Traveler of the Week: David Lida

Mexico PR has had a rough year. First it was the drug crime, then a flu, that may or may not be pandemic, and may or may not be the fault of pigs, and may or may not be a big deal.

David Lida, who lives in Mexico City and has a new book First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, The Capital of the 21st Century, is my traveler of the week, not necessarily for “traveling” but going about his adopted home when the rest of the world seemed to cower in fear, killing a country full of pigs, canceling Cancun flights and rerouting cruises from Acapulco stops to Santa Barbara.

While all this was happening, I just wanted to know what it was like for locals — not at the clinics, but on central streets, for commuters, and beer drinkers. I wasn’t asking for machismo reports — going recklessly into harm’s way for show — but wanted to hear a bit more than “the country of 11 million is in lockdown.”

In a New York Times op-ed Friday, Lida wrote that “despite reports that Mexico City had turned into a ghost town, by Thursday there were still a lot of people in the street,” just they looked a little different:

“On the streets of the city’s historic center, nearly everyone wore a surgical mask. Some moved them to the sides of their faces while they puffed on cigarettes.”

When he couldn’t find flu medicine at pharmacies, he went to a dodgy cantina:

“The waitresses, short and squat, encased in tight skirts and suffocating beige hose, circulated among the customers. The woman who served me a drink lowered her mask to flash me a crooked-toothed smile. Customers laughed, argued, played dominoes and lowered their masks to drink or eat.”

The next day it was closed.

I hope things are OK there. The reason I travel is Mexico City. No city in the world is more of a mesh of east and west. I went at age 5 and somewhere between Aztec canals and pyramids was hooked on travel (and Mexico) for life. When the Mexican air force announced a few years ago that they had spotted UFOs, I wasn’t surprised. If UFOs were to land on earth, why wouldn’t they go to the center of the universe first?

I might pick up Lida’s new book. But I might not. It would certainly take some effort after seeing his regrettable choice of an author photo.

Meanwhile, nice op-ed.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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One Response to Traveler of the Week: David Lida

  1. Anonymous says:

    Seeing these kind of posts reminds me of just how technology truly is ubiquitous in this day and age, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

    I don’t mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside… I just hope that as the price of memory decreases, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It’s one of the things I really wish I could encounter in my lifetime.

    (Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://knol.google.com/k/anonymous/-/9v7ff0hnkzef/1]R4[/url]NDSBro)

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