Ethnic Food Tour: EZE-JFK on Mexicana
Hi everyone, I’m back with an upgrade. My new username is KhunRyeroam, previously known as ThaiboyNMexico. Did anyone miss me?.......... hmm……….I guess that’s a no. Again I apologize if some people got offended by the non-aviation thread I started a while back
. Please pity me
. I’m a tortured personality who needs to hate something in order to love it. Besides, I have lived in sunny Mexico for some time. Now that I’m here in four-season Argentina, I get cranky and peevish in the cold weather.
Buenos Aires is a looot of fun. For the first time in my life, I get to wear my duffle coat in July—because it’s winter down here in southern hemisphere. But one thing I found missing in this wonderful metropolis was exotic food. The Argentine palate seems to have zero tolerance for spicy food: you give ’em a drop of Tabasco and their tongues catch fire. And, trust me, I don’t eat as spicy as Thai-Thai people do. I must admit though that beef down here is the best in the world. There’s nothing like a clean-cut piece of Bife de Chorizo
. But, seriously, how many times per day can you eat steak, pasta, pizza, milanesa, and empanada? Oh, yeah, I forgot the dulce de leche
(caramel), the most popular sweetener here.
A Thai-American (with a pinch of Mexican) that I am, I was having withdrawal symptoms after four months without ethnic dishes. I started dreaming of menudo, pozole, dim-sum, sushi, and Thai curry floating about in my dreams. One night early July, I woke up in terror and decided: “¡Ya basta! That’s it…I’m going to Mexico to have jalapeños and umbrella drinks under the sun.” I surveyed ticket prices on several Internet travel bookers. I looked on despegar.com.ar and saw that I was not the only one escaping the cold—tickets to Mexico from Argentina were running out and the prices were going up. So I gave Mexicana.com a try despite a very bad experience we had when we migrated from Mexico to Argentina this spring. On Mexicana.com, a round-trip Buenos Aires-Mexico City can be had for 1400 USD, which was very expensive.
Since I usually spend at least 1 hour a day on travel booker websites (just for the fun of it), I happen to know that Mexicana offers promotional deals for flights between North America and South America. Imagine this: for a one-way upgrade from Economy to Clase Ejecutiva using miles, Mexicana charge 17,000 miles for flights to Buenos Aires that originate in the US (connecting in Mexico City) whereas Mexican travelers who want to upgrade from Mexico City directly to Buenos Aires would have to cough up 30,000 miles!!! If you don’t believe me, see it for yourself here
. I guess Mexicana does this because it has to remain competitive in the North American market. Or maybe, they’re trying to deter Mexican flyers from using their miles to upgrade on MEX
, which is one of the very few long-haul flights offered by Mexicana.
Anyhow, using that gimmick, I then tried searching EZE
with stopover in Mexico City. And guess what? The price came down 400 USD, from 1400 USD to 1009 USD! In other words, I can fly from Buenos Aires to New York City (and have all the Asian food that I’ve been craving for), drive to Washington, D.C. to visit my brother and his family, and then have a four-day stopover in Mexico all for 1009 USD!?! …Of course I booked it right away. I’d be a fool not to. No second thought. Then I had a restful sleep for the first time...I was gnawing steamed pork ribs, chicken feet, and penis—pork penis, people, don’t think too hard—in NYC Chinatown in my dream that night. It was a really yummy dream.
I had to go pay for my ticket at the new Mexicana office in Buenos Aires. This location is much more visible than the old one. If you are interested in strolling around BA
and see all the airline offices, please consult the one-of-a-kind trip report written by Latinplane here
Diagonally across from Mexicana office is a Farmacia Similares. Farmacia Similares is a Mexican enterprise that sells discounted generic drugs. The initiative is spearheaded by this Mexican philanthropist. (When I lived in Mexico, I always went to this chain to get my cheap Viagra
. Now Dr. Simi is everywhere in Latin America. Its slogan is “Just the same…but cheaper”. I thought it was funny to see this slogan next to Argentine and Mexican flags. The devaluated Argentine pesos and lower cost of living here compared to Mexico makes you think that Dr. Simi was comparing Argentina to Mexico: “Just the same…but only cheaper.”
