides of the aisle were the seats. On one side there were three seats, and on the other side there were two. 

In about 15 minutes we were ready to take off.  We had to fasten our seat belts.  Then we started to move.  Pretty soon we were going down the runway.  After we had lifted off the ground, the stewardess told us about when we were going to get there, and how high we were going to be, and how fast we would be going, and how the weather should be, and how to use our airbag in case of an emergency.  Then I watched lights of some of the towns (still do). 

About 15 minutes after take off, the stewardess came around taking orders for drinks.  I got orange juice (drink log!).  Then in about 10 minutes, they brought dinner.  It was a ham dinner.   

After dinner, I did some reading (no in-seat entertainment options or iPads back then, just good ol’ books!).  After a while I found out that I liked the restrooms (like my Japan blog post, I was writing about my love for unique restrooms even at 11, but I wish I had been a little more thorough about why). Then I did some more reading (I was clearly a very studious 11 year old).  After a while, my dad said he could see Mexico City.  I looked out the window and I could see the lights of Mexico City.

Airport Transportation

The Mexico City Airport is a lot bigger than the Juarez Airport, so there were a lot of people.  When we got our luggage, we went and got in an airport taxi.  An airport taxi is a van that can fit a lot of people.  There were three other people in it with us.  We drove through Mexico City stopping at two other places.  Finally we came to a big building, which was our hotel.

Our Lodging (my first night in a hotel)

Our hotel was called El Romano Diana.  It had 13 floors (13th floor was the roof).  It had a see-through elevator.  It had a bar, a coffee shop, and a restaurant.  Outside next to the hotel is an old ship  (the perfect hotel accessory for a 11-year old boy). When you go to the restaurant, you go up some stairs and you’re in part of the ship, but in the restaurant, too.  There’s some steps in the restaurant that lead to the deck.  On the deck there’s a bell that you can ring. The bar is in the very bottom of the ship. (I have searched and searched online, and can’t find any evidence that this hotel with a ship still exists).

The ship outside the Hotel El Romano Diana in Mexico City 1977

When we went to get our rooms, they said they didn’t have our reservations.  We could only get a room.  So we got one room.  It was on the 10th floor.  We went up to our room.  Our room was at the end of the hall.  It had two beds, a desk, a closet, a small table between the bed, a bathroom, and a sink outside of the bathroom (how about that thorough description?).   We couldn’t use the water from the tap because it wasn’t purified.  We had to brush with bottled water from a cup. (Ultimately we were able to get a second room, so we three brothers didn’t have to share a single bed the whole time. Also,  I don’t know how well my Dad followed the tooth brushing rules. He developed severe gastroenteritis on this trip – bad enough that he required a visit from the hotel’s doctor).

Getting Around Mexico City

The subway has three different routes with many stops.  These routes are displayed with colors (pink, green, blue) and the stops with pictures.  If your at one color and you want to get to other color, then there are color changes so you can change from pink to blue, blue to green.  Each color is lined up in two directions.  (What??? Don’t follow my Mexico City subway guide. I hadn’t yet perfected my public transportation description skills)

The buses have many different ones going many different places.  You can either sit or stand.  

The taxis are expensive.  The drivers crazy, the speed 60mph.  But they get you to where you’re going. (To this day, my Mom is still haunted by these Mexico City taxi rides).

Top Sites In Mexico City

(I think my teacher must have asked me to take part of my report and turn it into a travel brochure.  It was separate from the main body of the report and the style screams travel brochure). 

With its thousands of lights, and it’s beautiful buildings, Mexico City is a great place two visit. (I know I didn’t plagiarize that line from a real travel brochure because of the “two”) . Travel from Juarez, Mexico on AeroMexico Airlines to the wonderful Mexico City Airport.  From there travel on taxibuses to your hotel.

On your vacation you would probably like to visit Chapultepec Park.  With almost a square mile of grass and trees and beautiful monuments and castles, you could spend over a full day in the park alone.  You might want to take a tour through Chapultepec Castle.  Other places you might go in Chapultepec Park are the zoo, the botanical gardens, the polo field (OK, I certainly plagiarized that – I doubt we hit the polo field or that I even knew what polo was), and some beautiful footpaths surrounded by tall trees.  (TripAdvisor currently ranks Chapultepec Castle as one of the top 5 sites in Mexico City.)

