I’ve done an absolute shit job this time.
Over my years living in Mexico City, I normally give myself 2 weeks to a month to scope out good places to move to whenever I want to relocate.
However, I only gave myself a week this time.
And my lack of options show.
Not to mention the shit options coming my way!
I’ve primarily been looking at places around Buenavista, Refineria and Bosque de Aragon (plus Oceania) areas.
As you can read here, one place I checked out even seemed to be full of illegal Haitian immigrants and a seemingly alcoholic German dude pleading with me to help him buy a ticket to Costa Rica to see “his Costa Rican wife and kids.”
Given the few good results I’ve seen in the last week from those areas, I decided to expand my search to an area of Mexico City known as Pantitlán.
It’s an area known to not be very nice but I’m not scared!
The rationale for why I’d even consider the area is because I’ve already lived on or close to the far western, southern and northern points of the city (Cuatro Caminos, CU/Copilco and Lindavista/Deportivo 18 de Marzo).
So why not cross the far western bit of the city off my list of places to give a month or two?
Despite its ugly reputation, a month or two by Pantitlán won’t kill me, right?
It’s always been a spot “on my radar” for some time so I have it some time to check out places in the area.
Or tried to anyway!
Not very successfully…
But what went wrong?
The First Trip to Pantitlán
About three days ago, I went to Metro Pantitlán with the idea that I was going to check out two apartments.
One appointment set for 7 PM and another appointment for 8:30 PM.
As I was riding the metro over there, there was some blonde homeless looking dude who had a HUGE trash bag of whatever.
With a family of a mom and a few kids sitting next to me, the dude decided to look over at us.
He had some weird look in his eyes and began nodding away while saying stuff out loud.
I couldn’t understand him very well.
Everything he was saying sounded like complete gibberish.
And he kept nodding away towards us while seemingly talking loudly to himself but the words seemed directed at us?
Anyway, he got off on Metro Oceania along the way to Pantitlán.
Once I got to Pantitlán, I walked down the stairs into a larger room where I could see some “feminist” market of women selling stuff with signs saying how “punches hurt” or “they seek freedom.”
Stuff like that.
You’ll find these mini feminist markets of women selling basic goods in various metro stations (Metro Station CU has one also for example).
And, if I’m not mistaken, I believe El Rosario has one also.
They’re not like the raging feminist stereotype.
Just normal seeming chicks selling artisan products, bags of chips, bottles of water, etc.
Anyway, it was a tiny bit confusing as to where to begin walking at first.
Right away, you notice how big metro Pantitlán is with people walking around in all directions.
Even in other big metro stations like Bellas Artes or Zocalo, it’s easy to know which direction to go.
As we’ll see with Pantitlán, that’s not always the case!
Soon enough anyway, I see what looks like could be an exit and walk downstairs headed towards an OXXO.
Which, to be honest, seemed pretty cool.
An OXXO in the metro station? Nice!
Once I got by the OXXO, I continued walking by following the crowd until I got into a very confusing hallway.
The Alphabet Hallway
So, because, I didn’t have data on my phone as I never do when I normally use Wifi, I had to rely on screenshots of a map to know where to go when outside.
However, the problem before going outside was figuring out which exit to take me outside in this hallway!
I didn’t realize it right away but it’s an “alphabet hallway” in which each exit is labelled after a letter.
The letters didn’t make shit to me.
All I saw was seemingly 30 or so exits and I had no idea which would I should take to begin looking for this apartment outside.
Especially as I wanted to be closer to a street called Eje 1 Norte.
Soon enough, I began asking folks about how to get to Eje 1 Norte from the metro.
If you look at the map, it should be just outside!
But it depends on the exit you take, I suppose.
I asked one police officer who directed me to exit the very first exit to the left in this hallway.
Once I began going up the steps, I asked another cop near the top of steps about where I should go to find Eje 1 Norte from there.
The Search for Avenida Rio Churubusco
Finding Eje 1 Norte was easy enough.
Though, similar to this article here, you’ll find that plenty of streets in Mexico and Latin America are not always properly identifiable with any street signs.
I’ve encountered that issue several times when looking for apartments in other areas over the last week.
Would it really kill Mexico to put more street signs around?
Too costly for their budget?
Anyway, I find Eje 1 Norte soon enough as I said.
From there, the issue gets trickier.
I know I need to walk down Eje 1 Norte until a spot where I turn onto Avenida Rio Churubusco.
From there, I basically look for a street called la Luz or something like that.
However, Avenida Rio Churubusco proved to be too elusive.
I walked up to a fat lady selling bags of chips and asked her where to go.
She was kind in giving me very firm directions.
I was the dumb one for not executing her directions properly.
Standing by the edge of the road, she tells me that we are on Eje 1 Norte now.
