August 4th, 2008

Mexico City: Drive on the right … most of the time

Some early and completely non-scientific observations from the XVII AIDS Conference, taking place now in Mexico City:

  • Everyone said getting to and from the Banamex Convention Center would be difficult, and of course they were right.  Mexico City is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere, has a road/traffic system that makes driving in Boston seem downright peaceful by comparison (that is hard to do), and of course none of the hotels are anywhere near the meeting.  But it’s not as if we haven’t been through this before — namely, here in Bangkok and here in Rio, to cite some recent examples.  So no big deal.  But … I did experience something traffic-wise that was truly bizarre:  On the drive in from the airport, the cab driver took a right turn onto a street and drove on the left for around a tenth of a mile, while the oncoming traffic was on the right — and it was actually planned that way, pefectly legal.  To repeat (if that wasn’t clear):  we were driving British style.  According to the cab driver, it’s because left turns off some roads have become so congested that they simply moved that lane from the right to the left; after the busy intersection passed, we moved back to the right.  I kid you not.
  • What do Infectious Diseases specialists from the United States eat and drink when they’re in Mexico City?  If my completely haphazard survey is any guide, we’re all over the map (ahem) when it comes to food safety while traveling.  One colleague said she couldn’t live without salad, and the idea of visiting Mexico without a margarita (requires ice) was too depressing even to consider; another said he was sticking by the rules, eating only thoroughly cooked foods and drinking bottled beverages from “reputable sources,” whatever that means.  (Maybe this.)  One other said that the street food was one of the best reasons to visit Mexico to begin with.  So far my approach has been pure pragmatism and selfishness: if there’s a tasty low E coli option available, great — but if not, and something looks too delicious to pass up, I’ll take my chances.
  • The weather in Mexico City is wonderfully, delightfully cool in August.  For some reason, I expected a summertime furnace, but it’s much cooler here than in Boston due to the altitude.  Was I the only one in the world who didn’t know that?

Back with more later, maybe with some “real” content.

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HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

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Infectious Diseases

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