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Driving MEX to La Malinche?

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Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby mtnjim » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:13 pm

I'm flying into Mexico City this week-end for the Skyrace Malinche. Short race,16k, about 4000ft vert, high point 14600 or so. It was really a last minute deal. I'll be arriving noon Friday and flying out Monday morning.

I've been around South America and Asia a bit but this will be my first time in Mexico. And my first trip out of the country of such short duration.

So Mexico experts, my little bit of research makes it look as though getting to and from the trailhead at the Centro Vacacional Malintze at race time might be a bit of a problem. I'm not clear at all on the frequency of public transportation to the start, or even where I should be to catch it. It looks to me as though renting a car is the best solution. It's about $50US for the 3 days and another $35 for the insurance.

But how about driving down there? I'm thinking that since it's on the same side of the city as the airport, it'll be (relatively)easy to get out of town. I am a bit concerned about the stories I've seen about being stopped by police or transit officials for bribes, not too concerned about Mexican-style driving (I'm pretty aggressive myself), slightly worried about getting lost.

Also, best to stay in Tlaxacala, Apizaco, or Huamantla, or at the Centro itself? I'll be travelling alone.

Appreciate any suggestions and advice.

Thanks,
JimS

Also, there are 3 races in this series, the Triple Corona. I stumbled on it through parasalvajes.com.mx which took me to runmx.com and found a link to the series, if anyone wants to check it out.

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby CRAIGO » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:43 pm

The driving in D.F. was terrifying. I've spent time in Lima and while it's bad there, D.F. was much worse. But if you can drive in South American cities, then you will probably be ok in Mexico. I would reccommend public transportation. The busses will get you there safely. Summitpost has decent directions and buss recomendations.

Sounds like a great trip. I put pics of the volcanoes on the aerial photo thread and really want to get back there. Have fun!

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby MountainHiker » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:50 pm

We stayed in a cabin on the mountain when we did La Malinche. Here’s my trip report on summitpost with the phone number:
http://www.summitpost.org/la-malinche-with-utm/376073
You probably want to call this close to the event to see if anything is available.

Although some buses leave from MEX, TAPO is the large bus station for that side of the city. Before going to Mexico I dug around the internet for schedules so we already knew when we got there. Buses between major towns are regular, but the colectivo to and from the mountain could be an issue. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if there are extra vehicles around Apizaco and you’ll be approached with ride offers if this is a big event. But it would be chancy to depend on that with a tight schedule.
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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby The_Godfather » Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:10 pm

having been to Mexico many times, my advice would be find public transportation. Mexico City is a nightmare to drive in, let alone find parking. Its known as the worst city to drive in for a reason. You may be aggressive, but Mexico City is beyond what even I consider aggressive. They have excellent transportation there, and honestly a taxi will be extremely cheap compared to say US prices. Oh and one more thing, depending on your plate number depends on what days you can drive in Mexico City...so even though you have it for say 3 days, you may only get 1 day to technically be legal to drive there, and yes that is an easy ticket. Its an every other day thing due to the insane amount of traffic in the city.

As for being conned out of money in bribes....I would be shocked if you actually see that. Thats just being honest.

Traveling alone won't be an issue either. its one of the largest cities in the world and an international tourist destination. More americans would go there if the news here wasn't all doom and gloom.

Oh, and take in the food. Mexico City has AMAZING authentic food. Its a real treat.

Have fun, and enjoy the time there!

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby Carl » Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:14 pm

The_Godfather wrote:Oh and one more thing, depending on your plate number depends on what days you can drive in Mexico City...so even though you have it for say 3 days, you may only get 1 day to technically be legal to drive there, and yes that is an easy ticket. Its an every other day thing due to the insane amount of traffic in the city.


Unless you rent a car that is from 1996 or older I don't think this law applies. I'm no expert on Mexican law, but that's how my buddy who has been driving daily in Mexico City for the last few years explained it. I just called him to confirm and he said the law was written so it essentially doesn't apply to the upper 2 or 3% of residents who have newer cars. As for the issue of navigating in Mexico City, good luck! Get a gps with the most recent Mexico City update. It will still be wrong some of the time, or not tell you which of the seven turns out of a single intersection to take until it's too late, but it's an invaluable resource. I've only been a passenger in my friend's car, but it was quite the memorable experience. He wouldn't put his home address in his gps so that when his car gets stolen, they won't be able to use it to rob his home too, which I thought was interesting. I should also add that a lot of folks don't have operable brake lights :shock:

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby The_Godfather » Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:34 pm

Carl wrote:
Unless you rent a car that is from 1996 or older I don't think this law applies. I'm no expert on Mexican law, but that's how my buddy who has been driving daily in Mexico City for the last few years explained it. I just called him to confirm and he said the law was written so it essentially doesn't apply to the upper 2 or 3% of residents who have newer cars. As for the issue of navigating in Mexico City, good luck! Get a gps with the most recent Mexico City update. It will still be wrong some of the time, or not tell you which of the seven turns out of a single intersection to take until it's too late, but it's an invaluable resource. I've only been a passenger in my friend's car, but it was quite the memorable experience. He wouldn't put his home address in his gps so that when his car gets stolen, they won't be able to use it to rob his home too, which I thought was interesting. I should also add that a lot of folks don't have operable brake lights :shock:



you may be right on the rental car thing, that I'm not 100% sure on. Interesting thing to note though as I'm a big boxing fan. On 24/7 Marquez/Pacman - Marquez talks about this very issue and how crappy it is to drive there. He owns several cars with different plates so that he can drive every day. I'm sure thats a way around it too.