The day before our departure, I got an e-mail from Mexicana saying that the flight would be delayed for two hours. I arrived at the airport at normal check-in time. When I was on the taxi, I saw that the aircraft was sitting there waiting on the tarmac. So, what are we waiting for? Well, I was told later that, for safety reason, the crew required more resting time. I guess the returning crew arrived in real late or something. Nevermind. I was glad to walk around Ezeiza. I’ve flown out of Ezeiza on Mexicana twice and did a night flight to IAD
with United. With this two-hour delay during daylight, I got to see different flights departing and arriving out of this South American aviation hub.
Ok enough mumbling…let’s fly.
-Mexicana check-in counter
-Comprehensive view of Ezeiza Terminal A. Especially beautiful when the sunbeams pierce through.
-Alitalia 767, getting ready for Milan, if my memory serves me right.
-Iberia 340 heading to Madrid and then Barcelona.
-Lufthansa 747 going to Frankfurt. That thing was just enormous. It was huuuuuge. Whoever said size didn’t matter? Lufthansa was also giving away free newspapers and magazines at the check-in area….
….I went to hog all the expensive, foreign newspapers…that was so third-world of me…I threw them all upon arrival in Mexico City in the end…hehehe). Thank you LH
for your generosity.
-Mexicana sitting and waiting for the crew.
-Here it comes my Mexicana 767. EVERY SEAT was occupied. Some standby passengers had to go home. Mexicana is doing so well on this route. I heard they’re topping up the daily flight to 2 times daily.
-Special edition of Vuelo
magazine celebrating Mexicana’s 85th Anniversary. Feliz Cumpleaño, Mexicana
. Every aviation enthusiast needs to get a copy of this by the way. It is simply the best inflight magazine ever, at least for me. If there were a Pulitzer Prize category for inflight magazines, this edition of Vuelo
would be the undisputed winner. Both the text (in English and Spanish) and the photos were extremely well-crafted.
-Mexicana’s suppliers also took this opportunity to publish ass-kissing ads, all wishing Mexicana well (as long as Mexicana renews contracts with them). This one was really funny. Makes me think of a.net. “To make airliners.net alive, you need a lot of nuts!”
Mexicana was bought by Grupo Posadas, which is a Hotel group in Mexico known for their Fiesta Americana product line, making MX
independent from grupo Cintra, which had previously owned both AeroMexico and Mexicana. Effects of management change are now visible.
1. Headrest cover is no longer used on Mexicana. At first I thought this was temporary because they ran out of those disposable headrest covers. But I started noticing Velcro tapes ridded off completely from the seats.
Eww…that’s what happens when you have a hotel chain running an airline: bug problem! Soon you’ll see people complaining of dust mite bites on Mexicana flights.
2. Wine glass got reduced to this…they pour you 5 cL of wine as if it were cough syrup. Is this how you’re celebrating your 85th birthday? That’s pretty sorry, MX
3. Safety-wise, Grupo Posadas is downgrading an otherwise safe and good airline into a cheap inn. Look at this overhead compartment that’s patched up with jagged vellum tapes. I think they should have at least used professional-looking tapes, come on.
The overhead compartment was just aesthetic. But here’s a real safety concern. This oxygen mask compartment was hanging loose and they patched it up with the same kind of tapes. You can actually see oxygen tubes oozing out. The worst being that they actually assigned passengers to sit there!
4. A positive change, however, is that Mexicana now offers more hard liquor than ever. You can have so many things: vodka, rum, tequila, brandy, whiskey, beer, all for free
. And these aren’t cheap spirits either. Then, after the meal, they even offer you digestive drinks after you’re done eating, either anise or amaretto. I thought that was nice! I think Mexicana is one of a very few Latin American airline to offer digestive drink in economy on international flights. I don’t know about LAN. Again…this is what happens when you have hotel chain running an airline. Grupo Posadas seemed to have carried the Mexican beach hotels’ philosophy onboard: get those gringos and Mexican vacationers boozed like there’s no tomorrow!
Well, after, 3 glasses of vodka and that generous shot of amaretto, I was singing “La Cucaracha” in my seat until I fell asleep.
Second-leg: MEX-JFK (the following day)
After one-night sleepover in Mexico City, we headed back to MEX
the next day to check in for flight MX
2 on an old A319 with no IFE, MEX
2 boarding gate (changed twice)…flying out of MEX
is like playing hide-and-seek sometimes.
-The crowd is mixed. Lots of businessmen in their 30’s and in their clean-shaven scrupulousness (yummy). Lots of Mexican students. The rest were Mexican workers with their kids. One real critique I have against MX
crew is that they seemed mean and rude with this last group.