However, she wasn’t entirely clear as to where Avenida Rio Churubusco was but, based on the map I offered her, she concluded that it had to be towards one direction of the street.
“Go down that direction, look for some stairs”
Now, in hindsight, I’m not sure if stairs were needed or not.
Based on the map, it didn’t look like I’d need them but I don’t know.
Anyway, I began looking for the stairs with urgency as I realized that 7 PM is getting closer.
I never did find the stairs.
Soon enough, I found myself walking onto a very busy road with extremely limited sidewalk space.
It was very dark outside.
I wasn’t sure where I’d end up if I kept walking straight but the sidewalk soon ended so I assumed it wasn’t for pedestrians obviously.
The street also had a turn I could follow down on but that turn looked like it would lead me onto a fucking highway or some shit?
While I saw a few folks walking from the direction of that curve, I guess they might’ve been homeless since they looked it and I saw a few homeless folks sleeping under a bridge looking spot?
“Where the fuck am I?!” I asked myself.
I turn around.
This clearly was shit advice.
I tried to be nice to her in the beginning because, being fair, she probably knew the area better than I do.
Maybe there’s some magical set of stairs that I missed.
Given how dark it was with the lack of lighting, I could see that!
Anyway, I didn’t care anymore as I was getting slightly frustrated and realized that I truly am running out of time.
“Fuck it, I’ll just take a taxi” I thought to myself.
A Suspicious Taxi?
Walking down the extremely thin sidewalk space where I basically had to take one step at a time to not fall to either side…
I find a taxi soon enough as I walk up onto it from behind.
Before I even knock, a random dude who is extremely skinny with a narrow as fuck face steps out without noticing me.
“Oh good, the taxi will be available soon” I thought.
So I stood there minding my own business waiting for the dude to be done with the taxi so I can talk to the driver.
Then the dude’s head swiftly turns to me with the widest fucking eyes ever.
Looked agitated or concerned?
Right away, I notice a gun and a small ass bag in his hand.
Immediately, I think to myself “nah, it’s OK, you can have that taxi.”
Didn’t say anything.
Just walked away as I noticed that the dude, for whatever reason, got back inside the passenger seat.
So I guess he still needs his taxi.
The second taxi I tried to get proved to not be good either when I saw someone else in it.
Finally, I get one taxi driver available.
Ask him if he knows where this “luz street” is.
“No!” he says.
I keep walking.
Over the course of the next 20 minutes, I’m still trying to find this fucking Rio Churubusco street but just can’t.
While I do suck at finding places (despite how much I have travelled), I can generally find apartments easy enough if they are close enough to the metro.
The problem with this metro was how it was a little bit different from other ones.
Normally, when I walk out of a metro, I can easily find the first street I need to begin walking.
Here, not only did the metro inside seem like a fucking maze, but certain streets outside seemed elusive.
Upon realizing how I’m already noticeably late (though maybe not by Mexican standards), I just give up when realizing that Rio Churbusco won’t be found.
Here’s a photo of the area that night before I went to take a piss and go back in the metro.
But it wasn’t just the difficulty of finding this street that gave me doubts…
On top of that, I also decided to give up because I was getting a bad vibe in the area.
While it didn’t seem like a warzone, it did seem a little bit sketchier than what I liked.
And probably the dude staring at me like a drugged out zombie with a gun left an odd impression too.
So I left.
Thought to myself “nah, I’m OK. Maybe I’ll find a better spot elsewhere.”
But I don’t give up.
Round 2 of Pantitlán
Didn’t George Bush have some quote on the amount of times you can be fooled?
Something like this here.
Anyway, after leaving that metro and heading back to my apartment, I did think to myself that “fuck it, I’m OK with not living over there for now.”
However, when I got back, the landlord of the first place I was meant to visit seemed very concerned.
Not angry at my lack of appearance but for safety.
And probably because she really wants someone to rent the place out already.
So she persuaded me to come by for a second visit but will wait for me at the metro to guide me to the apartment building.
“OK, fuck it. Round 2 then” I thought.
Long story short, I went over today at around 6 PM when it was still light outside.
Found the alphabet hallway a little more manageable.
Contemplated eating at a Chinese food spot in the hallway but the food still looked pretty old like it was a few days ago.
Then I got to “Exit R” where I was set to meet her.
She never showed up.
I waited from 5:50 to 6:20 PM.
While enough time in Latin America has taught me some Latinos will be late even by an hour, I didn’t give enough fucks.
It is moments like these that make you realize the benefits of having data in your phone.
In most scenarios related to living in Mexico City, I never find it necessary as I wrote here.
However, today was different.
Should’ve had some data ready to call her when I got there.
Anyway, I left as I said.
