After a very quick and efficient immigration to Mexico I was greeted by Arturo Viveros from the ORAMEX user group who provided much more than an efficient ride to the hotel through yet even more traffic but also a warm welcome and a nice chat. Heli and Bruno would not arrive until later that day but Anton Els was already there and I was more than happy to see him again for a perfect dinner of seafood tacos in the center of Mexico City.
The conference itself was at a technical university a good 42 minutes away from the city center. We quickly found the rooms that we were supposed to present in and made our way to the general registration, exhibition and keynote area. And again, I was surprised by the very long line and the huge number of attendees. In fact, the organizers had to close the registration ahead of time because they were already at capacity. Wow. We made it to the keynote hall just in time to see my good friend and president of the Mexican OUG address the audience before Pedro Ciccarello of OTN Latin America introduced the OTN community and the ACE program. The event was not just attended beyond what I could have imagined, it was also very well organized. There was a seperate quiet area for speakers, good catering and most of all lovely room ambassadors that coordinated the timings and were there for all of our needs. A job very well done! My sessions had a decent audience, I received a number of questions and was just answering some follow-up emails before writing this blog. The day finished with dinner and laughs in an old part of the town that was bustling with life around a central plaza.
Rene and his wife Veronica offered to show us around the area and our first stop were the ancient aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan. The ruins itself were beautiful and we enjoyed walked around and up this piece of history on a wonderful day. The calimity was only disrupted by locals selling jaguar “whistles” that made an awful noise. If these things have been around before it would explain every singe bloody conflict this region has seen in history. We barely made it out of there with our sanity intact (well, as much as it was before we got there) and without assaulting anyone. After an endless car ride that had me sitting in the middle seat we arrived in Xochimilco, another Unesco heritage site. A lot of what is currently Mexico City had been a huge lake and this part of town still has canals around artificial islands that were used for farming in the past. Today part of this has been converted into one big, colourful party location. There are countless barcas (boats) holding about 10 to 20 people each and then there are other boats that provide beer, tequila, food and music in the form of Mariachis. We all had the very best of times and did not want to leave this wonderful place. Another flight was waiting the next morning and we needed to be on our way to Guatemala.