-Outside the window.
-Ethnic food fest begins here with chicken & salsa verde…served on flight MX
-The sun sets as we approach the East Coast. By this time I was listening to Mecano’s No Hay Marcha en Nueva York
, one of my most favorite songs, on my iPod. It goes like this:
“Es una ocasión singular
la de que el dólar esté devaluado
que no hay que dejar escapar
para viajar a ultramar
en un momento dado
cuando tomo una decisión
soy peor que Napoleón
y aunque no me guste el avión
soy un hombre de acción
y por eso.
a Nueva York
con la botella de Fundador
Me marcho a
con la navaja de explorador
me mareo en
el menú me ha hecho daño
sería usted tan grata
de acercarme al baño.
Un fundido en negro y después
plano picado al
y yo allí dispuesto a triunfar
como San Juan de la Cruz
en el carmelo
mi primera desilusión
los problemas de comunicación
más de dos millones de hispanos
y allí no habla nadie en cristiano.
Ya estoy en Nueva York
y no le veo
ya estoy en Nueva York
tampoco he visto
me hieren el pundonor
entrar en las discos de moda
que si eres
'espanis' ni un vaso con soda.
'Hijos de un dios menor'
traté de hacerle
entender a un policía
a la estatua de la Libertad
¿me dice usted cómo se va?
y al adoptar la posición
de ese monumento en cuestión
sepensó que era un comunista
buscando follón y lo tuve.
No hay marcha en Nueva York
ni aunque lo jure
no hay marcha en Nueva York
y los jamones
son de York
pensé que iba a estar mejor
que te comen
el coco con los telefilmes
pero es un ardid
-Times Square by day. There’s this special attraction about Times Square and NYC isn’t there? It just makes you feel so alive.
-Times Square by night
-American ethnic meal…greasy bacon, eggs, and sausages for breakfast…
-Vietnamese Pho—a perfectly balanced food pyramid for only 6.99 USD…The only thing you have to know how to say when you go to a Pho place is this: “Number one large with extra meatballs pleeeze??”
-Bubble tea a.k.a. tapioca tea, an Asian ghetto dessert.
-If you suck them balls too hard, you risk choking yourself! So do not drink this Bubble Tea unsupervised. Make sure your friend knows how to do Heimlich maneuver.
-Pork ears, beef tripe and tendons Szechuan style. Too bad they didn’t have pork penis.
-Thai food!!! Alain Ducasse, one of France’s most renowned chefs, confesses in his biography that “Thai food is the non-French food he enjoys most.” Muahahaha. Oh don’t beat yourself up. Nonody’s perfect.
-Chinese dim-sum on Mott Street ….this was speechlessly good. I was dumping all these dumplings in my mouth…so quick I finished all these in 3 minutes.
-Sushi full of Sashimi.
-A Martian American burger at Mars 2112. To me this was just good old American burger. We had 2 burgers with 2 beers and had to pay 80 bucks. The Martian server (who was supposedly in a human form) said to me “Don’t be afraid of my true form” when he handed me the bill.
-The Color Purple
, the most talked-about musical on Broadway. So painful, so joyful, so redemptive. I was crying. Everyone was crying. We paid a fortune for the seat but it was so worth it.
What can I say? We had a grand time in NYC. It truly is the Center of the Universe. If our family got sent to NYC right now—with all the expat premiums and a nice apartment next to Central Park—I’d be the happiest person on this Earth. I’d walk my dogs in Central Park, take them to the spa at the new Mandarin Oriental, then dine at all the it
restaurants in Manhattan. But we were just tourists with limited means there, so we went broke, darn it. I owe so much to Discover Card right now. Gosh, who can actually afford living in NYC? It’s ever so expensive!!!
Otherwise, it was so nice to be back home in the US. Of A., where impeccable Anglo-Saxon organization and punctuality reign supreme, where pedestrians have rights over motorists (it’s the opposite elsewhere), where people really recycle, with clean streets and smooth highways to drive on, where consumers are always right. Most importantly, it’s only in the U.S. that you find peoples of all colors with, more or less, equal opportunities to succeed. Last but not least, the ethnic diversity begets epicurean diversity, i.e. all these good foods from all over the world !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Singing: God…bless…A..m..e..r..i..kaaaaaa……my home……sweeeeeeeeet hoooooome……………………