Non working brake lights are just one thing. there are so many vehicles that you wonder how they run still, let alone are still on the road. Another thing to get use to...use of a horn. Mexico City uses theres more than any other place I know of. Plus you also have to look out for not only cars, but aggressive bus drivers. Ah....just part of the territory and a reminder how much I miss Mexico already.

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby mtnjim » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:09 pm

When I first started thinking about this trip (way back last Tuesday) I was completely decided that I would use public transportation. After looking at several posts on La Malinche here and there, getting there at the race start time looked complicated. Then someone who had been to Mexico recently said that they had rented because taxis were so unsafe. Hmmm... So thus far taxis aren't safe and driving isn't either , sooo... :? ?

But seriously folks... :wink: I'm currently leaning toward driving, thinking that all I really need to do is go south on Blvd Puerto Aereo and turn east onto Calz Zaragoza, Mex 190 and then north on Mex 119 to Apizaco east on 136 to Santa Maria Tocatlan, exit to park entrance. The only time I'd be spending in Mexico city would be the time it takes to get out of it on Friday afternoon and driving back to drop off the rental on Sunday afternoon. Spend the night near the airport for my 6:00 AM flight.

I still have time to change my mind a time or two. ](*,)

Mthiker, I'd all ready checked out what I could find on summitpost, including your post. if I had a little more time to get acquainted with the area I wouldn't be so concerned.

Appreciate the advice and experience so far, all.

I wonder what I'm going to decide.....

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby The_Godfather » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:35 pm

Taxi drivers may be classified as "unsafe" if you are not accustom to aggressive driving. They are all licensed which you can see in their car when you hire them.

Whatever you decide, please post some pics when you get back :D

Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby its_not_a_tuba » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:47 pm

I used to go to D.F. all the time and had no problems driving around on freeways etc which sounds like the bulk of what you would be doing. When you get into some parts of the city center itself it can be a bit stressful but if you keep your cool and don't try to multitask while driving you'll be fine.

As far as the cabs go I would advise using a taxi service that you call for pickup and stay away from the green & white cabs which you will see everywhere, a D.F. local friend of mine used to call them cabnappers for the number of people who disappeared after getting in to them. I don't have any cab company recommendations but I am sure if you dig around before you go you can find a few.

If you have the time go check out the sights in and around the city. Teotihuacan is unbelievably cool as is the cathedral and museum downtown. The nightlife is incredible and as has been mentioned the food is off the charts. Mexico is a vastly more sophisticated city than most people expect it to be but the differences between the wealthy areas and poverty areas are pretty extreme. Stick to the nice parts and you'll be fine.

Good luck.
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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby MountainHiker » Tue Nov 08, 2011 5:55 pm

I have travelled with a private driver in Mexico. But it was always part of a group where we split the cost. Somebody else arranged it so I don’t have the contact. But I do know it was someone who marketed themselves in the airport on a previous trip. For the extra cost it was nice to dictate the schedule without having to drive.

I can understand your apprehension. Even having a co-pilot could make things easier. It all goes back to the time crunch forcing the issue. It sounds like you have decided to drive and have been studying the route. Maybe try to score the best map you can before leaving the airport in case you take a wrong turn – there’s a pretty good row of stores in the airport.

I’m trying to remember but I think there might have been some tolls on the way. (Various trips blur together!) There are ATMs and money changers at the airport to get local currency.
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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby its_not_a_tuba » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:00 pm

MountainHiker wrote: I think there might have been some tolls on the way.


That reminds me of another tip, if you have the option to take a toll road to your destination absolutely pay the toll. The toll roads in MX are privately owned and patrolled. They are in vastly better condition and have courtesy patrols and private policing. As a general rule of thumb in MX, anything run by a company is very good, anything run by the government is a disaster and not trust worthy.
"Wilderness settles peace on the soul because it needs no help. It is beyond human contrivance." -- E.O. Wilson

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Re: Driving MEX to La Malinche?

Postby Derek » Tue Nov 08, 2011 6:49 pm

Even though it’s been said, I'll say it again. Driving in Mexico City is slightly terrifying. The worst part (I thought) was the area around the airport. A couple times I rode with my sister’s brother in law (native to Mexico City) and even though he lived in the city he STILL couldn’t find his way around easily. Once you get outside the city, it is much easier. I won’t be renting a car there anytime soon again…but that’s me. Public transportation was just too good.

Since it sounds like you want to rent a car, couple things:
-Get a GPS, and avoid asking directions. Reason being, people there seemed to like giving directions. Lots of them. Even if they didn’t know the directions. Like they were so inclined to help, they wanted to try and help out anyways. Even police officers gave us wrong directions. (They admitted to it once we passed back by them still lost.)
-License plates: If I remember, rentals were exempt from the even/odd day issue? Maybe it was due to the year of the car though, as mentioned above.
-I wouldn’t worry about “corrupt” people/police. I have less worries there walking around than I do the states.


--D
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