In her defense, she did send me this photo here that I saw when I got back to my apartment hours later.
So apparently she was in the area…
But clearly not where we agreed to meet?
Or maybe I got confused?
Back to the Pantitlán Labyrinth anyhow!
Looking For the Peace
And here we see another example of how confusing Pantitlán can be for someone new to this metro.
As I said, most metro stations are easy to get around!
Every single one has been for me.
Except this one oddly enough.
After I decided to ditch, I began looking for an entrance that would take me to the metro line heading towards metro station “la Paz.”
The purple metro line.
Never been on it before!
But I had another apartment appointment that day at 7 PM by a metro station called Agricola Oriental.
Which is just one metro station away from Pantitlán.
Right away, I began looking for the opening to the metro that would take me to “Linea A.”
In other metro stations, you can just walk into any entrance and signs will point you in the direction you need to go.
Here, you pick the entrance that is appropriate first, it seemed.
After failing to find a sign at any entrance that said “Linea A,” I asked a random lady who was cooking tacos if she knew where to go.
She told me to go up these steps and carry on from there.
So I did.
Right away, I could tell I was in the right spot with the purple “Linea A” signs when I got upstairs.
And I began following the signs.
The problems came though from following the signs oddly enough.
For some reason, as I kept following the signs, I soon found myself at a spot where people can buy tickets to get to the train.
However, the signs changed from purple to brown despite no indication that anyone using the purple “Linea A” should have gone any other direction.
I chalked it up to “well, maybe they just wanted to paint the signs brown?”
However, as I got to the steps, the signs then indicated that the train above would take me somewhere else.
What the fuck?
So I asked a random metro cop lady about where I should go.
She told me to go up the steps to where the train for the brown line goes and then go down some set of steps near the end of that space above.
Who the fuck would think of that?
If the signs tell you that the space above is for another metro, who would think to go up there for another metro line?
And, when I did go up there, the steps I found didn’t have any sign indicating that they would take me to the purple “Linea A.”
What type of sneaky fuckery is this?
Anyway, I went down the steps and still found it confusing.
No signs indicating where to go from there.
I walked towards then a female metro cop who was guarding a space meant only for women and children to use to access a certain part of the train.
Right away, she tries telling me to go back but I ask her then “where should I go for the train heading towards metro station La Paz?”
With her help, I finally find the set of stairs that directs me to the train I need to get on.
Once I got down the steps, I found the spot where the train was.
Right away, I noticed the trains for the Linea A seemed a bit more outdated and slower than trains on other lines.
The Apartment in Agricola Oriental
Anyway, I got to Agricola Oriental soon enough.
The landlord was 10 minutes late.
Checked out the apartment.
It was a surprising 30 minute walk from the metro to the place.
While the outside of Agricola Oriental looked kinda shitty (especially from above on the metro station), the area we walked into looked considerably nicer.
Not super nice but nicer than before.
Looked presentable almost.
But only oddly so.
Where you had very fucked up abandoned buildings placed next to really nice and modern looking ones.
It almost looked like the early stages of gentrification or some shit.
It did look nicer anyhow the deeper I got into the neighborhood.
Wasn’t a fan of the walking distance though and the room didn’t have a bed like advertised.
But the inside of the apartment overall did look pretty nice.
And the landlord had a very nice personality. Easy to talk with.
Anyway, I headed home soon afterwards.
Took the metrobus.
That was it.
Final Verdict: Where the Fuck am I Staying Then?
Well, the lady of the place that I never got to see was insistent on another meeting again.
I do believe that she did show up given the photo she sent me but who knows if I’ll take a third stab at it.
Time is running out.
I got to move out now.
But her place did look promising and I wouldn’t mind staying in this area for a month before New Years.
Just to “test the waters” with the area.
So we’ll see if I pull a last minute visit tomorrow to check it out.
Otherwise, there’s one place by Refineria that didn’t seem bad.
I was hesitant on picking them because I was thinking more seriously on living by Refineria after New Years for various reasons.
But, at this point, it might have to be the place to go to.
When I checked it out, it didn’t seem like a bad spot.
And the neighborhood looked a shit ton nicer than the one by Pantitlan.
So it wouldn’t be the worst idea to go there now.
The only other thing to mention, as you can guess by now, is how fucking annoying metro Pantitlán is.
Maybe I chose a bad time to visit it.
Maybe it’s more orderly and easier to get around than when I visited the two times?
Anyway, it was really annoying when I did visit the two times.
And actually discouraged me from living there because of concern about having to navigate the stupidity of how the metro is organized over there over a month or so.
Anyway, that’s all I got to say.
Tired as hell after a long day today running around the city checking options.
Next time I need to give myself that extra week.
Well, if you got anything to say, drop a comment below.
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Thanks for reading.