Disclaimer: While we did get robbed, we loved Mexico City and strongly recommend it to everyone! We made some embarrassingly amateur mistakes that we will not repeat. Had we avoided them, I don’t think we would have been robbed. Overall we felt quite safe in Mexico City, and we don’t want anyone to get the incorrect impression that it’s a risky place to travel! Go there and eat tasty food! (And I just must mention one of the best breakfast cafe’s that I’ve ever encountered: Ojo de Agua.)
There we were, enjoying a very pleasant trip to Mexico City, eating tasty food such as that pictured above, when we got robbed. I guess it’s about time – after 60-some countries, this was bound to happen at some point. Still, SO ANNOYING!
How did it go down? We were on the metro, going to the historical city center from our Airbnb in la Condesa. The metro in Mexico City is extremely cheap and very efficient — but it is crowded! Insanely crowded. We nearly failed to get off of the train a couple of times because the crush of people in the door was so intense. We live in New York, and it was no comparison. If you’re on the metro, be ready to push your way on and off the train, and stay close to the doors!
Anyway, you may see where this is going. We were standing on the platform at the Hidalgo station waiting for our train to the city center. There were lots of people around us – families with children, etc. It was far from threatening. But, we were extremely out of place – the only foreigners in the station, and we stood out. A LOT. Standing out is always bad news, but it’s almost impossible to avoid.
The train pulled into the station, and the doors opened. An incredible crush of people ensued, with dozens trying to get out of the car and dozens trying to get on. We were trying to push our way through the crowd, but it seemed we were being blocked and pushed to the side. At this point we were totally stuck, and just trying to push far enough so neither of us got caught in the train door. It was chaotic, but it didn’t seem too unexpected — the other doors on the train all looked just as crowded.
Finally the doors closed and we were both on the train. Success! …Until I felt my pocket for my wallet. And just like that, I became another sad tourist pickpocketing story. I lost my wallet, camera, and Kindle, which was stored in R’s bag (which had been unzipped). Fortunately I’d had my hand in my pocket where my phone was the whole time, so I still had that. And none of R’s stuff was gone. Of course we had no idea at all who did it – the car was packed, and it could have been anyone. Goodbye, possessions!
As far as robberies go, this was extremely minor. I didn’t lose anything important, and I always keep backup credit cards and cash in the Airbnb. But I have to say, it made me furious!
DON’T CARRY THINGS IN YOUR POCKETS IN CROWDS. Basic advice, applies almost anywhere, and advice that I usually follow! But this time I didn’t, and I paid for it. Put your wallet, phone, etc in a money pouch that goes under your clothes. Carry bags in front of you with your hand on the zipper when in a crowd. And most importantly, if you’re in an unfamiliar city and are interested in keeping your possessions, leave them at home! Take the bare minimum with you. Normally I carry some cash, one credit card, my travel phone, and a photocopy of my passport.
CONSIDER HOW HARD IT WILL BE TO REPLACE AN ITEM BEFORE TAKING IT WITH YOU. Replacing my camera and Kindle cost some money and was aggravating, but the thing that actually caused problems was losing my driver’s license. Why my license was in my wallet I cannot tell you. But it was, and now someone in Mexico has it instead of me. To get a new license, I had to fly back to my home state, walk to the motor vehicle bureau, and pay for a replacement. This was extremely annoying, not to mention expensive, and in the meantime I couldn’t drive.
BACK UP YOUR PHOTOS EVERY DAY. I didn’t, and now I have just a handful of bad-quality phone pictures from this trip.
DON’T LET A BAD EXPERIENCE RUIN YOUR TRIP! I was pretty annoyed after this incident, but the rest of our trip was great! If you travel long enough some unfortunate things are sure to happen to you, and the less you let them affect you, the happier you’ll be.