Travelling the world as a TEFL teacher was full of surprises. Here's a short story of my first day in Mexico City's capital; Mexico D.F. I had a fantastic time while I was in Mexico trying to find a job teaching English. I never found work, mainly because they wanted long term commitment and I had no experience, but it's not all about the teaching. This is the first in a new series of short stories about my two months in Mexico.
|Hard to imagine how there was |
so much crime connected to these innocent taxis.
Photo by tinou bao
When Dave suggested getting a green
and white Beatle taxi in Mexico D.F, I knew he was mental.
“But an American couple
warned me against the drivers,” I said. “They got robbed.” Dave, an Irish lad
in his late twenties with short black hair, gazed at me through a half full
tequila glass. The bar was empty apart from a young group of Mexican lads in
the corner sinking back Coronas. Trashy pop music blasted out.
“Yeah, true,” he said. “But
who cares? We haven’t got anything left to rob. We need to get back to the
hostel to get some more money. This is our first night in Mexico and I’m not
going to bed until we find some night life.” He downed the tequila, slammed the
glass on the table, stood up, and marched out.
I’d only met Dave
twenty-four hours before. We were travelling virgins; first day on a round the
world trip. We’d got chatting in the hostel’s van on the way from the airport
and promised to see Mexico D.F. in style. So far we’d only found quiet bars and
had spent all our pesetas. It was only 11pm.
I’d promised myself I
wouldn’t get in one of the Beatle style taxis. I’d read all about travellers
who had been mugged and left in the middle of nowhere by the Mexican cab
drivers. However, the tequila had weakened my inhibitions and Dave’s enthusiasm
I never thought we’d end
up where we did.
I felt apprehensive
about getting in the taxi. Even though we showed the driver we only had enough
for the trip back to the Zocalo, I imagined he could get a full month’s wage
selling us off to cowboys in the wild Mexican West.
“Don’t worry mate,” Dave
said. He must have sensed I was anxious. “We’ll get back in no time.” I wound
down the window and a gust of petrol fumes from the bus in front made me cough.
We whizzed alongside other taxis and the driver tooted at his colleagues.
|Love this photo! Cathedral in the Zocalo,|
just round the corner from where I stayed.
Photo by Francisco Diez
“There, nothing to worry
about,” Dave said as we paced over the deserted Zocalo. In the afternoon it had
been rammed with Inca dancers, local hair braiders, hotdog sellers, and
tourists wandering round taking photos of one of the largest squares in Mexico.
We arrived in tact, paid
up, and darted into the hostel. After we’d grabbed some money and asked the
German receptionist where the nightlife was, we headed off over the Zocalo.
I felt naive next to
Dave. He was unfazed by the darkness and sombre plaza and paced around the
empty back streets as if it was his home town. He heard some faint music in the
distance and ran in front.
“Crikey man! It’s a
saloon bar,” he said. His eyes lit up. We were outside a seedy joint with a large
wooden door. We peered through the frosted windows.
“You sure about this?” I
“What’s the worst that
can happen?” We wandered in.
Inside was dark, dingy,
and smoky. Tough Mexican men, all over forty, turned their heads as the door
slammed shut. I was surprised the slow salsa music didn’t stop. We grabbed a
table in the far corner; away from the stage where locals were dancing, and a
tall slim man served us. Men glanced over.
As we sipped the ice
cold beers I noticed the clientele were a tad odd. The women, also in their
forties, were unattractive and wore frilly dresses with low cut tops. They flirted
with the drunk, scruffy men. The air smelt sordid.
“Is this a bar or brothel?”
“I was just thinking
that, not the sort of action we were looking for eh?” Dave nodded slightly and
stared towards the stage. Couples formed and left hand in hand.
I thought we were in a
decent hiding place, but an older woman pounced.
“Hola, you speak English?” she said, startling Dave.
“Si,” he said, sitting up.
“Oh I love the English
men. What you do here?” She sat down and revealed her cleavage. A Mexican lady
of the night was chatting up Dave and he was enjoying it.
After a while, a couple
of angry men began staring at Dave and his new acquaintance. One gave the
impression he was about to come over and throw Dave, or the woman, straight
through the frosted window. She must have cottoned on because she excused herself,
but we’d already done the damage.
“Mate let’s get the cuenta, I think we’ve overstayed our
welcome,” I said.
“Why?” Dave smiled and
nodded at the woman.
“Don’t look, but
there’re a couple of angry cowboys over there. I think we’ve invaded their
ranch.” Dave glanced over, dropped his smile, and then ordered the bill.
“You go?” asked the
woman, startling us as we stood up.
“Yeah, sorry we have to
catch a bus tomorrow,” Dave said.
“Oh that’s a pity,” she
said, touching Dave’s arm.
“Maybe another time.” He
As we paced out, I felt
the eyes of the cowboys glaring. They talked louder and called out, but we
“Jesus! What was that
place?” Dave said. He looked uneasy as we jogged across the desolate
“You seemed to be enjoying
yourself. At least you finally got the action you were after.”
“I was just teasing her.
Anyway, those guys looked angry; it could have got messy.”
“Interesting first night
though, same time again tomorrow?”
“You’re joking man. I want
to finish this trip alive, not end up being sold as hotdog meat in the Zocalo.”
The next day Dave shot off to Tequila in the
north. Rumour has it there were more saloon bars up there. I never saw him
Labels: life as a TEFL teacher, life in mexico, madness of being a tefl teacher, mayhem in mexico, teaching esl in mexico, TEFL Mexico