Mexico City -The Grid of Confusion

By: Lisa Coleman 

As much as I love Mexico City, I’ll never drive there. I mean NEVER. I truly respect those Chilango taxi drivers that have grown up in the city and can navigate the hodgepodge, jam packed,  stop-and-go grid with relative ease, but my guess is they’re lost sometimes too!

I read a very entertaining article by Ken Ellingwood of the Los Angeles Times that brought to light some interesting traffic stats. Apparently there are 32,000 streets in Mexico City itself. If you include the surrounding areas, it tops out at 73,000. That’s one hell of a mapping dilemma. To make it more challenging, street names are often repeated, but not necessarily in the same parts of the city.  How about 632 streets named “Juarez,” 624 “Hildago” streets and at least 500 named “Zapata.”

Some taxis (luckily) are now equipped with GPS systems to help ease the pain… yet that tends to complicate the problem. Watch them plug in Juarez and see hundreds of entries pop up and then subdivided by postal code. It’s somewhat of a navigational nightmare!

That said… I can only offer a few tidbits of advice about driving in Mexico City… don’t. Unless you have a wicked sense of adventure and speak fluent Spanish, I’d take it off the list. Next,  upon arrival at the Mexico City airport, ALWAYS get your taxi ticket inside baggage claim. There’s a small booth in there and you can give them the name and address of your hotel and they will be sure you get to the right place. As you exit baggage claim, display your little ticke prominently so you are escorted to the taxi area by some nice guys looking to carry your bags and deposit you in the correct car. And finally, don’t take taxis on the street. Though it looks easy to jump into a green VW and be on your way, it’s just not safe for tourists. Step into a restaurant or hotel and ask them to call a “radio” taxi for you.

Other than that… go to Juarez Street, turn left on to Hildago and I’ll see you at the end of Zapata! Travel safely.