An old photo of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City
Chapultepec Park with the castle on the hill. I think my Dad was wearing an ascot – it was the 70’s after all..

Just outside of Mexico City are the pyramids.  You can travel there by bus.  There are two pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon.  The Pyramid of the Sun is the largest pyramid.  It is 216 feet high, and the base is about 750 square feet.  Both are fun to climb.  There is a place at the pyramids where you can buy many things. (The ancient city of Teotihuacan and its two pyramids are located 25 miles from Mexico City. It’s one of the most important archeologic sites in Mexico and dates to around 100 BC).

The Jepson boys at The Pyramid of the Sun and Moon
The Jepson boys sitting on top of Pyramid of the Sun looking out to Pyramid of the Moon

During your trip, you might want to go to the Latin American Tower.  It is the tallest building in Mexico City.  You can climb all of the 37 floors and go to the observatory.  In the observatory there is a great view of Mexico City. (The tallest building in Mexico City now is the Torre Reforma with 57 stories. The observatory at the Latin America Tower is still a popular attraction).

You can buy many of your things in the San Juan Market.  It is one of the newest markets in the city.  It is in a three or four story building.  There is things to buy of all sorts.  (It’s now one of the oldest markets in the city. Reviews on Tripadvisor indicate it’s still a great place to buy things of all sorts).

You may want to visit the new amusement park and ride on the Montana Rusa.  The Montana Rusa is the largest roller coaster in the world.  There are a lot of other fun rides in the park, too. (I fact-checked this, and at the time, the Montana Rusa was indeed the tallest roller coaster in the world. It still stands, but the amusement park has been closed since October 2019, after two deaths occurred on another ride).

You might want to visit the Presidential Palace.  In the Palace, you may see where they wrote the constitution and see the murals painted on the wall showing the history of Mexico from the Aztec to the last revolution.  You can see a chandelier made of huge chains with broken links depicting the constitutional separation of the Catholic Church from the government. (Diego Rivera’s massive History of Mexico Mural is still a popular reason to visit this historic government building, located in Mexico City’s main square. Rivera, along with his famous wife Frida Kahlo, are two of Mexico’s most important artists).

A courtyard in the Presidential Palace in Mexico City
The central courtyard in the Presidential Palace

These are just a few things you can see in Mexico City.

The End.  

(OK, this is funny. When I write a blog post in WordPress, a plugin called Yoast SEO scores the “readability” of the post with something called Flesch Reading Ease. This post scored almost 80. It’s my highest score so far!! Maybe I should always use 6th grade grammar from now on…..)

11 Comments

  • Carolyn Jepson

    Super report, Steve, then and now. Very fun memories. The scariest for me was the harrowing bus ride back into Mexico City from the pyramids. No speed limit nor passing laws observed. Glad to be alive…seriously!!

  • John

    I have never gotten an 80% readability score either. You were very thorough back then. My essays were so bad looking back. It’s clear you have a flair for this.

    • thethoroughtripper

      I was certainly expecting a low number. I was shocked when I scrolled down and saw the real score. It actually went down after I added a few more 2020 college-educated sentences. LOL

  • Carole

    What great writing for an 11 year-old! And your photos look like watercolours, how cool. Love the sound of that hotel with a ship restaurant/bar. 1977 was the year of my first ever trip abroad too, to Spain. Great memories eh 🙂

    • thethoroughtripper

      Watercolors….I guess that’s what happens when your parents who barely know how to use their phones text you a picture of a 43 yr old photo from a old photo album and then you upload it from your own phone after trying to tweak it the best you can 😊

  • lannie travels

    fun trip report! I love that your mom was able to find the original report after your trip. I bet so many details (orange juice, ham dinner, and the 37 floors of the Lat Am Tower) would have been lost without the report!

    Also, NICE WORK on your readability score! 😉

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