Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is it like to be on a business trip in Mexico City

The people I saw in the office are very touchy-feely. Mexicans do the whole European "air kiss" greeting thing. As I walk through the aisles of cubicals I saw people giving each other messages, hugging and touching each other in friendly ways that would be unusual in the US.

One reason for my confusion may have been that I was carry 3 types of currency in my wallet.

It's been hard for me to adjust to the idea that $10 Mexican equals approximately $1 USD. When I see an advertisement on a bus touting a Whopper Jr from Burger King for the bargain price of $15 I continue to do a double-take. It's also strange to be carrying around $500 bills.

There is security everywhere, and not the rent-a-cops you see in the US. These are police officers with large guns. Homes and offices are surrounded by fences, almost always protected by armed guards. When you walk by a home you walk by a fence. You cannot see the house at all.

By far the most valuable Spanish phrase I could have learned was "I already signed in this morning". Security at the location where I was working was so tight. When I would arrive in the morning I would have to provide my ID to a guard behind a heavy door. Then I would go to one building to sign in and register my laptop. Then I would walk to another building and get my laptop scanned.

The process was much more complicated than I care to explain here, but the same thing happened at the end of every day: I would return to the first building where I signed it and try to explain to the guard that I had signed in already.

The security is the main reason I didn't take many pictures on this trip. Cameras were positively not allowed in the office I was working in. I normally carry my camera in my bag, but I mostly left it in the hotel for the week.

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