5. Overcrowded public transport. DF’s public transport system (called the CDMX) is pretty impressive for a developing nation, and make no mistake, despite certain highly developed areas of DF and Mexico, it’s still a developing nation. It is composed officially of a metro which is both above and below ground, a metro-bus which is a 2 car bus, a tram system, and regular buses. The system is pretty effective, many buses have dedicated lanes, there are 12 metro lines, and buses seem to cover the entire city. But, the system is overcrowded. Often metros or buses are so crowded the doors can’t close. And it’s not uncommon to have to wait for a few buses to pass before you can find one that has enough space for you to get on. All in all though, the system works pretty well and is incredibly cheap, costing 6 pesos per ride, or around .50$ CDN or .35$ USD.
6. Corruption. This isn’t something you see outright, but the level of corruption in DF and Mexico on the whole has left scars on the Mexican psyche. It comes up rather quickly in conversations with the locals. It’s just a fact and can’t be escaped most say. And like everywhere, it helps some and hurts most, stifling competition and restricting opportunities. And it bleeds into every day things, and also encourages cab drivers and street vendors for example to try and overcharge foreigners. Of course, it also allows for negotiation which isn’t something you find in most developed nations.
7. Internet reliability. While there is wide coverage in the city and wifi almost everywhere, the reliability of the networks is rather poor across the board. When it works well, you can expect up to 20mbps peak downloads and 3-4 in uploads, but don’t expect that on a regular basis, and in fact a lot of the time you can hardly connect at all. It’s a bit of an issue and must have massive consequences on productivity and the economy as a whole. But this, as well as some of the other techno-infrastructural cons, are growing pains. In time, they’ll all be overcome, hopefully.
8. The cold. You might, like me, think that everywhere in Mexico is warm. Not so. DF is up in the mountains, essentially in a plateaued valley and it gets cold. Sure, not snow cold, but cold enough that you need to wear a sweater almost every day, and even often in the summer. I was there from early August to the end of September and there were very few days where I could walk around all day with a t-shirt and I don’t know if there were more than 4 or 5 nights where I didn’t need a sweater. Sure, early afternoons are generally warm, but come 5pm if I didn’t have a backup plan, it got uncomfortable. And often, even with a sweater, I was still cold. Winter, things get even worse apparently. So, while I love the city, the climate is a definite turn-off. One of the reasons I left Montreal was the brutal cold. In fact, I’d say it was the primary reason, so living somewhere that’s warm is definitely high on my priority list.
7. History. Few major cities in the world are so connected to such a distant past as DF is. The city is literally built over previous iterations dating back to the Aztecs, as early as 1325, it’s estimated. And because of this, new constructions and underground maintenance operations regularly strike archaeologically significant artifacts and ancient structures. Parts of the city were once marshland and lakes but were terra-formed by ancient populations. They literally created floating islands to grow their crops on, and eventually these got bigger and created a mesh that eventually replaced lake with city. Of course, not all of the city is like that, but there are still remnants of that which can be found in a popular tourist destination called Xochimilco. Just outside the city are massive pyramids and even in the city center, Zocalo, excavations have uncovered complex urban structures. Historical influences from the pre-columbian era, to the Spanish colonial period, the Mexican revolution and up to today can be found everywhere in DF, and it imbues the city with just a bit of extra uniqueness.
El Districto Fenomenal