“The most magnificent thing about travel, far outweighing the incredible experiences, beautiful sights and tantalizing flavors, are hands down, the people you meet along the journey. For me, three years ago, I came across one of my most special friendships to have developed thus far, and in the most unsuspecting places of all…Vegas. Yes, I know, I really don’t love and cherish this place, but it does hold a soft spot in my heart, as that’s where I met my dear friend Betty, my partner in crime in the travel industry and in many ways, the little sister that I never had.”
In special dedication to Betty Ortega Manzur
As my flight was preparing for landing this time around in Mexico City, a destination that I frequent about 2 to 3 times a year, something seemed different to me. Usually when landing in a city where I’ve been to over a dozen times, I rarely even glimpse out of the window of the plane, but this time, something caught my attention.
The mountain top peaks that normally poke out of thick layers of clouds and smog below, actually looked ethereal surrounded by various rays of sunlight. This time around, I was actually captivated enough to stare out of the window and take in this wonder that seemed so different than my previous landings, enough to result in a Tweet about it, as soon as the plane landed.
As always, when in Mexico City, I hit the ground running. My fantastic driver, now friend, Miguel Angel, waiting for me outside of baggage claims, as my sort of “security blanket” that I rely on when in a town that can be like an uncut gem, a bit rough around the edges.
While weaving in and out of the traffic of this massive sprawling city, I was sorting the itinerary for yet another Rock Star night with Betty, and already creating a playlist on my iPod for the event. Typically this consists of pre-partying on the high rise balcony of my suite of the W Hotel in Polanco, followed by our “always a must” dinner and catching up/sharing stories of our mutual “unluckiness in love” at Spuntino, just across the park on Avenida Masaryk, then hitting up any new place that she can suggest, being my ever gracious local host.
With the traffic in its height, my thoughts turned more to ways of topping mine and Betty’s previous experiences. Reminiscing of the 8 hour drinking spree / double decker Turibus sightseeing tour around town, where we began by hiking up the hill of Chapultepec Park, working out my relationship issues with one said Mexican chef over a bottle of wine, while strolling down the hill after a brief sightseeing tour of the palace, sorting out hers with an older male love interest du jour, and enjoying cold beers and chips with hot sauce…always her favorite.
A few stops later at the Zocalo, of course we caught the ruins, but the true highlight was watching the sunset over drinks at the Restaurante Bar – Terraza at the GranHotel Ciudad de Mexico. Our only concern was walking out a bit drunk, as you feel like you’re re-enacting scenes of “Titanic”, due to the extreme grandness of the period architecture and décor mixed with the uneven flooring of the historic building settling on land with water below.
On another fabulous weekend trip, Betty never disappointed, by taking me to the most chic place of the moment, the restaurant and lounge at Casa Roma, to enjoy an amazing night of dinner and drinks, while scoping out the local opportunities.
Any chance of a hangover the next day was immediately resolved as we entered the tiny “hole in the wall” known as Maria Isabel in Polanco and ordered our fried quesadillas…yes, not for the cholesterol challenged!
After our little pick me up, it was off to the hotel Condesa DF for an afternoon of fun, on the rooftop terrace bar. This was the perfect Sunday afternoon setting, complete with Latin Pop stars and Telenovela actors galore, in my favorite, hip DF neighborhood. What better setting could I have found to inaugurate the drink that is now known as “The Gypsy”. Click through the image for a recipe.
Now, as I was almost arriving to my client meeting, coming back to the realty of Mexico City today, my mind was back on business and focused. Work meetings and lunches, but fun at the end of the day to look forward to….
As it turns out, the playlist never got played and the stories of our months apart never got shared.
Much to my shock, Betty’s life was taken and my late knowledge of it can honestly be considered to me as one of the greatest downfalls of my travelling lifestyle.
Needless to say, she will forever remain in my mind the greatest champion of late night beer pong in Las Vegas, the little sister that I always wished for and the Angel watching over me upon my return to Mexico City!